NAU Tests Themselves Against Portland, Iowa State At Nuttycombe

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NAU begins their journey for a third straight men’s cross country championship with more answers than questions. Experience, depth and an injection of highly talented freshman--the Lumberjacks have all of it. 

Matthew Baxter and Tyler Day are back for their senior seasons after finishing second and third at last year’s NCAA Cross Country Championships. Peter Lomong, Geordie Beamish, Luis Grijalva and Blaise Ferro make-up a strong middle of the lineup that is capable of packing multiple runners in the top 30 at the NCAA Championships. Then there’s Brodey Hasty and Ryan Raff, two freshmen who have incredibly high ceilings that can make up for any deficiencies among the returners.  

WATCH THE 2018 NUTTYCOMBE WISCONSIN XC INVITATIONAL LIVE ON FLOTRACK

NAU, and their unambiguous strength, have all the pieces a top-ranked team going for a three-peat should possess. Friday at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin XC Invitational they will take on a field of 15 top 25 ranked teams. If there are any holes or vulnerabilities in the Lumberjacks roster, this first true test of the season in Madison should reveal it. 

Testing NAU will be four other teams ranked in the top seven in the nation. 

Friday will be the first time the third-ranked Portland Pilots will run their top runners. Unlike NAU, Portland’s best have yet to compete this season. Emmanuel Roudolff-Levisse (ranked 9th in the FloXC individual rankings) and Noah Schutte (#22) will be debuting. 

Conventional wisdom holds that they might be a bit rustier than teams that have already raced this year, but after seeing their B team take down Oregon last week, Portland should be ready to live up to their ranking on Friday. 

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Like Portland, Iowa State (#4) has a strong duo that can carry them to a top finish on Friday, and again at the NCAA Championships. Edwin Kurgat (#8) and Andrew Jordan (#13) are both juniors and both have been a bit overlooked in their careers. 

Jordan took 15th at the NCAA Cross Country Championships last year, while Kurgat placed seventh in the 5000m at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and beat all the entrants from BYU and Alabama. Behind them is an experienced group that returns six of the seven men from a team that placed seventh at nationals last year. 

Alabama’s senior trio of Vincent Kiprop, Gilbert Kigen and Alfred Chelanga is well known. But Friday marks the debut of a runner that has the potential to lift the seventh-ranked Crimson Tide onto the podium in November. 

Freshman Noel Rotich comes to his first season in the NCAA with an 8:52 3000m steeplechase personal best that he ran at altitude in Eldoret. If he’s anywhere near Kiprop and Co. then Alabama’s floor is very high, even if they don’t have a solid fifth runner. 

Morgan McDonald at the 2017 Portland Track Festival

Depending on team tactics, it's likely the individual winner emerges from one of the teams mentioned above. But goals in early season meets aren’t uniform and some coaches will no doubt urge restraint to their top runners. 

The meet features two other top 10 individuals. Wisconsin senior Morgan McDonald (#6) is expected to lead the ninth-ranked Badgers on their home course. McDonald redshirted last season and competed in only one race all academic year for Wisconsin (a 10th place finish in the 5000m at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships). 

But that doesn’t tell the complete story for McDonald. In the lead up to the Commonwealth Games in February, he ran 13:19 in the 5000m. Only one runner in the NCAA (Justyn Knight) ran faster in 2018. 

Junior Joe Klecker (#9) is forecasted to be the top runner for sixth-ranked Colorado. Klecker redshirted last spring, but has a personal best of 13:30 in the 5K and a 28th place finish from the 2016 NCAA Cross Country Championships.

Weekend Watch Guide: Bowerman Invades Boston

While distance fans across the country gear up for Saturday's U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, indoor tracks will have plenty of elite competition to whet our collective appetites. From Bowerman TC/Paul Chelimo/Edward Cheserek and more in Boston at the BU Last Chance Meet, plus the Big 10 and MPSF Championships, there's a ton of track to take in from Thursday to Saturday on FloTrack.

U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials Women's Preview: Who Emerges From Deep Field?

The ascent of the American women’s marathoning that started with almost 20 years ago with Deena Kastor continues on Saturday at the US Olympic Marathon Trials. Whoever makes the team is capable of getting a medal at the Olympics, and medal-worthy athletes will be left off the team. Here’s a breakdown of the top contenders. 

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U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials Men's Preview: Can Rupp Overcome To Win Again?

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The men’s race at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials is top-heavy on paper. Defending champion Galen Rupp exists in a league of his own with an Olympic bronze medal from Rio and a 2:06 personal best buoying his position. Injury struggles and Alberto Salazar’s ban have made a potential victory in Atlanta much less certain, but Rupp seems to have steadied the ship after tuning up with a 61-minute half earlier this month. If he makes it through 26.2 miles on Saturday, there’s a strong chance he will break the tape.

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2020 BU Last Chance Preview: Houlihan, Chelimo, Lomong, Centro & More

The championship portion of the 2020 indoor season has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean the pros are ready to head outdoors just yet. On Thursday and Friday in Boston, the best of Bowerman Track Club and several other top U.S. pros will take to the BU track in pursuit of records and standards at the BU Last Chance Meet. Multiple American records could fall in the final hurrah on the famed Boston surface in 2020.

61 Returning All-Americans Currently Are Not Qualified In 2020

With just one weekend left to qualify for the 2020 DI NCAA Indoor Championships a staggering 61 track and field All-Americans from last year have yet to achieve a top-16 mark in 2020.

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Yulimar Rojas Sets Indoor Triple Jump World Record In Madrid

Venezuelan Yulimar Rojas set the women’s indoor triple jump world record on Friday in Madrid with a 15.43m leap. With it, the 24-year-old eclipsed Tatyana Lebedeva’s 15.36m mark that had stood since 2004.

Ababel Yeshaneh, Not Brigid Kosgei, Sets Half Marathon World Record

What was expected to be a coronation of marathon world record holder Brigid Kosgei as the half marathon queen instead turned into an introduction of a worthy counterpart as Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh stunned the Kenyan on Friday morning (Thursday night in the U.S.) at the Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Half Marathon by setting a 64:31 world record.

The 10 Best Performances From The Weekend

Between more Mondo Duplantis' theatrics in Glasgow, a ridiculous road 5k world record in Monaco and plenty of excitement stateside, there was a lot to get excited about this past weekend in track and field.

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Don't Look Now... The NAU Lumberjacks Could Win NCAA Indoors

With just two weeks left to qualify for NCAAs a majority of the top-16 fields are coming into form on the distance side. The NAU men are currently slated to qualify ten entries across three distance events.

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Joshua Cheptegei Smashes Road 5k World Record In 12:51

A little over a month after Rhonex Kipruto took down Joshua Cheptegei’s road 10k world record, the Ugandan has answered back in a big way by running 12:51 on Sunday in Monaco to smash Kipruto’s 5k world record. Cheptegei cut a whopping 27 seconds off the 13:18 that the Kenyan ran on Jan. 12, a run that came en route to Kipruto’s 26:24 10k record.