Predictions & Previews: D2 Nationals (Part One)

Updated: May 23, 2018

By: John Cusick

We’ve got an article here that you do NOT want to miss. We have lists of the declared athletes which means we’re ready for a preview. We'll give you our predictions along with those that we believe are contenders for the title.

I apologize for the hiatus with these articles, but nothing has dramatically changed within the national qualifying lists as most conference meets were held between the Brian Clay weekend and now.


The 800 meters has five athletes that have dipped under the 1:49 mark this season and they have given us most of our title contenders. Thomas Staines of CSU-Pueblo still has the national lead while Fort Hays State’s Decano Cronin sits close behind him. Both have the only 1:47 marks on the list (albeit altitude adjusted) and they’ll look to repeat their performances from the indoor season.

Staines is clearly the guy to beat in this race. He hasn’t lost an 800 so far this year and nothing looks to be in his way as we near closer to May 24th. His 1:48.34 at his conference meet is the fastest mark he has during this outdoor season. With his 400-meter speed and underrated strength, it will be tough for anyone to upend Staines.

Of course, that’s not to say that Staines unbeatable. He’ll face some stiff competition from Decano Cronin. Cronin finished 2nd at the indoor national meet with a hard finish, but was no real threat to Staines in that race. Earlier this season, he ran 1:48.47 at the Beach Invitational and it looks like he’s in good enough shape to at least challenge Staines right now. However, in order to do so, he’ll have to go out with Staines and make it a fast race.

Staines’ teammate Devundrick Walker has the 3rd fastest time entered and he had himself the best season of his life as he set a new personal best by more than two seconds. Walker qualified for the final back in 2015 where he finished 6th, but failed to qualify for the final during the 2018 Indoor Championships. However, it looks like his training has progressed quite well throughout the spring track season.

Shaquille Dill is probably my dark horse coming into this race. Dill was the national champion during the outdoor season in 2016 and carried that into that next indoor season where he was a national champion for the 2nd time. He carries a personal best of 1:48.29 from 2016, but after clocking a 1:48.70 it looks like Dill is back to an elite fitness and should be considered as a threat.

Dage Minors (Franklin Pierce), Patrick Weaver (Colorado School of Mines), Joshua Ajero (Albany State), Ackeen Colley (American Intl.), Robert Downs (TAMU-Kingsville), and Dennis Mbuta (Grand Valley State) round out the top ten of the national list. They all sport times that are beneath the 1:50 mark and have the potential to finish on the podium if their training has trended well.

Minors has a time of 1:48.99 from the Florida Relays and has the chance to join the contenders. He finished 4th at the indoor meet and is hoping that his training is in line with the expectations.

Weaver finally broke 1:50 again after a two-year gap and is looking to finally add his name to the list of contenders. That said, his recent results have us questioning if he’ll break through in his last collegiate national meet.

Final Predictions:

1. Thomas Staines (CSU-Pueblo), 1:47.32

2. Decano Cronin (Fort Hays State), 1:47.65

3. Shaquille Dill (St. Augustines), 1:48.50

4. Dage Minors (Franklin Pierce), 1:48.63

5. Devundrick Walker (CSU-Pueblo), 1:48.89

6. Ackeen Colley (American Intl.), 1:49.34

7. Hugo Arlabosse (Franklin Pierce), 1:49.87

8. Derek Morton (Chico State), 1:51.78

I think Staines takes home another title on May 26. He’s too fit to just go by the wayside. This is just the beginning of Staines’ dominant collegiate career and I believe he’ll cap the 2018 season with another title despite a strong push by Cronin.


Moving on to the 1500 meters, we have a clear-cut favorite in David Ribich after he broke the collegiate record at the Bryan Clay Invite. His 3:37.35 is nearly four full seconds ahead of the 2nd place individual on the list.

We have no one else under the 3:40 mark, but we do have three athletes who have dipped under the 3:45 mark on the season. Adams State’s Austin Anaya and Elias Gedyon come into the national meet with the 2nd (3:41.31) and 4th (3:43.81) fastest times thank to their altitude converted times from the CU Invite back in early April. Anaya and Gedyon went to the Penn Relays where they competed in the 4xMile and finished 5th. We’ll see if the Grizzlies can contend and help pull-off a potential Adams State’s title run.

Joining that group is Brett Meyer of Fort Hays State. Much like Ribich, he ran his season best of 3:43.64 at the Bryan Clay invitational as well. Meyer won his conference meet and has run 1:50 for 800 meters. When you consider that he is teammates with Cronin, it would be expected that Meyer’s training has progressed just as well. He should be mentioned in the All-American conversation as we approach the national meet.

Josh Young of MSU-Moorhead and Dustin Nading of Western Oregon are the next athletes down the time-tier list as both sit in the 3:45 range. Young ran 3:45.00 at Bryan Clay and will be making his 3rd national championship meet. Nading is the indoor mile champion from this past winter and will obviously be looking to make it a sweep alongside Ribich. Both Young and Nading have championship experience and know how to race which makes them strong competitors in tactical races.

