Updated: May 6
The Stanford Invite is one of the first big meets of the outdoor season and (as always) it is primed to be a good one. I've taken a gander at some predictions for the distance events along with some previews. Keep in mind that the predictions only take into account where collegians will finish, not professionals.
You can find the entry list for this meet in the Flotrack link below:
As we review the half-mile entries, there aren't a lot of big names that immediately stand out. However, a deeper look will reveal that the field is highlighted by Eugene Hamilton III from California and Collins Kibet of Arizona. The PAC-12 duo are incredibly experienced athletes with each individual boasting personal bests of 1:47 and 1:46 respectively.
Unfortunately, Hamilton is coming off of a slightly underwhelming indoor season where he failed to run faster than 1:51 in his two attempts at the event. Kibet, on the other hand, is coming off of an indoor season where he ran a season best of 1:48. The Arizona senior will look to gain some early-season momentum as he attempts to return to the national meet for the first time in two years.
The rest of the field seems to be an all-out mid distance battle between Stanford and California. Notable names from each of these programs include Tai Dinger (Stan), Scott Buttinger (Stan), Ellis Newton (Cal), and Josh Lewis (Cal). Each of these men have personal bests of 1:49.
Sleeper Picks: Bradley Johnson (Oklahoma State), Patrick O'Connell (Notre Dame), Cain Winebrenner (Missouri), Nate Sloan (Pittsburgh), Ethan Moehn (Arkansas)
1. Collins Kibet (Arizona)
2. Eugene Hamilton III (California)
3. Patrick O'Connell (Notre Dame)
4. Tai Dinger (Stanford)
5. Ellis Newton (California)
6. Cain Winebrenner (Missouri)
7. Bradley Johnson (Oklahoma State)
8. Scott Buttinger (Stanford)
In what may be the most exciting match-up of the week, Justyn Knight and Josh Thompson will battle a deep 1500 field as they pursue a fast season-opener. Both individuals are coming off of indoor seasons where they finished as All-Americans and both boast mile PR's of 3:56.
Although these two are the most accomplished milers in the field, they both hold minor imperfections. This past indoor season, Thompson finished a disappointing 6th place at the national championships after being in the discussion as a possible candidate to upset Cheserek. Knight only ran the mile once this past indoor season and finished with a time of 3:59 which, in all fairness to Knight, was a tactical race that he had to lead.
Other distance stars set to run include Oregon's army of milers which consists of Sam Prakel, Blake Haney, Tim Gorman, and Matthew Maton. That doesn't even include the four other freshman who are also in the entries.
The main question that I'm looking to have answered by this Oregon squad is how well will Blake Haney perform after an underwhelming indoor season? In addition to Haney, how well will Sam Prakel rebound after having to sit out indoor track with an injury?
And what about Syrcuse's Adam Palamer? He's coming off an indoor season where he ran a 3:57 PR and placed 5th at nationals. Expect Palamer to be in the lead pack and keeping the pace honest.
Other notable entries scattered throughout the performance list include some of the most underrated milers in the nation such as Chris Hatler (Penn), Paul Duffey (Northeastern), Julian Oakley (Providence), and the Oklahoma State contingent of Craig Nowak and Matthew Fayers. All of the names I just mentioned are sub-four minute milers and are accomplished racers.
Sleeper Picks: Kasey Knevelbaard (Southern Utah), Jonathan Davis (Illinois), Dan Curts (Iowa State), Euan Makepeace (Butler), and Blake Nelson (Washington).
1. Justyn Knight (Syracuse)
2. Josh Thompson (Oklahoma State)
3. Matthew Maton (Oregon)
4. Chris Hatler (Penn)
5. Adam Palamer (Syracuse)
6. Julian Oakley (Providence)
7. Tim Gorman (Oregon)
8. Paul Duffey (Northeastern)
The best part about this race is that there doesn't seem to be an overwhelming favorite to win. There are multiple names that could be considered as candidates to win, but the focus should be placed on guys like CJ Albertson (Arizona State), Emil Blomberg (UT-Arlington, and Jakob Abrahamsen (Eastern Kentucky).
Blomberg may the most underrated steeplechaser in the country with a PR of 8:36 and should be in the conversation as a potential national champion this year. Joining Blomberg in the national champion discussion will most likely be CJ Albertson who may have a slower PR (8:45), but has been dominating in the longer distances as of late with a 5k PR of 13:50. Jakob Abrahamsen, who has incredible range for a steeplechaser, will make his season debut as one of the top-returners in the nation with a PR of 8:34.
As for the rest of the field, I'll be keeping an eye out for talented second-year steeplechasers like Kai Benedict (California) and Bailey Roth (Arizona). Based on their freshman year performances, we could see these two take it to the next level in 2017 and compete for All-American honors. They may not be as experienced as some of the other guys in this field, but they know how to compete with some of the best.
