Not sure if this question was addressed to me or Zat on the Discussion Post, but I will weigh in anyway because I thought this race was awesome and would like to talk about ...
First off, you are 100% correct that if Ches runs an honest race there we could have seen the CR. I think Ches only needed the 4:01ish carry that the others had to get to 16:04 and then a bit more crazy of a split in the 3:56ish range to get under 16
It seemed briefly like UofO was going after the record, with Winn making things honest on the opening leg and helping everyone out in the record pursuit. That first leg tends to be where things go up in flames for record attempts, so Winn eliminated that nicely. Then Greogehan made a midrace push on the third leg to take the lead from 800m or so out to keep the pace honest. It all seemed to add up to the fact that Oregon wanted the record.
Meanwhile Nova was content to sit back. It appeared all they cared about was the victory.
When Ches got the baton in front of Williamsyz he was uncomfortable right from the get go. He doesn't like to lead and he probably has had it trained into his mind under the Oregon tutelage by now that the best strategy is to avoid taking the lead until necessary. He does have a fantastic kick and I think it would be silly to think it's not at the top of the list in the NCAA. I am a little surprised, given how the other Ducks raced, that Ches didn't get after it a little bit more. You don't even need to take it through in 57, just take it through in a 61 or something and try and close off the back end.
Ches moved out to lane 2 and Williamsyz just refused to take it from him. McGorty got there and he also refused to take it. No one wanted to lead. I'm not sure how people can throw Ches under the bus for the way he ran when guys like McGorty and even Bile had practically no shot at outkicking Ches or Williamsyz. Why did neither of them go to the front? Why didn't they make things an honest race?Because it's well documented the best way to win these races is to not be in first.
If Cheserek takes this thing from the gun, I'm not sure it ends all that differently. Williamsyz is really good (he ran 3:36ish about 3 years ago and had the fastest split at Nationals and the Penn Relays DMR) and so it's not like Ches could just run him into the ground from out front. Leading for 4 laps and then trying to hold off a final surge from Williamsyz on his home track with all the motivation in the world for a school that puts a ton more value on the Penn Relays than Oregon does? I feel Ches is almost more likely to lose that way. I mean he outkicked Williamsyz the day before, was there much reason to think things would dramatically change the next day?
My final thoughts:
- They completely squandered a record attempt. If somebody gets things out harder, that record is probably taken by whoever wins gold.
- Regardless of strategy, I'm not sure this race ends differently in the 1-2 spots. Yes, I do think Ches probably thought his kick was better than Williamsyz, but I doubt he and Oregon were overconfident. Oregon altered their line up from a glorified "B" squad to a full fledged monster most likely because they were scared of Williamsyz and Nova.
- Penn Relays means more to Nova than it does to Oregon. That win meant more to Williamsyz then it did to Ches. And Williamsyz is good! He's really, really good at running! When you get to a kicker's race it's a glorified coin flip sometimes, but leading from the front and hammering the whole way against similar competition tends to result in a loss for the leader the majority of the time.
- This race was awesome. Easily my favorite of the weekend and the fact that they did get all tactical and Ahmed Bile was going crazy made it that much better. Sometimes it's not about the times, it's about the journey and the story. The fact that we have this controversy makes for a much more exciting Sunday.
Just my thoughts, share your's below!
Real quick before I jump into things, here's a potentially optimistic general plan for the week:
Monday-Tuesday: Bang out a ton of Penn Relays talk (there was a lot to talk about)
Wednesday: Recap the other action from around the state (there was a lot to talk about)
Thursday-Friday: Preview any big meets that I can get my hands on (there could potentially be a lot to talk about)
Saturday-Sunday: Shut off all electronics, sleep for two straight days and try and give you guys a chance to catch up before I do it all over again starting Monday. Good luck
Now let's briefly get this out of the way for those of you who didn't know (which I'm assuming is a very small percentage of people): I was actually at this meet! It's exciting to be able to not have to use the phrases like "I'm assuming" or "This is what I imagine" and instead use phrases like "Wow it's freezing in these stands" and "Sweet, I always wanted to eat overpriced pizza while listening to Ron Lopresti talk about BMW!" But in all seriousness, it was a phenomenal meet, I'm glad I could be there and hopefully it makes for better analysis from me for you readers, which is really what it's all about.
