The following article is a conversation among TSR writers. These draft results are for the Division 1 men. We will be posting our women's draft results later this week. Before Sean explains the logistics of the draft, here is the crew...
- Garrett Zatlin (TSR Founder + Admin)
- John Cusick (D2 and Mountain/West regions specialist)
- Ben Weisel (D1 men and South region specialist)
- Michael Weidenbruch (D1 men and Mid-Atlantic/Northeast regions specialist)
- Sam Ivanecky (D1 women and Midwest region specialist)
- Sean Collins (D1 women and Mid-Atlantic/Northeast regions specialist)
- Elliott Portillo (D2 and West region specialist)
Sean: So this is the Men’s NCAA Indoor Draft. We will work through a six-round snake draft with a random start order. At the very end of the season, we will score these teams based on how they perform at Nationals (and only Nationals). If an individual is on a DMR that makes the top eight, they will earn 1/4th of the total relay points (so if Stanford wins the DMR, Grant Fisher would earn 2.5 points). Once you draft someone, you have them for the entire season. You cannot drop or add new runners. Pick carefully...
John you're up first!
Round 1 Draft Picks
John: I choose Morgan McDonald with the first overall pick. He’s fresh off an XC title and is arguably the most well-rounded runner in the country right now. He’s a serious threat in every event except maybe the 800.
Ben: Fisher will be in contention for the 3k or 5k and could run in the DMR which should give him even more potential. He has a potent finishing kick to compliment his racing smarts and during indoors, that can be all of the difference. I think the shorter distances (compared to cross country) will only help Fisher compete with the likes of McDonald.
Sean: Oliver Hoare is a huge threat in both the Mile and 3k. I’m not sure he’ll go for both, but if he skips one I could see him anchoring a DMR as well and I think that’s a big benefit for my team.
Sam: I think Joe Klecker is going to have a big breakthrough at NCAA's. He’s been close before (see indoor 3k where he finished 4th) and he is always near the front at big meets. I could even see the 3k/5k double from him. And of course, I have some Minnesota bias...
Michael: Joe White hasn’t competed since the 2017 outdoor track season, so he may take a little time to get back into the swing of racing. Still, he has been dominant in the 800 for a few years now and will be putting it all on the line in his last year of eligibility. He’s come close to a title before, but hasn’t closed the deal. He should be considered one of the favorites in the 800.
Elliott: Carlos Villarreal had arguably one of the most improved cross country seasons out of anyone. The extra endurance he gained this fall from running the 8k and 10k will bode well for a guy that already boasts PR’s of 1:46 and 3:57 in the 800 and mile, respectively. I expect him to be a dark horse to challenge for the mile title this winter.
Garrett: Amon Kemboi has reached the level where he can theoretically win a national title in both the 3k and 5k. His 13:33 from Boston showed that he’s the real deal and I think he’s a lock to be an All-American in the two distance events later this season.
Round 1 Quick Thoughts
Sean: I think Kemboi is a great pick. He's basically guaranteed a national spot in the 5k after his win at Boston and that’s not something any of the other athletes picked can say. Would love to hear more about Michael’s pick of Joe White since he’s the only athlete this round basically stuck in one event...
Elliott: Joe White is a bold strategic move in the first round Michael, let’s see if it pays off. I say this only because he hasn’t raced in a while and may need some time to get in the “racing feel” again. I personally really like Klecker as well, he has been about as consistent as you can ask for and is always a threat to run fast when it matters.
Michael: I think Klecker is a bit of a dark horse pick in the first round, after this xc season he should be a serious All-American threat though. I picked White because he will likely be on a strong DMR team (3rd two years ago with two returners and a bunch of new guys who will be solid) and in my eyes he’s about as much of a lock as anyone for a top three spot.
Ben: I like the Joe White pick because I think he is a guaranteed top four finish, and unlike the other events, the 800 is really locked down to a couple of guys. He's a safe choice that could produce big points.
