How Many Distance Medals Will The U.S. Win In Doha?

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There is just over one week until the start of the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar. While the U.S. medal count will likely be higher in the sprints than in the distance, the Americans can expect to tally plenty of hardware in the longer races as well. 

I’ve gone through and set the over/under lines for each discipline from 800m to the 10K and outlined if I think the U.S. will exceed, meet, or fall short of those lines.

Men’s 800m

U.S. Entries: Donavan Brazier, Clayton Murphy, Bryce Hoppel, Brannon Kidder

Over/Under Line: 1.5 medals

Optimist’s View: Donavan Brazier just won the Diamond League title and has been on a roll throughout 2019. His 1:42.70 is the third-fastest in the world this year. Clayton Murphy is a savvy championship runner with an Olympic bronze from 2016.

Pessimist’s View: Brazier has never made a final and Murphy has just the 13th-fastest time in the world this season. Bryce Hoppel and Brannon Kidder will be making their global championship debuts.

My Pick: I’ll take the under as I believe only Brazier is winning a medal in Doha. Murphy has finished fifth in each of his last two Diamond Leagues. 

Women’s 800m

U.S. Entries: Ajee’ Wilson, Hanna Green, Raevyn Rogers, (Potential bye if American wins DL title in Brussels)

Over/Under Line: 1.5 medals

Optimist’s View: Ajee’ Wilson hasn’t lost a non-Semenya 800m race all season, and Caster Semenya will not be at the World Championships. Raevyn Rogers finished second behind Wilson in the Diamond League final on Sep. 6.

Pessimist’s View: No one besides Wilson has ever run at an outdoor global championship.

My Pick: Under. Wilson is a virtual lock for a medal, but the other two are giving up loads of experience to the rest of the field.

Men’s 1500m

Over/Under Line: 1 medal

U.S. Entries: Craig Engels, Matthew Centrowitz, Ben Blankenship

Optimist’s View: Matthew Centrowitz is a three-time global medalist and the 2016 Olympic champion. He also just ran a 13:00 5,000m PB. Craig Engels beat Centrowitz at USAs and ran a 1:44 800m in July. 

Pessimist’s View: Even without reigning champion Elijah Manangoi, the men's 1500m is deepEngels has been fantastic all year, but he’s not going to be a favorite to medal over guys like Timothy Cheruiyot, Taoufik Makhloufi, or Jakob Ingebrigtsen. For all his success, it's tough to know what to expect from Centrowitz since he's raced so sparingly this season against international competition. 

My Pick: Both Centrowitz and Engels are tactically strong, so I believe at least one of them gets on the podium. It’s a push.

Women’s 1500m

U.S. Entries: Shelby Houlihan, Jenny Simpson, Nikki Hiltz

Over/Under Line: 1 medal

Optimist’s View: Jenny Simpson has medaled at every championship (save 2015 Worlds) since 2011. Shelby Houlihan has had a spectacular last two seasons and hasn’t finished outside of the top three in an outdoor 1500m since 2017. Additionally, medal favorites Faith Kipyegon and Laura Muir have each been MIA of late, improving the Americans' chances.

Pessimist’s View: Sifan Hassan (if she runs the 1500m), Konstanze Klosterhalfen, and Gabriela Debues-Stafford have all been on fire recently. Houlihan won’t race at all in the two months between USAs and Worlds, while Simpson was just eighth in the Diamond League final on Aug. 29. Nikki Hiltz will be making her global championship debut.

My Pick: Like the men’s 1500m, I’m taking a push as I think one of Simpson or Houlihan gets a medal.

Men’s 5,000m

U.S. Entries: Paul Chelimo, Hassan Mead, Drew Hunter

Over/Under Line: 0.5 medals

Optimist’s View: Paul Chelimo has medaled at the last two global championships.

Pessimist’s View: Chelimo hasn’t been up to his usual standard for most of the season, most recently with an eighth-place finish in the Diamond League final. Neither Hassan Mead or Ben True has shown any indication that they are medal threats. 

My Take: Under. Chelimo is far better in championship races than on the Diamond League circuit, but the event is also deeper now than it was in 2016 and 2017. I don’t see him on the podium in Doha over Gebrhiwet, Barega, or Kejelcha.

