Cheserek Is Still On Pace For GOAT Status

Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports Edward Cheserek Wins 3K
Back in December we wrote that despite Edward Cheserek's loss at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, the Oregon senior still had the opportunity to become the greatest collegiate distance athlete of all time by the end of his career.

Now that indoors is complete, let's take a second look at where Cheserek stands against the all-time greats.

Individual championship win percentage of notable athletes with six or more NCAA titles.

Rnk Athlete Titles NCAA Races WIN%
1 Gerry Lindgren 11 12 0.917
2 Steve Prefontaine 7 8 0.875
3 Edward Cheserek 15 19 0.789
3 Suleiman Nyambui 15 19 0.789
5 Don Paige 6 9 0.667
6 Joe Falcon 7 11 0.636
7 Henry Rono 6 11 0.545
8 Lawi Lalang 8 16 0.500
8 Alistair Cragg 7 14 0.500
8 John Ngeno 7 14 0.500
11 David Kimani 6 13 0.462

Gerry Lindgren still maintains the highest win percentage. Meanwhile, Cheserek's 2-1 record at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships puts him in a tie with Suleiman Nyambui over his career so far.

Now let's take a look at the all-time marks from notable athletes with two or more NCAA top 10 performances.

Rnk Athlete 1500/Mile 3K 3K Steeple 5K 10K
1 Henry Rono - - 8:05 (1st) 13:08 (2nd) -
2 Lawi Lalang 3:52 (4th) 7:42 (4th) - 13:08 (1st) -
3 Edward Cheserek 3:52 (1st) 7:40 (3rd) - 13:18 (10th) -
4 Alistair Cragg - 7:38 (2nd) - 13:16 (5th) -
5 Stephen Sambu - - - 13:13 (3rd) 27:28 (3rd)
6 Galen Rupp - 7:44 (8th) - 13:18 (6th) 27:33 (6th)
7 Cam Levins - - - 13:18 (8th) 27:27 (2nd)
8 Diego Estrada - 7:44 (7th) - 13:15 (4th) -
9 Eric Jenkins - 7:44 (10th) - 13:18 (9th) -

Henry Rono still has the best resume overall. However, after Cheserek's 3:52.01 collegiate record mile he is now third overall in these rankings and just one of three to have three top 10 all-time marks.

Watch Cheserek's Collegiate Record Mile:

Watch Cheserek's 13:18 5K: (No. 10 All Time)

So what does Cheserek need to do in his final season to achieve the GOAT status?

1) Win the NCAA outdoor 10K and 5K titles, which will give him a total of 19 career NCAA titles, an individual win percentage of .809, and tie Jenny Thompson (Stanford) for the most NCAA titles in Division I sports.

Current NCAA All-Time List:
19, Jenny Thompson | Stanford (Swimming)
17, Edward Cheserek | Oregon (Track & Field/Cross Country)
16, Tracy Caulkins | Florida (Swimming)
15, Suleiman Nyambui | UTEP (Track & Field/Cross Country)
15, John Naber | USC (Swimming)
14, Pablo Morales | Stanford (Swimming)

2) Break the 5K collegiate record. Oregon coach Andy Powell has gone on the record that there is a possibility that Cheserek will go for a fast 5K this spring or summer. Cheserek clearly has the talent to run sub-13:08; it's just a matter of timing and being in the right race. If Cheserek lowers his 5K personal best to 13:07 or better, he then will have two collegiate records and the second-best 3K to his name.

3) Run something crazy fast. Sub-3:32 1500? Sub-13:00 5K? Sub-27:00 10K? If Cheserek does one of these in season he will put himself in the same realm as Henry Rono's world records from the late '70s. It's unrealistic to see an NCAA runner today approach distance world records in college due to the lowering of world records over time; thus, a world-caliber mark would be an impressive feat.

After all is said and done Cheserek will be in the same realm as Gerry Lindgren, Steve Prefontaine, Suleiman Nyambui, Lawi Lalang, and Rono.

The question remains where will he be ranked among these greats. If we are honest, it's impossible to truly decide who was the best when comparing different eras, but one thing is for sure: Cheserek's four-year career will be something we don't see again for a long time.

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