Updated: Mar 6, 2018
We breakdown every entry for every distance event and explain what they need to do to secure a national title.
Mile, 800, and 3000 coming soon!
Mike Tate (Southern Utah)
- Tate may not have the closing speed to out-kick guys like Justyn Knight or Jack Bruce, but his ability to take it hard from the gun could be extremely useful. If he establishes a hard pace, he'll eliminate the kickers from this race and at least have a chance to run away from the field.
Justyn Knight (Syracuse)
- Knight can win in pretty much any manner, but his best bet is to keep the field on pace for a time around 13:50. That pace would be slow enough to unleash a kick, but fast enough to drop most of the field when he surges.
Dillon Maggard (Utah State)
- Simply put: don't be afraid to kick first. He got out-kicked by Knight at Iowa State, so if he can surprise the field and pull-away in the last two laps, he may have a shot at taking home gold.
Vincent Kiprop (Alabama)
- We saw at SEC's that, depending on the day, Kiprop may not have the same kick as some of the other guys in this field. He'll need to work together with teammate Gilbert Kigen to box-in Knight and make a hard surprise move that the field can't respond to.
Rory Linkletter (BYU)
- Linkletter burst onto the national scene last spring after dropping a huge kick to finish 2nd in the 10,000 meters. Much like Maggard, his best bet for winning it all is to stick with the front pack and to unleash a kick sooner than 200 meters. It may not be the most conservative tactic, but in a season where no one knows how to beat Justyn Knight, it's the best plan we've got.
Lawrence Kipkoech (Campbell)
- Much like Tate, Kipkoech has a great ability to lead from the gun. If he can gap the field and eliminate strong fishers with a hard opening pace, he may have a shot at pulling off something huge.
Daniel Carney (BYU)
- Admittedly, we don't know a lot about Carney as this has pretty much been his breakout season. Luckily, Carney has two veteran teammates in the field with him. If they work together and push towards the front, Carney may find himself able to cherry-pick off the leaders and surging to the front.
Jacob Thomson (Kentucky)
- Thomson is in the same boat as Maggard and Linkletter. If he can get a jump on the field and sustain a kick for longer than 200 meters, then he may a have shot at crossing the line in first.
Hassan Abdi (Oklahoma State)
- Abdi has a history of throwing down some monster kicks, specifically in BIG 12 Championship meets. His closing speed may be top-tier, but this field is a different level. If the race is slow enough and if Abdi can escape the traffic in his way, then he'll at least have a shot at passing Knight in the final straight...a scenario similar to what happened last spring.
Andy Trouard (Northern Arizona)
- Only two other individuals have Mile speed comparable to Trouard (Knight and Maggard). Not only that, but Trouard has already out-kicked Grant Fisher earlier this season. That's even more impressive when you consider that Fisher has built his reputation on having incredible closing speed. Trouard doesn't need to start his kick earlier or try to out-run the field. He may be the only guy in the NCAA who can beat Knight in a head-to-head sprint to the finish.
Jack Bruce (Arkansas)
- His best bet? Repeat the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Championships. If the race becomes tactical enough, who's to say that Bruce can't sling off the curve and jump ahead of Knight again? He's done it once...
Tanner Anderson (Oregon)
- According to TFRRS, Anderson has never won a single collegiate invite in his two years of eligibility. How is he going to win this one? Honestly, I don't know, but Anderson has thrived in big-time races with an assertive pace. Guys like Lawrence Kipkoech and Mike Tate may be able to make things fast and if they do, Anderson may find himself in a very favorable position with a pair of laps to go...
Amon Kemboi (Campbell)
- Kemboi is young and inexperienced, but he does have plenty of exposure to mid-distance events like the 1000 and 1500. Kemboi was 8th at Iowa State, but fell towards the back of the lead-pack in the final two laps. If the pace is slow enough and if Kemboi can hang with the top five, he may be able to avoid traffic and pull off a massive surprise in that final 100 meters.
Grant Fischer (Colorado State)
- So far, Fischer has proven that he can thrive in sit-and-kick type races or all-out efforts. However, a slower pace may be his best opportunity for a surprise gold. He was able to fade away from Dillon Maggard at the Mountain West Championships, so who's to say that he can't successfully complete that tactic again?
Steven Fahy (Stanford)
- When Steven Fahy finished 9th at the Iowa State Classic with a 13:44, he had a very conservative approach. He started the race towards the back of the pack and slowly worked his way up through the field. That may have been an effective race tactic to get a great time, but if he wants to put himself in a position to win, he may want to work up to the front of the pack earlier in the race. If he does, he'll have less lap traffic than he did at Iowa State. Who knows? Maybe that's the difference maker between 9th and a national title...
Gilbert Kigen (Alabama)
- Kigen's 13:46 at Iowa State was impressive especially when you consider that he was never really in touch with the lead pack. Kigen will need to put himself in a better position early on in this race if he wants to be a contender. In fact, just look at his XC Nationals performance this past fall. He was in the mix and surged away from the field (at least for a portion of the time) to get a 4th place finish. Why not try it again?
