2017 Bryan Clay Invitational

Top Three Events To Watch At Bryan Clay

Top Three Events To Watch At Bryan Clay

Edward Cheserek vs. Josh Kerr in the 1500, Rainsberger in the women's race, and a loaded men's 5K highlight Bryan Clay.

Apr 12, 2017 by Lincoln Shryack
Top Three Events To Watch At Bryan Clay
As 2008 Olympic champion Bryan Clay notes about himself, the 1500 was never his strongest event in his heyday as the world's best decathlete. But the opposite is true for his own track meet--the Bryan Clay Invitational at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, CA, has become an early-season destination for top pro and collegiate distance runners. And the 2017 event--live on FloTrack on Thursday, April 13, and Friday, April 14--will feature the strongest 1500 fields in meet history. Edward Cheserek and Josh Kerr will duel in an epic rematch, with Bowerman Track Club's Ryan Hill and Mo Ahmed joining them.

Watch the 2017 Bryan Clay Invitational LIVE on FloTrack this Thursday and Friday!

Here are the top three events to watch:

Men's 1500m

: Josh Kerr, Edward Cheserek, Ryan Hill, Mo Ahmed, Dan Huling, Joshua Thompson, Craig Engels, Blake Haney, Matthew Maton, Sam Prakel
When: Friday, 7:15 PM PT
Why: The headliner here is clearly the Josh Kerr and Edward Cheserek rematch after that epic NCAA mile, but those two will have a lot more on their plates than just each other. Bowerman TC aces Ryan Hill and Mo Ahmed will step down in distance to make their outdoor debuts, with each man's world-class finishing speed a major threat to the collegiate duo. Ahmed has only ever run 3:40, but after finishing fourth in the Olympic 5K and running 13:04 indoors this winter, he's clearly itching for a big PR. And Hill is obviously a major threat--his 3:35.59 best is the fastest outdoor PR in the field and that world indoor silver medal isn't too shabby either.

Not to be forgotten, Oklahoma State's Josh Thompson--fresh off winning a calamity of a 1500m at Stanford--will be here, as will last summer's Olympic Trials darling Craig Engels of Ole Miss. Thompson was no match for Kerr and Ches when the pace got really hot at College Station, Texas, but this won't be tactical so he shouldn't be nearly as overmatched. Engels showed two weekends ago that he's much closer to last summer's form with his 1:46 at Florida Relays. And Cheserek will have his trio of Oregon miler teammates with him, all of whom have run 3:38. But let's be clear--a victory by anyone not mentioned in the top paragraph would be a major upset.

Now quickly back to Kerr. The intriguing bit about this race--aside from how incredibly deep it is for a 1500 in April--is how little we still know about the 19-year-old from Scotland. Yes, he beat the collegiate-record holder and the GOAT, and yes, he was the European Junior champ in 2015. But he was not a huge name in the NCAA before last month, and his modest 3:41 PR seems largely to blame. I suspect he'll be tearing that down on Friday, and this race will show how that ridiculous speed he flashed at NCAAs (1:51 final 800m) translates to a quick 1500. It's tough to recall knowing less about an NCAA champion than we do about the sophomore Kerr, but his win over Cheserek really came without much warning. In a field this deep, we're likely to learn a lot in his encore.

Women's 1500m

: Katie Rainsberger, Therese Haiss, Nikki Hiltz, Lilli Burdon, Lindsey Butterworth, Samantha Nadel, Alice Wright
When: Friday, 8:35 PM PT
Why: Oregon freshman superstar Katie Rainsberger will make her collegiate outdoor debut. She has to be considered among the favorites to win the NCAA title in this event later this summer, and this field should be a good test as the All-American builds toward that goal. Arkansas put two women in the top six of last month's NCAA mile final, Therese Haiss and Nikki Hiltz, and they represent Rainsberger's stiffest challenge here. But with her 4:12 PR comfortably quicker than anyone else's, I would expect the Oregon frosh to take this one.  

Note: Rainsberger and Nadel are also entered at the Mt. SAC Relays.

Men's 5,000m

: Gilbert Kigen, Kasey Knevelbaard, Tanner Anderson, Jack Bruce
When: Thursday, 9:20 PM PT
Why: Gilbert Kigen is essentially the JUCO version of Edward Cheserek--he has nine NJCAA titles--and you shouldn't be fooled by the Kenyan's modest 14:13 PR. Dude has wheels:

Oregon's Tanner Anderson ran 13:51 indoors and could be primed for a big outdoor PR. The same goes for Kasey Knevelbaard of Southern Utah, who won the Stanford Invitational 1500 out of the second heat in 3:41. That was an 11-second demolition of his previous best, and the sophomore's 14:02 5K PR came in a race he won by 21 seconds. He's ready to bust out with something in the 13:40s.

Throw in Arkansas' Jack Bruce and his impressive resume--3:41/7:58/13:54, plus a 19th-place finish at NCAA XC--and we should be in for a really fun race. Bruce won the SEC 3K in February.

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