March 13, 2015 –
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Distance medley relays almost always come down to one thing — who has the best anchor. There was no doubt as to who was the best on Friday night at the 2015 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships as Arkansas’ Dominique Scott split 4:28.90 and Edward Cheserek split 3:57.68 to get the wins for their teams. It was Arkansas’ second win a row in the event.
Women’s Race Comes Down to Scott vs Elise Cranny
When the 800 legs ended, it was clear this was only a four-team race. Stanford, with freshman Elise Cranny anchoring, had a .83 second lead over Arkansas but Baylor was just .05 back of Arkansas and Michigan .38 behind Baylor. Fifth-place Georgetown wasn’t in the mix as they were 4.55 seconds behind Arkansas.
But Cranny, who ran a 4:10.95 1500 pb as a prep, went out in 67 and roughly 2:17-18 and it was soon a two woman race. The whole final leg, Scott ran right behind Cranny as the Razorback crowd yearned for a victory. With 400 to go, Scott moved up right next to Cranny’s right shoulder. With 300 to go, Scott decided it was time and once she went, there was little Cranny could do.
Cranny ran a very respectable final leg of 4:31.50 but Scott and Arkansas were just too good. Both of the top two teams crushed the facility record of 10:56.46 and Arkansas was within a second of Tennessee’s meet/collegiate record of 10:50.98.
Quick Take #1: Even the Arkansas women were surprised how fast they ran
Coach Lance Harter gave the Razorback women aggressive splits prior to the race and told them that they were capable of a very fast time if they all ran to their ability. They did, and the result was a second straight DMR victory in a blazing time of 10:51.89, second in collegiate history only to Tennessee’s 10:50.98 in 2009, which until last month stood as the world record (Stanford’s 10:53.66 puts them #5 all-time).
Jessica Kamilos (1200 leg) and Therese Haiss (800 leg) both passed on the chance to run the open mile in this meet and after a DMR win, neither was regretting her decision. Both said that knowing they qualified in an individual event was enough but that it wasn’t a problem to sacrifice an individual event for team glory.
“I would never trade this moment in time for anything,” Kamilos said.
Quick Take #2: Florida State and Michigan State punted on the DMR to preserve their milers for tomorrow
Perhaps recognizing that a victory in the DMR tonight would require a huge effort out of potential anchors Leah O’Connor (MSU) or Colleen Quigley (FSU), both of whom are among the favorites in tomorrow’s mile final, both the Spartans and Seminoles decided to rest individual stars to keep them as fresh as possible for tomorrow’s race. Since Michigan State and Florida State were 11 and 14 seconds behind, respectively, at the final exchange, it looks like the coaches made the right decision.
Quick Take #3: The women’s 3000 could be very interesting
Arkansas is ranked #1 and in the hunt for their first ever team title. The women’s 3000 is the last event on the track before the 4 x 400. Scott is the #1 seed in the 3000 and will have plenty of extra motivation (as if trying to win your first individual NCAA title isn’t enough motivation) if the team title is still on the line.
Coming in, we gave the slight edge in the women’s 3000 to Providence’s Emily Sisson, the collegiate indoor 5000 record holder who won the 5000 tonight, but after seeing Scott run 4:28, we think Scott deserves to be considered the favorite, particularly after Sisson said she was just running the 3000 for fun and without expectations.
Quick Take #4: Villanova’s Angel Piccirillo was by far the best 1200 runner
Piccirillo, who has run 2:04 and 4:34 this winter and earlier had qualified for the mile final, went to the lead at 800 on the opening leg and broke things open. Her 3:21.86 split was 1.01 seconds better than Stanford’s, which was the second-best opening leg split. In the end, Nova crossed the finish line 8th but was DQ’d for an infraction.
Quick Take #5: Elise Cranny Gets the Full NCAA Experience Her First Time Out
Elise Cranny could have turned pro after her high school success last year, but she chose to go to Stanford for the Cardinal. Tonight’s run showed there was plenty of competition for her at the NCAA level and turning pro would have never let her have the experience tonight. She and her Stanford team loved it even if they would have rather turned the tables on Arkansas.
|6||North Carolina St.||North Carolina St.||11:10.41|
|8||Notre Dame||Notre Dame||11:15.96|
|9||Michigan State||Michigan State||11:17.26|
|10||New Mexico||New Mexico||11:17.98|
|11||Florida State||Florida State||11:31.24|
Men’s DMR: King Cheserek What Else Did You Expect?
