A Night To Remember For American 5,000m As Emily Sisson And Eric Jenkins Capture First NCAA Titles

by LetsRun.com
March 13, 2015

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — It was a historic evening for the favorites, senior Emily Sisson of Providence and senior Eric Jenkins of Oregon, as they both captured their first NCAA titles by winning the 5,000m at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Recap, analysis, results and post race interviews below.

Women’s 5k: Sisson Dominates Gun to Tape

Providence senior Emily Sisson, the collegiate record holder at 5000, came into the 2015 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships as the biggest favorite in the distance action (according to the LetsRun.com polls, where she garnered 80% of the votes), and she more than lived up to the billing as she won her first NCAA title in dominating fashion.

Emily Sisson Dominated Emily Sisson Dominated

Sisson was all clear of everyone in the field save one brave runner, Baylor senior Rachel Johnson, by 800 and clear of everyone by 3200 as she won in 15:32.15 to Johnson’s 15:40.35. Wisconsin sophomore Sarah Disanza, who beat Sisson in a 5k in December before taking some time away from the oval due to an Achilles injury, was third in 15:47.32. Arkansas’ Diane Robison, the SEC runner-up at 3k, picked up two points for the Hogs, who are in the hunt for the team title, by finishing seventh in 15:52.07.

“[Coach Ray Treacy told me just before the race], ‘Go from the gun, make it an honest race. If you need to pick it up at the end, do,’” said Sisson to ESPN3 after the race was over. “But I didn’t really need to do it the last 400 which was nice.” (Our interview with Sisson is below).

The Race

Sisson made the pace honest from the gun and only one runner, Baylor’s Rachel Johnson dared to go with her. Sisson, with Johnson in tow, gapped the field by 800 (2:26.80) where they were a second and a half up on everyone else in the race. Sisson hit 1600 in 4:56.69 whereas the chase pack led by Texas’ Sandie Raines came through at 5:00.91.

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Johnson stayed with Sisson through 3000. But after 12 straight laps in the 37s, Sisson increased the pace ever so slightly and ran two straight 36s, which was enough to drop Johnson who was obviously working hard just to hang on up to that point. Johnson got dropped roughly 9:25 into this one as Sisson hit 3200 in 9:54.31 and 4800 in 14:54.00 (so Sisson went 4:56.69, 4:57.62, 4:59.69). This one was never in doubt.

*Lap by Lap Splits

Quick Take #1: Sisson came through as the heavy favorite

When you’ve run 8 seconds faster this season than anyone else in the field and more than 35 seconds faster than all but four women in the field, you deserve to be the heavy favorite. Sisson delivered on that label.

She said she’ll come back for the 3k “for fun” and said there were no expectations on her in that race. She can’t downplay it to us. We are fully expecting Sisson to challenge for the 3000 title. The 3000 is far from a cakewalk. If Arkansas’ Dominique Scott, who split 4:28 to win the DMR for Arkansas, runs it (she’s entered and the Hogs are ranked #1 by the USTFCCCA as a team) it could be a great battle.

Sisson has been tremendous this year and admitted that challenging the 15:00 barrier is a possibility. She is in the MBA program and living off campus for the first-time and her running-life balance is paying dividends.

Quick Take #2: Rachel Johnson Had to Focus to Get Second

Johnson said it was tough going over the final 2k after Sisson dropped her, but she was pleased with how she ran, shaving .10 off her indoor pb (missing her overall pb by one second) and taking second overall, her highest finish at an NCAA championships.

Quick Take #3: Sarah Disanza Was Happy with Her Close Despite Battling Injuries This Indoor Season

Disanza, who burst onto the scene with her second-place finish at NCAA XC in November, ran a blazing 15:20 on December 6, but developed an Achilles injury over winter break that severely limited her training this year. She said that she did a ton of cross training in January and February and was alternating two days of running and one day of biking for much of the season. Her mileage was a fraction of what it would ideally have been and it was only during the last two weeks that she started to run a decent amount.

Disanza and coach Jill Miller took her recovery very slowly as neither wanted any setbacks (she ran the 3000 at Big 10s in flats) and it’s a credit to Disanza’s talent and toughness that she was able to close so well over the final 200 (32.66, the fastest lap of the race by any runner) and win a three-way battle for 3rd. Disanza said that her Achilles is feeling close to 100% now. She’s looking forward to running the 1500 and 5k outdoors and is excited to see what the future holds.

Quick Take #4: Not a Good Day for Liv Westphal

Coming into this race, there were 5 women who had broken 15:50 on the year as the top seeds were as follows:

1    443 Emily Sisson                  SR Providence         15:12.22
2    621 Sarah Disanza                 FR Wisconsin          15:20.57
3     87 Liv Westphal                  JR Boston College     15:31.62
4     78 Rachel Johnson                SR Baylor             15:40.45
5    558 Courtney Frerichs             SR UMKC               15:48.12

All of those top seeds were in the top five (Sisson won, Disanza was third, Johnson was second, Frerichs was fifth) except for Westphal, who was 9th in 16:00.56.