Women’s 5,000m

U.S. Entries: Karissa Schweizer, Elinor Purrier, Rachel Schneider

Over/Under Line: 0.5 medals

Optimist’s View: Not a ton to like here as each of Karissa Schweizer, Elinor Purrier, and Rachel Schneider is a World Champs newbie in an event that is loaded internationally.

Pessimist’s View: Read above.

My Take: Under. It’s not a guarantee that even one American makes the final. 

Men’s 10,000m

U.S. Entries: Lopez Lomong, Shadrack Kipchirchir, Leonard Korir

Over/Under Line: 0.5 medals

Optimist’s View: Lopez Lomong, despite his relative newness to the 10,000m, is a sleeper medal contender in the 10K given his stellar finishing speed and the 13:00 he ran on Sep. 10. Lomong beat Chelimo in the 5,000m at USAs with a 53.35 last lap. Also, the 10K coming after the 5K in Doha should help Lomong’s chances as he competes against guys who are doubling.

Pessimist’s View: Lomong hasn’t run at a global championship since 2013 and has contested just four 10,000m races in his life. Kipchirchir and Korir are experienced but they were ninth and 13th, respectively, two years ago at Worlds.

My Take: I think the 10,000m being after the 5,000m is an underrated factor here. At least one of the three Ethiopians who ran sub-26:50 in July — Gebrhiwet, Barega, and Kejelcha — is likely to be toast coming off the 5K. In that sense, a lot hinges on Mo Farah’s status for this event. If he doesn’t run, I like Lomong to nab the bronze. So *over.*

Women’s 10,000m

U.S. Entries: Molly Huddle, Emily Sisson, Marielle Hall

Over/Under Line: 0.5 medals

Optimist’s View: Molly Huddle has finished top eight in the 10K at the last three global championships. Emily Sisson owns the fifth-fastest time in the world this year and ran a strong 2:23:08 marathon debut in London.

Pessimist’s View: While the status of defending champion and world record holder Almaz Ayana is unclear (she has raced just once in 2019), it is clear that the trio of Agnes Tirop, Hellen Obiri, and Letesenbet Gidey are all very fit. Tirop won bronze in London and has run a 14:20 5K in 2019, while Obiri is the reigning 5,000m world champion. Gidey owns the fastest time in the world in 2019 (30:37). 

My Take: A strong top three of Tirop, Obiri, and Gidey is forcing me to take the under. But don’t be surprised if one of Huddle or Sisson sneaks onto the podium.

Men’s 3,000m Steeplechase

U.S. Entries: Hillary Bor, Stanley Kebenei, Andy Bayer

Over/Under Line: 0.5 medals

Optimist’s View: The men’s steeple is unpredictable this year with Evan Jager out and reigning world champion Conseslus Kipruto just recently returning from an injury. U.S. champion Hillary Bor has run sub-8:10 three times this year, while runner-up Stanley Kebenei was fifth at Worlds in 2017.

Pessimist’s View: Bor is only the eighth-fastest man in the world this season. Kebenei is inconsistent and was only seventh in Paris. 

My Take: An American other than Jager hasn’t medaled at a championship since 1984. Under.

Women’s 3,000m Steeplechase

U.S. Entries: Emma Coburn, Courtney Frerichs, Colleen Quigley, Allie Ostrander

Over/Under Line: 1.5 medals

Optimist’s View: Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs went one-two at the last World Championships. 

Pessimist’s View: It’s unlikely that the World Championship final will resemble last week’s Diamond League final, where Coburn went out under world record pace in the first kilometer. But a sixth-place finish in Zurich is still not a great sign in her final tune-up for Doha. Meanwhile, Frerichs and U.S. third-place finisher Colleen Quigley are not racing in between USAs and Worlds.

My Take: Coburn and Frerichs’ heroics in London set the bar high for future championships. It’s tempting to say that Frerichs hasn’t done enough to warrant medal consideration in 2019, but she wasn’t in the picture at all two years ago — her PB was 9:19 entering the final — and she ended up with silver. Beatrice Chepkoech is the clear favorite, but she has never won a medal. Give me the over. 

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