John: I love the Klecker pick. I was big on the Buffaloes going into cross country this season and it panned out really well for their top three athletes. He looks to be in the best shape of his career right now and it would not surprise me to see him take home the 3k title.
Sam: My one knock on both Villarreal and Klecker (my own pick) is that they likely won’t be in a DMR which minimizes point chances…BUT both guys could do some sort of double so it could swing either way. I’m a little surprised Fisher didn’t go first given he could win the 3k/5k double and be a factor in the DMR whereas McDonald likely won’t be in a relay and I don’t see him winning the 3k.
Ben: Yes, but that said, Villarreal could fill the hole in the mile left by Josh Kerr, especially if Hoare isn’t fresh.
Garrett: I really like Oliver Hoare. He can run anything from the mile to the 5k, has won a national title, and has great value in the DMR. He might be the the best overall pick.
Ben: I agree, I think Hoare has the most potential of anyone, it will be interesting to see what he races and how many events he competes in.
Round 2 Draft Picks
Garrett: I think Jonathan Davis is someone who can be an All-American in both the mile and 3k (even 5k if he wants to). He’s run 3:58 (unconverted on a flat-track) and has a personal best of 7:49 in the 3k. He’s a big name that no one is talking about.
Elliott: I’m only a little surprised that Tyler Day didn’t get picked up in the first round, personally. That’s only because he, like Klecker, is a guy that has always seemed to shine brighter in the context of the entire team as a whole. Despite this, he has shown poise as a stand out individual, contesting guys like Grant Fisher throughout his carer. He certainly isn’t intimidated by anyone and I like the scoring potential he could earn from the 3k and 5k.
Michael: I think Ostberg is going to be a contender in any event from the mile up and will likely be part of a very competitive DMR. Ostberg and Fisher will form a powerful duo if they choose to run the same event and I think that helps Ostberg’s chances.
Sam: Bryce Hoppel seems like a bold pick until you realize he’s one of the top returners in the 800 and so far, most of the other picks have been long distance focused. With lots of top guys in the mid-distance range gone, I think Hoppel could show up big at NCAA's after his solid showing in XC.
Sean: Kasey Knevelbaard from Southern Utah is the top returner in the mile and even though I think Hoare is the better athlete, I want to hedge my bets in the mile. Knevelbaard also has some of the best range in the NCAA and was ranked 22nd in the 3000 meters last year as well. His season opener from December was a 13:56 and that would have been good enough for about 30th in the NCAA last year. Basically, he’ll qualify in whatever he wants to qualify for.
Ben: Marco Arop is the top returner from the outdoor 800 where he just beat Michael Saruni to finish 2nd. I am a little worried about how well he will run indoors, but I think he is by far the most talented runner in the 800 field.
John: I’m ecstatic Griffith fell to me here. He’s another elite talent that has capabilities of running the mile, 3000, and 5000 at the national meet. I would not be surprised one bit to see the Razorback dip into two races and see if he can pull off a double All-American. Personally, I think that he can finish top five in both races of his choosing.
Round 2 Quick Thoughts
Garrett: Alex Ostberg really takes me by surprise. He has a great cross country resume, but his indoor performances aren’t enough to warrant a second round pick in my opinion. I thought we wouldn’t see him until Round 6.
Ben: I agree. Very surprised to see him. Granted, he has proven over cross that he is in great shape.
Michael: I’m starting to second guess my choice a bit here, but I’m confident he’ll perform well. Ostberg may not be a title contender at the moment, but I think he could make a big jump by March.
Sam: I like the J Davis pick after he tweeted at us. I’d like him even more if he @ us on Twitter in the future #TeamJDavis. He could have a big day at NCAA's, although I don’t know which event. Also I think Cam Griffith is a bold pick because he had a great season, but seems a little unpredictable.
Sean: Does his tweet mean that he’s definitely focusing on the mile though? That’s the real question that we need to overanalyze.
Garrett: #TeamJDavis shirts coming soon?