*Day1 Distance Photo Gallery Results:

Place Name Affiliation Time
1 Emily Sisson SR Providence 15:32.15
2 Rachel Johnson SR Baylor 15:40.35
3 Sarah Disanza FR Wisconsin 15:47.32
4 Chelsea Blaase SO Tennessee 15:47.52
5 Courtney Frerichs SR UMKC 15:47.56
6 Molly Seidel SO Notre Dame 15:48.31
7 Diane Robison SR Arkansas 15:52.07
8 Sandie Raines SO Texas 15:55.59
9 Liv Westphal JR Boston College 16:00.56
10 Megan Curham SO Princeton 16:07.46
11 Emily Stites JR William and Mary 16:08.39
12 Elvin Kibet SR Arizona 16:12.14
13 Christina Melian JR Stony Brook 16:17.26
14 Tansey Lystad JR Portland 16:19.50
15 Molly Grabill JR Oregon 16:26.38
Mara Olson SR Butler DNF


Men’s 5k: Eric Jenkins is Finally an NCAA Champ

Oregon senior Eric Jenkins put the hammer down and went to the lead just before 4k and got the win by pulling away from Arkansas’ Kemoy Campbell over the final 200 thanks to a super last lap of 26.80 (as he won in 13:48.36 to Campbell’s 13:49.55). In the process, Jenkins erased the negative memories he had from the last time he raced on this track — in 2013 he was DQ’d after initially having the biggest breakthrough of his career (7:46) and crossing the line second at NCAAs in the 3k.

Oregon’s Parker Stinson was 3rd in 13:52.79 and Oregon’s Will Geoghegan was 7th in 13;56.11 to pick up valuable points for Oregon in the team race, but Geoghegan was a little disappointed as he was 4th entering the final 400.

The Race

After a slow opening 2000 (5:48.05 for Jenkins after the leaders hit 1600 in a pedestrian 4:37), the pace started getting faster at 2k thanks to some front-running by a number of guys including Texas’ Craig Lutz and Colorado’s Morgan Pearson (neither of whom would score).

In the end, Jenkins, a 13:18/7:44 performer, was pretty darn good over the latter stages of the race. In addition to closing in 26.80, he ran his last 400 in 56.15, his last 1k in 2:29.33 and his last 3k in 8:00.29.

With that type of squeeze, it was no surprise that it was down to a two-person race with 400 to go. Campbell, with the home crowd’s support, did his best to try to take down Jenkins and become Jamaica’s first NCAA distance champ, but in the end, Jenkins was just too good.

“[My plan was to] wait as long as possible. With just over a half mile to go, make my move and don’t look back,” said Jenkins on ESPN3 after the race. “I know he (Campbell) has a good kick — he’s fast — so I wanted to make sure I didn’t have it come down to the [very end].”

*Lap by Lap Splits

Eric Jenkins was pumped (click for photo gallery) Eric Jenkins was pumped (click for photo gallery)

Quick Take #1: Eric Jenkins Had to Wait a Long Time for His First National Title

Jenkins went through two coaches at Northeastern, was DQ’d at NCAA Indoors in the 3000 in 2013 (nullifying a 7:46 PR and second-place finish), and then transferred to Oregon where he played second fiddle to Edward Cheserek during all of 2014. He accomplished a tremendous amount before tonight (pbs of 7:44/13:18, runner-up finish at NCAA XC) and though the focus for Oregon at NCAAs is always on the team, Jenkins deserves some recognition for his individual title.

He said it was nice to finally be in a race where he didn’t have to get second to teammate Edward Cheserek and Jenkins looked like a stud over the final 1000 meters, closing in 2:29.33 with a 26.80 last lap that finally broke Campbell.

Consider this: no American man had won an NCAA title at a distance longer than 1500 meters (indoor/outdoor/cross country) since Elliott Heath accomplished the feat at 3000 meters in 2011. Jenkins ended the streak tonight, and he’s got a chance to add to his title tomorrow night in the 3000.

Quick Take #2: The Men of Oregon Were Pleased with 18 Points in the Team Race

Oregon went 1-3 for the second year in a row, with Jenkins switching in for Cheserek and Parker Stinson once again taking third, capturing six big points in the team battle. Will Geoghegan, who was fifth in the indoor mile last year running for Dartmouth, was disappointed to finish seventh tonight in the 5k but has a chance to make amends as the second seed in the 3k tomorrow night. Overall, the Ducks are in a good spot in the team race right now. They have 32 points after being projected at just 27, as weight thrower Greg Skipper came up big and finished fifth (after being seeded ninth). Oregon has athletes in just two events tomorrow, but the Ducks can still score a lot of points (they have three guys in the mile final and five in the 3k).

Quick Take #3: Kemoy Campbell Is Back

Campbell battled an Achilles injury for much of 2014 and it caused him to miss almost all of the indoor and outdoor seasons (he ran just one race in each). He got back to racing in cross country last fall, but before that he said he was essentially starting from scratch as he had missed so much time. Campbell felt that put him at a disadvantage compared to some of the other men on the field tonight, but was happy with how he performed in front of the home crowd, giving credit to Jenkins on a deserved win.

Campbell will be back in the 3k tomorrow, where he will again try to break up an Oregon 1-2 finish, though he added that his legs are going to be tired after a hard race tonight.

*Day 2 Photo Gallery Here



Place Name Affiliation Time
1 Eric Jenkins SR Oregon 13:48.36
2 Kemoy Campbell SR Arkansas 13:49.55
3 Parker Stinson SR Oregon 13:52.79
4 Jason Witt SR BYU 13:53.64
5 Marc Scott SO Tulsa 13:54.25
6 Pierce Murphy JR Colorado 13:54.36
7 Will Geoghegan SR Oregon 13:56.11
8 Thomas Curtin JR Virginia Tech 13:57.87
9 Mark Parrish SR Florida 14:01.21
10 Ammar Moussa JR Colorado 14:01.22
11 Craig Lutz JR Texas 14:12.88
12 Aaron Nelson JR Washington 14:13.90
13 Shaun Thompson SR Duke 14:16.23
14 Morgan Pearson JR Colorado 14:16.63
15 Brandon Lord SR Georgia 14:16.73
16 Kevin Lewis SR Iowa 14:22.92



Screenshots below from ESPN3 Broadcast.

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