NCAA Men's Recap: Florida Reigns, Coleman Sweeps, Fisher Wins First Title
Texas A&M, 59.5
Today's NCAA champions:
|400m||44.1||Fred Kerley||Texas A&M|
|1500m||3:43.03||Josh Kerr||New Mexico|
|High jump||2.21m (7-3)||Christoff Bryan||Kansas State|
|Triple jump||16.76m (55-0)||KeAndre Bates||Florida|
|Discus throw||63.76m (209-2)||Filip Mihaljevic||Virginia|
A New Era In Men's Distance
The indoor champions in the middle distances (Emmanuel Korir and Josh Kerr) won their first outdoor titles, while Edwin Kibichiy and Grant Fisher won their first career NCAA titles in the steeple and 5K. Korir, Kerr, and Kibichiy were clear favorites, while Fisher showed that he has the best kick in the post-Edward Cheserek world.
Korir's race was wild. Drew Piazza of Virginia Tech led the field through a lap in a respectable 51.69 seconds, but the field bunched up on the backstretch as UTEP's Kenyan duo tried to pinch Piazza. Korir and Michael Saruni both made mistakes, and Saruni's cost him the race completely. Korir passed Piazza on the inside, nearly tripping over the rail and Piazza. As that was happening, Saruni powered past Piazza on the outside and jumped back on the rail. But Korir was running too fast for Saruni to cut in; they never got comfortable, and Korir ultimately tripped Saruni from behind. Korir survived the crash to win in 1:45.03, while Saruni had to dust himself off and jog in in 2:15.
Penn State sophomore Isaiah Harris had his second straight excellent NCAA outdoor final, giving Korir a hell of a challenge in the last 90 meters and finishing second in 1:45.40. In his last three NCAA meets, Harris has been fourth, fourth, and second in the 800m. Georgetown's Joe White was third behind Harris; he was also third indoors. Those three men beat the rest of the field by nearly a second.
In the 5K, the men jogged to an even more outrageous degree than they did in the 10K--coming through 1600 meters in 5:07 and hitting halfway in nearly eight minutes. Syracuse's Justyn Knight made the first move, tightening the screws with 1400 meters left. After ten minutes of mostly very easy running, Knight tossed in a 62.7 from 1600 out to 1200 out. But he didn't commit fully to the move, covering the next two laps in 64.5 and 62.9. That wasn't nearly hard enough to eliminate the biggest kicks in the field, and Knight ceded the lead at the bell. As the pack tightened up, Fisher made the first serious move on the backstretch.
Fisher probably was winning the race no matter what at this point, but Knight's next move sealed the race for him. Fisher had the lead with just over 200 meters to go, and Knight made a huge move to pass him. Fisher was then content to sit on Knight for the Bowerman Curve and take the win in the last 100 meters. Arkansas's Jack Bruce passed Knight for second and hung tight on to Fisher, only losing by 0.28 seconds. Fisher's winning time was 14:35.60.
The sub-4:00 high school miler is a true sophomore, and the next academic year of Knight and Fisher will be fun to watch.
Kibichiy's win was as simple as it gets: lead every single step of the race and dare people to come beat you. His lead hovered between a second and two seconds for most of the second half of the race, and his 8:28.40 (new PB!) was good enough to beat Georgetown's Darren Fahy by two and a half seconds.
Kerr's win wasn't as dominant, but was nearly as simple. After a slow-ish first few laps, Kerr positioned himself at the front at the bell, covered every move without really opening a gap, then turned on the jets at the steeple pit and wouldn't be beat. Michigan State's Justine Kiprotich--who was automatically advanced from the first round of regionals after officials held him out due to a lack of jersey--was second in 3:43.50, half a second behind Kerr. The 19-year-old Kerr swept the indoor and outdoor titles in the mile and 1500. The British athlete has the 1500m world standard and could have a long summer of racing in front of him.
Christian Coleman Probably Clinches The Bowerman
With cold weather and headwinds, no collegiate records were going down today. But Tennessee's Christian Coleman still took care of business, winning the 100 and 200 finals in pedestrian times. That's a wrap on one of the greatest seasons in collegiate history, and probably on Coleman's collegiate career. He swept the 60 and 200 indoors and the 100 and 200 outdoors, joining fellow Volunteer Justin Gatlin as the only men ever to do that.
He had the marks to go with the titles, too, running 6.45 to tie the indoor 60 record, 9.82 to destroy the outdoor 100 record, 20.11 to miss the indoor 200 record by .01, and 19.85 in the outdoor 200--No. 2 all-time. Coleman will certainly win the Bowerman in December, and now the only question is what he does at the U.S. and world championships this summer. He could spoil Usain Bolt's retirement party.
Florida Wins Fourth Team Title In Six Years
Mike Holloway's squad got Pat Henry's Aggies by two points to prevent Texas A&M from sweeping the indoor and outdoor titles. Under Holloway, Florida has won four titles since 2012, sharing one in 2013 with A&M. It's easy to point to any one thing in a race where 60 points are up for grabs, but the 800 and long hurdles were decisive. Florida won by two points, and A&M will be looking back on these two moments:
-In the 800, Andres Arroyo of Florida was fifth, and Devin Dixon of A&M was seventh.
-In the 400 hurdles, Robert Grant hooked a hurdle and crashed 220 meters into the race. With no other results changed, if Grant finished sixth and bumped Florida's TJ Holmes down to seventh, A&M would have won.
However, it's not totally fair to point to those two moments as turning points--Florida slightly underperformed in the high jump and triple jump, and their 4x100 team missed the final after being projected to make it. But those things get washed away in a win. Instead, what will be remembered is massive performances from KeAndre Bates and Grant Holloway. Bates put up 20 points in winning the long and triple jumps, and Holloway scored 18 individual points plus a monster 43.89 split in the 4x400 that clinched the meet for Florida.
A&M nearly won the meet with a superstar lineup. Fred Kerley ran 44.10 in the 400 final despite an unusually patient start for him--running faster than everyone in collegiate history except for himself and Quincy Watts. Earlier in the meet, decathlete Lindon Victor and javelin thrower John Kyriazis dominated their events, and that was the foundation of the Aggies' near-win: 40 points from Victor, Kyriazis, Kerley, and the 4x400, which beat every team in the nation except for Florida.