NCAA Day 1 Recap: Look Out – Tremendous 800 and 1500 Finals Set for Friday as McBride, Brazier, Yorks, Murphy, Kidder, Wynne Look Great

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June 8, 2016

EUGENE, Ore. — The 2016 NCAA Track and Field Championships started Wednesday night at Hayward Field with Day 1 of the men’s competition. The highlight of the day was Oregon’s Edward Cheserek winning the 10,000m, his 12th NCAA individual title, before the home crowd (recap here). Below, we recap the distance prelims where excellent 800 and 1500m finals were set up.

In sprint and field finals, Arkansas’ Jarrion Lawson won the long jump to go with his indoor title (and made the 100, 200m, and 4×100 finals), Virginia’s Filip Mihaljevic continued his fine 2016 by winning the shot put (and for those of you who followed the Martin Maric scandal, then afterwards talked about how this season has gone great despite getting a new coach this year befor telling a reporter his coach was fired off-camera), Nick Miller of Oklahoma State won the hammer, Tennessee’s Jake Blankenship won the pole vault, and Mississippi’s Curtis Thompson the javelin.

Texas’s Senoj-Jay Givans of Jamaica clocked his first legal sub-10.00 100m, running 9.96 in the prelim and talked about it here.

Oregon did better than expected on day 1, picking up an unexpected 1 point in the pole vault and 2 in the javelin, and Oregon coach Robert Johnson discussed day 1 here.

Men’s 800: After Watching The First Two Heats, We Can’t Wait For The Final

McBride had plenty of reasons to smile as he looked great

McBride had plenty of reasons to smile as he looked great

In the first heat of the men’s 800, 2014 NCAA champion and 2016 NCAA leader (1:44.63) Brandon McBride of Mississippi State took the lead some 200 meters in and never relinquished it. He started gapping the field with 200 to go and cruised to victory, shutting it down with 50 meters to go and still cruising to a 1:45.48. He looked incredibly impressive and we thought to ourselves, ‘Just hand him the title now.’

Then heat 2 went off. The pace in heat 2 was ridiculously fast thank to Texas A&M’s Hector Hernandez, who hit 400 in 50.70. Hernandez, and his 1:45.93 freshman teammate Donavan Brazier as well as indoor runner-up Eliud Rutto of Middle Tennessee State, had gapped the field for good reason by 500 – they were flying. On the backstretch, Brazier moved into the lead and he hit 600 in 1:17.38 – more than a full second faster than McBride (1:18.64). Would the piano jump on Brazier’s back? No. His lead just kept getting bigger and bigger. Brazier closed in 27.70, won by more than a second and ran 1:45.07. Our thoughts of coronating McBride had suddenly changed as we were now thinking, ‘When is the final? We can’t wait. We are going to have a hell of a final!’

MB: Please post your apologies here if you wrote him off. Donavan Brazier just jogged a 1:45.03!!! 

In heat three, Shaquille Walker, who like McBride has broken 1:45 this year, won his heat in 1:47.45. He certainly didn’t look like the eventual winner on Friday but they don’t give style points in the final for how you looked in the prelims.

In the end, six of the eight fastest men on the year coming into the semis made the eight-person final with the casualties being #5 Hector Hernandez of Texas A&M (1:46.15 sb) and #8 seed Joe White of Georgetown (1:46.67 sb) as they were replaced by Wake Forest freshman Robert Heppenstall of Canada (1:46.92 sb, #13 seed) and Middle Tennessee State junior Sampson Laari of Ghana, as the #16 seed Laari ran a massive pb of 1:46.44 (1:47.15 pb coming in) to advance on time in the super fast second heat. Georgetown’s White didn’t qualify even though he ran a .01 pb of 1:46.66 in that heat. White wasn’t the only guy to PR and not make the final. UTEP’s Jonah Koech lowered his 1:46.8 hand-time pb to 1:46.53 in the first heat, where he ran too much of the race in lane 2. 1:46.53 didn’t make the final as Koech let up a little at the line (although he clearly was also tying up) and La Salle’s Chris Sanders got him by .01 with a lunge at the line.

Koech was ahead until the very end

Koech was ahead until the very end

Results and quick take analysis appears below.

