Ranking The American Mid-D And Distance Runners’ Medal Chances At 2014 World Indoors From #1-12

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by LetsRun.com
March 4, 2014

The 2014 World Indoors are going to be special as this is the only global championship of the year. They start on Friday and we kick off our pre-meet coverage here before hopping on the plane to Poland.

Later today, we are going to work on our individual event previews now that the individual event entry lists are out, but while we waited for that to come out we decided to start our pre-meet coverage of the 2014 World Indoors by ranking the American mid-d and distance entrants 1-12 in terms of most likely to medal.

Now that the research has been done, we must admit the results are a little surprising even to us.

#1-2 We Expect Them To Medal

Ajee Wilson Wins the 600

Ajee’ Wilson wins the 600.

1. Ajee’ Wilson – What is there not to like about this 19-year-old?

She’s in great form. Her 2:00.43 ranks her #1 on the 2014 world list. She has experience on the world stage – she was 6th in the 2013 outdoor World Championships final after winning World Juniors in 2012.

When we were initially writing this piece, we were debating to put Wilson at #1 or Mary Cain #1 (Cain has now withdrawn with an injury). We were leaning to making Cain the #1 choice, but the fact it was a debate shows Wilson doesn’t get nearly as much publicity as she should. She’s run the fastest of anyone in the world in 2014 and with Cain’s pullout clearly deserves to be ranked #1 for the US in terms of medal hopes.

2. Treniere Moser – Moser’s 4:09.93 time from USAs converts to 4:04.49 according to the NCAA calculator, so that means she’s got a real shot at a medal as that puts her on #2 on the 2014 world lists of women who are in the 1,500 at Worlds.

Moser’s medal chances are fantastic as many of her top potential competitors are in other events or not at Worlds at all. For example, world record holder Genzebe Dibaba is only in the 3,000. Britain’s 20-year-old sensation Laura Muir, the next person on the 2014 1,500 list at 4:05.32, is running the 800.

Here’s a stat for you. Of the 8 actual fastest 1,500 runners in 2014 (not counting Moser’s altitude-converted time), only two of them are in the 1,500 at Worlds.

2014 World 1,500 List (Bold = Running 1,500 At Worlds)
1    03:55.2    WR        Genzebe Dibaba    ETH – running 3,000
2    03:57.9    AR        Abeba Aregawi    SWE – in 1,500
3    04:05.3            Laura Muir    GBR – running 800
4    04:05.3    NR        Sifan Hassan    NED – in 1,500
5    4:05.70+        Kim Conley    USA – not at Worlds
6    04:05.8            Yelena Korobkina RUS – running 3,000
7    04:05.8            Hellen Obiri    KEN – eigning 3,000 champ is running 3,000
8    4:06.63+        Mary Cain    USA – injured

The Kenyan and Ethiopian entries for the 1,500 are quite weak. Ethiopia has entered two teens who haven’t broken 4:08 so far this year and Kenya’s only got one entrant in the field. Viola Kibiwott has run 3:59 and is a very good runner as she was 4th at Worlds in 2013 in the 5,000. We’re not convinced she’s in shape. She’s only run 8:43 for 3k, which is about what you split if she was on pace to run her 5,000 PR of 14:30.

#3-4 They Are In Incredible Form But Medals Aren’t Easy To Win

3. Chanelle Price – In form of life. PRs at 400 (54.64i), 800 (2:00.48), 1k (2:36.63), and mile (4:43.64) so far this year. Her 2:00.48 ranks her #2 in the world right now.

The only negative is she did lose to Muir by close to a second (.97) earlier this year.

Daddy still can kick. Lagat USA 3000m Champion at 39.

Daddy still can kick. Lagat USA 3,000m champion at 39.

4. Bernard Lagat – Considering Bernard Lagat is the reigning world champion at 3,000 and as good as Lagat has looked in his two last outings (4:54.73 American record at Millrose, an utter destruction of Galen Rupp and Ryan Hill at USAs), we’re sure some of you are thinking, “How is Lagat not #1?”. But the men’s 3,000 is LOADED and might be the marquee event of this championships for the LetsRun.com crowd.

Beating World Championships silver medalist (5,000) Hagos Gebrhiwet or Olympic 5,000 silver medalist Dejen Gebremeskel isn’t easy considering they have run 12:47 and 12:46 for 5,000 and are 19 and 24 years young. Lagat is 39.

But those two guys weren’t even in the race on February 1 in Karlsruhe, Germany and Lagat finished just fourth – some 2.24 seconds behind Kenya’s Caleb Ndiku - who is undefeated on the year at 3,000 and still just 21.

#5-9 It’s Going To Be Tough But You Never Know

5 -6 -7 Tie
5. Will Leer
– Leer goes into Worlds in great form. He’s set PRs at 3,000 (7:42.95) and mile (3:52.47) where he was the Wanamaker champion. His 3:52 mile converts to about 3:35.23  for 1,500, which is right in line with his lifetime PR (3:35.27) and also right around the leading 2014 times in the world. The only problem is the other 3:35 guys in 2014 are all much more accomplished than Leer and thus deserve the edge. Plus Leer lost to Lopez Lomong at USAs.

Athlete Country DOB 2014 best Lifetime best
Mohamed MOUSTAOUI MAR 4/2/1985 3:35.0 3:31.84
Ayanleh SOULEIMAN DJI 12/3/1992 3:35.2 3:30.31
Bethwell BIRGEN KEN 8/6/1988 3:35.3 3:30.77
Silas KIPLAGAT KEN 8/20/1989 3:35.85 3:29.27

5. Lopez Lomong – Lomong beat Leer at USAs but his other races this year haven’t been all that great. He ran 3:51 in the mile last year and also is a former World Championships outdoor finalist in the 1,500, but he and his coach wouldn’t be trying to focus on the 5,000 if they thought he was one of the best 1,500 runners in the world. And if he’s not one of the best 1,500 runners in the world, he’s going to have a hard time medaling with this quality field which also includes 2008 Olympic silver medalist Nick Willis.