Enough chit-chat, let's get to the races ...
Allow me to set the stage for those of you who may not have been outside. It was pretty cold, pretty windy and pretty early in the morning. The Penn Relays crew makes you strip down and stand in a glorified pig pen with all the other runners in an overcrowded heat, limiting your ability to properly warm up in already difficult and nerve racking situations. Anyone who ran at or near their PR was a champ. Here's a full list of the sub 2 guys according to the Penn Relays results site. Sorry in advance if I miss anyone.
Alek Sauer, Pennsbury 1:54.17
Jaxson Hoey, DT West 1:54.68
Evan Emmanuel, Penncrest 1:56.09
Rock Fortna, CB West 1:56.87
Sam Webb, Pennsbury 1:56.93
Jake Brophy, CB East 1:57.38
Oliver Boucher, CB East 1:57.84
Josh Coakley, Twin Valley 1:57.98
Dan Williams, Pennridge 1:58.12
Alex Milligan, State College 1:58.27
Kyuande Johnson, Wissahickon 1:58.65
Ata Shahideh, CB East 1:58.68
Jordan Neely, Abington 1:58.74
Will Sponaugle, Hershey 1:58.80
Stefan Sutton, LaSalle 1:58.97
Brad Foust, Altooona 1:59.16
Strong showings by all these guys in the conditions. Now get some quick thoughts on each heat.
Small Schools 1
- Hershey ends up as PA's top team running 8:14 and beating out Strath Haven despite the fact that they didn't have Adam Rabon on the roster (2:01ish already this season). Sponaugle has also been doing some quality running leading the way and, based on my early skimming of the rest of the action from the week, doubled back to run in the 9:30s for 3200m as well. Sponaugle is setting up run a quick mile in the not so distant future. Chris Paynter looks like a nice find for them as well.
- Twin Valley's Coakley had the fastest split of the heat and looked killer in other action running 1:56ish if memory serves in the open 8 later in the weekend. He's looking like a legit open 8 contender so we will see what this means for the 4x8. They had Digiacomo run 2:02ish this weekend as well so they may consider some substitutions for the next time around.
Small Schools 2
- Huge split by Emmanuel on the second leg. He's a monster. I was a bit surprised the team didn't lead off Komat who I think has led off some big indoor meets and last year's state championship. Looks like they didn't have Teal on the squad either (their lead off leg from indoor states), but he's healthy as he ran on their 4x4 (which did a great job). I'm sure these guys are probably a little disappointed they didn't make the COA, but I sincerely doubt we have heard the last of this team. They will be back with a vengeance for districts.
Large Schools 1
- This was a fantastic race by Pennsbury. They won their heat and did with some authority. Sauer just broke things open on the 2nd leg (another order change I found interesting, but more on that later) and then Webb did his usual gutsyness and came up big on the anchor. I thought Kersten also held his own nicely on that lead off leg considering his youth and inexperience at the Penn Relays, but I suppose his state experience helped a lot here.
- Abington really did some gutsy running. Neely took it probably a bit over his head, but held on valiantly and set the tone to keep them in it from there. You have to get out well on the first leg to keep your team in contention, so Neely's run was big. Considering their seed, they really overachieved at 8:03 and just 3 seconds out of the COA.
- State College and Altoona just always find each other I guess. Milligan runs down Foust to get SC the nod in the D6 race. Feffer had a nice third leg which set things up. Altoona apparently had a 2:02 split from Kevin Smith this weekend, however, so Toona may be making some changes before their rematch at Districts.
Large Schools 2
- CB West was consistently competitive through their first three legs and then Fortna brought it home to seal what I thought was the most surprising COA qualifier for PA. Fortna did a great job staying competitive and finishing hard even when guys were rolling by on quick opening laps all around him.
- DT West was nearly PA's 4th team into the finals, missing it by 1 spot. But there was nothing to be ashamed of for this squad. You have to keep in mind they are a young team that is still learning a lot about running at this level. Plus they got a huge lift from Jaxson on the anchor who went out blazing fast to try and pull his team back into the race (which he did). Jaxson probably was out a bit too fast, but he still had a good last 200m and didn't really fall apart that much, a great sign of strength considering he's still working his way back to 100%. Also Josh ran 1:58 later in the weekend in the open 8, another positive sign looking forward.