Michael: I was between Ostberg and Griffith here and hoped Griffith would slip through to the third round (where I would draft). Looking back, maybe I should have switched those two, but I think I may have underrated Griffith a bit. Solid pick for John.
Ben: Yeah I think Griffith has proven himself indoors a little bit and was hoping he would to the third round.
Sean: People are really betting on the 800 meter guys here. That’s a really scary event for me honestly with just so much that can happen in the rounds and a real lack of consistency for me in the event in general.
Ben: That’s a good point Sean, but I think there is just a big difference between the top four guys and everyone else.
Sam: I agree with Ben. Also, I think at some point you have to gamble on someone having a big day vs someone getting 1-2 points in the 5k. Lastly, we should definitely do more group chats, but maybe not in a Google Doc...
John: I’m super salty on the Jonathan Davis pick, Garrett. Dude has an awesome resume as he enters his second season. As for Griffith, while he may be unpredictable, he has All-American efforts in the 3000 and 1500 recently. I think he does the same in 2019.
Round 3 Draft Picks
John: I’ve gotta go with my boy Rory Linkletter with my third round pick. The dude is an absolute gamer and loves to compete in every environment. His PR’s across the board are all respectable and he’s been a catalyst in helping the BYU Cougars reach another level in cross country. I think this is the year where he finally gets his glory individually.
Ben: I am a big believer in Kurgat. The former OVC runner (represent!) gets better every season, and I’m betting that he continues his fine form he showed during cross to come in 3rd behind McDonald and Fisher. He didn’t have a great indoor season last year (didn’t even make Nationals), but I believe he will make the jump. His 7th place finish at NCAA's during outdoors in the 5k makes me feel better too.
Sean: I’m a hypocrite, I know, but Robert Heppenstall has the opportunity to make eight straight NCAA 800 finals this year. Seriously, in an event that lacks favorites, this guy has scored in every National Championship he’s run in. I think it’s time he picks up a win.
Sam: I think Koech could be big in the mile or 800 (or 3k?). It’ll be interesting to see what he ends up doing this indoor season, but I think he could show up big. Also, Texas Tech has a history of success in the 800 and although it’s a bit of a gamble, I think he has a high ceiling.
Michael: Vincent Kiprop has a runner-up finish from last year’s indoor 5k under his belt as well as a runner-up finish in the 10k during outdoors. The 5k is looking pretty stacked this year, but Kiprop shouldn’t have a problem dominating that distance with his 13:37 PR.
Elliott: I really like Gilbert Kigen in this situation. Another one of the Alabama standouts, this guy has solid range and has the potential to muck things up when we get to indoors. He ran 13:49 last year for the 5k at the SEC Indoor Championshpis. If he's healthy, I think he is a lock for All-American.
Garrett: Kyle Mau is a very underrated miler who can also play a pivotal role in the DMR. In fact, he upset Grant Fisher on the anchor leg when they faced off at Michigan last year. Not only that, but he can eventually become an All-American in the 3000 meters, especially with a PR of 7:50.
Round 3 Quick Thoughts
Ben: I’m very curious to see how the Alabama guys run after redshirting cross country. I’m a little worried about their possible injuries, but they have as much talent as anyone in the field. I like to think that those are two high risk, high reward picks.
Elliott: My thought exactly, which is why I think it took until the third round for us to start picking them up. Could very well be the diamond in the rough of this whole draft.
Sam: Agree on the unknowns of Alabama. They seem like more of an XC/10k team to me rather than indoor events. Not to say they can’t run well indoors, but I think they become a safer pick with the longer distances.
Sean: I just want to say here that none of the Alabama runners made the indoor 3k last year. Definitely huge upside, but I just don’t quite see them as studs anymore. Hopefully they prove me wrong.
Elliott: You can call me an idealist, but I think there is something to be said about being able to transition solid XC skills (which they were able to do before redshirting) into quality indoor times. We’ll see if I’m crazy for drafting them later on.
