With Olympic gold medalist Matt Centrowitz, Olympic silver medalist Nick Willis, and a field of top national talent pushing the pace, the Oregon Duck will have another opportunity to seal his name in track history. The race could also be Cheserek's last chance to break a collegiate record.
The 17-time NCAA champion has four marks to keep in mind when running the competitive 5K race next Friday at Stanford.
The official Oregon school record is 13:14.80, which was run by Bill McChesney Jr. in 1982. But Eric Jenkins (class of 2015), ran 13:07.33 in Heusden, Belgium, three weeks after his last collegiate race at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Jenkins' mark is not considered the school record since the performance was run outside of the collegiate season.
The same consideration applies to Lawi Lalang's 13:00.95 5K performance from the 2013 Monaco Diamond League meet, which stands as the fastest time run outside of the collegiate season.
The official collegiate record is 13:08.4. A sophomore at the time, Henry Rono ran the seemingly untouchable mark during the 1978 Arizona State-California-Washington State triangular meet.
Cheserek's personal best is 13:18.71. He ran the mark while chasing Lalang as a freshman at the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Since his first year as a Duck, Cheserek has garnered the most NCAA titles of any collegiate athlete in history, but he hasn't been pushed to the limits of his speed in the 5K. In his final Payton Jordan race as a collegian, Cheserek will have that opportunity.
So far this year, Cheserek has already broken one collegiate record. He ran a stunning 3:52.01 at the Boston Last Chance meet to shatter the indoor mile record. After the performance, FloTrack spoke with his coach, Andy Powell, who revealed that Cheserek was targeting an outdoor 5K record.
"He'd like to do a 5K. One of the coolest records that we have is the UO record in the 5K. Between McChesney, Alberto (Salazar), Rudy (Chapa), and Jenkins, we've had so many great 5K guys so that would be a cool club to be in," Powell said.
The Payton Jordan 5K will be Cheserek's final race and all-out effort before the championship portion of the season, during which most races tend to be tactical and slower. Cheserek's 5K personal best is just four seconds slower than McChesney's school record and 11 seconds slower than Jenkins' 5K out of season best. If Cheserek runs faster than his former teammate's mark, he will also break Rono's collegiate record.
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