The NCAA’s top marks of the season are primed to undergo a major overhaul this weekend at the Iowa State Classic. The distance races are filled to the brim with top collegians, particularly in the men’s 3000m and 5000m.
The entire top 10 (and 18 of the top 25) from last fall’s NCAA cross country championships is entered in either the Friday night’s men’s 3000m or men’s 5000m. But the deep fields aren’t confined to those two events. All the distance events feature athletes trying to make their way toward the top of the descending order list. Last season, this meet played a large role in who made the NCAA indoor championships. For example, seven of the top 16 performances in the men’s 5000m all came from the Iowa State Classic.
Here are some events we have our eyes on.
Time: Friday, 6:25 PM CT
Names To Watch: Justyn Knight, Dillon Maggard, Gilbert Kigen, Vincent Kiprop, Peter Lomong, Lawrence Kipkoech, Jonathan Green, Amon Kemboi, Alfred Chelanga, Rory Linkletter, Clayton Young
This race features the first-, fourth-, sixth-, seventh-, eighth-, ninth-, and 10th-place finishers from November’s NCAA XC championships. The winner of that race, Justyn Knight, headlines the field.
The Syracuse star has built nicely off his victory in the fall. He has competed twice this indoor season and run indoor personal bests in the mile and the 3000m. One thing Knight hasn’t done this season is cross the finish line first. He’s had the misfortune (or fortune, depending on how you look at it) of racing twice against the red-hot professional Shadrack Kipchirchir.
Twice Kipchirchir got the better of Knight, but Knight more than held his own in both, running 3:55.82 for a mile in Boston and 7:45.86 in the 3000m at the Millrose Games. Knight will most likely beat his indoor personal best of 13:50.27 in this race, and with Maggard, Kigen, Lomong, and Kiprop as competition he could break it by a significant margin.
Maggard is coming off a 3000m victory at the UW Invitational in 7:52.99 and sits fourth on the NCAA list. Also keep a watch for Peter Lomong, who's racing in his second meet since his surprising eighth-place finish at NCAA XC championships, and Rory Linkletter, whose 7:55 at the Dr. Sander Invitational 3000m puts him eighth on the qualification list.
Time: Friday, 7:30 PM CT
Names To Watch: Grant Fisher, Sean McGorty, Tyler Day, Matthew Baxter, Robert Domanic, Jonathan Davis, Kyle Mau,
Less than an hour after the 5000m, the men’s 3000m takes to the track with a field that is almost as impressive. The race will have a heavy NAU/Stanford feel with Fischer, McGorty, Day, and Baxter expected to be at the front of the back.
Fisher is making his first individual appearance indoors of his career. The 2017 5000m outdoor NCAA champion ran the anchor leg on a distance medley relay team that took second to Indiana last weekend. His teammate, eight-time All-American Sean McGorty, has a personal best in the mile of 3:53.95 and has twice finished runner-up in the NCAA championships. McGorty is in his final season of eligibility for the Cardinal.
Baxter and Day are coming off a two-three finish for NAU at the NCAA XC championships, which helped carry the Lumberjacks to the team title. Will they attempt the same front-running that they employed in Louisville and try to control the race from the outset?
Robert Domanic finished 10th in the Wanamaker Mile for Ole Miss last weekend, but he does carry a personal best of 7:54.00 in the 3000m and won an NCAA indoor championship last season on the Rebels’ distance medley relay squad. Jonathan Davis ran 3:58.46 on his home track at the University of Illinois. With a flat track conversion, he’s ranked second in the country.
Also keep note of Kyle Mau of Indiana. He ran the anchor leg for the Hoosiers distance medley relay when they beat Stanford last weekend, holding off Grant Fisher down the stretch.
