Cross country is now over and it’s rather clear that it’s (typically) not made for the men who decide to take on the task of running the mile. As a miler, the fall season is usually dedicated to building strength and game planning for a sub-4:00 mile attempt in February and continue the pursuit of a national title.
A look at last year’s top 16 finishers with their PR:
1. Josh Kerr, 3:59.90
2. Edward Cheserek, 3:52.01
3. Sampson Laari, 3:58.71
4. Neil Gourley, 3:59.58
5. Adam Palamar, 3:57.39
6. Joshua Thompson, 3:56.89
7. Liam Dee, 3:58.19
8. Ben Saarel, 4:00.39
9. Matthew Maton, 3:58.34
10. Thomas Joyce, 3:58.47
11. Jonah Koech, 4:00.82
12. Tim Gorman, 3:58.78
13. Dillon Maggard, 4:01.25
14. Matthew Fayers, 3:58.53
15. Zach Perrin, 3:59.00
16. Ned Willig, 3:58.09
Cheserek, Laari, Palamar, Thompson, Saarel, Joyce, Gorman, and Willig no longer have indoor eligibility.
The first man that comes to mind is Josh Kerr from New Mexico. Kerr shocked the world when he upset Cheserek in the final of the mile last March. Kerr continued his success during outdoors when he ran 3:35. His 3:59.90 was the second fastest during the preliminary rounds and he clearly had more when he upset The King just a day later. He’ll look to improve upon that 3:59 while trying to retain his title.
Gourley (Virginia Tech), Dee (Iona), and Maton (Oregon) were the only other non-seniors in the finals last year. Dee ran for Iona this past fall and was a part of their National Championship squad. He also ran 8:02 last year at 3000 meters which is more than respectable. He’ll look to bring more success to the track during his junior year and improve his 3:58. Maton didn’t run cross-country this fall. It has yet to be seen if he will compete on the track this winter. We’ll learn more about him in the coming weeks, we’re sure.
That leaves us with Koech (UTEP), Maggard (Utah State), Fayers (Oklahoma State) and Perrin (Colorado) who could return for their senior year of indoor eligibility. We talked about Maggard in the 3000m preview and how he finished 6th at NCAA’s this past fall and also ran 4:11 in blue jeans. He’s clearly in shape and ready to make some noise as the winter season starts to roll around.
Koech (UTEP) last participated in cross country at the Mountain Region Championships, but has a PR of 1:46.53 in the 800 during the outdoor scene which clearly showcases that he has speed to burn. We should expect him to break through the 4:00 barrier during indoor and potentially double up with the 800 at Nationals. Still, will we see the Jonah Koech who was an All-American as a freshman or the one who has struggled during the past two track seasons?
Fayers didn’t have a strong cross country season, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be ready for competition. OSU always has someone who’s there to compete for a national title in either the 1500 or mile. Last year it was both Fayers and Thompson. This year, Fayers could be aiming for the title despite failure to make the final last year. His 2:23 1000m PR show’s that he is more than capable of competing at the highest level.
Perrin is the last of the 2017 competitors who brings in his 3:59 PR from 2016. Of course, he has showcased that he has wheels that can potentially be deadly. He has run 1:49 outdoors and 7:55 in the 3000 last year. Perrin was a part of the CU team that underperformed at the National meet in cross country, but coach Mark Wetmore usually has his runners bounce back when it matters most.
Now that we have covered all of last year’s competitors, who does that leave us with for newcomers come 2018?
Obviously, there is Justyn Knight. He ran 3:59.54 last year and is currently in wicked shape. The question is whether or not he will hone in on a single race, or try and pair the 3000 with the 5000 instead. His teammate Aidan Tooker ran 4:02 last year as a freshman and will look to build upon a strong cross country season.
Diego Leon of Montana State finished with the 21st fastest time in the country after he ran 4:07 and received a big conversion. However, we wouldn’t be surprised if Leon finds his way under 4:00 this upcoming year. With recent success from Cristian Soratos, it’s no surprise to see another Bobcat towards the top of the rankings.
Indiana boasts two runners who have the potential to improve upon their mile times from last year. Both sophomore Kyle Mau and junior Joseph Murphy competed for their cross country squad giving them a strong base headed into the beginning meets of the year. Mau finished last year with a mile time of 4:00.37. Alongside his 1:51 and 3:44 PR outdoor marks, it’s more than plausible that Mau could make the jump into elite territory. Meanwhile, his teammate Murphy clicked off a 4:02.01 mile last indoor season, posted a faster time in the 800 (1:50), and an equal time in the 1500 (3:44). Together, these two could create a duo to be reckoned with come late February and early March.
Austin Tamagno and Blake Haney could join their teammate Maton (if he runs) as a part of this list when it comes down to it. Tamagno ran 4:01 last year as a freshman and Haney has a PR of 3:56 from his sophomore year. If both are in shape, they could be a part of another loaded Oregon distance field.
Stanford hosts a quartet of runners in Jack Keelan, Thomas Ratcliffe, Grant Fisher, and Sean McGorty who could all be a part of the national elite. Ratcliffe may show promise in the 3000 meters, but Keelan posts a 3:59 mile as well as a 7:51 for 3000 meters. He is very well-rounded and falls in the same boat as Ratcliffe when it comes to competition. We all know what Fisher can do as his range can go anywhere from 1500 to the 10,000 meters. A strong season of cross country should have him geared up ready to run fast. With no marks for an indoor season, his 3:42 1500 and 13:30 5k times are certainly an indicator of what could come for him. McGorty is back for his 5th year of competition and brings a Mile PR of 3:53 into the mix of competitors. He, like Fisher, can range all the way up to 10,000 meters. If healthy, McGorty could possess the best ability of the four, and will look to return to his 2016 form.
Connor Mora (Michigan), Sean Tobin (Ole Miss), Jack Bruce (Arkansas), Andy Trouard (Northern Arizona) and Justine Kiprotich (Michigan State), if he is healthy, could all throw their names in the mix too. Mora finished last year’s indoor season as the 25th fastest time in the country. In addition to his 3:59 Mile, he has an 8:06 PR from his sophomore season. He also has an 8:45 steeplechase to his name.
Tobin has been a household name ever since Craig Engels and MJ Erb helped put Ole Miss on the map. His Mile PR (3:59.91) is from his freshman year, but has been consistent during his sophomore and junior seasons. His PR of 7:58 obviously helps here as well, and with this being his last go-round, expect Tobin to be towards the top.
Bruce is on a tear since the beginning of indoor season last year. He PR’d in the mile (4:00), 3000m (7:58), and added two more personal bests during the outdoor season. Coming off a strong cross country season where he finished 13th, he’s a strong bet to come into the indoor season ready to roll.
Trouard seems to get lost after the performance of Peter Lomong a couple weeks ago, but he’s not to be forgotten when it comes to the track. His 4:00 mile and 8:20 3k confirm that he has more than enough talent to thrive. Under the tutelage of the Lumberjacks’ coach Michael Smith, it’s almost certain that he’ll dip under the 4:00 barrier.
Lastly, we have Kiprotich. He is more of a wild card than anything at this point as his health can’t be confirmed. When healthy though, Kiprotich has the ability to be a contender at the highest level. His mile PR is only 4:06 from his freshman year after sophomore year appeared to be riddled with injuries during the winter. He PR’d in both the 800 (1:49) and 1500 (3:42) meter and looks to come into this year hungry for success.
Outside of Kerr, the household names aren’t necessarily there. We do know for certain that this will be one of the deepest fields throughout the season. It’s becoming harder and harder to determine who classifies themselves as just a middle-distance runner these days and there will always be a fair share of athletes who either step up or step down in order to give the Mile a shot. And who knows? One of those athletes might find their name atop of the leaderboards with a decision to make.