When the anchor legs began, there were four teams within three seconds of the lead. Iowa State led and then it was Georgetown (.37 back), Penn State (2.47 back) and Oregon (2.67 back). Instantly, we thought to ourselves, ‘Game over, congratulations Oregon.’
3:57.68 later we were right. Oregon coach Andy Powell didn’t even wait that long to celebrate. We saw him start giving people high-fives once Cheserek hit the homestretch. Cheserek himself started celebrating halfway down the homestretch. Cheserek blew everyone away when he went to the lead just before the bell. He looked sensational. We’ll try to watch a race replay to get his final 200 split later, but trust us, he looked good, very good.
Cheserek had time to celebrate halfway down the homestretch.
Nothing could stop Cheserek after the first three legs kept him close to the lead. The one fear in a DMR is that a superior anchor leg like Cheserek might lose if he goes out too hard to catch the leaders. But Cheserek was less than three seconds back of the leaders so it was almost impossible for him to go out way too hard.
Even if he went out in 25 (he went out in 27ish), he’d probably still be able to beat the people he was running with as they’d all have to go out in 28 to get him to go out in 25. The one guy we thought might be able to scare Cheserek — Villanova’s 3:36 man Jordan Williamsz — got the baton some 4.66 seconds after King Ches.
It should be pointed out that Williamsz was very good. He split 3:55.46 to help Villanova get fifth (the fastest anchor leg by over two seconds), but he was running in no-man’s land for most of this one as he only passed two teams.
Quick Take #1: Edward Cheserek Is a Stud
We’re not exactly breaking new ground with this point. But Cheserek came back three hours after running a 3:58 mile (closing in 26.76) and absolutely destroyed the competition in the men’s DMR. As long as Cheserek got the baton within a few seconds of the lead, there was no way he was losing this race. Not many runners can win a 10K cross country title in November and come back to anchor the winning DMR at NCAAs four months later (The last guy to do it? Fellow Duck Galen Rupp in 2008-09). This won’t be his last NCAA title, but we need to appreciate just how special this guy really is.
The Ducks are now halfway to a sweep of the distance races (mile, 3k, 5k, DMR) and by the time all is said and done, Cheserek might have won three of them.
Oregon head coach Robert Johnson expressed a little concern that Cheserek ran too hard in the mile prelim earlier in the night, but Cheserek said the mile prelim was not that hard for him and he even backed off the final lap when he destroyed everyone.
Quick Take #2: Cheserek Was Only Confirmed as the Anchor Leg After the Mile Prelims
Coach Robert Johnson said that if one of Oregon’s other milers — Johnny Gregorek or Daniel Winn — failed to advance to the mile final, then the Ducks would have subbed him in for Cheserek to anchor the DMR. Going with a guy that missed the final over perhaps the best miler in the country would certainly have been a risky move, but in the end, it didn’t end up happening. Oregon did lead off with Colby Alexander who did not make the meet as an individual, choosing to go with as many fresh legs as possible.
Quick Take #3: Edward Kemboi Leads the Iowa State Men to a Surprise Third-Place Finish
The Cyclones were overjoyed with their third-place finish tonight, which they achieved on the strength of a 2:55.38 leadoff leg from 800 stud Edward Kemboi. Iowa State lost ground on the 400 leg (Brandon Barnes’ 48.29 was the second-slowest in the field) but made it up with a heroic 800 leg from Patrick Peterson, who delivered a split of 1:46.52 (his open pb is 1:48.10), the fastest of the night. Anchor leg Christian DeLago was passed by Oregon and Penn State but battled and was able to hold off Georgetown’s Amos Bartelsmeyer for third.