Michael: Kiprop’s 2nd place finish at last year's indoor national meet tells me he has the ability to do something similar this year. However, after redshirting this fall, I can see why there is some confusion around him. He definitely knows how to grind though, and he could push the pace in the 5k.
Garrett: Kurgat was the safest pick for this round (edit: maybe Robert Heppenstall was). He’ll likely end up as an All-American in the 5000 meters and if he qualifies for the 3000 then he has a real shot of getting on the podium as well. Solid pick…
Ben: He is such a good competitor and has shown some nice finishing kicks.
Sean: SAFER THAN HEPPENSTALL?!
Garrett: Well, maybe not safer, but Kurgat can score in two events compared to Heppenstall’s one.
Sam: But will Kurgat outscore Heppenstall in two?
John: I agree with Garrett here. Feels much safer to me off the bat. I think there is a greater chance we see Kurgat in two races with more than 5+ points in both.
Michael: I’m a bit disappointed I didn’t go for Heppenstall earlier. The dude is one of the most consistent athletes across any distance and will almost certainly grab big points.
Round 4 Draft Picks
Garrett: Mick Stanovsek is a personal favorite. The story of a guy who came so far to become one of Oregon’s best milers ran 3:57, made Nationals, and had some bad luck in the prelims last winter. I think he can get on the podium, even if it’s in a Washington Husky singlet.
Elliott: Personally, I think this was my gutsiest move of the draft. Cooper Teare is young, ambitious, and full of talent, but there is still some uncertainty. Is this the year that he is able to mature fully to compete on the national stage? He showed great flashes of brilliance during track last year and had a solid XC season for the Ducks. Now it’s time to see if he’s ready to make the full transition to All-American status. I also think there is some potential if Oregon puts up a DMR showing with Teare there.
Michael: I knew I wanted to pick up a Duck at some point with the potential DMR points, but wasn’t sure who. Haney’s experience stands out to me and makes him one of the more solid Oregon runners on the table.
Sam: Reminder that Dressel also had a great indoor meet the same year as Klecker and both are currently coming off of great cross country seasons. Dressel had a big cross country season after being hurt last year and now that he has had time to gain momentum for indoors, I can see him doing big things in 2019.
Sean: Jumping on the Oregon train after Michael, and I’m thankful James West stayed on the board. West is one of the best returning finishers after his 6th place finish in the 3k last year and he anchored the Oregon DMR. Oregon will almost always go after the DMR and I think West is secure in the 3k, so he’ll get the easier double duty.
Ben: Andddd following the Duck train comes Reed Brown. As a freshman, he proved that he can run with the big boys by qualifying for Nationals indoors and then making the final in the mile. He threw down a nice 3:39 1500 during outdoors, so even after a tough cross country season I think he has the talent. Plus, he could be utilized in the DMR which should earn him some extra points.
John: Give me Devin Dixon. He has a PR of 1:45 in the 800 and has the ability to run on on the DMR for Texas A&M. He didn’t have a great indoor season last year, but followed it up with a strong outdoor season. I think his ceiling is higher than a lot of others due to his potential relay races.
Round 4 Quick Thoughts
Ben: Darn you Sam for picking Dressel...
Sam: My team is slowly morphing into Colorado. When can I pick Mark Wetmore as my team’s coach?
Sean: Round 7. (Editor’s Note: There is no round 7)
Garrett: A lot of these picks have a lot of great upside, but hold have some cautionary aspects as well. Teare and Brown are both young while Haney has had some up and down seasons. West will likely make Nationals this year, but it will be interesting to see if he legitimately compete for a podium spot.
Elliott: That’s why I was torn with picking Cooper. He’s solid, but we will have to wait if this is the year he truly breaks out. My fingers are crossed.
Michael: After Elliott picked Cooper Teare, those Oregon guys really started going fast...They definitely have a level of unpredictability after an average cross country season and with a new coach. These guys sure know how to show up on the track though.
Ben: Yeah not thrilled with Brown. Would have liked to have had Dressel, but I think he has flashed enough potential. It is interesting to see all of the Oregon guys go in the later rounds. Shows how unpredictable they are at the moment.
