NCAA 5,000 Previews: Oregon’s Eric Jenkins & Providence’s Emily Sisson Are The Heavy Favorites
March 10, 2015
The 2015 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships will be held on Friday and Saturday at the University of Arkansas’ Randal Tyson Track Center.
To get you ready for the action, this week we’re previewing the mid-d and distance events (800, mile, 3000, 5000 and distance medley relay) one-by-one. Below, you can find the previews of the men’s and women’s 5000.
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TV/Streaming: The meet will be streamed live on ESPN3.com
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NCAA distance predictions
Men’s 5000 (Friday 9:45 p.m. ET)
Name Year School Seed =============================================================================== 1 423 Eric Jenkins SR Oregon 13:31.76 2 599 Thomas Curtin JR Virginia Tech 13:38.56 3 425 Parker Stinson SR Oregon 13:38.68 4 111 Pierce Murphy JR Colorado 13:39.29 5 513 Craig Lutz JR Texas 13:40.30 6 159 Mark Parrish SR Florida 13:41.87 7 94 Jason Witt SR BYU 13:42.08 8 421 Will Geoghegan SR Oregon 13:43.22 9 112 Morgan Pearson JR Colorado 13:43.37 10 224 Kevin Lewis SR Iowa 13:43.70 11 194 Brandon Lord SR Georgia 13:43.92 12 58 Kemoy Campbell SR Arkansas 13:44.96 13 133 Shaun Thompson SR Duke 13:47.22 14 616 Aaron Nelson JR Washington 13:47.42 15 552 Marc Scott SO Tulsa 13:47.96 16 110 Ammar Moussa JR Colorado 13:48.34
Despite pbs of 7:44 and 13:18, Eric Jenkins has yet to win an NCAA title. Part of that is unavoidable poor timing — he was second at indoor NCAAs in 2013 (before he was DQ’ed) behind Lawi Lalang and finished as the runner-up to teammate Edward Cheserek in cross country last fall. Lalang and Cheserek are two of the greatest runners to come through the NCAA system, and it’s not hard to imagine an alternate reality in which Jenkins is born a few years earlier and owns multiple NCAA titles.
This time, there’s no Cheserek, no Lalang and no reason for Jenkins not to claim his NCAA crown. He enters as the top seed in the 5000, almost seven seconds ahead of #2 Thomas Curtin of Virginia Tech, and he’s likely in even better shape now than he was at the time of that 13:31 on January 23 (which, it should be noted, he closed in 2:32 for the final kilometer). Plus he’s got the best pedigree of anyone in the field – Jenkins has by far the fastest 5k pb in the field (13:18 outdoors) – and the best or second-best speed (3:58.11 mile pb; only teammate Will Geoghegan is faster — barely — at 3:58.04) and the best championship experience (fourth in the 5k outdoors, second in cross country). It will be a BIG surprise if he does not win this race.
Who could upset him? Curtin is the #2 seed and has lost only once this season, in a race in which he ran 2:26 for 1000 meters — not a bad time for a 5k guy. But he’s never faced competition like this before (first NCAA track appearance) and only has a 4:09 mile/3:51 1500 pb. He seems poised for a good race but doesn’t yet have the credentials of an NCAA champ. Colorado’s Pierce Murphy won the deepest 5000 of the year at the Husky Classic on February 13 (six of the qualifiers came from that race) and though he did beat Anthony Rotich in that race, Murphy traditionally hasn’t been a big player on the track (like Curtin, this is his first NCAA track appearance).
Considering how badly Jenkins dropped Parker Stinson (3rd in this race last year) and Will Geoghegan (5th in the mile last year) when the three raced at 5000 earlier this season in Kentucky, it seems unlikely that they’d take down Jenkins in this race, but weirder things have happened. Geoghegan was a lot closer to Jenkins when both raced the 3000 at Millrose and if he is to defeat Jenkins at NCAAs, that is probably the race in which he will do it.
If Geoghegan doesn’t upset Jenkins, the guy most likely to pull off the upset is Arkansas’ Kemoy Campbell of Jamaica. Campbell has been running very well in 2015 (3k/5k wins at SECs, the latter in 13:44) and with a runner-up finish in the 3k two years ago, he does have NCAA experience. He’s got great speed for a 5k guy as well (1:49, 3:41). Remember, Campbell ran 3:42 for 1500 way back in 2008 as a 17-year-old. And he’s got one of the better 5k PRs at 13:32.82.