Heat 1

1Brandon McBrideMiss State1:45.48 Q25.51 [25.51]52.60 [27.09]1:18.64 [26.05]1:45.48 [26.84]
2Isaiah HarrisPenn State1:46.24 Q25.61 [25.61]52.95 [27.34]1:19.03 [26.09]1:46.24 [27.22]
3Chris SandersLa Salle1:46.52 q25.59 [25.59]52.76 [27.18]1:18.86 [26.10]1:46.52 [27.66]
4Jonah KoechUTEP1:46.5325.73 [25.73]53.04 [27.32]1:18.79 [25.75]1:46.53 [27.74]
5Daniel KuhnIndiana1:47.2025.77 [25.77]53.06 [27.29]1:19.44 [26.38]1:47.20 [27.77]
6Holland SherrerMississippi1:47.3425.75 [25.75]53.17 [27.42]1:19.83 [26.67]1:47.34 [27.51]
7Ryan ThomasArkansas1:48.7925.98 [25.98]53.49 [27.51]1:20.46 [26.98]1:48.79 [28.33]
8Robert UhrTexas1:53.4126.05 [26.05]53.95 [27.90]1:21.37 [27.43]1:53.41 [32.04]
SplitIntermediate LeaderTime
200mBrandon McBride0:25.51
400mBrandon McBride0:52.60
600mBrandon McBride1:18.64
800mBrandon McBride1:45.48

Heat 2

1Donavan BrazierTexas A&M1:45.07 Q24.70 [24.70]50.80 [26.11]1:17.38 [26.58]1:45.07 [27.70]
2Eliud RuttoMid. Tenn. State1:46.15 Q24.75 [24.75]50.99 [26.24]1:17.91 [26.92]1:46.15 [28.25]
3Sampson LaariMid. Tenn. State1:46.44 q25.00 [25.00]51.16 [26.17]1:18.30 [27.14]1:46.44 [28.15]
4Joseph WhiteGeorgetown1:46.6624.83 [24.83]51.27 [26.45]1:18.42 [27.16]1:46.66 [28.25]
5Hector HernandezTexas A&M1:47.4724.53 [24.53]50.70 [26.17]1:17.61 [26.92]1:47.47 [29.86]
6Patrick JosephVirginia Tech1:48.5725.18 [25.18]51.62 [26.44]1:19.38 [27.76]1:48.57 [29.20]
7Brian BellHouston1:50.6425.14 [25.14]51.33 [26.20]1:18.84 [27.51]1:50.64 [31.81]
8Carter LillyIowa1:50.8424.98 [24.98]51.74 [26.77]1:20.06 [28.33]1:50.84 [30.79]
SplitIntermediate LeaderTime
200mHector Hernandez0:24.53
400mHector Hernandez0:50.70
600mDonavan Brazier1:17.38
800mDonavan Brazier1:45.07

Heat 3

1Shaquille WalkerBYU1:47.45 Q25.67 [25.67]52.21 [26.55]1:19.60 [27.39]1:47.45 [27.85]
2Robert HeppenstallWake Forest1:47.56 Q25.81 [25.81]52.49 [26.68]1:20.03 [27.55]1:47.56 [27.54]
3Nick HartleUCLA1:47.7425.48 [25.48]51.96 [26.48]1:19.66 [27.70]1:47.74 [28.09]
4Mitch HechselMinnesota1:48.4225.98 [25.98]52.74 [26.77]1:20.20 [27.46]1:48.42 [28.23]
5Jesse GarnBinghamton1:49.1026.78 [26.78]54.10 [27.33]1:21.78 [27.68]1:49.10 [27.32]
6Christian HarrisonGeorgia1:51.6727.47 [27.47]54.20 [26.74]1:22.04 [27.85]1:51.67 [29.63]
7Clay LambourneUtah State1:52.3125.85 [25.85]53.60 [27.75]1:22.19 [28.59]1:52.31 [30.13]
8Austin MuddWisconsin1:53.5126.51 [26.51]54.57 [28.06]1:23.35 [28.78]1:53.51 [30.17]
SplitIntermediate LeaderTimeFastest SplitTime
200mNick Hartle0:25.48Nick Hartle0:25.48
400mNick Hartle0:51.96Nick Hartle0:26.48
600mShaquille Walker1:19.60Shaquille Walker0:27.39
800mShaquille Walker1:47.45Jesse Garn0:27.32

Quick Take #1: This final is going to be AMAZING

BYU’s Shaquille Walker said it best: “It’s gonna be fun Friday (in the final).”

