NCAA 10K Preview: Anna Rohrer, Marc Scott Aim For First National Titles

End-of-season injuries have changed the storylines for this week's NCAA 10K finals in Eugene, OR. Both three-time champion Edward Cheserek of Oregon and 2015 champion Molly Seidel scratched from the NCAA Prelims and subsequently signed on with Tennessee-based sports agency Total Sports US to pursue professional running careers. That means the men's 10K champion will have a new name for the first time since 2013, while the Fighting Irish have more than a fighting chance to reclaim the women's title, thanks to a certain standout named Anna Rohrer.

Has Anna Rohrer Found Her Event?

Even if Seidel were racing this week, she wouldn't be top pick to win the 10K title -- or even be the first Notre Dame athlete across the line. That honor goes to her teammate, redshirt freshman Anna Rohrer, who made a splash in her 10K debut at the Stanford Invitational by clocking 31:58.99, the seventh-fastest time in NCAA history.

Watch Anna Rohrer run 31:58.99, NCAA No. 7 all-time, at the Stanford Invitational:

Rohrer is one of the top-performing athletes in the NCAA; she has a record of sixth (XC), fourth (indoor 5K), third (XC), and third (indoor 5K) in NCAA finals with seven more seasons of eligibility remaining.

It's too bad that Arkansas legend Dom Scott-Efurd graduated last year; her PB by the end of her senior year is just two seconds faster than Rohrer's debut time.

Can anyone challenge the 10K rookie?

San Francisco's Charlotte Taylor ranks No. 2 in the NCAA this year; her 32:11.8 is just 13 seconds off Rohrer's best. The senior was 17th in the NCAA 10K finals last year and placed 10th at NCAA XC.

Alice Wright of New Mexico is the top returner to the NCAA 10K after earning runner-up honors behind Scott-Efurd in 2016. She's improved her PB to 32:29.28 this year and beat out Boise State star Allie Ostrander at the Mountain West Championships 5K, 16:17 to 16:20.

King Ches may not be racing this week, but the Oregon star will be in the stands to cheer on his Ducks and his girlfriend, Queen Sharon Lokedi of the University of Kansas. The junior was sixth in the NCAA 10K final in 2016 and took fifth at NCAA XC but redshirted the indoor season. She's run 33:37.01 this year, about 50 seconds off her PB, but pulled off an impressive 5K/10K double at the Big 12 Championships and finished right behind Wright at the NCAA West Prelims.

Sharon Lokedi was ecstatic to win the Big 12 5K and 10K titles on her home track at the University of Kansas:

Time For A New Champion In Men's 10K

Edward Cheserek's hold on the NCAA 10K is truly remarkable. Only three other men in NCAA Division I history have won three or more titles in the grueling distance, and all were more than 40 years ago. But this week, the King passes the torch to a new champ.

Four men have run under 28:30 this year: Alfred Chelanga of Alabama (28:04.95), Marc Scott of Tulsa (28:07.97), Erik Peterson of Butler (28:11.02), and Jerrell Mock of Colorado State (28:11.80).

The best bet for the heir to the throne seems to be Scott, a native of North Yorkshire, England, who is enjoying a banner school year with a third-place finish in the NCAA indoor 3K, plus runner-up honors in the indoor 5K. The only runners in front of him at those races were Syracuse's Justyn Knight, who is running the 5K, not 10K, and, of course, Cheserek, who is not competing. Is it finally time to take a "W?"

Watch Marc Scott show off his signature kick at the Mt. SAC Relays 5K:

Scott is also the fastest overall athlete of the group, with top PBs of 13:36.81 for 5K, 7:47.57 for 3K, and 3:42.39 for 1500m.

Chelanga, who owns the fastest time in the NCAA this year, is in just his second season of DI competition after transferring from DII's Shorter University. He's an All-American per a fifth-place finish in the NCAA indoor 5K; in 2016, the junior was sixth in the 5K and 10K at the NCAA DII Outdoor Championship and runner-up at the cross country nationals.

Peterson just edged out Mock at the Stanford Invitational, where they set their nearly identical PBs. That run was Mock's career debut in the 10K, meaning the Mountain West champion has a big upside in the event.

The top returner to Eugene is Jacob Thomson of Kentucky, who took sixth last year. The junior ranks No. 14 this year in the NCAA, but he's improved from 29:01 in 2016 to 28:47 in 2017. He was third at the SEC Championships behind Chelanga and Antibahs Kosgei, also of Alabama, who has run 28:35.79 this year, No. 5 in the NCAA.

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