Day 2 NCAAs: 1,500 And Men's Steeplechase Prelims

By with Tom Davis in Des Moines
June 7, 2012

Men's 1,500m Prelims: Kyle Merber Fails To Make The Final As German Fernandez Shines

Columbia's Kyle Merber came in as the collegiate leader (and American collegiate record holder depending on who you ask) at 3:35.59, but failed to make the final as he was way back in 10th in his heat. German Fernandez fans had reason to celebrate, however, as he looked more like his old self, running 3:40.19 (only 1.19 off his 3:39.0 PR). Fernandez is the guy who won the NCAA 1,500m title as a true freshman, but hasn't really done much since or this year as his best 1,500 was only 3:43.

Heat 1: Fernandez took the lead right from the gun and would hold it until the last lap. They were through 400 meters in 58.8 and 800 in 1:59.1. Going into the last lap everyone was still in it and on the final straight 8 still had a chance to qualify. The top 7 would finish almost dead even as they were only separated by .54 seconds. But 3,000m indoor American collegiate record holder Ryan Hill closed the fastest, running his last 400 in 55.65 and winnning the heat in 3:39.84 as Miles Batty, Chris O'Hare, and Fernandez took spots 2-5. Merber was surprisingly never really in contention as he briefly made a move into third place with about 600 to go and then faded way back over the last lap, finishing in 3:48.03 with a 64.31 last lap. All the other expected favorites advanced.

In a post-race interview for flotrack, Merber kept things in perspective. He said that since he ran 3:35 everyone assumed everything had been going for amazingly for him but in reality he'd been having a lot of hiccups this year - more so than in an normal year when he's healthy. But considering he missed all of last year with a foot injury after stepping on some glass, he can't complain too much as this year was a huge step in the right direction.

Place Athlete Name Yr Affiliation Time Qual
 1 Ryan Hill JR North Carolina St. 3:39.84
 2 Andrew Bayer JR Indiana 3:39.95
 3 Miles Batty SR BYU 3:40.01
 4 Chris O'Hare JR Tulsa 3:40.14
 5 German Fernandez JR Oklahoma State 3:40.19
 6 Michael Hammond JR Virginia Tech 3:40.27
 7 Duncan Phillips SR Arkansas 3:40.38
 8 Zach Dahleen JR Southern Illinois 3:41.18  
 9 Johnathan Shawel SR Notre Dame 3:47.36  
 10 Kyle Merber SR Columbia 3:48.03  
 11 Josh Munsch SO Kansas 3:48.34  
 12 Erik Berg JR Brown 3:52.72  

*H1 Splits

Heat 2: The second heat was run much slower than heat 1 as the top 7 from the first heat ran faster than would the winner of heat 2. Wisconsin's Rob Finnerty led the field through the first lap in 59.5 with indoor 3,000 and 5,000 champion Lawi Lalang running comfortably right on Finnerty's shoulder. With 2 laps to go, Lalang moved to the lead as the pack went through 800 in 2:01.1. He would hold the lead until 200 to go when Finnerty took over and the field started to kick. The top returner from last year, Erik van Ingen, closed in a 55.51 to win the heat in 3:42.58 as Finnerty took second and Lalang 3rd. Indoor mile runner-up Rich Peters moved from the back of the field up to grab 4th and Villanova's Sam McEntee (who has the 3rd-fastest time in the NCAA this year at 3:36.81) barely grabbed the last spot in the final by finishing only .10 ahead of 6th place. The top 6 places were separated by only .26 seconds. Last year's NCAA 8th placer Patrick Casey, who transferred from Montana State to Oklahoma this year, failed to match last year's result and qualify, finishing in 10th.