McBride and Brazier both ran crazy fast yet both looked to have something left in the tank. Mark Everett’s 1:44.70 meet record from 1990 is in serious danger on Friday. And Walker, a 1:44 guy himself, won his heat as well and could be a factor. McBride won SECs over Brazier back on May 14, 1:45.68 to 1:46.19 (Texas A&M’s Hector Hernandez finished between them in 1:46.15). Brazier has improved since then, but so has McBride: McBride ran 1:44.89 at regionals, and though he ran slower today than Brazier today, he did so by shutting it down with 50 meters to go.

We can’t wait for the final. And to think, it won’t even contain the man who is quite possibly the best 800 runner in the NCAA (Akron’s Clayton Murphy who is in the 1500).

The final should go out fast with McBride, Brazier, and Walker all liking honest paces. Walker said he expects it to go fast, but if it doesn’t he’ll make sure it is.

Quick Take # 2 Jim Ryun’s collegiate record of 1:44.3 turns 50 on Friday – might it be broken?

The collegiate record 1:44.3+ from Jim Ryun turns 50 years old on Friday as Ryun ran it on 6/10/1966. How cool would it be if it was broken on its 50th anniversary? It’s a shame Hector Hernandez isn’t in the final as if the final had him as the unofficial rabbit taking it out in 50 point then Jim Ryun’s historic record might go. McBride or Brazier could maybe still do it but it would be a lot easier if Hernandez was in the race pushing the pace.

And speaking of Ryun, Brazier had no clue who he was. As for the collegiate record, he said he has a much more immediate focus in each race saying, “I just going in knowing I’m going to give it my all…. I don’t know anything about those records. It could be 1:42 (and it wouldn’t make a difference to him).”

Brazier was pleased to get back into the 1:45s as he ran 1:45.9 in his first sensational race indoors and hadn’t been back there since. His back tightened up at NCAA indoors and Brazier said “I don’t think I’m back to 100% but I’m close.” His freshman campaign has been a “rollercoaster ride” but exceeded his expectations. “I didn’t think I would be competing this fast and being All-American my freshman year,” he said.

He showed maturity beyond his years, saying there is still a lot of work to do and wasn’t that impressed with just running 1:45 noting there are guys in college running faster than him (McBride). “Once I can start running that consistently and 1:44, that’s when it matters,” he said. He also talked about how he will probably run USA juniors instead of the Olympic Trials. He would prefer to run the Olympic Trials, but does not want to run hard 2 weeks in a row (USA Juniors is one week before the Trials), and wants to make sure he at least he makes one USA team so the plan is to run USA juniors. We’ll have more on those comments later but the full interview is embedded at the bottom of this section.

Quick Take #3: More mileage has helped Brandon McBride feel more comfortable in any kind of race; he basically even-split a 1:45 today (52.60-52.88)

McBride almost couldn’t believe how fast he ran today, as he only took it out in 52.60 and looked to be easing off over the final 50 meters. The Canadian McBride and his coach made the decision to up his mileage from 40 mpw to 60 mpw this year and ease into the outdoor season (he didn’t run any 800s indoors, instead doing just the 4×400 at NCAA indoors) and it’s paid off in spades.

Now he doesn’t feel as if he has to go out super fast in every race; as long as he’s in contact with the leaders with 150 to go he has a chance. McBride said last year he felt like he would have needed to be in the lead at 200m in the final, but this year he merely has to be in good position — not necessarily in first — as he trusts his strength. McBride was only 6th at NCAAs last year after winning it the year before and said that he wasn’t there mentally, but now he’s in a much better place, both mentally and physically. He said that he decided to run his super-fast 1:44 800 regionals because he decided he wanted to have some “fun.” There could be more fun in store on Friday.

800m interviews:

Men’s 1500: The Favorites Looked Great 

To say that the men’s 1500 heats went according to form would be an understatement. 11 of the 12 fastest runners based on 2016 seasonal best times made the 12-person final, with the lone casualty being #5 seed freshman Matthew Maton (who went sub-4 last year in HS) of Oregon. The ‘long-shot’ who made it in his place? #13 seed Josh Kerr (freshman, New Mexico).

