All of the speculation is done and over. We now know who the top 16 names in each event will be for the National Championships in March. However, the full entries for each field are still yet to be decided. With the possibilities of scratches and scheduling conflicts for doubles, there are still plenty of guys outside of the top 16 that may find a spot in New Mexico in two weeks. Here are some of the key entries, scratches, and scenarios that we think are worth talking about...
Dillon Maggard is ranked 2nd in the 5000, but may not run it...
Prior to this past weekend, Maggard was set to run the 3000 and 5000 at Nationals. However, the remarkable performance of his DMR at the Mountain West Championships (where they ran 9:34 for a converted 9:24) has changed a few things.
With the 5000 scheduled just 40 minutes before the DMR, Maggard may have to make the tough choice between individual glory or potential All-American honors for three of his teammates.
With the 3000 meters scheduled as the last event of the entire meet, Maggard will still have an opportunity to pursue his individual goals. This scenario leads me to believe that he'll scratch out of the 5000 meters and go all-in for the DMR.
Congrats Connor McMillan, you might be in...
Before this weekend, McMillan sat at 17th in the NCAA with a 13:48 flat. Understanding that he would need a faster time to qualify for Nationals, McMillan went out and threw down a 13:46.71 to secure the win at the MPSF Championship. That would have been the 16th fastest time in the nation.
Unfortunately for McMillan, Andy Trouard's conversion of 13:42 was enough to push McMillan back to the 17th spot. Despite the clutch performance, it appears that McMillan might be ending his season early...or not.
If Maggard does end up choosing to pursue the DMR/3000 double, McMillan needs to send the Utah State star a thank you gift...
Should that happen, Georgetown's Jonathan Green would have gone from the Last Man In to the First Man Out in a span of three days...
The Mile field is a race of 2nd chances
We are anticipating a lot of scratches in this Mile field...allow me to explain.
The first man to scratch out of the Mile will be Justyn Knight. He will most likely pursue the 3000 and 5000 double. He is currently ranked 4th in the Mile.
The next question mark will be on Patrick Joseph who is ranked 7th in the nation. He recently just ran a season best of 1:47.47 in the 800 this past weekend. For most of his career, the 800 has been Joseph's best event and it's also the event he is the most experienced in. The mile field will be crowded with unfamiliar names and guys who have built their reputation by running the mile. With the 800 field so wide-open in terms of All-American spots, the 800 may be the best option for Joseph.
Joseph's teammate Neil Gourley is in a similar situation. Unlike Joseph, Gourley has been labelled as a miler for most of his career. However, after pulling off the upset win at ACC's with a 1:47.04 (NCAA #2), it's tough to argue that Gourley should pursue the Mile where he is ranked 10th.
I expect at least one of these two Virginia Tech guys to enter the 800. It would be the best way for the Hokies to maximize their team points.
At this point, three names have scratched from the Mile. This means that Mick Stanovsek (17th), Andy Trouard (18th), and Sam Worley (19th) are all eligible to qualify for Nationals should they choose to enter.
Of those three names, the only one that I don't anticipate will accept an entry is Andy Trouard. He will most likely pursue the 5000/3000 double. This leaves one more spot open to the 20th ranked miler. In this scenario, that would be Mississippi's Sean Tobin.
But wait, there's more!
As of right now, we have Tobin listed as Last Man In for the Mile, but there's a real possibility that one or two more guys behind him also end up qualifying.
Jonathan Davis (Illinois), Cole Rockhold (Colorado State), and Ben Saarel (Colorado) are in a bit of a predicament right now. They can attempt to run the difficult (but doable) Mile/3000 double, or they can focus on just one of those events.
At the moment, The Stride Report has all three of these guys attempting this double, but I'm not convinced that our prediction will hold up. Davis is still young and inexperienced, Rockhold opted out of this double last year (in favor of the 3000), and Ben Saarel got underwhelming results when he tried this double a year ago (8th in the Mile, 15th in the 3000).
Let's just suppose that two of these three names decide to scratch the Mile in favor of the 3000. That would mean Matthew Fayers (Oklahoma State) and Blake Haney (Oregon) would qualify for Nationals. If all three scratched the Mile, then Texas A&M's Alex Riba (NCAA #23) would be the Last Man In.
Even Oregon may not know what to do with their DMR yet
The scenario I mentioned above leaves room for Blake Haney to qualify for Nationals in the Mile. That, of course, is still a bit of a stretch and far from a guarantee. If Haney ends up not qualifying, he will most likely be on Oregon's DMR completely fresh and free from the duties of doubling. He would most likely be on the 1200 leg while Cooper Teare, who also may not qualify in an open event, would be on the Mile leg. With just the 800 leg left to be filled, Andy Powell may decide to bring one of his other guys like Austin Tamagno to complete the relay.
That lineup gives Oregon a completely fresh DMR. However, Powell may decide that he wants Stanovsek or Prakel to double back from their duties in the Mile. With team points on the line, he may favor a more veteran lineup which is why we have Stanovsek and Prakel doubling in our SCRATCH TRACKER.