2016 NCAA D1 Indoor Championships

Andy Powell Reveals Story Behind Cheserek Triple

Andy Powell Reveals Story Behind Cheserek Triple

Oregon men’s distance coach Andy Powell is generally not one for on-camera interviews, preferring to let his group’s success speak for itself rather than ca

Mar 14, 2016 by Lincoln Shryack
Andy Powell Reveals Story Behind Cheserek Triple
Oregon men’s distance coach Andy Powell is generally not one for on-camera interviews, preferring to let his group’s success speak for itself rather than cast himself into the spotlight.

But Powell will occasionally let that guard down— NCAA titles are a big help— to offer insight on what makes his group so damn good. Fortunately for us, one such opportunity presented itself this weekend in Birmingham after Edward Cheserek & Co. once again dismantled the NCAA, and there the elated coach shared some incredible stuff about his superstar athlete and how Ches’ epic weekend came to be.

Here's the full interview:

A 4xMile workout the week after Millrose, which Cheserek polished off with a stunning 3:58 last rep, proved that he could run remarkably fast off little rest (4 minutes between reps to be exact) according to the coach, but still Powell was in awe just like the rest of us at how fast King C closed the DMR after such a quick turnaround from the 5k.   

“We knew he was ready. But yeah, never would think he would run 3:52,” he said. “Something happens when he gets to these national meets. He’s kind of the next level.”

The credit wasn’t all to Cheserek, though. Powell made sure to note that Oregon likely would not have won the DMR without 800m runner Grant Grosvenor’s outstanding leg. The senior’s 1:47.82 split was the fastest third leg in the race, and got Oregon back in striking distance after they were more than three seconds behind the lead at the third exchange. Grosvenor’s open PR is 1:49.26.  

Powell said the 30 minutes between the 5k finish and Cheserek’s anchor leg “felt like five minutes” as they scrambled to get him prepared for the next race. The proximity of the two— and an ESPN post-race interview that Powell says “took a little too long”— left just enough time to switch shoes and do a few strides before heading back to the track. 

“We just ran back to the medical area, we ran back like three or four times…He was ready to go. He wanted to run.” 

Powell took full advantage of not having to race Cheserek on conference weekend (the PAC-12 doesn’t have indoor, and MPSF is mostly treated like a last chance meet. Not surprisingly, other coaches don’t love this edge) by plugging in that pivotal workout instead, but there was still the issue of Oregon needing to qualify in the DMR without him, which Powell said was “really scary.”

Head coach Robert Johnson and Powell laid out the road map for the season back in December, which didn’t include Cheserek running at MPSF, but the quartet of Haney-Thiel-Grosvenor-Prakel got the job done. 

“Just put faith in the other guys and wanted to stick to the plan,” he said. 


As we know now, that season plan for Cheserek never included the NCAA mile, but from the outside it certainly appeared that the mile was on the King’s schedule in 2016. He was the reigning champ and ran a qualifier back in January, and so his assumed presence— the Ches fear factor— was viewed as a primary factor in why so many of the top milers scratched. We asked Powell if that’s what he thought happened. 

“That’s what we hoped but you never know. We knew we had two good milers developing, Blake and Sam. They weren’t here last indoor, but they’ve been doing a really good job. We thought those two could cover the points.”

Haney and Prakel’s point potential shot up without 3:53 guys Yorks and McGorty in the mile, and they delivered accordingly with 13 points between the two. Having Cheserek on the DMR was an added bonus for them as they were able to rest up for the next day’s final. 

That was some really good strategy by Johnson and Powell. 

Coming back to Cheserek, Powell said that he tried to talk him out of running the 3k as Oregon had already secured the title. But Cheserek wasn’t having it.

“He didn’t have to but he wanted to run. It’s hard when someone really wants to run,” Powell said.

Cheserek after winning the 3k, third title of the weekend: