Nationals Day Three Reactions

1500 Finals

Garrett: Wow...what a race. That may have been the best finish I have ever seen. Yared Nuguse showed that he may the gutsiest (and the best) finisher in the NCAA. Also, props to Kiprotich who had me absolutely convinced that he was going to win this race with 150 meters to go. The Michigan State veteran was one of many names who were willing to make this race exciting. It would have been nice to see him finish his collegiate career with a national title, but Yared Nuguse is a young talent who will be a major problem for his competitors in the future (and he already is).

Maura: Literally sitting on the edge of my seat while watching that finish. When Nuguse fell back, I didn’t think he had a final kick in him, but boy was I wrong.

Garrett: Also, how about Oliver Hoare? He just completely faded and in the eyes of many, he was the favorite to win the national title. As it turns out, he may not be a super great tactical runner like we initially thought.

Maura: Even though Hoare made a move at 200 meters, I just didn’t see it being the winning move. Throughout the course of the season, Hoare didn’t exactly look the greatest, especially after losing to Kiprotich at BIG 10's.

Maura: Overall, this race came down to who had the best position heading into the final 100 meters. Look at the way Cameron Griffith and Jack Anstey were able to slide their way into the top seven ahead of Casey Comber and Sam Worley.

Sam: Jumping in a bit late here, but that was a great race. I’m not surprised to see Hoare lose. He seems great when the field gets strung out but when it becomes tactile (i.e indoors) he has struggled a bit.

Sean: This race had a ton of movement and it was nice to see so many people go to the front. Nuguse and Hoare obviously took a lot of the pace early on but then Kiprotich, Comber, and Paulson all went to the front at some point. Knevelbaard finished strong too which was awesome to watch as he sat at the back all race.

3000 Steeplechase Finals

Garrett: So many emotions from this final. The fall from Michalski was heartbreaking and although he likely would have been passed by Fahy anyways, I felt bad that he went down on the final water pit. As for Fahy, his fall on the final hurdle followed by his celebration less than 100 meters later was rather comical. The near tragedy followed by immediate elation is always a funny contrast.

Maura: The fact that Fahy was able to get back up and still wins shows his willingness to win. He was also lucky to have a decent lead heading into the final barrier. A championship is a great way to go out after a strong career at Stanford.

Garrett: Also, what a rough day for the BYU men in this event. They had four men in the race, but took the last three spots (in addition to Matt Owens finishing 8th). This is a talented group, but they just sat in the back of the pack and couldn’t seem to rally when the main group began to surge.

Maura: I was expecting more from the BYU men in that steeplechase final. Having four men in the final should have built some confidence for the men because it could be run similar to a workout. Owens was really the only man who put himself in the race early while the other three fell to the back fairly quickly after the start.

Sean: Really, what was Matt Owens doing? If his teammates weren’t feeling great, why would you take the lead and push the pace? I just don’t understand the purpose of that move, especially since he couldn’t hold on for a high placing himself. I definitely want to give props to Steven Fahy though. Fahy often gets overlooked behind the Fisher and the other Stanford guys so it’s awesome to see him get a championship.

Maura: What a finish by Ryan Smeeton though. The Oklahoma State sophomore was near the front the entire race and came into the final straightaway well to finish 2nd. His 8:27 PR from earlier this season was not a fluke, he is the real deal and should be one to watch for next year.

Sprints Appreciation Section

Garrett: My roommate verbatim said “he’ll run 12.98” before the 110 hurdles went off. Holloway is a freak of nature and his athleticism is absolutely mind-boggling. And for Daniel Roberts to run 13.00 and STILL not win a national title? That’s just crazy. Those two paired with Noah Lyles and Michael Norman on the pro circuit equates to a very bright future for the United States sprints/hurdles group.

Sam: Prior to the race I texted my friend saying that Holloway was the best athlete in the NCAA. Does this confirm that? Also, Divine Oruduru running 9.86 is crazy. Only 0.8 m/s wind and he was only 0.04 seconds off the collegiate record. Also, that 400 meter…man, this meet is wild.

Sean: As a sprinter/multi athlete, this meet has been wonderful. The hurdle battle for the ages is a great way to end Roberts career and I’d have to assume Holloway’s. 12.98 is absolutely no joke and those two times are world #1 and #2 if I’m not wrong. In the 100, Oduduru taking the world lead shows why coming to Austin is a great choice for the sport. A Japanese record for Hakim Sani Brown in 9.97 is awesome as well; a great reminder of the global nature of the NCAA with Oduduru and Sani Brown representing Nigeria and Japan, respectively.