The event was almost a disaster for Oregon as indoor mile runner-up Blake Haney of Oregon barely made the final. It was a blanket finish for the final 3 auto qualifying spots in heat #1 and Haney got in by just .007 thanks to a lean.

Results and our quick take analysis appears below.

Heat 1

1Clayton MurphyAkron3:49.03 Q46.75 [46.75]1:55.63 [1:08.89]2:56.72 [1:01.09]3:49.03 [52.32]
2Brannon KidderPenn State3:49.06 Q46.89 [46.89]1:56.07 [1:09.18]2:57.04 [1:00.97]3:49.06 [52.02]
3Craig EngelsMississippi3:49.40 Q46.83 [46.83]1:55.67 [1:08.84]2:57.29 [1:01.63]3:49.40 [52.12]
4Robert DomanicMississippi3:49.48 Q47.07 [47.07]1:55.94 [1:08.88]2:57.58 [1:01.64]3:49.48 [51.91]
5Blake HaneyOregon3:49.54 Q46.58 [46.58]1:55.59 [1:09.02]2:57.00 [1:01.41]3:49.54 [52.54]
6Ben MaloneVillanova3:49.5447.12 [47.12]1:55.80 [1:08.68]2:57.45 [1:01.65]3:49.54 [52.10]
7David ElliottBoise State3:49.9346.69 [46.69]1:55.51 [1:08.83]2:57.17 [1:01.66]3:49.93 [52.76]
8James GowansCornell3:51.5946.60 [46.60]1:55.45 [1:08.85]2:56.85 [1:01.40]3:51.59 [54.75]
9Matthew MatonOregon3:51.8946.93 [46.93]1:55.87 [1:08.94]2:57.21 [1:01.35]3:51.89 [54.68]
10Blake NelsonWashington3:52.1547.19 [47.19]1:55.90 [1:08.72]2:57.54 [1:01.64]3:52.15 [54.62]
11Dillon MaggardUtah State3:52.8046.50 [46.50]1:55.41 [1:08.91]2:56.96 [1:01.56]3:52.80 [55.84]
12Alex RogersTexas3:56.5247.04 [47.04]1:55.70 [1:08.66]2:57.83 [1:02.13]3:56.52 [58.70]
SplitIntermediate LeaderTimeFastest SplitTime
300mDillon Maggard0:46.50Dillon Maggard0:46.50
700mDillon Maggard1:55.41Alex Rogers1:08.66
1100mClayton Murphy2:56.72Brannon Kidder1:00.97
1500mClayton Murphy3:49.03Robert Domanic0:51.91
Murphy and Kidder were the class of heat #1

Murphy and Kidder were the class of heat #1

Heat #2

1Henry WynneVirginia3:40.62 Q43.49 [43.49]1:45.96 [1:02.47]2:44.61 [58.66]3:40.62 [56.01]
2Izaic YorksWashington3:40.87 Q43.59 [43.59]1:45.68 [1:02.10]2:44.45 [58.77]3:40.87 [56.43]
3Sam PrakelOregon3:40.93 Q43.78 [43.78]1:46.17 [1:02.39]2:44.70 [58.54]3:40.93 [56.24]
4Adam PalamarSyracuse3:40.97 Q44.04 [44.04]1:46.35 [1:02.31]2:44.91 [58.57]3:40.97 [56.06]
5Josh KerrNew Mexico3:41.08 Q44.17 [44.17]1:46.32 [1:02.15]2:44.87 [58.55]3:41.08 [56.22]
6Jordan WilliamszVillanova3:41.16 q43.88 [43.88]1:46.09 [1:02.21]2:44.76 [58.68]3:41.16 [56.41]
7James RandonYale3:41.22 q44.38 [44.38]1:46.72 [1:02.35]2:45.04 [58.33]3:41.22 [56.19]
8Neil GourleyVirginia Tech3:41.3344.51 [44.51]1:46.66 [1:02.16]2:45.26 [58.60]3:41.33 [56.08]
9David TimlinIndiana State3:41.3545.01 [45.01]1:46.97 [1:01.97]2:45.69 [58.72]3:41.35 [55.67]
10Matt DorseyAir Force3:42.1644.57 [44.57]1:46.58 [1:02.01]2:45.50 [58.92]3:42.16 [56.67]
11Chase HorrocksBYU3:44.7944.34 [44.34]1:46.49 [1:02.16]2:45.11 [58.62]3:44.79 [59.69]
12Andy TrouardNorthern Arizona3:50.4244.95 [44.95]1:47.09 [1:02.15]2:47.14 [1:00.05]3:50.42 [1:03.29]
SplitIntermediate LeaderTimeFastest SplitTime
300mHenry Wynne0:43.49Henry Wynne0:43.49
700mIzaic Yorks1:45.68David Timlin1:01.97
1100mIzaic Yorks2:44.45James Randon0:58.33
1500mHenry Wynne3:40.62David Timlin0:55.67
Wynne and Yorks looked good in heat #2