This was the latest step in the rebuilding of the program under director of track/cross country Martin Smith, the veteran coach who led Wisconsin to two NCAA cross country titles in the 1980s, and has had success everywhere else he has been (Oregon and Oklahoma). The Iowa State women took second at NCAA XC last fall; the men were second at Big 12s in Smith’s first season (their highest finish since 1997) and took third at the NCAA Midwest Regional last fall. With two Foot Locker finalists in last year’s recruiting class and another one on the way this year in Iowa native Thomas Pollard, the future is bright in Ames.
|1||Oregon||Oregon||9:30.53||2:59.05 [2:59.05]||3:45.87 [46.82]||5:32.85 [1:46.99]||9:30.53 [3:57.68]|
|2||Penn State||Penn State||9:32.21||2:58.18 [2:58.18]||3:45.04 [46.86]||5:32.65 [1:47.61]||9:32.21 [3:59.57]|
|3||Iowa State||Iowa State||9:32.48||2:55.38 [2:55.38]||3:43.67 [48.29]||5:30.18 [1:46.52]||9:32.48 [4:02.31]|
|4||Georgetown||Georgetown||9:32.51||2:56.90 [2:56.90]||3:43.62 [46.72]||5:30.55 [1:46.94]||9:32.51 [4:01.97]|
|5||Villanova||Villanova||9:32.96||2:58.88 [2:58.88]||3:47.23 [48.36]||5:37.51 [1:50.28]||9:32.96 [3:55.46]|
|6||Virginia||Virginia||9:33.24||2:59.01 [2:59.01]||3:45.36 [46.36]||5:33.82 [1:48.47]||9:33.24 [3:59.42]|
|7||Duke||Duke||9:39.32||3:00.83 [3:00.83]||3:48.61 [47.78]||5:39.13 [1:50.53]||9:39.32 [4:00.19]|
|8||Arkansas||Arkansas||9:40.83||3:01.01 [3:01.01]||3:48.00 [46.99]||5:37.42 [1:49.43]||9:40.83 [4:03.41]|
|9||Oklahoma State||Oklahoma State||9:47.78||3:00.08 [3:00.08]||3:47.45 [47.37]||5:39.49 [1:52.04]||9:47.78 [4:08.30]|
|10||Stanford||Stanford||9:50.50||3:10.98 [3:10.98]||3:58.34 [47.37]||5:48.55 [1:50.22]||9:50.50 [4:01.95]|
|11||Virginia Tech||Virginia Tech||9:53.98||3:07.82 [3:07.82]||3:56.73 [48.91]||5:48.03 [1:51.31]||9:53.98 [4:05.95]|
|Split||Intermediate Leader||Time||Fastest Split||Time|
|L1||Iowa State||2:55.38||Iowa State||2:55.38|
|L3||Iowa State||5:30.18||Iowa State||1:46.52|
|Oregon ‘A’||Colby Alexander||Marcus Chambers||Niki Franzmair||Edward Cheserek|
|Penn State ‘A’||Brannon Kidder||Alex Shisler||Za’Von Watkins||Robby Creese|
|Iowa State ‘A’||Edward Kemboi||Brandon Barnes||Patrick Peterson||Christian DeLago|
|Georgetown ‘A’||Cole Williams||Joseph White||Billy Ledder||Amos Bartelsmeyer|
|Villanova ‘A’||Dusty Solis||Donald Urschel||Elliot Slade||Jordan Williamsz|
|Virginia ‘A’||Henry Wynne||Payton Hazzard||Nathan Kiley||Mike Marsella|
|Duke ‘A’||Brian Schoepfer||Brett Bofinger||Henry Farley||Nate McClafferty|
|Arkansas ‘A’||Austen Dalquist||Kenzo Cotton||Patrick Rono||Stanley Kebenei|
|Oklahoma State ‘A’||Vegard Oelstad||Brandon Singleton||Matthew Fayers||Fabian Clarkson|
|Stanford ‘A’||Thomas Coyle||Jackson Shumway||Luke Lefebure||Sean McGorty|
|Virginia Tech ‘A’||Juan Campos||Prince Owusu-Mensah||Grant Pollock||Neil Gourley|
|Alabama ‘A’||Matt Airola||Steven Gayle||Andrew Harris||Robbie Farnham-Rose|
Screen shots from ESPN3 Brodcast – click for larger image.