The Curse Of The NCAA Mile Record Lives On

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Before this past weekend's NCAA DI Indoor Championships, we republished this article from 2014 that outlines the bizarre trajectory of collegiate record-holders in the indoor mile. Since 1974, no male athlete has set the NCAA record and won the NCAA title in the same year.

When Edward Cheserek lowered Lawi Lalang's 2014 record from 3:52.88 to 3:52.01 at the BU Last Chance Meet in February, pundits expected the Oregon Duck to finally reverse the curse.

After all, to that point in time, "King Ches" had captured gold in 15 of 18 appearances at NCAA finals.

This past weekend in College Station, Texas, Ches won the 5K and 3K titles as expected. He even skipped the DMR to rest for his mile final. But no one told New Mexico's redshirt freshman Josh Kerr about Cheserek's record mile. Or, the Scotland native already knew the curse's full effects were forthcoming. Either way, Kerr took charge at 1200m and never looked back, coasting to victory two full seconds ahead of Ches: 4:03.22 to 4:05.42.

Track fans were shocked. But former record-holders weren't.


Here's a brief history of NCAA DI record-holders in the mile and their results at the subsequent national championship:

YEAR RECORD ATHLETE NCAA PLACEMENT
1974 3:55.0 (HT) Tony Waldrop (North Carolina) 1st
2009 3:55.02 German Fernandez (Ok State) DNR
2012 3:54.54 Miles Batty (BYU) 3rd
2013 3:52.98 Chris O'Hare (Tulsa) 7th
2014 3:52.88 Lawi Lalang' (Arizona) 2nd
2017 3:52.01 Edward Cheserek (Oregon) 2nd
Of note: both O'Hare and Kerr are Scottish. O'Hare actually won the NCAA indoor mile title in 2012, one year before becoming the curse's next victim. Maybe Kerr will pick a new event in 2018.

Watch Cheserek set the mile record here and see Kerr win the NCAA title below.

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