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First Thoughts: Saturday Instant Reactions

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Our TSR was spending their Saturday the only way we know how...watching results come in from major track meets around the country. Below are some instant reactions and thoughts that we gathered from regarding some of the biggest and best performances of the weekend.

Indiana's Mau & Veatch Go 1-2 In Indiana 3K

Conor Stack + Garrett Zatlin

Conor: The Indiana Relays 3k featured Kyle Mau taking home the win in a time of 7:51 and with Veatch finishing 2nd in 8:00. Based off of his splits, it seemed like Mau led from the gun and took it wire-to-wire, making his time even more impressive. Each lap was incredibly even as Mau rolled 31 second laps for virtually the entire race. As for Veatch, he was able to hold off Cincinnati’s Aaron Bienenfeld for 2nd.

Garrett: For Mau, this is an excellent performance as it will likely be enough to get him to NCAA's in March if he wants to pursue the 3000 meters. With a time like this out of the way, he may make another effort at running a fast mile. As for Veatch, this is a respectable performance, but it still leaves something to be desired. He'll likely shift his focus to the 5000 meters, a distance that seems to be suit the endurance-based Hoosiers more than the 3k.

Williams & Rivera go 1-2 Yet Again, Lagat & Roomes Falter

Garrett Zatlin

Cooper Williams has maintained his hot streak, as he put together his fourth straight individual win over a quietly talented field. The Indiana veteran was the winner in a time of 1:48.17 to hold off Ole Miss’ John Rivera who ran 1:48.50 for 2nd place. This is the second time this season that we’ve seen a result like this as Williams beat out Rivera earlier this season at the Vanderbilt Invitational.

Of course, Williams’ win is significant beyond just beating an underrated talent like Rivera. The Iowa State duo of Festus Lagat and Roshon Roomes, who some saw as the favorites coming into this race, dropped to 3rd and 4th, respectively. Their DMR performance from Friday night was encouraging, but it’s clear that Williams was more adept to double back the next day.

Maybe that Cyclone duo is human after all...

Jones Runs 2:04 800 En Route to Colorado School Record, Teammates Round Out Top Three

Conor Stack

Led by new school record holder Dani Jones in a time of 2:04, the Buffs had three women run 2:10 or better at 5300 feet. Junior Rachel McArthur finished her race in a time of 2:09 while teammate Karina Mann nabbed 3rd in 2:10.

Dani Jones continues to do what Dani Jones does: dominate. In this case, she established a new school record in the 800 meters, breaking the previous record that originally stood for 42 years. She was also only a second off of the facility record.

Better yet, those times aren't even converted from altitude. After conversions, you're looking at roughly 0.80 seconds being chopped off of their times. As a result, it's expected that Jones will be given a converted time of 2:03 mid.

A time like this at this point in the season is extremely impressive for Jones, but almost not surprising given her track record (no pun intended). It's unlikely that she'll pursue the 800 meters at Nationals, but it's hard to ignore the speed she just displayed.

Mestler Wins Arkansas 3k in 7:58, Boit Ends Day With DNF

Conor Stack

Jackson Mestler of Oregon took the victory over a very respectable field in Arkansas. Mestler was able to finish ahead of teammate Charlie Hunter (4th, 8:02), Emmanuel Cheboson (5th, 8:02), and Texas miler Sam Worley (8th, 8:08). Mestler finished just a second off of his indoor PR, but nonetheless produced an impressive time for the season and adds to the list of strong performances that we have seen from the Oregon distance contingent so far this season. I would venture to guess that Mestler was feeling particularly inspired by his DMR teammates from the night before...

I was a little bit surprised by the DNF from Arkansas’ Gilbert Boit. He may have been doing some pacing duties for Cheboson and fellow teammate Matt Young who finished near the top of the results, but that is still unclear at this point.

Kelati Runs Converted 4:32, Stays On Par w/ Expectations

Garrett Zatlin

Weini Kelati will get plenty of well-deserved attention after this weekend for her outstanding performance at altitude. On her home track, the New Mexico Lobo dropped a mile time of 4:38 to win easily. After conversions, that time now reads 4:32.

This is a great performance for Kelati, but it truthfully doesn’t tell us anything that we didn’t already know. Kelati is one of the best in the nation when it comes to competing at altitude and she actually ran faster at the same venue last year at the Mountain West Championships.

Just like last year, Kelati is working on refining her speed before she tackles a potential national qualifier in the 3000 meters.

