Sprinting and distance running are very different. Distance running requires years of building a mileage base and understanding race tactics. Sprinting may require plenty of strength training, muscle memory, and technical correction, but it’s not uncommon to see young guys have an immediate impact in the sprinting community. Just look at what Grant Holloway has done at Florida.
This theory is probably why we see juniors and seniors dominate the longer distances (especially the 5k and 10k).
Despite this large learning curve, there are still young up-and-coming talents patiently waiting for their moment in the spotlight. Here are a few names that could be the next stars of the NCAA.
-Underclassmen will be classified as freshmen and sophomores (redshirts included).
-Distance events will be considered any event from the 800 up.
-These are names that we consider to be “under the radar”. Just because someone is a freshman or sophomore and has run a fast time does not necessarily mean that they will be mentioned (think Ryan Adams, Arturo Sotomayor, Josh Kerr, Kasey Knevelbaard, etc.)
Let’s get started…
Jack Guyton, Sophomore (Florida)
I am a huge fan of Jack Guyton. I truly believe that Florida has found and developed a miler that could potentially win SEC’s and become an All-American. The Florida sophomore had a quiet, but strong indoor season this past winter with a 4:02 mile and an 8:14 3k. Sure, those performances aren’t mind-blowing, but Guyton has continued to improve in the first month of the outdoor season by running personal bests of 1:50 (800) and 3:43 (1500). That 1500 was less than a half-second behind Columbia’s Rob Napolitano, one of the most experienced milers in the nation.
Guyton reminds me a lot of NCAA Indoor mile champion Josh Kerr. A solid miler with respectable speed who could push some of the best names in the NCAA to the finish line.
Who knows? Maybe Guyton will even win a national championship one day…
Devin Dixon, Freshman (Texas A&M)
How does Texas A&M do it? Year-in and year-out, this program develops some of the top 800 runners in the nation. The latest Aggie star is Devin Dixon who has stepped up in the absence of Brazier and is starting to gain attention as a legitimate threat in the half-mile.
Dixon had an outstanding indoor season as a freshman by running a PR of 1:47.85. He was ranked 18th in the NCAA and ended up two spots out from making the national championship.
So what did he do this past weekend? He ran faster, of course. In a race paced by former Aggie Donavan Brazier, Dixon pulled out a 1:47.01 to position himself at 7th in the NCAA standings.
That 1:47.01 was his first 800 of the season. Just imagine what he could do with nearly two months left in the season.
Geordie Beamish, Sophomore (NAU)
I am convinced that the 5000 and 10,000 are the hardest events to succeed in as a freshman and sophomore. The longer the distance, the larger a base it requires and a lot of these underclassmen simply haven’t built up to the mileage that their older teammates have.
But there are exceptions and one of these exceptions is Geordie Beamish. The NAU Lumberjack had a very solid outdoor season his freshman year by running 3:45 and 14:10. Now, he is capitalizing on his fitness after a very fast 13:53 5000 at the Stanford Invite (which currently puts him at 6th in the NCAA standings).
When we talk about the recent success of NAU, a lot of the credit is given to Futsum Zienasellassie, Tyler Day, and Matthew Baxter. But no one is talking about Beamish, a guy that had such a crucial role in NAU’s championship pursuit this past cross country season.
If Beamish can continue to drop time and make it out of regionals in May, he may finally start getting the credit he deserves.
Garrett Reynolds, Freshman (UCLA)
Remember how I just said that underclassmen don’t often succeed at the longer racing distances? Well Reynolds is contradicting my argument. The true freshman is following in his parent’s footsteps of running at UCLA and he is off to a good start.
Reynolds’ cross country season was highlighted by a 35th finish at PAC-12’s. After the fall season ended, he took off the winter track season where he most likely redshirted. In his first race of the outdoor season, Reynolds threw down a killer 13:58 to currently make him the fastest freshman in the NCAA 5k*. He currently ranks 13th overall.
Admittedly, there aren’t a lot of results to go off of for Reynolds. Still, this guy was a sub nine-minute 3200 runner in high school and he just broke 14 minutes in his collegiate 5000 debut.
He is certainly someone that deserves our attention.
*TFRRS incorrectly has Geordie Beamish as a freshman instead of a sophomore.
Daniel Carney, Sophomore (BYU)
It seems like every season there is some breakout star from BYU. During cross country it was Nico Montanez. During indoor it was Clayton Young. Now, it’s Daniel Carney.
Carney has shown to be one of the most consistent runners in the NCAA. After a very successful cross country season, Carney raced back-to-back-to-back 3k’s and ran personal bests every time. He was able to cap off that indoor season with a respectable 14:13 5k.
But how well would Carney be able to transition to the steeplechase? Apparently pretty well…
After wining the Trojan Invite steeplechase in 8:53, Carney came back to win his section of the steeplechase at the Stanford Invite in 8:49. Technically, Carney is undefeated in the steeplechase.
John Lewis, Sophomore (Clemson)
Clemson has been developing one of the strongest 800 contingents in the nation. They currently have three men at 1:48 and they are only getting better. Within this half-mile trio is John Lewis, a guy that ran 1:48 in high school and set the Pennsylvania 800 high school state record.
Lewis is mostly a 400/800 guy, but he is arguably one of the most consistent half-milers in the nation. How so? In his first three seasons of track, Lewis ran under 1:50 a total of TWELVE (12) times! If you add this season into the equation, then that number hits thirteen.
And the number of times Lewis has run in the 1:48’s? Seven. This guy isn’t even half-way done his college career and he’s running 1:48 more often than top-tier half-milers do during their four years of eligibility.
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.
Euan Makepeace, Sophomore (Butler)
If you’re looking for a future breakout star, look no further than Euan Makepeace. Not only does the England native have an awesome name, but he also happens to be really talented.
Out of all the underclassmen I researched, there was no one with better range than Makepeace. It seems like the Butler sophomore has raced nearly every distance with personal bests of 1:54 (800), 2:34 (1k), 3:48 (1500), 4:07 (mile), 8:25 (3k), and 14:05 (5k).
Yes, I would agree that his personal bests aren’t crazy fast compared to other sophomores and freshmen, but there aren’t many guys at the collegiate level who have his kind of range. At the same time, he’s been able to record a few wins and stay consistent throughout each of his competitive seasons. His impressive (and recent) 5k PR makes this Butler Bulldog a valuable asset for any team that he is on.
It’s obvious that Makepeace will have to drop time in order to garner more attention from the track and field community. But range, consistency, having at least one strong PR, and proving that you can win are the most important ingredients when making a super-star.