Simon Bedard and Daniel Wallis have the exact same times of 3:46.37 with Wallis’ coming way of an altitude conversion. Bedard ran his time at the Titan Invite on the first weekend of May. Jonathan Dahlke joins them under the 3:47 mark with his 3:46.53 from early April.

Corey Wefing (Edinboro), Calahan Warren (Embry-Riddle), Ricky Harvie (West Texas A&M), Michael Duran (CSU-Pueblo) and Ross Husch (Western State) round out the top 14 of the national list and are all under the 3:48 mark giving us our most probable final field.

Final Predictions:

1. David Ribich (Western Oregon), 3:48.98

2. Dustin Nading (Western Oregon), 3:49.11

3. Brett Meyer (Fort Hays State), 3:49.20

4. Daniel Wallis (Queens N.C.), 3.49.53

5. Josh Young (MSU-Moorhead), 3:49.65

6. Austin Anaya (Adams State), 3:50.21

7. Elias Gedyon (Adams State), 3:50.65

8. Ross Husch (Western State), 3:51.14

9. Corey Wefing (Edinboro), 3:51.34

10. Felix Wammetsberger (Queens N.C), 3:52.38

11. Calahan Warren (Embry-Riddle), 3:53.67

12. Michael Duran (CSU-Pueblo), 3:56.78

3000 Steeplechase

We’ll continue along with the 3000 meter steeplechase. We have three athletes that are underneath the 8:50 mark who should make this an exciting final. Kyle Medina of Chico State, Kale Adams of Adams State and Gatian Ariau of Academy of Art.

We’ll begin with Medina who ran his 8:44.40 at the Stanford Invite, but clipped the last barrier before the finish. Otherwise, he would have run under 8:40. His most recent performance in the steeple came at the Payton Jordan where he didn’t look like himself. However, a good showing at his conference meet followed by a 14:01 at the Portland Twilight meet has Medina looking fit and ready to contend.

Adams was 2nd overall at the Mt. Sac Relays, but ran 8:45.23 to win his heat. The last time Adams raced was at the Beach Invite and later joined his teammates at the Penn Relays. He missed his conference championship so there are no recent performances to tell us how Adams should fare. The sophomore was 8th at his first outdoor national meet last year and brings experience from his two indoor appearances as well. An extended time off from racing sometimes has it’s effect on athletes, so we’ll see if it has any on Adams.

Airiau rounds out the top three here and he carries an 8:46.82 that he posted at the Payton Jordan Invitational. Since then, he’s run 14:14 at the Oxy Invite. Airiau also had his conference meet before the month of April was over, but he decided to run another steeplechase and later qualified for the 5000 meters. Expect Airiau to be sharp during the prelims this weekend.

We have two more athletes under the auto mark of 8:53.80 in Evan Verbal of Colorado Christian and Jonathan Dahlke of Mount Olive. Verbal recently raced a 1500 where he ran 3:46 and some change, but he has elected to only declare for the steeple. That decision may be based on last year’s national performance. Dahlke took home the conference title in the 800 where he ran 1:53, but he also ran 4:15 in what looks to be a very tactical championship race. He elected another 800 race as his final tune up which was most likely an effort to prep for a tactical race.

Michael Leet (Lewis), Jorey Egeland (MSU-Billings), Derrick Williams (CSU-Pueblo), Gene Baritot (Edinboro), Trent Phelps (Dallas Baptist), Connor Fisher (Chico State), Oliver Jorgenson (Simon Fraser), Jack Johnson (Chico State) and Taylor Stack (Western State) round out the rest of the athletes who all have times underneath the 9:00 mark.

Williams brings the most experience into this race having been to six previous national meets finishing as high as 2nd. Williams has another shot to take home his first ever individual title and this might be the field he can take down. With another tactical prelim and final looming, expect Williams to be near the front towards the end of the race.

The rest of these guys have six appearances at Nationals COMBINED!

Final Predictions:

1. Kyle Medina (Chico State), 8:48.34

2. Derrick Williams (CSU-Pueblo), 8:49.23

3. Gatian Airiau (Academy of Art), 8:49.54

4. Kale Adams (Adams State), 8:50.64

5. Evan Verbal (Colorado Christian), 8:51.43

6. Michael Leet (Lewis), 8:52.57

7. Oliver Jorgenson (Simon Fraser), 8:56.45

8. Taylor Stack (Western State), 8:57.89

9. Jack Johnson (Chico State), 8:59.22

10. Trent Phelps (Dallas Baptist), 9:04.89

11. Grant Colligan (Colorado School of Mines), 9:05.09

12. Jake Mitchem (Colorado School of Mines), 9:07.54

I have Medina winning here in a close race. Medina has moved from the 1500 where he placed 2nd the last two years and is looking for that elusive individual national title. He’s new to the steeplechase, but he’s not new to how these races play out. When it comes down to a kick, I’m going to take the guy who has run 3:41 before.