We’ve covered the 3k and the mile so far and each one of those looks to be like a thriller. With that in mind, let’s take a look at another race that is just as exciting and has no real favorite coming into this season.
Edward Cheserek won it last year (like most of the races he entered) but of course, he has graduated and exhausted all eligibility. Let’s look at the top 16 from last year and see what we have.
1. Edward Cheserek, 13:41.20
2. Marc Scott, 13:43.83
3. Amon Terer, 13:47.01
4. John Dressel, 13:47.87
5. Alfred Chelanga, 13:48.36
6. Erik Peterson, 13:49.83
7. MJ Erb, 13:51.73
8. Tyler Day, 13:53.93
9. Grant Fischer, 13:55.37
10. Jerrell Mock, 13:56.74
11. Rory Linkletter, 13:57.62
12. Zach Herriot, 13:59.99
13. Jonathan Green, 14:00.95
14. Matthew Baxter, 14:08.28
15. Colby Gilbert, 14:20.58
16. Alex Short, 14:23.26
There you have it. More than worthy names participated last year, and half of that field will look to come back and be a part of the 16 qualifiers once again.
Scott, Terer, Peterson, Erb, Mock, Herriot, and Short join Cheserek in being out of eligibility for the indoor season.
As I mentioned before, eight will return. The first on the list is John Dressel. He finished 4th last year and brought in a 13:42 PR that he partnered with a 7:51 3k time. Dressel’s health has been in question this year as he didn’t participate with the Buffaloes this past fall. If he’s healthy, we more than expect Dressel to be in the mix.
Chelanga is part of the three Alabama men that were thought to give the field a run for their money during the cross country championships. While the other two held their end of the bargain, it didn’t go as well for Chelanga after finishing 37th overall. Despite the sub-par finish to the fall, Chelanga is expected to be back in the mix for the 5k title in the winter. While he didn’t run as fast during indoor last year as a sophomore, he did set a PR in the 10,000 meters during outdoor track with a time of 28:04. The strength training will still be there despite the finish in cross and Chelanga will most likely be back in the fold. His teammates, Vincent Kiprop and Gilbert Kigen, are two transfer students who will be more than ready to compete come indoor season. Kiprop brings in a PR of 13:42 from last year (which would have put him 5th on the leaderboard in D1). After a strong showing during cross country this past year and a successful outdoor season, Kiprop is ready to prove that he is a Division 1 talent. Meanwhile, his teammate Gilbert Kigen brings in a 5k PR of 13:53 (which is good enough for 26th on the D1 leaderboard). He finished 4th at XC Nationals and will look to build upon that success going into the indoor season. The trio of Alabama will be out to make a name for themselves at the highest level of collegiate athletes.
Let’s tackle both Tyler Day and Matthew Baxter here. The Northern Arizona most recently made headlines after they broke the race wide open at cross nationals. Baxter has a PR of 13:44 while Day has a PR of 13:49. Both of those PR’s were set last year. Their 2-3 finish at Nationals shows that they are in fantastic shape and it should carry over into the indoor season. We’re sure they will try their luck in the 3000 meters too, but expect both Baxter and Day to be in the podium conversation come March.
Fischer, the lesser known one, looks to continue his success at Colorado State. Him and his teammate Mock participated last year where they went 9-10 at the big dance. This year Fischer is back and looks to make sure people know who he is. Fischer set PR’s in the mile, 3k, and the 5k last indoor season. He will look to improve upon those marks this year.
Linkletter is the man everyone is curious about. He had a killer cross country season with a win over Dillon Maggard, a Pre-Nats title, and a solid postseason. Linkletter had everyone talking about him and the BYU team leading up to Nationals. That meet didn’t go as planned, but that doesn’t mean that Linkletter is out of shape. He ran 13:49 and 7:58 during last indoor season and he even set a 10,000 meter PR during the outdoor season that was followed by a silver medal at NCAA’s. Yet, if one thing is for certain, it’s that Linkletter will be looking to rebound from a disappointing end to his cross country season.
Green is potentially the dark horse of this group. Green finished 10th at cross country nationals and no one seemingly is talking about him. He ran 13:45 during indoors last year which constitutes him as a threat. He has a 4:04 mile PR from his sophomore year and 29:06 for 10,000 meters outdoors. Two years ago, he finished 5th at XC Nationals and will look to return to form in the coming months.
The last returner we have is Colby Gilbert of Washington. He had the 2nd fastest 5k time in the country last year to go along with his 3k time that led the nation. However, Nationals didn’t go as planned for him as he walked away with only one All-American finish (6th in the 3k). Last winter, Gilbert set personal bests in the mile (3:58), the 3k (7:45) and the 5k (13:34). Each of those times put him in the top 20 on the NCAA leaderboards which gives us the belief that he’ll be back in top form this winter.
Time to talk outsiders / sleepers! All of the following men listed below are sub-14:00 5k runners. These won’t be the only men that will be approaching the top 16, but based off of last year’s times and leaderboards, you will at least need a sub-14 to even be near the qualifying conversation.
Stop me if you heard this before, but Justyn Knight looks to be the biggest challenger to all the returners at this point in time. I know we keep talking about him, but it’s clear that Knight is potentially the strongest candidate for the 5k race as well. He ran 13:17 outdoors and already has PR’s of 7:47 and 3:56. With the strength gained from cross country, it’d be no surprise to see him in the top 16 come March. The only question is if he’ll actually pursue the event.