Wynne and Yorks looked good in heat #2

Quick Take #1: Clayton Murphy knows the field fears his 1:45 800 speed

Murphy and Brannon Kidder have both broken 1:46 for 800 (Kidder was the NCAA runner-up at that distance a year ago) and Murphy is well aware of that fact. Murphy said that while he’s prepared for anything in Friday’s final, he expects a quick race.

“I feel like everybody’s afraid of Brannon and I trying to step up,” Murphy said.

As far as why Murphy picked the 1500 over the the 800, where he’s the reigning indoor champ, Murphy had this to say:

“We made that decision a while ago. After Drake, we kind of sat down and talked about it. It just fit in the big picture with everything this summer and the rest of my career. 1500 training has been going well. It’s always been in the making.”

Last year Murphy said the plan has always been for him to move up to the 1500 and it appears he thinks that’s his best event in the long run (though after beating world indoor champ Boris Berian at Drake, he’s pretty darn good at the 800 right now).

Quick Take #2: Hand the title to Murphy, Kidder, Wynne or Yorks.

This isn’t a shocking revelation but the top two finishers in each heat seem to be the guys to beat. In heat #1, Murphy and Kidder separated themselves from the mad dash for the qualifying spots in the tactical heat and cruised in with Murphy looking like he had one or two more gears. And the top two in the second heat have a lot going for them as well – Wynne won indoors and is the #2 seed outdoors while Yorks was the fastest American ever indoors collegiately (3:53.89) and is the NCAA leader outdoors (3:37.74).

Quick Take #3: Izaic Yorks: “[I’ll make it fast] if I have to… [A fast pace] certainly helps my chances a lot.”

Yorks acknowledged that in order to win his first NCAA title with Murphy and Kidder in the race,, it will have to be a faster race and that he would be willing to push it if need be. Yorks has run 1:47 for 800 himself, but said that he is definitely from a more strength-oriented background than someone like Murphy. Yorks said he might be able to kick with him but that it would need to be an extended kick.

Yorks was also candid in speaking about how his breakout year has come about (NCAA-leading 3:53.89 mile indoors, NCAA-leading 3:37.74 1500 outdoors). He said that in addition to a long stretch of injury-free training, which has allowed coach Greg Metcalf to develop his talent, his perspective has changed from the past where track and field is no longer life and death for him.

“When I line up here, I can see that other guys, they’re nervous, a lot of them. And for me, I don’t have those nerves. Ultimately this is just a season of my life.”

Quick Take #4: Blake Haney: “You gotta be ready to battle…I was ready to dive to the finish”

Haney, who was third last year and second indoors, made it through by the skin of his teeth, edging Villanova’s Ben Malone by a James Bondesque .007 for the final qualifying spot in heat 1.

Haney’s outdoor season has been ho-hum (by his standards): he didn’t even make the Pac-12 final. But he’s in the NCAA final once again and has faith in his training and coach Andy Powell that he has timed his peak correctly.

”Friday I’ll be ready to go and that’s what we’ve been working for,” Haney said.

Men’s Steeplechase: PRs Galore

The men’s steeplechasers didn’t mess around tonight. Coming in, a grand total of 6 men in field had broken 8:35 on the year. In the first heat, 7 men did it alone. No one did it in heat #2 but the top 5 all ran 8:36.