Tuntivate Throws Down Monster Time of 7:49 For 3K

John Cusick + Conor Stack

John: Harvard's Kieran Tuntivate continues to impress. At the BU Bruce Lehane Scarlet and White Invitational, Tunitvate finished runner-up (to an impressive performance from Willy Fink) and ran 7:49.15 in the process. That’s a 10 second personal best for the Harvard harrier.

Tunitvate is putting together the best times of his career so far and it’s dated back to the outdoor track and field season. His aggressive racing strategy clearly payed off this past cross country season (it ended with an All-American finish for him) and now he's throwing down times that could match up with some of the NCAA's best distance talents.Keep an eye out for another fast race from Tuntivate as he’ll probably be looking for a national qualifying time in the 5000 meters as well.

Conor: Tuntivate is one of the toughest runners in the country right now. At last year’s Ivy League Indoor Championships, Tuntivate worked the 3k/5k double by winning the 3k with one shoe, tearing up his foot, and coming back to win the 5k the next day. Having that sort of toughness and grit has allowed Tuntivate to evolve into a contender when it comes to the big races such as this.

Aubrey Roberts is Back & Healthy

Maura Beattie

After sitting out of this past cross country season due to injury, Northwestern’s Aubrey Roberts made her season debut at the Washington Invitational in the 5000 meters, one of her primary events. Roberts finished 4th overall, but was the first collegiate to cross the line. She ran a 16:14, beating out Wichita State’s Winny Koskei by seven seconds. Although this is well off of her 15:32 PR, for just her first race back since the NCAA West Preliminaries, this is a promising start.

Roberts was 10th last year at the indoor national meet in the 5k and to requalify this year, she will need to find another 5k where she can ensure a fast time will be run. Could we see her at the Iowa State Classic two weeks from now?

Jewett Makes 800 Meter Season Debut, Edges Orange

Maura Beattie

USC’s Isaiah Jewett has been fairly quiet this indoor season thus far, only racing a 400 and 600 at New Mexico. He did throw down a 46.30 400 meter time (which is a new shiny PR), so a fast 800 was going to be in his future.

At the Texas Tech Invitational, Jewett won his signature event in a time of 1:47.12, out-sprinting Texas A&M’s Carlton Orange who settled for 2nd in a time of 1:47.93. Jewett was only one second away from his 1:46 PR, but keep in mind that because Texas Tech sits at 3200 feet of elevation, both men will be given a small altitude conversion. This should be enough to put Jewett under 1:47 and give him the top time in the country this year.

Both Jewett and Orange should once again be contenders for All-American positions in the 800 meters as we get closer to the indoor national meet. For Jewett and Orange, their times catapults them up near the front of the NCAA, right alongside the Iowa State men and Cooper Williams.

The men's 800 meter field appears to be just as crowded as we thought it would be...

Donaghu Runs 10 Second Personal Best at Arkansas

Maura Beattie

There’s not much to say here besides the fact that Stanford’s Ella Donaghu just keeps impressing us week after week. After her 8:58 3k a few weeks ago in Washington, Donaghu raced the DMR and mile at Arkansas, putting up solid times in both events. The Cardinal athlete was instrumental in Stanford’s win at Arkansas in the DMR as she was the lead off leg, splitting 3:20 for 1200 meters.

Not even 12 hours later, Donaghu won the mile in a blistering time of 4:33, which will rank her just behind BYU’s Whittni Orton and New Mexico's Weini Kelati (who will get a 4:32 conversion after her most recent performance). Donaghu is a shoe-in to qualify for Nationals in both the mile and 3k at NCAA’s and the DMR should be in the mix as well. She will have a tough decision to make as she attempts to balance relay aspirations and her best chance at winning NCAA gold individually at Nationals.

The mile, an event that is arguably less crowded than the 3000 meters this winter, forces the Stanford ace to race prelims before the DMR on the same night. On the flip side, the 3000 meters would let her run the DMR completely fresh, but she would have to go up against the likes of Monson, Kelati, and maybe Jones or Orton the next day.

D2 Elites Shine at Washington

Garrett Zatlin

Western Oregon's Derek Holdsworth started out his season at the UW Preview and ran 1:50 to take home the win over Brooks Beast pro Drew Windle. It was a strong time and a great way to start his season, but it didn't do much other than reestablish the idea that he could be a title contender in March. Well, after briefly losing his top time in D2 to Hugo Arlabosse, Holdsworth went back to Washington to make a statement.

And what a statement he made.

