The spring track season has now come to an end. Throughout the season, we made some bold (and some not-so-bold) predictions and statements throughout the year. But how many of those statements and predictions actually came true? Did we hit the nail on the head or did we flounder in our analysis? It seems to be a good mix of both.
Below, we have given excerpts from certain articles that we've posted throughout the spring track season where we made some sort of statement about the future. Take a look and see if we were right or wrong...
Business As Usual
Quote: “Futsum Zienasellassie […] Best Guess: Hoka One One […] It feels as if this was a given for the NAU senior […] Is there really a better fit for him elsewhere?”
Although we may have “called” this one, the idea of Futsum going to NAZ Elite with Hoka One One seemed like a no-brainer. As mentioned in the article, Futsum wouldn’t have to venture too far from his NAU roots and he would already be adjusted to the altitude as well as the training environment. In addition to the location, NAZ Elite’s training program complimented Futsum’s racing style and preference as they tend to focus their workouts towards cross country and the longer distances.
Raleigh Relays Recap
Quote: “Randon finished in a time of 3:42.44 while youngster Ryan Adams (only a sophomore) was close behind in 3:42.90. These are excellent times for a meet in late March and a great indicator of what we could potentially see in the future. If these guys can find a fast enough race, sub 3:40 isn’t out of the question for either of them.”
It took a while for this one to come to fruition, but James Randon made me look really smart at the Swarthmore Last Chance meet where he ran 3:37 in a field loaded with professionals and Ivy League elites.
Although Ryan Adams never got faster than 3:42, he was the one that ended up qualifying for NCAA’s while James Randon went home early.
Digits: Analyzing The Stanford Invite
Quote: “With the first few weeks of competition now finished, it seems as though we have found our candidates to potentially break 28 minutes. 2013 had three men under the barrier, is it possible that 2017 has the same or even more?”
Not only did this bold prediction not happen, but we did not even see a single individual break 28 minutes in the 10k this year! Throughout all of the available data on TFRRS (which goes back to 2010) there has always been at least one individual to break the 28-minute mark in a spring track season. Marc Scott and Alfred Chelanga came awfully close to the mark with times of 28:04, but left us without an individual under the mark.
Not only were we left without a 27-minute 10k runner, but we were also left with plenty of questions.
The biggest question I have is could Cheserek have gone under 28 minutes if he gave an all-out effort? What if he ran at Payton Jordan? Would he have gone under 28 minutes there? What if Alfred Chelanga, Erik Peterson, or Jerrell Mock ran at Payton Jordan? Why was Marc Scott the only collegiate entered in the 10k? These are trivial questions that wont make a difference in the long-run, but they at least give us something to think about...
Under The Radar Underclassmen
Quote: “Despite his consistency, Lewis needs to find a way to dip under that mark of 1:48 and start consistently hitting 1:47’s. If he can do that, then don’t be surprised when he ends up qualifying for nationals by the end of the season.”
I like to think that Lewis read this article and just decided to follow my advice. 11 days after this article was published, Lewis ran under 1:48 mark for the first time ever with a personal best of 1:47.95. Lewis went on to improve that mark with a personal best at ACC’s where he ran a time of 1:47.62. He later went sub-1:48 again at Regionals.
The result? Lewis qualified for his first ever National Championship. Trends and consistency matter in the NCAA!
Let’s Rewind: Florida Relays
Quote: “Moreover, a fast 800 backs my bold prediction that Engels will be the 1500m winner for the NCAA this season.”
If there was a bold prediction to make, this was probably the most sensible one. There was a lot to like about Engels this season when you consider the factors of improvement, consistency, experience, and momentum.
Engels came off of an indoor campaign where he showed some signs of steady improvement after an early-season injury delayed the start to his winter training/racing. Engels was hitting top form at the start of the spring season and although he didn’t beat Kerr at Bryan Clay, his personal best of 3:37 along with his talents in the 800 made him a very dangerous opponent for Kerr in the future. The championship experience that Engels brought to the track did not make the predictions for the 1500 easy (at least on our end).