- LaSalle really impressed me this weekend. I felt like they were beginning to get into a bit of a rut, but they broke out in a big way at Penn, running an extremely competitive race and narrowly getting beat out for a spot in the COA by only about 2 seconds. Grant ran a tough lead off leg and Sutton fought well on the anchor leg among a sea of big names and fast times. Also worth noting: the DMR season is officially done for the spring, meaning St. Joe's Prep, Bonner and O'Hara are all switching their focus back to the 4x8 for Districts and state qualifying. LaSalle needs to continue to bring their "A" game if they want to assure themselves a spot on the line at Shipp.
In the end, PA sent 3 teams to the Championships with Pennsbury leading the way followed by an excellent showing by CB East and lastly CB West.
What a great set of teams to make the COA for PA. First you had Pennsbury. Their spot was almost predetermined giving the statistics for indoor state champs, but that didn't mean they didn't have to show up in the prelims. And they certainly did. The impressive season continued for PB as they won their heat and locked down a spot.
Then you had CB East. They have always had solid relay depth as I've harped on in past recaps. They had the heartbreaking 6th place finish at Districts this past fall. They had an arguably disappointing indoor state meet (although maybe expectations from guys like me were just too high). And of course they had last year. Last year, they didn't make it to the COA and were likely PA's best team left of the qualifiers list. Last year's team also didn't include Jake Brophy, who ran the 3k fresh instead.
But this year, CB East put Brophy on the line and he delivered with a big time 1:57 second leg that kept East in it. But the real winner here was Ata Shahideh (who anchored the previous year's team) who ran a phenomenal 1:58 lead off leg that set the tone for the entire race that followed. It was an ultimate redemption story and it made this squad my favorite COA qualifier. (Also worth noting, having Brophy on the 4x8 didn't seem to hurt his 3k performance all that much either).
Finally, there was CB West. They didn't have the stars or the state champs on their roster in the conventional sense. I picked against them this past districts in cross country (mistake) and I picked against them for this Penn Relays (mistake). I've been thinking they're too young or they're a year away, but West has said their time is now.
And in the finals, it was CB West who threw the best first punch. Lead off leg Andrew Baker dropped an impressive 1:57.9 opening carry and handed off in first out of all the PA teams. Baker's a Senior so naturally he won't be waiting around until next year to get things going. West followed it up with another super frosh to add to the long list of super frosh this year in PA as Jake Claricurzio split a killer 1:56.64 on the 2nd leg. Those two running what I believe to be sizeable PRs combined with a strong run by Carter Zerweck in 2 flat, kept this team competitive and ultimately Rock Fortna brought it home with a 1:54.94 split. Fortna has now split 1:54 and 4:16 this year and is becoming a star.
CB East fell out off it early, but still fought valiantly on tired legs from their epic run the day before. Boucher split a strong 1:55.44 on the second leg from the back of the pack which was a nice PR for him. East now has Shahideh at 1:58, Boucher and Brophy at 1:55 and Kettelberger at 2:02 with two of those marks coming in sub-ideal conditions. They are a strong team for states, but Brophy's 2 mile prowess is getting harder and harder to ignore looking ahead. Stay tuned.
But the story of the finals was Pennsbury. Pennsbury made some very interesting relay movements that, given their fantastic 4th place finish and 7:45.42 time, clearly paid off. The most drastic change was Alek Sauer moving from his usual place as anchor, to second leg. Sauer has been running 4th on this relay for as long as I can remember, dating back to his sophomore year days on their 2013 squad. The general philosophy is you throw your best guy on the anchor so he can chase down as many guys as possible or tactically outduel his competitors. It worked well for PB last outdoors when Sauer ran down a slew of guys en route to a 1:52.9 split and it also helped him hold off Penncrest at indoor states.
But, the Orangemen also knew their best shot at success was to stay at or near the front for as long as possible. Kersten gave a strong lead off performance, running 1:58, and then Sauer took over on his leg, blasting a 1:51.98 split that brought Pennsbury into perfect position in the top group. Then Pennsbury threw in another surprise, opting for Sam Webb at the 3 spot rather than his customary 2 spot or his previous day's anchor role. Like Sauer, Webb has been running in the 2 spot for as long as I can recall, but putting Webb on at 3rd allowed him to keep Pennsbury at the front once again. The fact that Webb was running with elite competition brought out the best in him and he split a 1:54.12 for another big PR.
