Day one of the regional championships is now complete and my goodness was it exciting. While there were certainly some predictable outcomes, there were also plenty of headlines that we need to discuss. Let's get started and see how much we can discuss as I type this during my lunch break...
BYU Sends Six (!!!) Men to Nationals
Twitter went absolutely insane when the Cougars put six men in the top 12 of the west region 10k last night. Even for a team that was known for their depth, it was an absolutely mind-boggling display of control and poise and their ability to orchestrate the pacing was masterful. In my eyes, it may have been the best display of team running we have ever seen on a track.
If you decided to take the over from our article earlier in the week - and not many did - you would've walked away far wealthier than you were before (you know, in theory).
The six men who qualified for Nationals - Linkletter, Mantz, Young, McMillan, Farnsworth, and Weaver - will now enter the national meet with high expectations. After a miserable performance at last year's outdoor national meet, there is no doubt in my mind that the Cougs will want to put on a show less than two weeks from now. This is the year where it feels like anyone could win the 10k national title and the BYU men are looking to take full advantage of that opportunity.
Notre Dame Qualifies Three Women for the NCAA 10k
Most of the attention after Day One will (rightfully) fall on the BYU men after their legendary performance. However, what most people don't realize is that the Notre Dame women had a big Thursday night of their own.
In retrospect, none of this should have been exceptionally surprising. Rohrer was an overwhelming favorite to earn a national qualifier and teammate Jacqueline Gaughan seemed like an easy pick as well. Yet, even outside of those two, there were still great choices for the Irish women who were simply overlooked on our end. Maddy Denner, the high school star who initially committed to Michigan before opting for Notre Dame, quietly finished 10th overall in last night's 10k to give the Irish a trio of representatives at the national meet.
Looking back, it wasn't completely unrealistic to think that the Notre Dame women could've qualified up to four athletes. Annie Heffernan didn't have her best day, but the junior was certainly someone who was capable of putting herself in contention for a national spot.
All in all, this was an outstanding performance from the Irish women. Coach Sparks has a lot to be proud of with this group.
Quick takes on top names who were absent, failed to finish, or struggled in the prelims
Alfred Chelanga (Alabama)
Gilbert Kigen gave the Crimson Tide a win in the east region 10k, but teammate Alfred Chelanga struggled to stick with the aggressive pace set by the Wildschutt brothers of Coastal Carolina. It was odd to see such a strong top name - who usually thrives in fast-paced fields - struggle to hang with the pace. Unfortunately for Chelanga, he was unable able to stick around and had to drop out of the 10k. He is one of (if not the) biggest misses from Day One.
Millie Howard (Temple) + Maddie Villalba (Penn)
The Philly-based distance studs first came on to our radar after posting a pair of strong 1500's at Bucknell. Since then, they put together a handful of strong results which eventually made them favorites to qualify for the national meet (based on our writer's predictions). Unfortunately, neither women will be going to NCAA's this year as Howard was the second athlete out of the finals while Villalba dropped to near last.
Joe White (Georgetown)
What happened to the Georgetown superstar? White was a heavy favorite to not only qualify for Nationals, but to also earn another All-American honor. Instead, he was absent from the starting line. Was he derailed by an injury? If so, it would explain why we didn't see him at the BIG East Championships. For the first time in what feels like forever, we will not have Heppenstall nor White at the national meet...crazy.
Nevada Moreno (NC State)
After a quick one-year stop at Stanford, Moreno opted to come back home to the east coast. Since she arrived at NC State, she has made notable improvements upwards in her fitness. Moreno's progression while posting consistent performances and placing well in high-level meets made her a big name to watch entering the regional meet. Unfortunately, the rising star was a DNS for the east region 1500. She may not have a been lock to qualify for Nationals, but she was a popular pick for many of our writers.
Theo Quax (Northern Arizona) + Cade Bethmann (Ole Miss)
Look, there had to be at least one top name in the 1500 who was going to go home early. Granted, I didn't think it would happen in the preliminary round of the regional meet, but there are always a few names who simply don't have it on the day they need it the most. For the men, those guys were Quax and Bethmann.
The 1500 is a tricky race due to how insanely tactical it often becomes in championship settings. That's why it's not surprising to see inexperienced youngsters like Quax and Bethmann struggle to adjust to the fluctuating pacing. Of course, this isn't the first time that something like this has happened. After all, Waleed Suliman failed to qualify for the national meet as a freshman in 2018 despite running 3:39 that season...
Everything Else Was...Kinda Predictable
I mean, sure, I wasn't perfect with my predictions, but I don't think there were any other overwhelmingly elite talents who failed to advance. The 800, especially, was easy to predict. Outside of the Joe White and Matt Manternach selections, everything was pretty straightforward. Even the women's west region 10k, the race where so much can happen, was probably the most accurately predicted event for our writers after Day One.
What about the west region 1500? Yes, Theo Quax had an early exit, but I don't think there is anyone else in that preliminary who you can point at and get mad about in regards to their failure to advance (especially in a race as stacked as the 1500).