The John Thomas Terrier Classic at Boston University is part of what will be a very exciting weekend of collegiate track and field. With the UW Invite, Penn State National, and the Dr. Sander Columbia Challenge all taking place, we will likely see some impressive performances as athletes shoot for a top-16 spot to earn a trip to NCAA's.
The indoor track at Boston University is heralded as one of the fastest tracks in the nation due to its steep banks and gentle turns. Teams from the northeast and beyond flock to BU to chase times and race against top competition. Just last year, Edward Cheserek ran the second fastest indoor mile of all time at BU in his first season as a professional, one year after setting the collegiate mile record on the same track. The Terrier Classic is just one of the high performance meets BU will host this year, and if their December 1st preview meet is any indicator, this should be a great season of racing in Boston.
Starting with the middle distance events, the 800 is not looking particularly competitive beyond some professionals and semi-pros. The 1000, however, should have some good competition. The 1000 meters isn’t an NCAA Championship distance, so it isn’t always heavily focused on, but many athletes use it as a tune-up distance or just run it to add another fast time to their resume. Providence College is bringing the heat in the 1000 meters with Nick Carleo (2:27/4:04), Michael Wyman (4:05), and Ryan Jendzejec (1:52) as some of the top seeds. Reed Horton of Dartmouth is another top entry with PR's of 1:52 and 2:25. UMass Amherst’s Brian Gendron comes in as another top entry in the 1000 with a 1:50 PR for 800 meters.
The men’s mile is highlighted by some studs who tend to lean towards other distances. Syracuse’s Aidan Tooker and Noah Affolder are the top collegiate seeds in the race. The steeplechase specialists have both run 4:02 in the mile and could threaten the 4-minute barrier at BU. It’s always exciting to watch an athlete break 4 for the first time, and we could possibly see these two teammates do it together.
Chase Barnett of Michigan also comes in with a 4:02 PR, along with his teammates Jordan Hewitt, Ben Hill, and Ryan Wilkie who have all run 4:05. UMass Lowell’s Grant Hauver holds a 4:06 PR and is entered as well. These guys could all push the 4:00 barrier if they’re in top fitness this early in the season. With most conference meets still about a month away, it may be a couple weeks before we really see people rounding into form.
Another athlete to watch is Jack Pinho from Springfield College. He’s an indoor and outdoor Division III All-American in the mile and 1500, and holds PR's of 3:47 and 4:07. Those might not be top-tier DI times, but I have no doubt that he can compete with the talented field this weekend. The DIII leading time is a flat-track converted 4:10, so Pinho could very well take over the DIII lead.
The 3000 meters at BU is shaping up to be one of the most exciting races of the weekend. Vincent Kiprop and Gilbert Kigen, two members of the famed Alabama trio are entered after remaining absent for 2018 cross country season. Kiprop has run 7:55 while Kigen has run 7:59. Both of these men are a bit more suited for the 5k/10 distances, but if we assume that they're at full then they should be ready to rip the shorter distance.
Syracuse’s Iliass Aouani comes in with a 7:57 PR and will be looking to lower that in search of an NCAA qualifying time. Aouani has had some up-and-down performances over the past few seasons of competition. He'll look to gain some early-season momentum during his season debut.
Paul Hogan, the Northeast Region cross country champion from UMass Lowell has started off his season strong with PR's of 13:53 in the 5k and 4:08 in the mile. He’ll be in search of a time under 8:06 if he is going to continue his string of personal bests. Brown’s Cameron Daly is also seeded pretty high with an 8:11 PR. There is a whole pack of guys entered with PR's in the 8:10 to 8:20 range who could break out into the next level if the race goes out hard, which it likely will. The Alabama guys don’t like to mess around with tactical races and like to push the pace from the front. This should be a great race that could produce some national qualifiers.
While the 3000 contains some of the top distance talent from around the NCAA, the 5000 should produce some fast times as well. Cameron Avery of Stony Brook is the top collegiate entry with a PR of 14:07. He has also run 8:18 for 3k and had a strong cross country season. He will likely be up front with an impressive post-collegiate crowd. The Syracuse trio of Kevin James, Joe Dragon, and Dominic Hockenbury will also be headlining this race. They come in with PR's of 14:09, 14:24, and 14:34, respectively.
Dragon and Hockenbury’s times are not necessarily top-tier, but they are both on the rise after impressive performances during outdoor track last year. Similar to the 3000, the 5000 has a bunch of guys who are looking to make the jump to the next level from the 14:30 to 14:45 range to the lower 14-minute mark. On a fast track with good competition, we could see a lot of guys make that jump.