Here's the thing, Sauer anchored so well in the past because he is an excellent chaser. Webb was so effective as a #2 leg in the past because he runs great at the front of the pack. The best order to give those (Pennsbury's best legs) a chance to do what they do best was to set things up as they did.
However, this could all go wrong if your anchor is not ready to handle the spotlight. Pennsbury opted for Zach Yeger in the finals on the anchor leg, a huge, pressure packed spot for a man in what was likely his first Penn Relays appearance. Yeger is a strong runner, but he was getting the baton with monster anchor legs (a ton of 1:52-1:53 types). Despite the fast early pace, Yeger held on strong for Pennsbury and kept them in a great position. His 2 flat anchor carry was enough to give the squad 4th place overall, top PA honors and also top PA-NY honors as they beat Arlington and James Asselmeyer, who split 1:51.68 but had too much ground to make up on the boys in Orange.
So ultimately, big props to Pennsbury. They ran an effective order that got their two top talents to PRs and their other two legs at or near their career best marks. They challenged conventional wisdom for relays, held their own under pressure, and made PA proud.
Pennsbury is the undeniable favorite for the outdoor crown, but a few questions are still swirling around this team, most notably revolving around the team's key #2 piece Sam Webb. Now that Webb isn't running top tier 3200ms immediately before his 4x8 legs, we can see that he has serious wheels. But if he goes back to the 32 this districts/states, will that effect his ability to give their team the 1-2 punch that separates them from their rivals? Or is Webb looking at a 4x8-16 double this outdoors (another brutally tricky double)? And if so, what does this mean for the already complicated outdoor 1600m state title race (remember no Ritz in the PIAA)?
We answered some questions this weekend, but we also opened the door to a few more. Get ready PA.
By Garrett Zatlin
Yes, it’s true. I was able to complete some predictions. I wish I was able to get more material in, but this week was busier than I thought it was going to be so this will have to do.
Penn Relays is one of my favorite weekends as a fan of track and field. If you’ve never been, I strongly suggest you go. The atmosphere is outstanding and the races are always entertaining (especially the USA vs Jamaica matchups). I like to call it the March Madness of track and field. I’ve been fortunate enough to go every year of high school and I will unfortunately not be able to go this year. Not gonna lie, I had a great set up in high school. I lacked just enough speed that I would go as an alternate for the 4x800. So I still got access to the track for warm ups, but got to enjoy life as a spectator. It’s awesome to hear the crowd roar when someone is about to get hawked as well as seeing the American and Jamaican flags waving all over the stadium. I actually remember getting chills.
With all that said, let’s get into the predictions!
3000St. Championship (7:30pm)
Like I said in one of my earlier posts, I don’t know a lot about the steeple chase. Even worse, I don’t know a lot about the guys in this event. BUT! I will try my best.
The favorite in this race is Isaac Spencer of Texas A&M who has run 8:40.87 in this event. The catch? He ran that time roughly two years ago (2013). Since then, his best time has been 8:50.74 (Most recently run at Stanford). Max Darrah of Georgetown sports a PR of 8:43.71 but that is from 2013 and has yet to have a time recorded for the 3000St. this season. Darrah’s teammate, Matthew Howard,is another name to keep in mind as he just ran 8:52.83 at the Virginia Challenge. Joshua Roche of Indiana is someone who I’ve actually seen recently. He ran an 8:48.01 at Stanford and was able to bust out a 3:46.49 1500 two weeks ago. He seems like he’s rounding into good shape at a good time. Other names to look out for are Duncan Tomlin (Yale), Connor Martin (Princeton), and Austin McLean (Youngstown St.).
So how do I see it playing out? I’ve been told that the conditions are supposed to be cold and windy. I don’t think the times will be that quick and that it will be pretty tactical considering the field is pretty evenly matched. I imagine by the 1800m-2000m mark that Spencer, Roche, and Howard will break off and the pace will get pretty quick. In this situation, I like Roche and what he has shown in the 1500. He’s got speed and that will work well for him. At the end of the day, I see Roche taking the win.
