Josh Kerr, Ednah Kurgat Highlight Mountain West Championships

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Some of the nation’s top distance runners will be action during the distance medley relay at the Mountain West Conference Championships. Ednah Kurgat, Allie Ostrander, Dillon Maggard, and Josh Kerr are all expected to play pivotal roles in their team’s chances on Thursday night. Outside of the distance medley relay, the four are expected to be in action throughout the three day meet which you can watch live on FloTrack.

Here are some of the highlights.

Women’s Distance Medley Relay: Thursday, 4 PM MT

Entering the weekend, the target time is 11:04.64. That’s the mark of North Carolina, the team currently sitting in the final qualifying spot for the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships. Throughout the weekend other teams might enter into the fray, but the mark gives an indication of the type of effort it will take to qualify. Since the race is at altitude, a time conversion will speed up the mark. The relay takes place on Thursday night, meaning the big stars will be racing on fresh legs. 

A potential matchup between Allie Ostrander and Ednah Kurgat on the 1600 leg will be a fun intro into the rest of the weekend. Both teams, and in particular New Mexico, are deep enough to make a run at the qualifying mark. New Mexico has a myriad of combinations they could use with their strong distance squad.  

Men’s Distance Medley Relay: Thursday, 4:20 PM MT

Like the women, the men will rely on some firepower in the anchor leg to get them a conference championship — as well as a shot at going to the NCAA championships. The time target for the men is 9:31.73. 

The anchor legs for the men are expected to be Josh Kerr for New Mexico, Dillon Maggard of Utah State, and Cole Rockhold of Colorado State. All three are bound for the NCAA meet in individual events, but in the mile Kerr has a clear advantage. His time of 3:54.72 from the Millrose Games is tops in the NCAA this year, and he also has a 1:48 in the 800m at altitude. 

Rockhold has run a converted 3:58.12 this year, good for 19th-best in the NCAA. Maggard is known more for his exploits at the longer distance, but he’s run a converted four flat mile this year in addition to his top-16 marks in the 3000m and 5000m. If the three are close, or if Kerr is a bit behind, heading into the last leg we will see some fireworks.  

Women’s 200m: Qualifying Friday, 4:20 PM MT, Finals, Saturday, 1:40 PM MT

This will be Ashley Henderson versus the clock. The senior from San Diego State is well ahead of the her next conference opponent, but she currently sits 18th on the NCAA list, two spots out of qualifying. That means she will likely need to improve upon her season best of 23.23 to secure a spot in the NCAA championships. Heading into conference championship weekend, the 16th-best mark is 23.20. Last year, Henderson ran 22.61 to finish fourth at nationals.

Her position is much safer in the 60m. Her converted time of 7.21 from the Don Kirby Invitational is the seventh-best in the nation. Surely she’d like to improve that mark this weekend, but the 7.21 should be enough for qualifying.  

Women’s Mile: Qualifying Friday, 1:30 PM MT, Finals Saturday, Noon MT 

The bubble time is 4:37 and only Ednah Kurgat has beaten that mark this year. Her altitude adjusted time of 4:35.29 puts her ninth on the NCAA list and her versatility gives her a variety of options to choose from between the mile, 3000m, and 5000m. 

There are three other Lobos with marks under 4:42 who are looking to drop some time this weekend. Freshman Alondra Negron ran 4:40.52, while Charlotte Prouse and Kieran Casey have season bests of 4:41.36 and 4:41.91. Getting all the way down to an adjusted 4:37 is a tough ask, but they have a strong enough field to make sure that nobody will have to run alone. 

Men’s Mile: Qualifying Friday 1:45 PM MT, Finals Saturday 12:10 PM MT

Defending indoor mile champion Kerr is the clear favorite here, and Cole Rockhold is a safe pick for second. 

But Rockhold will also be keeping an eye on the clock. He’s on the bubble for a berth to the NCAA championships and will likely need to run faster than 3:57.90 (after the altitude conversion) to make it into the mile. Rockhold’s position in the 3000m is much safer, as he sits seventh by virtue of his performance at the Husky Classic. 

Women’s 5000m: Friday, 4:30 PM MT

Kurgat and Kelati already have qualification marks, so much of the attention will focus on who else can move into — or stay in — the top 16. Boise State’s Clare O’Brien is seventh on the NCAA list with a 15:42.60 and is also bound for College Station. 

Her Bronco teammate, Allie Ostrander, has not yet raced a 5000m this year and will probably need to run at least 15:46 to qualify. Ostrander’s 8:59.98 from the Husky Classic 3000m puts her ninth on the list in that event. But if she wants to double at NCAAs she will need to run a solid time on Friday night. Charlotte Prouse, 12th at the 2017 NCAA Cross Country Championships, also does not yet have a qualifying mark with her previous effort this season putting her in the 29th slot. 

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