5. Galen Rupp - Rupp started the season on fire, with American records at 5,000 (13:01.26) and 2 miles (8:07.41). How is he only the 5th-6th-7th most likely American to medal in Poland?

We’ll give you two reasons.

1) The 3,000 field is loaded. It’s basically a field worthy of an outdoor 5,000 World Championships final and Rupp has never medaled at 5,000.

2) It’s a 3,000, not a 5,000 or 10,000. The longer the better for Rupp, so 3,000 makes it even harder than 5,000. Rupp’s obviously very fit but he got his doors blown off by a 39-year-old by 2+ seconds at USAs. That doesn’t bode well for a medal in Poland.

The one big plus for Rupp is at World Indoors is Kenya and Ethiopia only get two entries per event, not three. So Yenew Alamirew, who beat Lagat in Germany this year, isn’t getting to run for Ethiopia. Thus if one or two of the Ethiopian/Kenyans have a bad day (and remember Gebremeskel was awful in the 10,000 at Worlds), then Rupp get a bronze. He’s still got to figure out how to beat Lagat. If a few of the E. Africans go for broke there is a better chance of a medal, as Rupp always runs hard to the line.

Rupp has only beaten Lagat once in 19 career races where both of them have finished the race (they both have a DNF against each other) so it’s going to be tough.

The main point we’re trying to make is how hard it is to medal at 3,000m. To be honest, the initial author of this piece had Rupp ranked even lower – at #9 on this list – as not much separates #5 through #9. But the editors over-ruled him out of respect of Rupp’s two American records this year and Olympic silver. Well, that and to be honest they didn’t want to hear uninformed message board posters saying we always criticize the Nike Oregon Project – failing to realize we surprisingly have a NOP runner at #2 on this list. Yes, we’re human. Just like the pros, we don’t like to get bashed on the boards.

But in conclusion, guys 5-9 on this list are all in the same boat – facing an uphill battle.

Crazier things happen in 800s and 1,500s than in the 3,000 so that’s why we initially had Rupp down at #9  even though he’s had a better indoor campaign than Leer and Lomong (and Sowinski and Symmonds). Well, that and the 3,000 is totally stacked.

The 800 is also very loaded at Worlds, which brings us to #8 and #9.

8. Erik Sowinski – Sowinski looked VERY good at USAs, where he was a dominant winner. One small problem – the men’s 800 is very strong so far in 2014.

Britain’s Andrew Osagie has run 1:45.22 so far this year, which by our unofficial glance at alltime-athletics.com list makes him the 20th-fastest man in the history of humanity for the indoor 800. Guess where that places him for 2014? Just 4th on the 2014 list.

2014 Top 800 Times

Mohammed AMAN ETH 1:44.52
André OLIVIER RSA 1:44.99
Adam KSZCZOT POL 1:45.19
Andrew OSAGIE GBR 1:45.22
Marcin LEWANDOWSKI POL 1:45.56
Kevin LÓPEZ ESP 1:45.69

Sowinski has already lost to everyone on that list this year at 600 or 800 except for Lewandowski, but if he can make the six-man final, he’s got a shot.

Nick Symmonds celebrates his victory at the 2012 US Olympic Trials

Nick Symmonds celebrates his victory at the 2012 US Olympic Trials.

9. Nick Symmonds – Symmonds was just third at 2014 USAs. How is he going to get top 3 at Worlds when so many guys are in such great form this year? We don’t think he is but out of respect for his silver from 2013, we can’t totally rule him out of the hunt.

Plus he was sick at USAs so maybe he would have been a lot better.

#10-12 Say Your Prayers

10. Heather Kampf – Kampf only got on the Worlds team after Cain pulled out with injury. Given the fact, she only has a 4:08 1,500 PR. We imagine many fans expected to see her ranked #12 but the 1,500 isn’t a strong event as compared to the 3,000 and Kampf has good wheels (2:00.04 800 PR). So maybe if it was really slow, she could somehow pull a bronze medal stunner with her 4:08 PR.

We rank her medal chances higher than Rowbury and Grunewald simply because the women’s 3,000 is a much more difficult event.

11. Gabriele Grunewald – Grunewald has a 4:01 1,500 PR. She’s a very good runner and just won her first US title. Why is she ranked below Kampf? Because the women’s 3,000 is a tough event to crack. It’s almost like the women’s 5,000 outdoors – we just think it’s an event where it’s almost impossible for an American to contemplate medaling.

The world record holder Genzebe Dibaba is a lock for gold. The defending champion Hellen Obiri is in good form and has run 8:29. Grunewald’s PR is 8:53 indoors and six women have run 8:45 or faster (although she has ran 8:42 outdoors).

12. Shannon Rowbury – Rowbury has run 8:31 for 3,000 before (outdoor 2010). She’s also medaled in the 1,500 at Worlds (2009 bronze). She’s also run 4:00 for 1,500. How can she possibly be the least likely to medal?

We’re wondering that ourselves. It’s almost criminal to see her this far down on the list as good as she is.

It’s really a testament to the depth of US distance running right now.  We have her ranked #12 simply because the top 2 spots in the women’s 3,000 are pretty much accounted for going in and she’s less than a month removed from a 9:55 2-mile. But she does seem to be moving in the right direction.