We outlined the big questions for the women’s race this Saturday in Terre Haute; now here’s what to watch for in the men’s race.
1) BYU vs Colorado
BYU is looking to rebound from a loss at the Bill Dellinger Invitational, while Colorado is trying to build on their momentum from a decisive win at the Joe Piane Invitational.
BYU (#5) had the individual winner two weeks ago in Oregon and 10 men in the top 30, but it still wasn’t enough to beat Oregon, who won the meet 54-60. Conner Mantz is one of the top individuals in the nation and will be in the hunt for the win on Saturday. The question for BYU is what comes after him. Jacob Heslington was their second man two weeks ago and was 15 seconds behind Mantz. If he keeps that spread on Saturday and some of his teammates join him, then BYU will be just fine. At Dellinger, there was a 19-second (and 12-place) gap from Heslington to BYU’s fifth runner. The depth is great, but a solid five is what will put BYU on the podium.
Colorado’s top three were as good as advertised at Notre Dame. Joe Klecker was third, John Dressel was 10th, and Eduardo Herrera was 14th. The good news, however, for Colorado came after that. Freshman Kashon Harrison was just seven seconds behind Herrera and senior Alec Hornaker was only 14 seconds behind Harrison. That’s a clear formula for success for Colorado — not just on Saturday but for the rest of the season. If they can keep that gap between three to five small, then their low scorers put them in a very good position.
2) How Good Is Athanas Kioko?
The junior from Campbell won the Live In Lou Classic in Louisville by two seconds, putting himself on the map in his first NCAA race. Little is known about Kioko. He’s a junior who attended Karatina University in Kenya before joining the Campbell team in August.
But going under 23 minutes (he ran 22:58 in Louisville) and beating a solid field instantly made him an individual title contender. With him and Amon Kemboi, Campbell now has two top-15 runners.
Now that he’s a known commodity, and with competition ratcheted up, how will Kioko fare in Terre Haute?
3) The Return Of Isai Rodriguez
After a meteoric rise last fall, Rodriguez hasn’t raced since the Big 12 Indoor Championships on February 22. He’s listed in the entries for Saturday, and if he’s healthy and on-form, he’s one of the best in the NCAA.
As a redshirt freshman last year, he was runner-up to Edwin Kurgat at the Big 12 Championships and then went on to finish fourth (behind Kurgat, Grant Fisher, and Morgan McDonald) at the national championships, the biggest surprise in the men’s field. Indoors, he competed on four occasions and then sat out all of the outdoor season.
4) Can Washington Meet Their Preseason Expectations?
This weekend will help decide what to expect from Washington this season. Ranked fourth in the preseason, they finished fifth at the Coast To Coast Battle In Beantown. Talon Hull placed third in that race, the only member of the team in the top 10.
Before the season began, head coach Andy Powell said he was contemplating redshirting key members of the team in order to maximize their team chances in 2020. Most of the big names are on the entries for this meet, but who shows up on the start line is another story.
At a meet in Seattle two weeks ago, Tibebu Proctor (and a bunch of other Huskies) ran unattached, leaving open the possibility that they will redshirt. Even if some potential All-Americans don’t race this year, Washington can be a top-10 team. Hull is established, Transfer Andrew Jordon is a past All-American, and Jack Rowe was their second man in Boston.