Knight’s teammate, Illiass Aouani, has a lifetime PR of 13:55 in the 5k which is when he was on the Lamar University roster. Since transferring to Syracuse, Aouani has run 7:57 and 13:57. He’ll join Knight as a potential challenger in the 5k field.
Clayton Young and Jonathan Harper, both of BYU, could potentially join their teammate Linkletter in the national championships. Young finished last indoor season with the 10th best time in the nation with a 13:45 while Harper put down a 13:54 of his own. Young has run 7:49 for a 3k and was a key reason why the Cougars saw success this past fall. Harper has run 7:59 and has a very respectable 10k PR of 29:05. He also has a sub-8:00 3k to his name. All three BYU athletes should be considered viable options for the top 16.
Tanner Anderson (Oregon) was just a redshirt freshman last year, but that didn’t stop him from producing fast times. Anderson ran 8:02 and 13:52 during the 2016 indoor season and added a 29:21 10k time during outdoors. He placed 41st at the NCAA’s this past fall and looks to add even more accomplishments to the historic Oregon program.
Fred Huxham (Washington) didn’t compete during the outdoor season or this past fall for the Huskies. While we are not sure if this is due to a redshirt or health issues, he someone who should post one of the top times in the nation. He ran 8:05 and 13:51 during indoors and even owns a PR of 13:44 from his redshirt sophomore season of outdoor track. Huxham has a plenty of untapped potential and with Colby Gilbert training next to him, Huxham could be one of the next breakout stars of this indoor season (assuming he’s healthy).
Amon Kemboi (Campbell) will try and fill the shoes of Amon Terer who finished 3rd last year. Just a sophomore, Kemboi finished 29th at Cross Country Nationals this year which garnered him All-American honors. His teammate, Lawrence Kipkoech, was 20 spots ahead of Kemboi in 9th place. Despite a poor showing last year, it looks as if Kipkoech is rounding back into form and is capable of repeating his PR’s of 13:53 and 29:11. Expect this Campbell duo to be towards the top of the qualifying list.
Chase Weaverling and Brent Demarest (Virginia) finished 26th and 29th on the leaderboard last year and could be two individuals to watch out for. Weaverling has notched times of 8:11 and 13:54 (PR) during the indoor season and followed that up with a 29:29 10k during the outdoor season. Meanwhile, his teammate Brent Demarest has also run 8:11 for 3k and posted a 13:56 during the indoor season. He set his 10k PR last outdoor season with a 29:07. These two have very similar times and training together will only help them find a spot atop the leaderboards.
Joe Klecker and Ryan Forsyth (Colorado) are back for their junior years of competition. Klecker has run 7:51 and 4:01 (at altitude) to complement his 13:42 PR (outdoor). Despite the poor finish at Cross Country NCAA’s, we’d be wrong if we didn’t think he’d be back in the mix during indoors. Forsyth, who owns a PR of 13:57, was the 2nd man to finish for the Buffaloes at Nationals this past. While he may not have necessary speed, he more than makes up for that with his 10k PR of 29:32. Watch out for this junior to build off of a strong fall season of cross country.
Jacob Bilvado (Air Force) was another sophomore that turned some heads last year with a quick 5k on the track. He ran 13:56 during the indoor season and then followed it up with a PR of 13:54 during the outdoor season. His finish to the cross country season wasn’t favorable, but he’ll look to bounce back during indoors after a rough finish.
Jaret Carpenter (Purdue) is just a sophomore this year, but he joins the company of Kemboi and Anderson as individuals who had very good freshmen years. Carpenter ran 4:07, 8:07 and 13:57 during last indoor season. He added an impressive 29:49 to his resume last year during outdoor track which gives him some impressive range from the 800 to the 10k. Despite not making the national meet, Carpenter’s potential could be on full display during the next few months.
Obsa Ali (Minnesota) has PR’s of 4:07, 13:53 (outdoor), and an 8:45 steeplechase to his name. He ran 13:57 last indoor season before improving it by four seconds during outdoors. Despite not qualifying for NCAA’s this past fall, Ali is still coming off a strong cross country season and will look to create success this winter.
Lastly, I want to talk about the Portland Pilots. They just finished 2nd as a team at Nationals which is a pretty good indicator that they are ready to roll during the indoor season. Emmanuel Roudolff-Levisse led the Pilots at Nationals with an 11th place finish and has clocked times of 8:05 (outdoor 3k), 14:04, and 29:08. This will be his first year of NCAA indoor track for the Pilots, so our expectations are tempered due to his lack of experience.
Jeff Thies has a PR of 14:04, but we fully expect him to break that sub-14 barrier and throw his name towards the top after a breakout cross country season. Nick Hauger has a 14:03 lifetime PR and his performance at Nationals would have been a PR at 10,000 meters.
This Portland trio is ready to put their names at the top of the NCAA leaderboard come March. Now the question is whether or not Portland will focus on the indoor season or look to get their guys ready for outdoors.
The final name that we have to mention is Morgan McDonald. There have been rumors that, in addition to this past fall, he will also be redshirting this indoor track season. If McDonald does come out for the indoor season, his times of 3:57, 7:51 and 13:15 (non-NCAA) are very respectable. If he competes this winter, we would expect McDonald to return to top form and be a part of this crazy mix.
The 5k is potentially the deepest race of the all the previews we will be doing. So many guys are ready to put down quick times this winter. Expect the top 16 leaderboard to dip below 13:45 come March. Regardless of who we see, it’s going to be one tough race that will show the country who has the most guts.