In case you already didn't know it, you know it now, Galen Rupp is a class above the rest of the NCAA. Displaying devastating speed and an incredible kick, Rupp first won the men's 5,000m and then a little more than an hour later kicked past NCAA mile favorite Dorian Ulrey to anchor the Oregon men's team to the DMR win.
First up for Rupp was the 5,000m and the much-anticipated matchup versus Liberty's Samuel Chelanga. These two battled side-by-side for 9,600m at the NCAA Cross-Country Championships, where Rupp came out on top. Then at this year's Tyson Invitational 5,000, Rupp and Chelanga battled once again with Rupp prevailing in an American record 13:18.12, beating Chelanga by 1.67 seconds.
On Friday, it was no contest. The early pace was slow (4:31 at the 1,600 - 14:07 pace). Chelanga then threw in a 60-point 400, but it was just a test to see who would go with him and then things slowed back down again.
The 3k was reached in 8:29 and the pack was still very large. The pace picked up the 600m from 3,400m to 4,000m (31.90, 31.32, and 31.87 were Rupp's laps), but then things slowed down again as everyone gathered themselves for the big move. Rupp struck on the backstretch with about 750 to go. He bolted to the front and Chelanga and Arkansas' Shawn Forest stayed the closest, but Rupp would not slow down until the finish. He got faster each lap until the finish - 29.61 (his sprint started 1/3 of the way into this lap), 28.71, 28.12 and a final 28.86, where he was able to take his foot off the pedal as he looked back and saw he had it won.
His final 800 was an incredibly stellar 1:55.28, including letting up at the end. Truly remarkable. Arkansas' Shawn Forrest battled Chelanga all the way to the line with Chelanga just prevailing (we have more on Forrest at the end of the article but don't want to take away from Rupp's win here). Super-frosh Chris Derrick continued his stellar freshman campaign with a fourth place finish (he was 7th at NCAA XC and, more importantly, he reads Letsrun.com - more in the video interview below). Chelanga afterwards said he was pleased with the runner-up finish as he had gotten sick last week. Full 5,000m results with lap-by-lap splits here
Chelanga After Finishing 2nd (1:17)
Chris Derrick After Finishing 4th (clearly he's a freshman and doesn't realize you're not supposed to let your coach know you come to LetsRun.com) (1:17)
Dorian Ulrey Accepts The Blame And
An Hour Later - Rupp, Part II
If any doubt about Rupp's finishing speed remained, it was erased less than an hour-and-a-half later as Rupp lined the track for the anchor of the DMR. This year was a first at NCAAs as thanks to last week's crazy fast times at Notre Dame, 18 teams were in the race and they had to be split into 2 sections. In the slower first section (based on qualifying time) was last year's NCAA champion and world record holder Texas Longhorns. Last year's NCAA mile champion and anchor Leo Manzano was in the stands leading the cheers for the Longhorns. A 2:54 opening leg from NCAA outdoor 800m champ Jacob Hernandez put the 'Horns way in front and they would go on to win in 9:32.77.
Heat 2 featured pre-race favorites Arkansas and Oregon. Oregon's team, in addition to Rupp, featured former Foot Locker Champ AJ Acosta (who failed to qualify for Saturday's mile final) on the leadoff and 2008 800m Olympian Andrew Wheating. Arkansas had Texan native Duncan Phillips on the leadoff, sub-4 miler Alex McClary on the 800 and NCAA mile favorite Dorian Ulrey on the anchor.
Duncan Phillips had a great first leg (2:55.5) to put the Hogs a second in front of Oregon, but Oregon would claw back a little time during the 400 and the 800. Going into the anchor, Arkansas and Ulrey were a quarter-second up on Oregon, which was a quarter-second up on BYU. Rupp bided his time behind Ulrey until he struck with a fury with 300 to go. Ulrey and Cal's Michael Coe gave chase, but Rupp was well in front. Had he gone too early? No. He powered down the homestretch for his second NCAA title of the night. Ulrey held off Coe to finish 2nd and Texas would place 4th from the first heat.
Rupp's performance was truly amazing barely an hour after his 5,000m win. Unbelievably, Rupp had never won an NCAA track title until Friday night. Now he has two and he goes for an unprecedented triple on Saturday. It is believed his 5k, DMR double has never been done either. We were shocked to see Rupp even attempt it and apparently Oregon coach Vin Lananna was against the move as well until some last-second lobbying by Rupp. Vin told Oregon sports information, "I was dead set against it until (Rupp) did such a great sales job. He said 'just give me the baton in second.'"
(AJ Acosta Is Rupp's #1 Fan)
Other Day 1 Men's Action:
Qualifying Men's 800
The 2nd heat of the men's 800 was the interesting one. In it were 2008 Olympian Andrew Wheating, 2008 NCAA Outdoor Champ Jacob Hernandez and 2008 Indoor Champ Tyler Mudler of Northern Iowa. With only the top 2 automatically qualifying for the finals, it was guaranteed to be interesting.
The first quarter was 53.8 and at the bell (1:21.37), none of the expected top 3 were in lead; rather, the leader was Wisconsin's Zach Bell. Andrew Wheating had a great final 100 to take the comfortable win and he was chased by Jacob Hernandez. However, Mulder, who was in 4th on the backstretch, came up strong to pass Hernandez before the finish. Hernandez afterwards assumed he definitely made the final since he was 3rd and the first heat wasn't that fast, but he only made the final by a tenth of a second.
Shawn Forrest Likes The LetsRun.com Redesign
We had a nice interview with Shawn Forrest after the race. The only problem is we were too incompetent to make sure we hit "play" before the interview started. Shawn was very pleased with his 3rd place finish and with the transition to new Arkansas coach Chris Bucknam from legendary Arkansas coach John McDonnell. Forrest praised Bucknam's enthusiasm and said there couldn't be a better guy to replace McDonnell. However, the first thing Forrest said when Wejo introduced himself to him was something along the lines of, "LetsRun? Really? I like the redesign." It's official: The redesign stays.