You can view our EAST REGION reactions by clicking this link. You can also view all of the entries by clicking the links below.
Today, we reviewed all of the declarations and scratches for the West Regional Championships...
Despite the numerous elite names that are entered for the West Regional Championships, there is only one top seed that is set to scratch. That seed is Carlos Villarreal who is scratching from the 800 and going all-in for the 1500. His qualifying time of 1:46 would have seeded him 5th in the region. Although his 1:46 would usually put him in the All-American conversation for the 800, he is far more experienced and accomplished in the 1500 where he has a personal best of 3:38 from Bryan Clay.
We don't see our next scratch until we get to freshman Sam Worley who is also opting out of the 800 in favor of the 1500 despite his qualifying time of 1:48.
Neither of those decisions surprise me, but the scratching situation with Jordan Beutler from Utah State is something that caught my attention. Despite having the 25th fastest qualifying mark in the 800, Beulter scratched from that event and is declared to run the 1500 where he has the 35th fastest qualifying mark. The initial decision surprised me when you consider the seeding. However, when you process the scratches, Beutler's 800 would have had him seeded 23rd while the 1500 is set to have him seeded at 22nd. It looks like Beutler and the USU coaching staff made the right call.
The rest of the scratches aren't all that exciting. Arizona's Maksims Sincukovs is dropping the 800 for the 400 meter hurdles while the Oregon trio of James West, Sam Prakel, and Mick Stanovsek are all (unsurprisingly) choosing to run the 1500. The same can be said for Texas veteran Alex Rogers.
There is, however, one scratch that left me a little confused. Why would Michael Rhoads (Air Force) scratch from the 800? It was the only event that he qualified for which leads me to believe that he is injured (although that is just speculation). For fans of the sport, it's a tough blow to lose an indoor Nationals qualifier.
As we move to the 1500, this is where we begin to see a heavy number of scratches. The first scratch comes from 3:39 man Jack Bruce. That shouldn't be too surprising considering his history of success in the 5k and his lack of experience in the 1500.
The Stanford duo of Sean McGorty and Grant Fisher are both scratching from the 1500 and choosing the 5000. That's the smarter choice for both of these men who never seemed comfortable in their multiple attempts at the 1500 this season.
One of the biggest surprises of this event (for me), was seeing Abraham Alvarado (BYU) scratch out of the 1500 in favor of the 800. After back-to-back 3:41's, I thought Alvarado was preparing for a 1500 national qualifier. That, of course, is not the case. The indoor NCAA 800 All-American will return to the event that he is the most experienced and comfortable with.
An even bigger surprise was seeing NAU freshman Luis Grijalva attempting the 1500 and the 5000. That should be a huge storyline for those who follow the NCAA. It's a risky decision, but Coach Smith must feel confident that Grijalva has an equally good chance at qualifying in either (or both) events.
Ben Saarel (Colorado), Garrett Corcoran (California), Cooper Teare (Oregon), Cole Rockhold (Colorado State), Andy Trouard (NAU), and Zach Perrin (Colorado) are all scratching from the 1500 to focus on the 5000. That shouldn't be too much of a surprise when thinking back to how strong they have been in the 5k throughout the spring.
Colorado's star freshman Eduardo Herrera choosing the 5000 over the 1500 was not easiest decision. The 5000 takes a lot of base training and a lot of experience. It's rare for younger guys to succeed in deep fields such as this. If his seed time (which is currently 13:57) was closer to Cooper Teare's seed time (13:46) maybe this would be a different story. I can't help but think that he should have scratched from the 5000 instead of the 1500.
We not have as many notable scratches as the 1500, but some declarations are interesting. Northern Arizona's Matthew Baxter and Tyler Day are both scratching from the 5000 and focusing all of their energy on the 10,000 meters. I mentioned this with Jacob Thomson in the East region, but there isn't much of a reason to scratch from the 5000 if your other event is the 10,000. The 10k is on the first day which would leave plenty of rest for the 5k which isn't until day three. Both of these men could have qualified for Nationals in both events, but are choosing not to.
Of course, it's important to note that they aren't the only two men opting out of the 5k/10k double. Colorado State's Grant Fischer, BYU's Connor Mantz, and Oregon's Tanner Anderson will both be scratching from the 5000 and focusing on the 10,000.
As mentioned in the East region article, the "honest effort" rule is something to keep in mind, but I can't remember the last time it was enforced. Additionally, would it really hurt to try out the 5k even if you qualify for the 10k? Maybe there's something I'm missing and/or maybe the athletes just feel more comfortable not having to double. Who knows? After all, I'm just a guy behind a laptop.
Outside of those five, there aren't too many other crazy scratches. Brian Barraza (Houston) is scratching out of the 5000 despite a seed time of 13:38, but the steeplechase is where he'll begin his chase for the national title. The same goes for Minnesota's Obsa Ali who has had a remarkable spring season in the steeplechase.
Northern Arizona's Blaise Ferro and Geordie Beamish are both scratching from the 5000. Just like Michael Rhoads who I mentioned earlier, Ferro and Beamish are not qualified in any other event. Does that mean they're injured? That's the most likely scenario, but I'm still unsure.
James West (Oregon) is scratching to pursue the 1500 while John Rice (Texas) and Andrew Gardner (Washington) are scratching to pursue the steeplechase.
There aren't too many scratches in this one, but we do have some notable declarations that we need to discuss.
One of the first scratches comes within the first five seeds. That first scratch would be from Portland's Noah Schutte who had a 28:34 qualifying mark that would have seeded him 5th in this race. Of course, those who have followed Schutte's career know that he has had a lot of success in the steeplechase (the event he is scratching for). It's a difficult decision for Schutte to make, but I am a little surprised that he walked away from a seed time of 28:34 to pursue a race that has barriers and water pits. A lot more bad can happen in the steeplechase than it can in the 10,000. That said, Schutte is one of the most experienced steeplechasers in the West region and should be well prepared when he toes the line next weekend.
The next scratch wouldn't come until the 19th qualifying mark where Boise State's Miler Haller is seeded with a 29:08. Just like Rhoads, Ferro, and Beamish, Haller does not have another event that he is qualified for.
The last notable scratch from the field is Wisconsin's Zack Snider who is choosing to focus his efforts on the 5000 rather than the 10,000. Even after scratches, Snider still has a better seed in the 10k than the 5k. I felt that the 10k had a few more qualifying opportunities up for grabs when compared to the 5k.
Just like the East region, there are almost no scratches from this event. The first scratch doesn't come until we get to the 39th qualifier, Ben Preisner (Tulsa), who has a time of 8:56. Instead, Preisner will be contesting the 10,000 meters where he is seeded 15th after scratches.
Other than Preisner, we don't see another scratch until we get to the 77th qualifying mark (Max Leach, 9:08).