There Are Only Two Questions Left About King Ches

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Last June, a somewhat banged-up Edward Cheserek swept the 10K and 5K national titles at the outdoor NCAA meet. Everyone else's last best chance to beat Ches for a meaningful in an Oregon uniform had clearly passed by, as Cheserek admitted after the 5K that he was feeling at best 90 percent. And so as his final collegiate cross country season rounds the bend--next Saturday is his final Pre-Nationals--it feels more like a valedictory last lap than any kind of dramatic conclusion.

King Ches is the most dominant college runner of his era, and maybe any era. He might be the single most dominant and successful college athlete in any sport in his graduating class, though I'm not knowledgeable enough in other sports to make that proclamation. He's not going to lose a championship race this year, barring a really serious injury. 

There are only two questions left before Ches leaves the college scene.

1. Why does he wear his uniform like that?

Even if you can't see it in these race videos--though you can if you're looking for it--I promise you the following is true. Edward Cheserek grabs at his shorts and adjusts them, usually in the waistband, even while kicking at extremely high speeds late in a championship race. I have stood next to the track in Eugene, OR during the last three NCAA outdoor 5K finals and either I am three years into a massive psychotic break, or this is actually the case.

And this fall, Ches has taken the uniform oddities to a new level. He wore a top at Washington on Saturday that completely covered his shorts. The fact that I'm going this in-depth into Cheserek's sartorial choices shows how little there is to say about Ches competitively. He always wins when it counts; that's it.


I've never seen an athlete of this caliber adjust his shorts while kicking or wear a singlet that long. Cheserek does both. Oregon spokesman Greg Walker said  there's nothing remarkable about this, explaining, "That's just how he likes them. It's just standard-issue stuff."

2. Why is he still in college?

It's not normal for an NCAA athlete to stay in the NCAA system for four years when they're 1) much better than every other athlete in the NCAA and 2) in a sport where there is actual money available. (That money is limited in track, but it's there.) Assuredly, Cheserek loves the University of Oregon. There, he went from a shy teen to a confident man, became legendary, and had his talent almost perfectly incubated and managed. But that isn't why he still goes to class in Eugene. 

The reason why is buried in the subtext of a fine but classically New York Times​-ian piece that contains lots of interesting and well-reported information, but either accidentally or willfully misses the actual point. The premise of Noah Gallagher Shannon's story is that one of the most successful runners in the United States couldn't compete in the Olympics because his application to become American is moving slowly, which is true enough. 

But that ignores a much more interesting question--why the hell should Cheserek's immigration status matter? Cheserek, who was born in Kenya and ran 12 hours to test into American high school, could have competed at the Kenyan trials this summer if he wanted to.

Not a single Kenyan man made the Olympic 5K final this summer. With Cheserek's lethal kick, it's easy to say that he would have made the final in Rio this summer. But marketability is why Cheserek has decided to wait out the naturalization process while in college.

Kenyans can typically only get rich in distance running two ways. The first is by being a true world-beater--which, as good as Ches is, he isn't yet. The second is what I'll call the Stephen Sambu route, racking up prize money on the roads and depending on winnings instead of a salary. The risks there are obvious.

Even though Cheserek could probably beat Clayton Murphy in a mile right now, Murphy can command a much more lucrative salary as a professional because he can compete for American titles in front of rich American shoe-buying audiences. Cheserek can't yet, because he's not American yet. And therefore leaving college isn't worth it yet for Ches. Enjoy his final year as a Duck.

MSU T&F Grad Assistant Resigns In Protest Of Nassar Case Handling

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Michigan State track and field graduate assistant Kassie Powell resigned from her position on Thursday in protest of the university's handling of the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal.

Ritz Gears Up For Boston, Sisson Takes On Tough Field: NYC Half Preview

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With the 2018 World Half Marathon Championships scheduled for next weekend and major marathons in Boston and London on tap for April, the spring road racing season is in full swing. 

House Of Run: When A World Record Isn’t A World Record

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On this week’s episode of the House of Run, Jason and Kevin discuss the abundance of records at the NCAA Indoor Championships including Michael Norman’s world record in the 400m, Kendall Ellis and Sydney McLaughlin both running under the 400m American record, Eli Hall’s 60/200m double and the nonsensical tale of why USC’s men’s team won’t hold the 4 x 400m world record.

WATCH: Clarence Munyai Runs 19.69, Smashes South African 200m Record

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Clarence Munyai stunned the track and field world on Friday with a 19.69 clocking in the 200m. The 20-year-old from South African entered with a personal best of 20.10. The mark lopped 0.15 seconds off Wayde Van Niekerk’s South African national record and makes Munyai just the 10th man ever to run under 19.70. 

The Houston Men Might Break 31-Year Power Five Win Streak At NCAA Outdoors

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The Houston men finished seventh overall in the team standings at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships with 26 total points, 20 of which came from Eli Hall's impressive 60/200 sweep. But don't expect the Cougars to be anywhere near the bottom of the top 10 this outdoor season. In fact, the Houston men are legitimate outdoor team title contenders for three reasons.

The New Mexico XC Team Might Score 50 Points At The 2018 NCAA Outdoors

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The New Mexico women have an opportunity to pull off an incredible feat at this year's 2018 Division I NCAA Outdoor Championships. 

Kyron McMaster In The Hurdles, Sang/Goule In The 1500: 49er Classic Preview

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The indoor season hasn’t been over for an entire week and attention has already turned outdoors. This weekend UNC-Charlotte hosts the 49er Classic, a meet that features collegians and professionals all itching to get an early start on their outdoor season. 

On The Run: A Record Bonanza At NCAA Indoors | Episode 78

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Jojo, Grant, and Kevin convene to discuss the lightning-quick 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships. The group shares their favorite moment from the meet, the biggest surprise, and the hypothetical scenarios they've wondered the most about.

FloTrack Presents The Very Unofficial Off-Event NCAA Champions

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The great thing—or annoying thing, depending on your viewpoint—about indoor track is the number of off-events that are contested at invitationals and even conference championships at both the high school and collegiate level. 

Five Venues We'd Like To See Host NCAA Outdoors In 2019-2020

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With the collegiate indoor season officially behind us, we can finally start looking forward to the NCAA outdoor championships. But I'm not talking about this year's event, which will be held at the University of Oregon — I'm thinking about 2019 and 2020.