Also look out PA alumni Ean DiSilvio (Penn State) and Austin Stecklair (Johns Hopkins) in this race.
5000 Championship (9:20pm)
This is going to be an interesting race with some interesting names. What better way to start off this event than by mentioning blog-favorite, Craig Lutz. The Texas Longhorn will make the effort to take down a field that is slightly underrated. Yale’s Kevin Dooney is a favorite of mine. He’s got some speed in him and has some great range. None of his times are spectacular but he has run 13:59 multiple times so if the race gets tactical, Dooney could be in the mix. Jacob Thomson (NC State) is the third seed in this race and rocks a 13:52.71 PR. He can’t be left out of the conversation and will make Lutz work for it. Throw in PA alum Matt Fischer (Penn St.) and you have a sneaky good field. Don’t forget that Fischer has some speed (3:46.95 for 1500). I don’t like to keep throwing around names, but Collin Leibold (Georgetown) is dangerous in this race. He just ran 3:42.80 (1500) at UVA and could make thingsreally interesting if the pace is too easy for too long. I’d also like to mention UVA’s Thomas Madden. If my memory serves me correctly, Madden won the Penn Relayshigh school 3000m in 2013 (might want to fact check that). Assuming that’s true, that’s got to be a great confidence booster for him going into this race. Other guys to watch are Brian Schoepfer (Duke), Mark Derrick (UNC), Ryan Walling (UNC), and Zach Herriot (UVA).
In the end, I don’t see why Lutz can’t win this. Yes, I know how bias that sounds especially with the discovery that he reads the blog. But when you look at the big picture, this is Lutz’s to lose. His 5,000 and 10,000 PR’s are clearly superior to everyone in the field. He just ran his 10k PR at Stanford which indicates he has the fitness to go into the 13:40’s if the race calls for it. However, I don’t think the race will be quite that fast given the conditions. I do believeLutz will have to work for the win with the field he’ll have behind him. However, if he’s smart, he’ll push the pace and try to take the kick out of the quicker guys behind him. This is what I’ve got…
PA alum to watch include Glen Burkhardt (Penn St.), EanDiSilvio (Penn St.), Brendan Shearn (Penn), Dominic DeLuca (Cornell), Ross Wilson (Penn), Max Norris (Columbia), Sean Burke (Lehigh), Kieran Sutton (Shippensburg), and Ryan Cooney (Lehigh).
10,000 Championship (10:55pm)
Aaron Dinzeo (California Pa.) is the man to watch in this race. He has an outstanding PR of 28:40.88 that was run last year. That is straight up talent and there can’t be too much argument about who the favorite in this race is. Michael Biwott (American International) has a PR of 29:03.19 in this event. However, that time was run in 2013. He’ll at least make Dinzeo work a little bit. Ty McCormack (Auburn) is another name I’ve seen around the results and I like his consistency. With that said, I can’t find a result for him where he’s run a 10k. That isn’t the most comforting thing ever and I’m not sure how his (assumed) first time will go. Michigan Wolverine August Pappas ran 29:29.16 last year, but ran a very poor 31:55.35 at the Virginia Challenge last week so it’s tough to decide where to put him. Brian King (Georgetown) also has a decent 10k of 29:46.66.
It’s tough to really say how the race will play out considering I don’t know the field too well. It seems pretty obvious that Dinzeo shouldn’t have too much trouble and he should win this handily. Luckily for McCormack, the field isn’t overwhelmingly fast and he should have enough confidence to mix it up in the top 5. Here’s what I got…
PA alum to watch include Dillon Farrell (Moravian), Alex Izewski (Temple), Austin Pondel (Penn St.), and Zach Hebda (Navy).
Let me quickly say that the relays are impossible to know without a detailed start list of every relay. Most of this is only speculation as to what people will run. The only idea of relay start lists is what I can get off of Flotrack.
Distance Medley Relay Championship (2:30pm)
The distance medley will open up the real college action that many of us look forward to. The top seed in this event are the Oregon Ducks. According to Flotrack, Ches, Alexander, Elkaim, and Brewer are all running in the Duck’s 4xMile. That means that Jenkins, Gregorek, and Geohegan are not accounted for. To have those three in the DMR is pretty unlikely. With that said, I think it’s very likely that two of those names will be on it.