In the end, all of the major players moved on to the finals of the 8 of the 10 entrants based on seasonal best time advanced to the 12-person final (#6 Jordan Mann of Providence, who fell, is going home as is #10 Aaron Nelson of Washington).

Results and interviews below.

Quick Take #1: Ferlic is still the favorite but a lot of guys deserve some praise.

To make the final, 7 guys ran lifetime personal bests this evening and another ran a seasonal best (See the results above. We added in PB next to the athletes who set new PBs and listed their previous PB). So clearly a lot of guys are in great form. However, we just don’t think their best is as good as Ferlic’s.

Ferlic said that his career has progressed along exactly to plan as he’s gotten better every year and now seems poised to go out as an NCAA champion. He acknowledged that he views himself as the favorite but said that he won’t let it get to his head.

“I know I have all the tools and I can just use that as kind of confidence,” Ferlic said. “I can run if it’s a fast pace. If it’s going to turn into a sit and kick, I can handle both scenarios.”

Ferlic, whose PR is 8:28, said that the conditions might set up for him to chase a fast time on Friday, but priority #1 remains the victory.

Ferlic famously fell in the final last year and wound up last. But he said he used today’s prelim to erase any doubts from his mind, adding that he had clean run-ups to every barrier. Now he has a sense of humor about it and has embraced it as part of his story.

“I think talking about it has made me stronger as a person and an athlete…It’s kind of a defining [moment] for my college career.”

Quick Take #2: Edwin Kibichiy PR’d today but is confident he has more left for the final

Kibichiy, who ran 8:33.56 to shave .22 off his pb, said he was surprised his heat went out so quickly but felt that he would be able to recover well. He pointed out that after running 8:34 to win ACCs last month, he came back the next day to run 13:54 and take 3rd in the 5k, so having an entire day of rest before Friday’s final will make things easier for him.

High school record holder Bailey Roth set a PR but did not make the final but has had a nice recover from a medical issue mid season that had him running 9:14. More on him here: LRC: Bailey Roth American High School Record Holder in the Steeplechase is Back with 8:37 PR after Running 9:14 at End of May

Heat #1 *Lap by lap splits here.

1Edwin KibichiyLouisville8:33.56 Q
2Benard KeterTexas Tech8:33.75 Q PB
3Caleb HooverNorthern Arizona8:33.77 Q PB (8:34.23)
4Frankline TonuiArkansas8:34.08Q PB
5Jakob AbrahamsenEastern Kentucky8:34.11 Q
6MJ ErbMississippi8:34.13 q PB (8:39.11)
7Bryce MillerUMKC8:34.32 q PB (8:38.59)
8Elmar EngholmNew Mexico8:37.44 PB
9Andrew GardnerWashington8:48.79
10Willy FinkEastern Michigan8:52.43
11Adam PetermanColorado8:53.58
12Aaron NelsonWashington9:03.33
SplitIntermediate LeaderTime
L1Jakob Abrahamsen0:38.60
L2Jakob Abrahamsen1:43.64
L3Jakob Abrahamsen2:51.01
L4Jakob Abrahamsen3:59.97
L5Jakob Abrahamsen5:10.31
L6Jakob Abrahamsen6:20.62
L7Edwin Kibichiy7:29.32
3000mEdwin Kibichiy8:33.56

Heat #2 *Lap by lap splits

1Mason FerlicMichigan8:36.11 Q
2Darren FahyGeorgetown8:36.24 Q SB
3Troy ReederFurman8:36.51 Q PB (8:41.94)
4Zak SeddonFlorida State8:36.77 Q
5Aaron FletcherBYU8:36.81 Q PB (8:39.10)
6Bailey RothArizona8:37.38 PB
7Jordan MannProvidence8:48.05
8Scott CarpenterGeorgetown8:48.19
9Will GrayVirginia8:51.91
10Brandon AllenIona8:52.51
11CJ AlbertsonArizona State8:53.16
12Dylan BlankenbakerOklahoma8:58.03
SplitIntermediate LeaderTime
L1CJ Albertson0:38.53
L2CJ Albertson1:47.48
L3Mason Ferlic2:57.05
L4Mason Ferlic4:05.91
L5Mason Ferlic5:14.67
L6Mason Ferlic6:23.21
L7Mason Ferlic7:30.85
3000mMason Ferlic8:36.11