King Cheserek OUT of Regionals With “Minor Back Injury”
Oregon Head Coach Robert Johnson announced on Sunday that Edward Cheserek’s collegiate career has come to an end. The Oregon senior has been diagnosed with a lower back strain which the coaches feel could get worse and jeopardize his future should he continue to race and train in the coming weeks.
Legacy and impact aside, Cheserek’s injury will mean big changes in the 5k and 10k tactically. Is there anyone that can really dictate the pace and control the field like Ches? In my mind there isn’t.
The distance events just got very, very interesting.
Cole Rockhold Chooses 5k Over 1500
Colorado State has become one of the top distance running programs in nation over the past year. One of their biggest stars, Cole Rockhold, has become a legitimate contender on the national scene which we saw this past indoor season when he became an All-American in the 3000.
Despite his success in the longer distances, I think it’s a fair argument to say that Cole Rockhold is a much better miler than he is 5k runner. His 3:41 from earlier this season at Bryan Clay puts him at 8th on TFRRS and is an equivalent to his indoor mile PR of 3:57 (altitude converted). On the flip side, Rockhold has only run 13:52 in the 5k this season which doesn’t even crack the top 30 in the NCAA.
Instead of being seeded 6th in the 1500, Rockhold will be seeded 20th in the 5k. I’m trying to find the reason behind this decision, but it doesn’t make complete sense for me. The 1500 may be deep this year, but it shouldn’t deter one of the best milers in the nation to pursue a different event.
Alex Rogers Drops 1500 In Favor of Steeplechase
In what had to be one of the biggest surprises of all the entries, Texas sophomore Alex Rogers has decided to pursue the steeplechase rather than the 1500. This is a big surprise especially when you consider that he is currently #6 in the 1500 on TFRRS with a 3:40 PR and qualified for Nationals last year in this event.
His steeplechase on the other hand, is currently #23 in the NCAA with a respectable time of 8:48.
I can understand the rationale of pursuing the steeplechase because there isn’t a true favorite to the win the title. The field is relatively wide open and anyone could take the win. That said, the field is also very deep with 30 individuals under the 8:50 barrier.
On the flip side, experience plays such a big role in an athlete’s ability to get through rounds and I’m surprised Rogers wouldn’t be more comfortable with the experience he gained last year where he went through multiple rounds of tactical racing to eventually qualify for nationals in the 1500. He’s clearly much more fit this year, so why change plans?
Oregon Ducks In The 1500: Could They Send All Five?
The absence of Matthew Maton this season has led to the emergence of young stars throughout the Ducks distance running program. Freshman talents like Austin Tamagno and Mick Stanovsek have become legitimate threats in the 1500 this year with each guy owning PR’s of 3:41 and 3:43 respectively.
With Maton (and now Cheserek) no longer in the equation, that puts pressure on Oregon’s young guys to step up and fill that spot to nationals. At the same time, experienced Oregon milers like Prakel, Haney, and Gorman are also entered in the 1500.
Admittedly, it will be a tough to get all five Ducks into NCAA’s. Still, this is a program that puts an emphasis on working together throughout tactical races and it’s not unrealistic to think that all five of these guys could make it to Nationals. They are certainly talented enough to do so.
Kasey Knevelbaard To Attempt 1500/5k Double
The Southern Utah sophomore has been one of the best stories of the year after coming out of nowhere to win the Stanford Invite 1500 in the slow heat with a time of 3:41. Knevelbaard would eventually run a 5k PR of 13:50 at Bryan Clay to validate his Stanford Invite win.
Despite his success in both events, Knevelbaard would eventually go on to win double gold at the BIG Sky Conferenece Championships in both the 1500 and 800. His excellent display of speed made me think that he would only enter the 1500.
Yet, in retrospect, it seems like this was maybe the best decision as the 1500 prelims and finals would be over before the 5000 is even attempted (although he will only have two hours of rest).
If Knevelbaard qualifies for NCAA’s in the 1500, how much effort is he going to put into that 5000? He will still have to race it, but I feel as though the 5k is just a safety net for Knevelbaard if he doesn’t qualify for Nationals in the 1500. It’s the same situation Henry Wynne is currently going through in the East Region.
Josh Thompson Will Not Run Steeplechase
At BIG 12’s, we saw Josh Thompson run the steeplechase for the first time ever. He ran a strong time of 8:50 and was runner-up behind Texas Tech’s Benard Keter. In a post-race interview, Thompson hinted that he would possibly pursue the steeplechase at nationals after his strong showing.
In the end, Thompson made the right move by scratching the steeplechase for the 1500. There is so much that can go wrong in the steeplechase especially for someone new to the event. With a kick like his, Thompson should be able to navigate through the preliminaries relatively easily.
Hassan Abdi All-In On 10k, Not Entered In 5k
In my mind, this was a surprising decision for multiple reasons. Abdi is currently 13th in the NCAA 5k standings with an outstanding time of 13:43 which he ran at Stanford’s Cardinal Classic in late April.
At the same time, why not enter the 5k as insurance? A lot can happen in a longer race like the 10k and it’s hard to rebound if you get dropped from the pack.
Do I think Abdi will get through? Yes, but having the 5k as a back-up plan would make a lot more sense especially when you consider how fast he’s run in the event this season.
Team Total Entries
Here are some of the teams with the most number of (different) individuals representing them at Regionals…
Oklahoma State: 8
Iowa State: 6