In an article on thepennrelays.com (http://www.thepennrelays.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=1720&ATCLID=210027394), Gregorekmentions that he’s not sure what he’ll run but that it’ll most likely be the 4xMile or DMR. If the start list on Flotrackstays the same, I think it’s safe to assume Gregorek will be running the DMR (most likely the anchor leg). That leaves Geoghegan and Jenkins to take the 1200. According to Twitter, Geohegan is making the trip with the team to go to the Penn Relays. You’ve got to think that he’ll be running the 1200 leg there. My guess is that Jenkins stays home and continues to prep for whatever the Ducks have next. As for the 800, it makes sense that Niki Franzmair will make an appearance there.
Now most of you are probably thinking that there is no way Oregon loses this event. However, you might want to reconsider.
Georgetown isn’t racing Ledder, Bartlesmeyer, Manahan, or Williams in the 4xMile. This leaves some very speedy guys at the disposal of the Hoyas. Williams would most likely be the 1200 leg while Manahan fills in at the 800. Bartlesmeyer is definitely bringing it home. That is a relay combination that the Ducks can not fool around with or feel comfortable about. Had Cheserek been on the anchor, things might be a little different. However, I’m imagining a very tactical and exciting battle between these two squad if my assumption for who’s running holds up.
Other teams like Villanova and Stanford have some great pieces and solid depth all around. However, their depth isn’t strong enough to hang with the relays mentionedabove. Also to point out, if Duke runs stacked in this event, we could see them surprise and contend up front. When all is and done, I’m thinking the results will be looking something like this…
4xMile Championship (1:15pm)
This is it. This is the event that everyone is talking about. So many questions are flying around and there are so many different answers. Will there be a sub 16? Will it be fast or tactical? What are the lineups looking like? Who’s the favorite? Who’s going to win? This is why I’m here ladies and gentlemen. Let’s break this down and get those questions answered.
First off let me just say that Flotrack has done an article on this and did a really solid job. I have to say I agree with a lot of what they’re saying so I apologize if this comes off as very similar to theirs.
Flotrack gives us the preliminary start lists for five teams: Oregon, Stanford, Villanova, Georgetown, and Penn State. Right off the bat, these are teams that I feel very confident can all be in the top five. There isn’t another team out there with the firepower these teams have. However, I think it’s very fair to say that Penn State and Georgetown don’t have the depth that Oregon, Stanford, and Nova do.
Penn State has their two aces Kidder and Creese but will struggle with their other legs Fischer and Burkhardt. Let’s not forget to mention that Fischer and Burkhardt will be doubling back from the 5k the night before. With Penn State’s two weakest legs going on the double, you can’t feel super comfortable with how well they’ll perform. You need to hope that Creese and Kidder can make up for any slack there.
What was surprising was that Georgetown did not stack their relay. I raved about the Hoyas success indoors and when you have four guys under four it’s impossible not to think about the potential of a 4xMile. Alas, G-town will disappoint us and will put in only one of their sub four men from indoors (Bile). While only one of them is on the relay, Leibold and Fahy have displayed some very strong 1500’s so far this season. They have some great speed and could keep G-town in contention for a while. However, PA alum Ryan Gil boasts a PR of only 4:09 in the mile and I don’t believe he will be able to hold the pace with the guys upfront.
This is where we dig into the important stuff. Here are the supposed line-ups according to Flotrack (in no particular order)…
Oregon has decided to run some of their less established runners while Villanova and Stanford have decided to run their full ‘A’ squad. Flotrack continues to keep Stanford in the conversation at this point. Quite honestly, I see them as a no brainer third place team. Korolev simply does not have the speed to keep up with these guys. His 8:13 3k (completely fresh) against Cal worried me that he might still be fatigued from his extended XC season. PA alum Tom Coyle is a great miler but still a bit inexperienced when facing big names like this. Even when you haveMcGorty on the anchor, I still don’t see him sticking around with Cheserek or Williamsz. McGorty has raw talent, but he’s not quite at that level yet. Stanford will get third.
That leaves the two powerhouses remaining. Let’s break it down by leg. This is arguably the hardest part. You’re not sure who’s going where. You can only give your best guess. This is where I differ from Flotrack a little bit.
