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That Won't Be The Last Record Attempt You'll See From Ed Cheserek This Year

For three and a half years, Edward Cheserek racked up NCAA titles while barely making a dent against the clock. After last year's track season, he had 15 NCAA championships (13 individual and two relays) but just two entries on the collegiate all-time top ten lists--No. 2 in the 3K and No. 10 in the 1500 meters. Mostly, that was because Cheserek and Oregon distance coach Andy Powell treated the regular season like a formality. Other than going for an occaisonal fast mile or 3K at Millrose, Ches mostly did what he had to run national qualifying times and win conference championships. Even his 3:36.5 1500 PR--still top ten all-time, and still his PR--was a byproduct of racing Lawi Lalang for a Pac-12 title.

That chapter of Cheserek's career closed on Sunday, when he crushed Lalang's mile collegiate record by nearly a second in a race specifically set up as a record attempt.

Obviously, the King hasn't given up on the Ducks. He's still making tremendous sacrifices for his team--next weekend at NCAAs, he's entered in the mile, 3K, and 5K, and Oregon has a qualified DMR. Winning three individual events would be unprecedented; winning three and a relay would be unimaginable. But as you can see in the interview at the top of this article, that's not the only priority any more.

Coach Andy Powell specifically says that he and Ches are targeting the outdoor 5K collegiate record, one of the toughest marks on the books.  When Henry Rono ran 13:08 in a dual meet 39 years ago, it lowered the world record by four seconds. No collegian has run within six seconds during the regular season since. (Lalang and Eric Jenkins ran faster in the summers after their senior years.) Any 5K record attempt would likely be at Payton Jordan on May 5, which you can watch live on this very website.

Fast times are one of the few consolations available to Cheserek, and good on Powell for setting him up for them. His complicated nationality situation has likely delayed his professional career for years, and cut into his earning potential. Last summer, the ​New York Times ​reported that Cheserek only wanted to compete for the United States, but that he was not on track to become a citizen until 2022. When we asked Oregon this weekend if that timeline was still accurate, all they could say was that he is "still in the process" of becoming an American citizen.​

With 3:52 mile speed and a proven ability over 10K on the track and grass, it's not hard to picture Cheserek mixing it up in 5K national and world championship finals. (He owned Jenkins when they were Oregon teammates, and Jenkins nearly outkicked eventual medalist Paul Chelimo for the last spot on the Olympic team this summer.) Every summer that ticks by without a country for Cheserek is a substantial financial loss for him. While he's been waiting for a professional career, he's been putting his body on the line for Oregon. He deserves the chance to run some fast times for himself now.
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