Of course, Kerr has now elevated his fitness to a new level and was able to display finishing speed that we haven’t seen since Jordy Williamsz of Villanova. Engels may not have pulled off the upset, but if there was anyone capable of doing it, he was the one.
The Weekend Review (4/16/17)
Quote: “…it’s very possible that Kiprop transfers to a division one program after this year. He’s talented enough to get a full-ride somewhere. He could even follow Alfred Chelanga to Alabama. The Crimson Tide do lose Antibahs Kosgei and Robbie Farnham-Rose at the end of this season. With those two gone, there would be plenty of room (and need) for a distance talent like Kiprop...”
A few weeks ago, Alabama’s 2017-2018 roster was updated and with it came the addition of 5x D2 NCAA Champ Vincent Kiprop. In addition to Kiprop, the Crimson Tide also gained 9x NJCAA champion Gilbert Kigen.
If we’re being honest, this is the prediction I am the most proud of. Trying to call the future location of a potential transfer is incredibly difficult in my mind, but this scenario just seemed to make the most scene. The addition of Alfred Chelanga in the winter, the convenience of the location, and the scholarship opportunities from graduates like Farnham-Rose and Kosgei made this transfer seem inevitable.
However, I will admit that I did not expect Gilbert Kigen to join this group. He will be a huge asset to the Crimson Tide which could be what they needed to contend with other southern cross country programs like Ole Miss, Texas, and Florida State.
Digits: Josh Kerr Isn’t The Favorite To Win The 1500
Quote: “Kerr may own the 6th fastest NCAA 1500 ever, but based on the past few years of competition, we shouldn’t claim him as the NCAA champion just yet.”
What can I say? I was trying to be bold…
As I mentioned earlier, I think you could make the argument that Engels had the potential to upset Kerr. But in retrospect, the idea of Kerr not being the favorite was a bit silly. To be fair, the numbers were stacked against him so I think it’s fair to say that what he accomplished was rather significant. Only two freshmen (including redshirts) have been NCAA champions in the 95-year history of the 1500/mile. Throw in the comparisons with Joe Falcon (as mentioned in the article) and you have a very rare occurrence.
The Weekend Review (4/30/17)
Quote: “[Arroyo has been] running the fastest he’s ever run and doing so with different racing styles. With a strong display of range, you can’t help but think that Arroyo has found the formula to once again become an All-American.”
I was rather critical of Arroyo over the past two years. This is a guy with such incredible talent who simply couldn’t take advantage of the championship stage with multiple missed chances of becoming an All-American.
However, this season was different and I think you could see that difference in his racing styles and in his ability to move up in distance (i.e. his 3:41 PR in the 1500). Being able to race tactically is so important when trying to succeed at NCAA’s and it seems like Arroyo was finally able to figure out that aspect of racing.
Arroyo ended up in 5th place to cap off his collegiate career as a 2x All-American. It was the best finish at NCAA’s he has ever had (8th place was his previous best).
Digits: Double Gold
Quote: " [of the] six double gold conference winners from this past weekend, approximately four of them will become All-Americans”
Of the six double gold conference winners (Kerr, Tate, Knevelbaard, Erb, Choge, Keter) only three of them became All-Americans instead of the four I predicted. Further more, the two guys who I said would be “locks” were Knevelbaard and Tate. Naturally, neither of those two qualified for NCAA’s.
Kerr, Erb, and Keter came through in the All-American count, but Choge failed to get on the podium despite racing in both the 5k and 10k. The struggles from Choge as well as the big misses from Tate and Knevelbaard were the biggest reasons why these numbers didn’t match up.
Quote: “…either Keter, Kerr, Tate, Knevelbaard, Erb, or Choge will become an NCAA champion this June.”
In my predictions, I had both Kerr and Erb winning national titles. If I had paid attention to the numbers, I would’ve realized that only one in six double conference champions (DCC’s) will become NCAA champions.
Sure enough, Erb couldn’t grab the win while Kerr was able to earn gold. Past history indicated that the steeplechase was easiest event to clinch gold in if you became a DCC. Still, Kerr came up big at NCAA’s and became the first DCC since at least 2010 to win a national title. It may not have been the event I thought it was going to be, but the averages still turned out to be accurate.