Connor McMillan (BYU)
- Connor McMillan may have been the Last Man In, but he's actually undefeated in his two races of the 5K this season. McMillan won the open heat at the Iowa State Classic with a 13:48 and then came up with a huge clutch performance at the MPSF Championships with a 13:46 effort. In that race, McMillan soloed that win and dropped a very talented runner in Ryan Forsyth. If NCAA's becomes tactical and he decides to crank up the pace with 3000 to go, he may be able to give himself enough separation from the rest of the field to pull off a massive upset...
New Mexico Lobos
- The success of this relay will be determined on the 1200 leg. Ian Crowe-Wright has run 4:06 at altitude this season, but he'll be leading off against some of the best athletes in the nation. Crowe-Wright and Michael Wilson (800 leg) don't need to be in the lead when they hand-off, but they do need to keep the top-pack within two or three three seconds if Josh Kerr is going to have a shot of winning it all.
Utah State Aggies
- Much like New Mexico, Utah State needs a big race from their 1200 leg to stay in the hunt for a gold medal. Beutler has run 1:49 and 2:27 before, so if the lead-off leg becomes tactical, he may have enough speed to put his squad in the front. If Maggard can get the baton with the lead-pack, he'll at least have a shot to earn the Aggies a national title.
- The message is simple. Just run hard, don't try to be fancy. Stanford doesn't have the best 800 leg compared to the rest of the field, but they don't need to. They have the best 1200/Mile duo in the NCAA. If they repeat their Alex Wilson performance, they should have gold around their necks after this race.
- The lineup for the Ducks is still unclear. They essentially have five different sub-four minute milers that they can put on three different legs. While that may seem like a good problem to have, the real focus for Oregon should be the 800 leg. The fastest (open) 800 runner the Ducks have this season is Jaxson Hoey who ran 1:52 in late January. If the Ducks can find a sub-1:50 split, they may have enough of an edge to win it all.
- The Badgers are a very dangerous team, especially with Oliver Hoare running as well as he is. It's tough to say that they really have a "weak" leg, but Joe Hardy probably needs to be a little faster than his 2:57 from Alex Wilson. If he can have the race of his life and pull out a split around 2:54, Wisconsin may have a chance to get Hoare the baton near the front of the race and potentially win it all.
Virginia Tech Hokies
- I'm a little biased, but Virginia Tech may be one of the best relays in this field this year. All three of their distance legs have personal bests under 4-minutes in the Mile AND under 1:48 in the 800. They are arguably the best all-around squad in the nation. Much like Stanford, Virginia Tech just needs to run hard. If all three distance legs run like they have all season, then a national title is definitely in the realm of possibility.
- Teddy Browning surprised a lot of people with his 2:54 split at Alex Wilson. If he can run like that again, the Hoosiers should be in the title conversation. However, as talented as Kyle Mau is, his fastest split/time in the Mile this year was 3:58. If the anchor leg becomes tactical, Mau may have a shot to grab the win. But if it doesn't? He'll need a big split around the 3:56/57 range to secure the W.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
- The Fighting Irish had a huge breakout performance to qualify for NCAA's. Jacob Dumford split 2:53 while Yared Nuguse split 3:57. Elijah Silva's split of 1:49 is strong, but if Notre Dame wants to battle with powerhouse programs like Stanford, Oregon, and Virginia Tech, Silva needs to give Nuguse some cushion on the anchor.
- Bartelsmeyer is one of the more accomplished and veteran milers in the NCAA. If they can stay close enough, he'll at least be in the mix with some of the other top anchors in this field. However, the 1200 and 800 legs aren't as established as Bartelsmeyer is on the Mile. Much like New Mexico and Utah State, the Hoyas don't need to by leading by the anchor leg if they want to win. Bartelsmeyer's first 400 of their qualifying DMR was a 55 and they STILL won that race. However, they can't let the rest of the field get too far ahead.
Ole Miss Rebels
- The Rebels feel like a lock for a podium spot. They could put any of their three distance legs in any order and they would still place in the top eight. However, if they want to win, they may want to take a risk. Robert Domanic hasn't been his best this season with times of 1:50 and 4:06. However, he did run a 3:54 Mile last summer. If Mississippi wants to secure themselves an All-American podium position, Sean Tobin is the best option for the anchor. If they want to go all-in on a gold medal pursuit, Domanic should be their choice.
- There are so many unknowns regarding this Wildcat relay. Ben Malone is an awesome choice for the 1200 leg and he will definitely keep 'Nova in contention when he hands off. Yet, after that, inexperience and uncertainty come into play. This got me thinking...what if Villanova put Ben Malone on the anchor? He's run a 3:39 for 1500 before and although he has a tendency to put up inconsistent performances, his speed could be incredibly dangerous relative to the other anchors in this field.
- The Bears are one of the more underrated relays in the nation. Mark Martinez is for real this season after running 3:59 and 7:59. Meanwhile, Lanigan secured PR's of 1:49 and 2:22. Their 800 leg, Emrich, also has a personal best of 1:49. The Bears are solid at every leg, but they'll need a couple seconds from each guy if they want to fight for a title. Lanigan split 2:57, but needs to be closer to 2:54. Oyewole (400 leg) split 49, but needs to be closer to 48. Emrich split 1:50, but needs to be closer to 1:48/49. Martinez split 4:00, but needs to be closer to 3:57/58. That may be a lot to ask, but at least they don't have the entire success of their DMR relying on one leg. Crazier things have happened. If Notre Dame could pull it off to qualify, the Bears can do it to at least medal and maybe more...