The Trinidad State transfer dropped a mind-boggling 1:47.74 to win in dominating fashion. With this performance, Holdsworth becomes the overwhelming national title favorite in the 800 meters (well, in my eyes at least). This result may also allow him to pursue other events like the mile later this winter. That would be a fun experiment to see where his endurance currently lies.

Then we have Addy Townsend of Simon Fraser who kept her streak of big-time performances going at the Washington Invitational. She dropped an excellent time of 2:07 for 800 meters and was the top collegiate finisher in the race.

The women's 800 meters at the D2 level has the potential to produce some sneaky-good times and challengers, but Townsend has established herself as the class of the field so far this winter. I'm not sure who in D2 would be able to beat her in a half-mile right now.

Kusche Runs 3:57, Leads Three Collegiates Under Four

Conor Stack + Garrett Zatlin

Conor: In a loaded mile field at Washington, Nebraska's George Kusche finished 3rd overall (but as the top collegiate) in a blistering time of 3:57 and led three more collegians under four as well. Talem Franco (BYU) finished 4th in 3:58 while the Washington duo of Sam Tanner and Dustin Nading each recorded a pair of 3:59's.

Kusche now joins Waleed Suliman and Ryan Adams in this season's 3:57 club (Klecker will get a 3:55 conversion) and now throws his name into the All-American conversation for the mile. The Nebraska star is only making this year's mile field crazier than we expected it to be.

Garrett: Then we have Talem Franco, the BYU ace who had quietly posted a handful of promising mile and 1500 meter performances over the past two years. Franco has been on the cusp of a performance like this for a while now, so it's not exactly shocking to see him have this kind of race.

After missing the 1500 meter finals at NCAA's last spring and being the First Man Out for the Outdoor National Championships in 2018, it's good to see Franco get a mile time that will likely put him into the national meet later this season.

And finally, we have the Washington duo of Sam Tanner and Dustin Nading. For Tanner, this result is hardly surprising. He was a prep star in New Zealand and his 1000 meter victory from a couple of weeks ago (where he ran 2:21) indicated that he was more than capable of running under 4:00 this season.

But Nading? Well, that's a different story.

After remaining absent from competition for an entire year, transferring from Western Oregon to Washington, and starting off his season by running unattached in the 1000 meters, it was impossible to know what was next for Nading. And maybe that's why his most recent mile result was so exciting. The newest Washington Husky just dropped a massive new personal best of 3:59 for the mile. His original PR was 4:04 from June 2018.

After falling off the radar for what seems like forever, Andy Powell has revived Nading's career and made him a sub-four minute miler.

Morley Solos 9:15 At Altitude, Earns Conversion of 8:59

Garrett Zatlin

The women's 3000 meters was incredibly crowded at the top of the NCAA before this weekend. After Makena Morley's performance at the Colorado Invitational, it just got less spacious.

After being sidelined this past cross country season due to a lack of eligibility, Makena Morley returned to the track on Saturday, making a massive statement in her season debut. The Colorado veteran soloed a time of 9:15 for 3000 meters, a performance which ultimately converts to a time of 8:59.

In the absence of Hurta, Morley seemingly stepped in to provide a similar level of star power. One of the better postseason performers in the NCAA clearly took a leap upwards in fitness over the past year. If Morley can replicate that result at sea level, then the fifth year Buffalo may be in store for the best indoor season of her career.

BYU Runs 10:53 (New Facility DMR Record), UW Runs 10:56

Garrett Zatlin

One of the weirder headlines from this weekend was the mid-race stoppage of the women's DMR on Friday night at Washington. Race officials reportedly lost track of how far into the race the teams were at. As a result, the anchor legs were given the baton one lap too early and the race had to be stopped prematurely.

In order to make up for the snafu, the race was rerun earlier this evening...and the wait was well worth it. The BYU women came back with vengeance, throwing down a massive time of 10:53 to set a new Dempsey record. The Washington Huskies settled for 2nd in a very strong time of their own (10:56).

From the very little race footage that we had available, it appears that Orton sat behind Rainsberger for an unknown amount of time on the anchor leg. From there, it can be assumed that Orton broke away in an effort to separate herself from the Husky veteran.

Initial entries show Anna Camp-Bennett and Lauren Ellsworth as the other two distance legs on this relay and since neither woman ran the open 800 meters (like they were initially scheduled to) it seems safe to say that they opted out of their individual events to focus on this distance medley.

Splits are still coming in, but we don't necessarily need to know how fast each leg ran to know that Orton automatically puts this relay into the national title conversation when she is on the anchor.


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