Predictions & Previews: Virginia Challenge



2017 VIRGINIA CHALLENGE ENTRIES

800

Florida Relays part two? It sure looks that way when you see all of the names entered in this event.

Drew Piazza and Isaiah Harris will headline the field as Piazza looks to build on his runner-up finish at indoor nationals. On the flip side, Harris is coming off of a huge 1:45 Florida Relays win and is currently number one in the nation. Both men have an equally good chance of taking home the win. You might as well flip a coin to predict the winner.

Andres Arroyo will thrive in this field as he is typically able hold his own among the elites of the half-mile. The same goes for Robert Heppenstall who will most likely run another really solid time, but go unnoticed in a field crowded with talent.

Patrick Joseph is a difficult prediction for me. He ran 1:46 indoors and was the ACC champion in this event. Unfortunately, a nasty fall in the prelims at indoor nationals kept him out of the All-American conversation. I like to think that he’s hungry for a rebound race, but I’m not sure if he still has that magic we saw at ACC’s.

Penn State frosh Dom Perretta will most likely battle Hampton, Schnulle, and Sauer for the next few spots. I see Sauer winning his heat and putting himself in the top eight for this event overall.

1. Drew Piazza (Virginia Tech)

2. Isaiah Harris (Penn State)

3. Andres Arroyo (Florida)

4. Robert Heppenstall (Wake Forest)

5. Patrick Joseph (Virginia Tech)

6. Domenic Perretta (Penn State)

7. Jeramey Hampton (Georgia)

8. Alek Sauer (Columbia)

1500

Finally! Justyn Knight is set to make his season debut with a 1500. Knight was runner-up in this event at the same meet last year and was the champion during his freshman year (where he lost one of his spikes halfway through the race).

Knight should get the win, but it certainly wont be easy as he’ll have to face three elite milers in James Randon (3:58, Outdoor All-American), Neil Gourley (3:41, Indoor All-American), and Henry Wynne (2016 Indoor NCAA Mile Champ).

Wynne is coming off an indoor season where he struggled and failed to make nationals. This race will be a defining moment in Wynne’s career as he looks like to position himself as an NCAA contender for the 2017 season.

After the top four, I’m predicting that we will see some of our young talent step up and make some noise. I am a big fan of Florida’s Jack Guyton and he was one of the names to watch in our Under The Radar Underclassmen article.

Meanwhile, Ryan Adams is a legitimate threat in this race and is someone who has run 3:42 earlier this season. Most would have him higher, but there’s simply just not enough room at the top for him in my opinion. Hopefully he proves me wrong.

Kiprotch and Napolitano are consistent winners and neither have had a bad race so far this season. They are both great tactical racers and should be fit enough to finish in the top eight against this loaded field.

1. Justyn Knight (Syracuse)

2. James Randon (Yale)

3. Neil Gourley (Virginia Tech)

4. Henry Wynne (Virginia)

5. Jack Guyton (Florida)

6. Ryan Adams (Furman)

7. Justine Kiprotich (Michigan State)

8. Rob Napolitano (Columbia)

3000 Steeple

We have yet to see a steeplechaser run under 8:40 this season and I’m not sure this will be the race for it either. Motschmann will be the favorite entering this race, but he will not be let off the hook easily. Jaskowak had himself an incredibly underrated indoor season and Aidan Tooker could be the next great collegiate steeplechaser.

Former Virginia Cavalier and current Syracuse Orangeman Adam Visokay is an accomplished and experienced senior who owns a personal best of 8:43 in this event, but that was run during the outdoor season of his sophomore year. I expect him to hold his own in this race, but I’m not expecting a personal best.

That said, wouldn’t it be cool if Visokay got the win on Virginia’s track after he left there to go to Syracuse?

Others like Myjer and Benoit will look to flex their veteran status while Nohilly and Novak will look to show that young guys can succeed in this difficult event.

1. Johannes Motschmann (Iona)

2. Daniel Jaskowak (Virginia Tech)

3. Aidan Tooker (Syracuse)

4. Adam Visokay (Virginia)

5. Aubrey Myjer (Columbia)

6. Eion Nohilly (Georgetown)

7. Max Benoit (Michigan State)

8. Matthew Novak (Virginia)

5000

The clear favorite in this field is George Parsons who is one of the more underrated individuals in the distance events. After running a big personal bests of 3:44 and 28:43, Parsons is arguably in the best shape of his collegiate career and I don’t see a scenario where he loses.

Philo Germano is coming off of a long indoor season of being injured. Watch for him to have a big rebound race. As for teammate Colin Bennie, he is a strong runner but doesn’t seem to be at the point of fitness we saw during his sophomore year.

Just like Parsons, Kirui is coming off of a sub-29 minute 10k at Stanford and is set to unleash a strong 5k performance. Meanwhile, Erik Rotich had the best season debut of his career with a time of 14:08 at Raleigh Relays.

The last few mentions should go to the Virginia men who had an absolute killer showing at the Raleigh Relays in the 5k and 10k. I’m also a big fan of Brent Demarest who is poised to be the face of the UVA program for the next few years.

1. George Parsons (NC State)

2. Philo Germano (Syracuse)

3. Brent Demarest (Virginia)

4. Gilbert Kirui (Iona)

5. Colin Bennie (Syracuse)

6. Thomas Madden (Virginia)

7. Erik Rotich (Eastern Kentucky)

8. Lachlan Cook (Virginia)

10,000

Admittedly, this field isn’t too exciting, but there is some underrated talent that could breakout and catch some attention. The Georgia duo has been looking very strong as of late with Kamau earning wins in the 1500/mile while Vaughn is coming off two personal bests in the 1500 and 5000. If they work together, I think they could definitely go 1-2.

Alex Corbett has started to find his groove at Virginia and his teammates have been strong in the longer distances. He may be young, but I see him fighting for the Georgia men for the win.

Stalnaker and Stroede may not come from a Power Five conference or train with a powerhouse distance program, but they’ve been consistent and very solid over the past few seasons.

The last few spots are a toss up as there are so many other guys who could step and finish within the top eight.

1. Sid Vaughn (Georgia)

2. Bryan Kamau (Georgia)

3. Alex Corbett (Virginia)

4. Lucas Stalnaker (Navy)

5. Bryce Stroede (Oakland)

6. Ari Klau (Iona)

7. Daniel Rau (Virginia Tech)

8. Harry Earl (Eastern Kentucky)

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