Top Men Miss Qualifying Spots in East Region 800
The 800 meters has been the most predictable event of the regional championship meets so far. The results in the women's 800 (for both regions) surprised no one, although I'm sure a few people thought that PAC-12 champion Elissa Mann (Colorado) would make it through as well as Kansas State's Kassidy Johnson. Yet, for the most part, there haven't been a ton of surprises....except for the men's 800 in the east region.
The preliminary rounds knocked out Indiana veteran Daniel Kuhn while Georgetown's Joe White, who was reportedly seen with a knee brace before the race, failed to toe the line.
The finals held plenty of thrill as well. Mississippi State's Marco Arop was someone who many viewed as a title contender, but after potentially sustaining an injury in the prelims, Arop was unable to keep up with the leaders in the final portion of last night's race. A 1:45 man who could've secured a national title will not make it to Austin, Texas.
However, Arop was not the only casualty from the regional rounds. Domenic Perretta, the BIG 10 indoor champion who finished 9th at the indoor national meet failed to make it out of the regional rounds while fellow PA-native Matt Wisner (Duke) was also unable to make it to the national meet. Indiana freshman Jalen Royal, who was a popular pick for many of our writers, finished last in the finals.
Instead, we will see a handful of surprise names make it to Nationals such as Leon Atkins (Buffalo), Miles Owens (William & Mary), and Abbas Abbkar (Savannah State).
Here are a few quick thoughts after seeing the steeplechase results
Fast Times & PR's Secure National Qualifiers
It happens every year. A few of the nation's best steeplechase talents separate themselves during the regular season before everyone rips off monster times during regionals. Sure enough, that is exactly what happened last night.
Prior to yesterday, only seven men in the country had run under 8:40 this season. But during the regional rounds, that number was 15 between both regions. Heck, even the women have shown a similar trend. 12 women ran under the 10 minute barrier during the regular season, but a total of 17 women replicated that feat at the regional championships. More so, five women in the west region all ran under 9:50 last night, something that only Prouse, Ostrander, and Cohen had accomplished before championship season began.
But what really caught my attention were the number of clutch PR's that were run in order to qualify for the national meet. Athletes like Ed Trippas (Princeton), Lisa Voegelgesang (Ole Miss), Felix Kandie (Liberty), Anna McDonald (Texas), Stephen Jones (Mississippi State), Kenneth Rooks (BYU), Devin Clark (Arkansas), Alec Basten (Minnesota), and countless others dropped massive personal bests to secure themselves a spot on the line in Austin. It's performances like those that make these regional meets so unpredictable.
BYU Continues To Dominate
As if sending six men to Nationals in the 10k wasn't impressive enough, the Cougars were also able to put four individuals in the top 12 spots for the steeplechase. It was no surprise seeing Matt Owens and Clayson Shumway find their way into the national meet, and to some extent, Jacob Heslington wasn't too surprising either. But seeing true freshman Kenneth Rooks drop a 10 second PR to run 8:36 and get into the national meet is wildly impressive. What is in the water in Provo, Utah?
Erica Birk Proved Me Wrong...Big Time
I'll admit, I was very much against the idea of Birk going all-in on the steeplechase. Ostrander, Prouse, and Cohen were the overwhelming favorites entering the regional meet and although Birk had done incredibly well, I simply felt that her chances were better off in a different event like the 5000 or 1500.
I was so, so wrong.
The BYU ace ran 9:42 to finish 2nd overall in the west region steeplechase behind Ostrander who dropped a 9:40 to take the top spot. Birk's time is now the #2 mark in the NCAA this year and it suddenly thrusts her into the national title conversation. Just when you thought she couldn't do anything more, the BYU Super Mom (we're going to trademark that) continues to impress.