Time: Saturday, 3:45 PM CT
Names To Watch: Isaiah Harris, Daniel Kuhn, Abraham Alvarado, Robert Heppenstall, Festus Lagat, Domenic Perretta, Festus Lagat, Jaymes Dennison, Roshon Rooms
Harris sits fifth on the NCAA qualification list for the year, but he’s won the only 800m he’s entered this season. Saturday’s race will be a significant upgrade in competition, and it’s a safe assumption that the winning time will be faster than 1:47. Kuhn of Indiana has a personal best of 1:46.52 and is currently 15th on the NCAA list.
Abraham Alvarado of BYU had a great postseason last year, finishing seventh at the U.S. Outdoor Championships and setting a personal best of 1:46.62 in the semifinals of that meet. Heppenstall, a junior from Wake Forest, has finished in the top eight at four consecutive NCAA championships. Lagat, Dennison, and Rooms have all run 1:47 and will be competing at home for the Cyclones.
Time: Saturday, 2:55 PM CT
Names To Watch: Abike Egbeniyi, Agnes Abu, Aaliyah Miller, Jasmine Staebler, Kaylee Dodd, Emma Keenan
Six women have entry times between 2:02.34 and 2:03.83, led by Egbeniyi of Middle Tennesse State. She was eighth in the NCAA championships last year and sixth on the current NCAA qualifying list. Her teammate Abu has a personal best of 2:02.70 and should be right with her at the front if form holds.
Miller of Baylor finished runner-up at this meet last year, running her lifetime best of 2:02.89. Staebler of Iowa State finished seventh at the 2017 NCAA indoor championships and her Big 12 contemporary Dodd took fifth outdoors for Oklahoma State.
Time: Friday, 7:15 PM CT
Names To Watch: Katherine Receveur, Sharon Lokedi, Nicole Hutchinson
Indiana’s Receveur has championship experience indoors and outdoors and comes in as the top seed. She has run 9:03.71 and took third last year in the 5000m at the NCAA championships last spring. Challenging her will be Lokedi of Kansas. She finished third in the 10,000m in those same championships and holds a 3000m personal best of 9:26. That mark should be bested on Friday evening.
While Receveur and Lokedi will be stepping down in distance, Hutchinson will be moving up from her preferred distance of the 1500m. The Villanova junior qualified for both NCAA championships last year and has a personal best of 9:09.59 for 1500m.
Time: Saturday, 1:25 PM CT
Names To Watch: Sean McGorty, Connor Mora, Edwin Kurgat, Daniel Gagne
Three men are entered with seed times at or below 4:00.00. McGorty will be doubling back from the 3000m the night before. If he’s in form, there’s nobody in this field who can touch him. His personal best of 3:53.95 is well clear of the field, but that mark came from almost two years ago.
Mora of Michigan set his lifetime best of 3:59.36 last indoor season. Kurgat, 21st at the NCAA XC championships, is running his third race for Iowa State this season. He’s run 4:06.05 in the mile in Boston and 8:15.06 for 3000m in Fayetteville. Gagne of Bradley has shown some early season form with a 4:00.39 mile in Seattle.
Time: Saturday, 12:50 PM CT
Names To Watch: Jessica Harris, Brenna Calder, Madeline Strandemo, Ashleigh Warner
Harris of Notre Dame has the fastest personal best (4:33.80) and finished 10th in the 1500m at the NCAA outdoor championships. Last week she won the 3000m at the Meyo Invitational in 9:19.50. Indiana’s Calder has already raced six times in 2018 including a 4:43 mile and a 2:06 800m. Strandemo and Warner are the other entrants with seed times under 4:40.
Time: Friday, 6:00 PM CT
Names To Watch: Tessa Barrett, Caroline Sang, Charlotte Imer
Barrett of Penn State has the top seed time of 15:28.99, but this year has posted times of 4:55 in the mile and 9:36 for 3000m. Sang was sixth in the NCAA XC championships and took 12th in the 5000m last year, making her a strong pick for the win. Charlotte Imer of Eastern Kentucky is 15th on the descending order list and will try to upgrade her position on Friday. Beyond those three, there are six other women entered at times between 16:00 and 16:09.