Texas’ Craig Lutz has had some success at NCAAs in the past (3rd in the 10,000 in 2013) and could be a factor as well.
It will be interesting to see if Oregon runs with any team tactics in this one. Given that Jenkins and Geoghegan (5th in mile last year) have some of the best mile speed of anyone in this field — and the fact that both they (and Stinson) will be doubling back in the 3k the next night — will they try to keep the pace slow? Hard to say as a slow pace wouldn’t help Stinson (3:53 1500 pb).
What will the rest of the field do? In cross country last fall, whenever a dominant force such as Cheserek (not in this race) or the Colorado men were around, many teams keyed off them rather than trying to force the pace. Will this NCAA field bow in similar fashion?
A couple guys who might want the pace to go fast are Campbell and Florida’s Mark Parrish — or at least their coaches. Both of their teams are in the hunt for the team title, and if they can make the three Ducks in this race as tired as possible, that might decrease their chances of scoring big points in the 3000 the next day. Of course it’s possible that even if this race is won in the 13:30s, the Oregon guys come back and rock the 3000 on Saturday.
LRC Prediction: Geoghegan and Campbell can try to make this interesting but Eric Jenkins deserves to be an NCAA champion and will be after this one is over.
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Women’s 5000 (Friday 9:25 p.m. ET)
Name Year School Seed =============================================================================== 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 6 492 Chelsea Blaase SO Tennessee 15:50.40 7 504 Sandie Raines SO Texas 15:50.49 8 51 Diane Robison SR Arkansas 15:50.88 9 441 Tansey Lystad JR Portland 15:51.12 10 619 Emily Stites JR William and 15:53.59 11 384 Molly Seidel SO Notre Dame 15:54.45 12 90 Mara Olson SR Butler 15:55.76 13 408 Molly Grabill JR Oregon 15:59.64 14 482 Christina Melian JR Stony Brook 16:00.14 15 442 Megan Curham SO Princeton 16:01.51 16 34 Elvin Kibet SR Arizona 16:02.54
As in the men’s race, the women’s 5000 at NCAAs features a commanding favorite shooting for her first individual NCAA title. Emily Sisson of Providence redshirted during the outdoor season and didn’t have cross country eligibility last fall (though she did finish second at the .US 12k Champs in November). Now that she’s back in a Friars uniform, she’s taking no prisoners, ripping through the NCAA and leaving a trail of destruction in her wake. She opened things up with a very impressive 15:21 5000 in December (finishing behind only NCAA XC runner-up Sarah Disanza) and in her two races in 2015, Sisson has challenged and eclipsed all-time NCAA marks, running the #5 3000 (8:52.60) at the Millrose Games on February 14 and following that up with an NCAA record in the 5000 (15:12.22) in an outstanding solo effort at Big Easts (while an NCAA record, it should be pointed out that the fastest time in NCAA history indoors our out came indoor on an oversized track (Jenny Barringer 15:01.70).
The path to an NCAA title seems clear for Sisson. NCAA XC champ Kate Avery of Iona didn’t run a 5000 all year and won’t run this meet at all. Disanza, the only woman to have beaten Sisson, has reportedly dealt with an injury in recent weeks and lost the 3000 by 15 seconds at Big 10s. The only other woman to break 15:40 this year, Boston College’s Liv Westphal, was just fifth in the 3000 at ACCs (and was fresh in that race). #4 seed Rachel Johnson of Baylor has been running well this year (she pulled off the 3k/5k double at Big 12s) but her personal best (15:39, from outdoors last year) is 27 seconds slower than Sisson’s. Had Disanza remained healthy throughout the season, this could have been a very exciting race between two of the all-time fastest NCAA runners indoors. But as it stands, Sisson is so much better than the rest of the field that it’s merely a question of when, not if, she breaks away in this race.
Johnson is the tentative favorite for second, though the hugely-talented Disanza — who, it’s worth noting, is just a redshirt freshman — is a threat if she’s managed to put together two weeks of healthy training following Big 10s. Arkansas’ Diane Robison, who was second behind teammate Dominique Scott in the SEC 3000, is also worth watching as a big performance from her could really help the Razorbacks in the team race.
LRC Prediction: This is the easiest race to call all weekend. Sisson FTW.
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Discuss the meet on our messageboard or see our other previews below:
- Will King Ches go down?
- NCAA distance predictions
- Men’s NCAA Div 1 Indoor Mile
- NCAA Women’s Indoor Mile….Who Ya Got?