Place Athlete Name Yr Affiliation Time Qual
 1 Erik van Ingen SR Binghamton 3:42.57
 2 Rob Finnerty JR Wisconsin 3:42.58
 3 Lawi Lalang SO Arizona 3:42.61
 4 Rich Peters SO Boston U. 3:42.69
 5 Sam McEntee SO Villanova 3:42.73
 6 Trevor Van Ackeren SR Princeton 3:42.83  
 7 Nick Hutton JR Minnesota 3:43.16  
 8 Patrick McGregor JR Texas 3:43.26  
 9 Brett Johnson JR Virginia 3:44.63  
 10 Patrick Casey JR Oklahoma 3:45.59  
 11 Eric Harasyn SR Oklahoma 3:45.60  
 12 Patrick Todd JR Virginia 3:50.58  

*H2 Splits


Women's 1,500m Prelims: Evenly Matched Heats See All The Favorites Advance

There were no surprises in the women's 1,500 prelims as all the favorites made it through. Although there was a close call for Notre Dame's Rebecca Tracy, whom we predicted to finish 3rd overall after she beat NCAA indoor 3,000 champ Emily Infeld at Big East Champs. She was the last one into the final, getting in on time less than two tenths of a second ahead of a runner in her heat and another in heat 2. Although not favorites this year, Kristen Gillespie, Hannah Brooks and Brittany Sheffey were an example of the depth of competition at the top level in the NCAA as they finished 6th, 11th, and 12th in last year's 1,500 final, but all failed to advance today.

Heat 1: Florida State's Amanda Winslow took the early lead and took the field through 400 in 67.2 and 800 in 2:18.2. Behind her the rest of the pack was bunched up with many runners being forced wide into outside lanes. Around halfway, indoor mile champ Lucy Van Dalen moved into 3rd and with 200 left surged to the front and kicked home to win the heat in 4:11.69 with a 63.2 last lap. Behind her, Infield looked comfortable finishing a close second as Greta Feldman, Cory McGee and Winslow rounding out the top 5 and Tracy just grabbing 6th over Michigan's Jillian Smith.

 Place Athlete Name Yr Affiliation Time Qual
 1 Lucy Van Dalen SR Stony Brook 4:11.69
 2 Emily Infeld JR Georgetown 4:11.73
 3 Greta Feldman JR Princeton 4:12.73
 4 Cory McGee SO Florida 4:12.93
 5 Amanda Winslow JR Florida State 4:13.08
 6 Rebecca Tracy JR Notre Dame 4:13.48
 7 Jillian Smith SO Michigan 4:13.59  
 8 Hannah Brooks SR Florida State 4:14.01  
 9 Sophie Curl SO San Francisco 4:18.34  
 10 Brittany Sheffey SR Tennessee 4:18.63  
 11 Nicole Bowler SR San Francisco 4:26.98  
 DNF Kristen Gillespie SR Arkansas    

*H1 Splits

Heat 2: This heat included a couple hometown favorites in Washington's Katie Flood and Nebraska's Ashley Miller. Both won multiple state titles at Drake Stadium while in high school and there presence really got the crowd excited. Laura Roxburg of Missouri took the early lead, bringing a tightly bunched field through 400 in 69.0 with Miller, Jordan Hasay and Flood sitting right behind. After going through 800 in 2:17.3, Hasay moved to the lead and at the bell, it was her and Miller running in front with most of the field still in contention. The top finishers closed hard over the last 200 and #1 ranked Natalja Piliusina won in 4:12.55 with a 64.55 last lap as Flood was second, Hasay 3rd, Oregon's Becca Friday 4th, and Virginia's Morgane Gay 5th. Miller faded back to 8th.