When discussing the lead off leg I’m a strong believer that your second best miler is the way to go. In this case, I give that label to Elkaim and DeNault. DeNault has shown that he can win races and can thrive off of any pace. If it’s fast, he’ll stay around long enough for you to regret it. Keep it conservative, and he’ll burn you with his kick. Keep in mind that he took a win away from Bile at Penn St. during indoors. Elkaim has some outstanding talent, but doesn’t seem to have the racing smarts some of his teammates do. I’m not saying Elkaim is going to get blown out, but I believe DeNault has the edge.
Nova- 3:59.12 (DeNault 3:59.12 split)
Oregon- 4:00.04 (Elkaim 4:00.04 split)
If I’m the coach, I’m sending the weakest link out on the second leg*. There are arguments as to where the weakest link goes on a relay, but that’s an argument for another day.For me, I’m putting McEntee and Brewer there. McEntee is an older guy with experience while Brewer doesn’t quitehave the credentials his fellow Ducks do. While he may not be at the form he was years back, I give McEntee the edge over a guy in the spotlight for the first time.
Nova-7:59.04 (McEntee 3:59.92 split)
Oregon-8:02.28 (Brewer 4:02.24 split)
*Just because I have the weakest link in the second leg doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be the slowest leg. It all depends on how the race plays out.
With the anchor legs being obvious choices, this leaves Alexander and Tiernan to battle it out. While the two milers are relatively equal, I have to give Alexander the edge. The Oregon miler has some recent wins under his belt which is a nice confidence booster. He’s also an experienced veteran who knows how to race. I’m a fan of Tiernan so I’ll predict that Tiernan doesn’t let him get too far away.
Nova- 11:59.62 (Tiernan splits 4:00.58)
Oregon- 12:02.24 (Alexander splits 3:59.96)
If you can’t tell by now, the scenario in my head is that the racing would be pretty quick. I remember telling the writers that I didn’t think sub 16 wouldn’t happen and now I’m seeing two teams doing exactly that. Williamsz and Chesare the two best runners in the NCAA today. I don’t think there’s an argument there. Williamsz just recently ran the NCAA leading 1500 last weekend with a 3:39.53. He alsosplit a 3:55 on Villanova’s DMR at NCAA’s. The guy is an absolute beast. For Nova, this becomes a game of “catch me if you can”. By my predictions, Nova should have a 2.62 second lead over Cheserek. Is that enough for the guy who has run a 3:54.08 (converted) mile? Or will the heat-seeking missile known as Eddy Ches be able to catch and then outkick a guy who hasn’t had to make up any ground?I’m so conflicted but hey someone’s gotta make the tough decisions.
It’s such a bold call, but I feel that had it been anyone else on the anchor, Cheserek would be able to catch them.Williamsz is at one of the pinnacles of his career and he has no fear. Will I regret this? Probably. Cheserek always makes me look foolish and I’m sure he’ll do it again.
-Quick side note: watch out for Columbia. I really likingwhat they have going on and I’m not completely sold on that fifth spot going to Penn St.
4x800 Championship (4:40pm)
The last big (collegiate) event for the day, is the 4x800. I’m guessing that we won’t be seeing some record breaking times. However, I think the field is underrated in regards to the talent it has.
Georgia Tech and Texas A&M are my favorites in this race. Georgia Tech has multiple guys that have been hanging around 1:50 while Texas A&M is led by 1:48 man Josh Hernanedez and a slew of other guys under 1:50. Georgetown is also entered and has been known for it’s excellent depth at the 800. Penn State will look to show the crowd why they are called 800U. I’d like them more in this if Joey Logue wasn’t injured and Kidder wasn’t on the double. This leaves a heavy burden on Zavon Watkins and I’m not sure they’ll be able to keep up with the field. The last team I’m looking at is Indiana. They haven’t had many big races but they hold a lot of depth and I think that will serve them well here. Villanova and Stanford are also entered here. I’m not sure where some of their guys will end up but you can’t ignore top programs like them. Especially with Villanova being the returning champs.
So how do I see it going down?
That’s all I’ve got! Hopefully this wasn’t too overwhelming. So let me hear it. What are you expecting?
Also, quick S/O to the Great Valley girls 4x800! As I’m writing this, I received word that they will move on to the championship race on Friday. This makes it the third year in a row for them. Good luck ladies!
Keep it real,