John: I tried to stay away from the Oregon athletes this year. With Coach Powell leaving, I’m curious to see how they continue with new training during the indoor season.
Ben: John, why Dixon? I guess he’s another 800 guy who should score, but I’m not sure about upside.
John: I loved what he did as a freshman during the outdoor season and I think as a junior this year, he’s figured out how this whole championship racing thing goes. A DMR may not happen, but it's possible (we've seen a lot of surprise teams in the DMR over the past years).
Sean: So now that we’ve gone through four rounds, it’s rapid fire time. Names only and a quick discussion after the round. John’s up!
Round 5 Draft Picks (Lightning Round)
John: Sam Worley, please.
Ben: Isai Rodriguez
Sean: Lawrence Kipkoech!!!
Sam: Myles Marshall
Michael: Yared Nuguse
Elliott: Peter Lomong
Garrett: Nahom Solomon
Round 5 Quick Thoughts
Sean: These were good picks. Except for Ben, because I wanted Rodriquez.
Garrett: Rodriquez was never really in the cards for me. I get that he had a great race at Nationals during cross country, but I’m not absolutely convinced that he’ll be a stud during indoors.
Elliott: I was playing long ball on Isai Rodriguez the whole draft. I was hoping to snag him in the fifth or sixth round. I like him. To me, he has (potentially) the most upside to improve of anybody within the NCAA. Looking at where he was in HS to his NCAA placement makes me think that he is already on a good track. Damn you Ben...
Ben: Total upside pick at this point. Not 100% sold like Garrett, but feel like he is worth a shot.
John: Love the Nuguse and Lomong picks. I thought about both before I saw Worley still on the board.
Michael: To be honest, I’m not incredibly confident about Nuguse. He could be on the edge for an individual spot. Still, watching his DMR performance from last year sticks in my mind and I know he will be a factor if he is able to run like that all season.
Sean: At this point, DMR points are worth things too!
Garrett: I agree that Nuguse still has to prove himself as an individual, but he’s made significant jumps in fitness. He’s gained plenty of experience and did some pretty special things in the DMR last winter. I think it’s a sneaky good pick.
Sam: My team is relying heavily on people who could do really well, but also could completely bomb. Go big or go home I guess...
Round 6 Draft Picks (Lightning Round)
Garrett: Hope that foot is healed up...Cole Rockhold
Elliott: Noticed some of the BYU guys were still on the board, had to go with Dallin Farnsworth.
Michael: Waleed Suliman
Sam: Aaron Templeton
Sean: James Sugira
Ben: Cooper Williams.
John: Paul Roberts. Dude has a chip on his shoulder.
Round 6 Quick Thoughts
John: Garrett has a potential mile/3k champion as his sixth round pick.
Ben: And there goes my other favorite upside pick in Waleed Suliman.
Elliott: An eye for an eye
Sam: Yeah Garrett took my pick so…
Garrett: I think it's clear that most people eyeing up Rockhold. Clearly his injury was a concern for this indoor season, but he's too good to pass up.
Sean: I had Rockhold in my overall 9th spot before this draft and I just continued to get cold feet.
Garrett: Cole, if you’re reading this, make me proud.
Michael: I was hesitant to pick a BYU guy and ended up not taking any. They don’t seem to show up as much indoors and I assume that they train through it more than a lot of teams. I may regret not taking Young, Mantz, or McMillan as they all have impressive performances under their belts.
Garrett: Also, Dallin Farnsworth??? Definitely not the first BYU guy I would have picked...or second, or third, or fourth...
Elliott: I’ll either end up looking like a genius or a complete moron. Only time will tell.
John: Suliman is gone too???? Son of a…
Ben: NOT SUGIRA YOU MONSTER. Both of the guys I wanted (Suliman and Sugira) are gone. I might cry.
Overall Draft Analysis
Each Person gives a few sentences on why their team is the best. Then, order the final remaining six teams (best to worst) and that will give us a final ranking for who wins the preseason draft before Nationals in March...