 Place Athlete Name Yr Affiliation Time Qual
 1 Natalja Piliusina SO Oklahoma State 4:12.55
 2 Katie Flood SO Washington 4:12.65
 3 Jordan Hasay JR Oregon 4:12.68
 4 Becca Friday JR Oregon 4:13.06
 5 Morgane Gay JR Virginia 4:13.20
 6 Violah Lagat SR Florida State 4:13.30
 7 Amanda Mergaert JR Utah 4:13.63  
 8 Ashley Miller SR Nebraska 4:14.12  
 9 Rachel Schneider JR Georgetown 4:16.15  
 10 Laura Roxberg JR Missouri 4:23.14  
 11 Laura Carlyle SR Oregon State 4:27.93  
 12 Marielle Hall SO Texas 4:34.15  

*H2 Splits


Men's Steeplechase: Cabral Looks Effortless As All The Top Guys Advance

These prelims had zero surprises, as anyone who was in the top 14 in last year's final or ranked in the top 10 this year advanced. American collegiate record holder (#2 all-time) Donn Cabral showed why he is the outright favorite as he posted the fastest time in a comfortable-looking 8:38.12. His biggest opposition in Saturday's final will most likely be himself as he admitted post-race that he wasn't on top of his game mentally. He actually almost missed the race as he didn't check in on time and then he came close to choking on the last water jump. "My last two hurdles were horrible. On the last water jump I kept thinking, 'What if I clip it?' Thinking like that made me clip it. I stutter-stepped the last hurdle. I have to clean my act up for the final."

Heat 1: Most of the race was lead by Henry Lelei of Texas A&M, as the field remained all together through after halfway. With a lap to go, 3rd-ranked Corey Lesle went to the lead and the top 5 separated themselves from the pack. After forming a large gap, they coasted in the final straightaway and Lesle more or less let Tom Wade and Anthony Rotich pass him in the final meters. Lelei won the heat with 8:39.09, which was almost a PR as his best is 8:38.90. Lelei actually looked extremely good comfortable here and we think he has a lot more left in the tank. His only problem is his barrier form wasn't very good at all.

Place Athlete Name Yr Affiliation Time Qual
 1 Henry Lelei JR Texas A&M 8:39.09
 2 Tom Wade SR Lamar 8:40.50
 3 Anthony Rotich FR UTEP 8:41.14
 4 Cory Leslie SR Ohio State 8:41.45
 5 Andrew Poore SR Indiana 8:42.50
 6 Fabian Clarkson FR Oklahoma State 8:45.96  
 7 Ben Torotich SO Eastern Kentucky 8:48.17  
 8 Tomas Cotter JR Wichita State 8:49.85  
 9 Mike Hardy SO Weber State 8:50.23  
 10 Jacob Smith JR High Point 8:53.00  
 11 Luis Orta JR Kentucky 9:08.78  
 12 Matt Cleaver SR Georgia 9:16.30  

*H1 Splits

Heat 2: Wanting to stay out of trouble, Cabral took the lead early and stayed there for a large portion of the race. Colorado's Aric VanHalen led the middle laps of the race, with Michigan's Craig Forys and Stanford's Ben Johnson pushing on his shoulder and at times taking the lead. At the bell, it was Forys leading a huge pack with 9 still in contention. With 200 left, Cabral surged to the lead and won comfortably over Forys in second with a 63.61 last lap. The pack strung out a lot over the last 300 meters, but everyone in contact at the bell would make the final as all 4 time qualifiers came from this heat.

Place Athlete Name Yr Affiliation Time Qual
 1 Donn Cabral SR Princeton 8:38.12
 2 Craig Forys SR Michigan 8:39.53
 3 Carl Stones SR Tulsa 8:39.70
 4 Travis Mahoney SR Temple 8:40.28
 5 Jim Walmsley SR Air Force 8:41.05
 6 Benjamin Johnson SR Stanford 8:41.61
 7 Adrien Dannemiller SR Indiana 8:42.17
 8 Aric VanHalen JR Colorado 8:42.55
 9 De'Sean Turner SR Indiana 8:44.99
 10 Adam Green SR Ohio State 9:00.46  
 11 Joe Wade SR Lamar 9:08.03  
 12 Kyle Engnell SR Illinois 9:17.73  

*H2 Splits


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