Each season, fans of distance running are always treated to new and exciting individuals that begin to contend on the national level. Who would’ve thought that Emmanuel Korir would run 1:43? Or that Josh Kerr would upset Ches? Or how about the recent success from the men at Southern Utah? The emergence of these thrilling performers has kept us entertained and fixated on weekly results.
Of course, it’s easy to overlook the already established names…especially when they aren’t racing much (or at all). Let’s take a glance at some of the guys we haven’t seen much of this season…
Sean McGorty (Stanford)
The biggest and perhaps most glaring miss of the season is the absence of the Stanford distance star. With PR’s of 3:53 (mile) and 13:24, you would think that more people would be talking about where this guy is.
After an underwhelming cross country season, McGorty sustained an injury that would force him to forfeit the entirety of his indoor track season. In fact, the same thing happened with Stanford ace Grant Fisher who also had to suspend his racing plans until the spring season.
Now, it’s May 3rd and we have yet to see any sign of McGorty so far this season despite Fisher already competing (and doing quite well) in two races. What happened to the one of the best runners in the NCAA? Is he still injured? Prolonging his outdoor debut? Those are possibilities, but are also pretty unlikely.
We also can’t argue the idea of redshirting since McGorty has already used his redshirt season during his freshman year in 2014 (both indoors and outdoors). Knowing this begs the question of what could possibly be the reason for him not yet racing? Stanford is a bit picky about when they choose to race, but we are getting to a very late point in the season…
Daniel Kuhn, Senior, Indiana
Indiana is a program that races just about as much as any other team in the nation. With that in mind, you would think that we would have seen more of 800-meter stud Daniel Kuhn who secured his first All-American honor this past indoor season when he placed 6th at nationals.
Unfortunately, Kuhn has been M.I.A. since late March after he ran a very disappointing 1:51 to place 9th at the PAC 12 vs BIG 10 meet. He hasn’t had a single race since then.
A poor race followed by a lack of competition is not a good sign at all and it may indicate that there is some type of injury or illness that Kuhn is working with.
Despite 2017 being a very strong year for the half-mile, Kuhn could have been back on the podium once more and even dipped down into the 1:45’s this spring after running 1:46.42 in February. But with only two or so weeks left in the season, it’s beginning to look like we’ve seen the last of Kuhn competing at the NCAA level.
Ole Miss Milers
The Mississippi Rebels have developed a strong group of milers over the past few seasons and have become one of the better distance programs in the nation. Their ability to compete at nearly every distance in conjunction with some impressive depth makes this a scary good team.
Of course, they’re only a “scary good team” if they race…and that hasn’t happened yet in 2017. Robert Domanic, Trevor Gilley, and Sean Tobin have yet to race so far this season. Together, this trio makes up the core of the Ole Miss program and keep the Rebels relevant on the national stage.
That’s not an exaggeration either, especially when you consider that Gilley and Domanic have PR’s of 3:40 in the 1500 while Tobin owns a mile PR of 3:59 from this freshman year.
Unlike McGorty and Kuhn, I’m not worried about these three not racing. Based solely off of speculation, Mississippi may be taking the NAU approach where they are redshirting a heavy portion of their team to prep for a title run next year (but on the track compared to XC). The Furman Paladins seemingly took the same approach this past fall as they redshirted a heavy portion of their would-be seniors so that they may return for the 2017 cross country season and pursue the team title.
However, as I mentioned above, this is just speculation. There could plenty of other reasons why they haven’t run yet. Still, you have to think these guys are just waiting to take the NCAA by storm in 2017-2018.
Established Long-Distance Leaders
The great thing about the 5k and 10k distances is that there is often a lot of depth and anything can happen over such a long period of time. This allows new and emerging stars to enter the top of the NCAA standings while established names like the ones below are quickly dismissed.
Maybe that’s why we’ve forgotten that Andrew Ronoh (Arkansas) had the 2nd fastest 10k during the 2016 outdoor season… but hasn’t run during 2017.
Or what about Cerake Geberkidane (Oklahoma State) who made NCAA’s last spring as a redshirt freshman, but has been out of all race results since getting injured during the 2016 cross country season?
Lawrence Kipkoech (Campbell) wan an All-American during XC this past fall and was one of only three individuals to qualify for both the 5k and 10k at NCAA’s last spring. Now, he’s nowhere to be seen after running three unexciting races this past indoor season.
Brian Barraza (Houston) is one of the biggest names to take a redshirt spring season after soloing a huge 8:32 steeplechase two weekend’s ago. The 2017 indoor All-American would be the top steeplechaser in the nation by eight seconds if he ran under the Houston name this season. In a year where the steeplechase title is open for anyone, you have to wonder if redshirting this season was the right choice…
Although elite athletes like Cheserek, Knight, and Scott will take the spotlight and control certain races from the front, the absence of the four names above certainly plays a large role in who will become an All-American at the end of this season.
While there are plenty of athletes to be excited about, it’s hard not to think about “what could have been” for so many others…