In the 400, I thought this might be NC A&T’s opportunity to grab a title as Trevor Stewart ran a huge 44.25, but Kahmari Montgomery just got him at the line. The 200 was another fun one as Oduduru hit times that were only really touched at NCAA's by De Grasse when it was wind-aided in Oregon. His presence was great for this meet. And not to be outdone by all of this, 37.97 for a collegiate record by Florida is mighty impressive.

Now, I’m going to go off on the 400 hurdles for a bit. Quincy Hall is clearly the fastest individual in this field, but watching his form was almost embarrassing. The statement the announcers made about Hall wanting to go sub 48 seconds is totally possible, but he needs to really work his pattern. Hall’s struggles this year were due to the fact that he split time between the open 400 and the 400 hurdles. Rhythm in the 400 hurdles can be mimicked in practice, but there is no substitute for racing and Hall just didn’t do quite enough racing before this meet for him to be smooth. It’s still an awesome victory for him, but Grimes and the rest of the field had much better races in my opinion. If Hall continues to run deep into the summer, he could pull together his form to challenge for a World Final.

800 Finals

Ben: Boy was that a weird race. Hoppel is un-beat-able!

Garrett: That race was the true test of Hoppel’s talent. He had everything thrown at him with the hard pace, although he got a little bit lucky by having the inside lane open up on the final curve. Brilliant race by him and it validates Hoppel as an all-time great in an era that has been headlined by elites like Saruni, Brazier, Korir, McBride, and Harris.

Maura: The race was over after Dixon left that door open for Hoppel on the inside lane. A championship, a PR, and a continued streak for Hoppel were the end result. Festus Lagat made a good effort in trying to catch Dixon for 2nd, but ran out of track. Lagat was still able to run a PR.

Garrett: Big performance for Festus Lagat. He’s been a solid, middle-of-the-road 800 runner, but that performance really put him in the next tier. The top two finishers may have run 1:44, but don’t overlook Lagat’s two second PR of 1:45.05.

Ben: I honestly thought that Lagat was going to catch Hoppel in the last 50 meters, but Hoppel showed why he has been undefeated all year.

Sean: Not much to saw beyond what you all noted, but tough to see the Texas Tech guys really struggle in the final. They’re still going to probably win the team title, but you have to imagine a team loss falls on their shoulders based on points.

5000 Final

Garrett: Literally the same race we’ve seen a handful of times before. No surprise at all.

Ben: Can someone crop McDonald’s face onto Thanos? He is inevitable.

Ben: As I wrote earlier in the season, McDonald had a chance to join some elite company if he won a title outdoors. He just did and now becomes the fourth runner ever to win at least three titles and a cross country title in the same year.

Maura: Besides the top two we all predicted, what about Thomas Ratcliffe finishing 3rd? For someone who can be so up and down, he was definitely on his game tonight.

Garrett: Agreed, Ratcliffe was huge! Great to see him rebound and earn a bronze medal to complete a phenomenal comeback season for him. With Fisher and Ratcliffe finishing 2-3 and Fahy winning the steeplechase, the Stanford men had a great day.

Ben: Another impressive run by Clayton Young to put himself into contention again, but a disappointing national meet for NAU. I really thought Beamish would give McDonald and Fisher a run for their money.

Maura: I agree with you there, Ben. Beamish never seemed to be in the race, whereas Brodey Hasty at least gave himself a chance. You have to wonder what happened to Cooper Teare though. He came in seeded #3 and ended up finishing 22nd.

Garrett: Yeah, NAU really underperformed this weekend. That roster has so much talent, but they just couldn’t put it together. Granted, there were plenty of others who failed to meet expectations, but after dominating cross country you thought the Lumberjacks would be able to play a little bit more of a role.

Maura: BYU seems to dominate more come outdoor track, but NAU currently owns the cross country scene. Aside from that point, Young and Mantz recovered well after a successful 10k. Mantz’s race will carry over some valuable experience into next year.

Ben: Seeing Kigen, Mantz, Brandt, and Young run well after the 10k seems to bode well for the women who are doubling tomorrow. We will see if Kelati can repeat her performance from the 10k in the 5k tomorrow and if Ostrander can recover quick enough after the steeple to contend for a 5k national title.