Sam: My team will win if some of the dark horses pull out big performances. I think my team has a lot of guys who can do really well and although they may not get the win, they should have more consistency across the board than other teams.
Garrett: Each one of my picks can end up as an All-American in at least two events (when you count Stanovsek in the DMR and mile). Not only that, but these are proven tactical stars who have made it to Nationals before and have a history of success in the postseason. I don’t have a single underclassman on my team, which means far more safety and consistency. In the end, that will be the deciding factor. As for the others...
Sean: My goal in this draft was to have a diverse array of guys who are not going to pull points from each other. Kipkoech has qualified for the 3k and 5k in the past and having a teammate in Kemboi is clutch. Oliver Hoare is the defending 1500 meter champion and I think the favorite in the mile. James West is one of the best DMR anchors and a 3k point scorer. Kasey Knevelbaard has some extreme range and can definitely step into the mile as well as the 3k. Sugira is totally unknown on the track too, so I think he has huge upside. Also, I’m getting ten points in the 800 from Heppenstall. So I win, right?
John: I’ve got the favorite in Morgan McDonald who I think wins the 5k and the 3k. Griffith should be top five in whatever event he runs. The same goes for Linkletter. Oh, and they both might be top five runners in two events. I also feel confident that I have a podium scorer in Devin Dixon. Worley is a dark horse miler (check my mile preview out) and Wyoming's Paul Roberts will outperform people’s expectations they have for him going into the indoor season.
Ben: I believe my team has top runners in each of the events. Fisher will be a favorite in the 3k and/or 5k and Arop will be the favorite in the 800. I’d be disappointed to not get at least 16 points from my top duo. Kurgat and Rodriguez complement each other perfectly in the 3k or 5k. Kurgat was a safe pick that I believe will pick up points while Rodriguez could be a boom or bust pick. Either way, I think I will get a good amount of points out of them in the 3k and 5k. Reed Brown gives me a guy in the mile while Cooper Williams gives me more depth in the 800. Both of these guys could also end up contributing to very good DMR teams as well. As for everyone else...
Elliott: The strength of my team lies within top notch guys who have been quality runners in the past and I believe they have the potential to step it up this winter. I understand why some of the guys have me ranked so low. It’s a high risk, high reward strategy for many of my picks, with the exception of Tyler Day (who is going to score a fair amount of points for me). He is probably the most consistent and reliable out of all my picks. Even outside of Day though, there are others that are on the fringe waiting to have their moment. Villareal has begun to prove himself on a national level, with an exceptional level of speed and range. Lomong has been a key factor for NAU. If they decide to run a DMR, I could garner valuable points there. If Kigen is healthy, I believe the 5k is well within his grasp. Even Teare has the potential to sneak in and score points, whether it's the mile, 3k, 5k, or DMR. Only time will tell with this team...
Michael: I selected a pretty diverse group of athletes who will likely be competing in different events and some DMR's. A few of them are a bit of a gamble; guys like Nuguse and Suliman aren’t locks to make a final at NCAA's. However, I think that these guys now have the experience necessary to make it at that level, and shoot for podium spots if the race plays out in their favor. Sean may think he’ll be scoring 10 points from Heppenstall, but we’ll see what Joe White has to say about that. Mostly everyone on my team has the ability to win a race at Nationals, even if they are not necessarily a favorite. Guys like Kiprop have been on that stage before and have performed extremely well, so I think my team may be able to surprise some people.
THE OFFICIAL RESULTS BASED ON OUR WRITER RANKINGS….(Low score wins)
Ben 11 (three first place votes)
Garrett 12 (one first place vote)
Sean 14 (two first place votes)
Thank you to everyone for contributing! This is most writers there has ever been on a single article and it was a lot of fun. Congrats to Ben on the overall best draft, but watch out as the rest of the field tries to dethrone him in our women’s draft and when the results from Nationals start to roll through...