I’m also a big fan of Troy Reeder (Furman), Cale Wallace (Arkansas), and Dylan Blankenbaker (Oklahoma). Each of these guys have thrived in events outside of the steeplechase and have shown plenty of promise. Don’t be surprised to see one of them have a breakout race and finish in the top eight.
Sleeper Picks: Robert Murphy (IUPUI), Eion Nohilly (Georgetown), Benjamin Preisner (Tulsa), Mitchell Briggs (BYU)
1. Emil Blomberg (UT-Arlington)
2. Jakob Abrahamsen (Eastern Kentucky)
3. Bailey Roth (Arizona)
4. CJ Albertson (Arizona State)
5. Troy Reeder (Furman)
6. Dylan Blankenbaker (Oklahoma)
7. Kai Benedict (California)
8. Cale Wallace (Arkansas)
Event of the weekend? It sure seems like it. There are so many talented names in this field that it is nearly impossible to discuss them all. Despite the incredible depth of the field, there doesn’t seem to be a clear-cut favorite.
One the best runners in the field might be Colorado State’s Cole Rockhold who had a breakout indoor season by running times of 3:57 (altitude conversion) and 7:59. He’ll pair up with teammate Jefferson Abbey as they attempt navigate the crowded field.
We’ll also get to see the Arkansas duo of Jack Bruce and Alex George who always seem to fall under the radar despite their consistent success and lack of poor races.
California’s Thomas Joyce and Garrett Corcoran may not be the most consistent, but they are coming off of an indoor season where each of them qualified for nationals. Joyce has a PR of 13:34 in this event, but that was run almost two years ago in 2015 (Joyce redshirted the 2016 outdoor season).
Joining the Cal duo will be teammate Trent Brendel who could be primed for a breakout spring season in 2017 after having some excellent performances during cross country.
One of the more recognizable names in the field will be Malachy Schrobilgen (Wisconsin) who is still one of the top distance runners in the nation despite some struggles with injuries and illness. There is a very good chance that he ends up winning this event.
Lastly, let’s not forget about Indiana who may be the strongest team in this event with Matthew Schwartzer, Kyla Mau, Bryce Millar, and Jason Crist all entered to race.
Sleeper Picks: Chartt Miller (Iona), Dylan Blankenbaker (Oklahoma), Matthew Maton (Oregon), Jaret Carpenter (Purdue), Alex Short (San Francisco), Jake Leingang (North Dakota)
1. Thomas Joyce (California)
2. Malachy Schrobilgen (Wisconsin)
3. Jaret Carpenter (Purdue)
4. Cole Rockhold (Colorado State)
5. Kyle Mau (Indiana)
6. Jake Leingang (North Dakota)
7. Alex George (Arkansas)
8. Chartt Miller (Iona)
Whenever Edward Cheserek is on the performance list, he is bound to gain attention and become the focal point of the event. Naturally, Cheserek should be considered the favorite to win...right?
Actually, there's a good chance that he doesn’t even place in the top 10! In 2014, Cheserek entered the Stanford Invite 10k and cruised through the event with a modest time of 29:04 to solidify his spot at the NCAA Regional meet. He placed 26th overall.
We could see Cheserek pull off the same race he did in 2014 and focus on earning his spot at regionals. If that turns out to be the case, then who will be the top collegiate in this race?
Just like the 5000, Colorado State will field a duo worthy of mentioning. Grant Fischer and Jerrell Mock both qualified for the 5000 at nationals this past indoor season and will attempt to test their fitness at a distance that is twice as long. NAU’s Matt Baxter and Tyler Day are also in the same boat as the CSU duo.
And what about BYU’s Clayton Young? His breakout indoor season included PR’s of 7:49 and 13:45 and he is certainly one of the more talented individuals entered in this race. Of course, we also saw Young fail to earn All-American at nationals this past winter despite having one of the best times in the field. How will he fare at a loaded meet like Stanford?
Although I’m not quite sold on saying that this guy is the favorite to win, I really like Butler’s Erik Peterson and what he can bring to the table. He can hang with pretty much anyone at any pace. He was an All-American this past winter in the 5000 and I think he’ll enter this race with enough confidence to win (or at least finish as the top collegian).
Honorable mentions: Alex Short (San Francisco), Colin Bennie (Syracuse), Philo Germano (Syracuse), Willy Fink (Eastern Michigan), Alfred Chelanga (Alabama), Tanner Anderson (Oregon), Reed Fischer (Drake)
1. Erik Peterson (Butler)
2. Grant Fischer (Colorado State)
3. Clayton Young (BYU)
4. Jerrell Mock (Colorado State)
5. Tyler Day (NAU)
6. Matt Baxter (NAU)
7. Colin Bennie (Syracuse)
8. Alfred Chelanga (Alabama)