Men’s 800, 1500 and Steeple Prelim Recaps: The 800 Final is Loaded, The 1500 Final is Wide Open and There Are Two Big Boys In The Steeple

  • submit to reddit

June 10, 2015

EUGENE, Ore. — Day 1 of the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships is in the books. Below we recap the men’s 800, 1500 and steeple prelims for you. Our recap of the Oregon men’s controversial 1-2 finish in the men’s 10,000 final is here.

800 – The Big Boys Move On As Dylan Capwell and Craig Engels Go Home

The big favorites for the 800 crown — reigning indoor champ Edward Kemboi of Iowa State, reigning outdoor champ Brandon McBride of Mississippi St. and the nation’s two fastest guys on the year coming in, Brannon Kidder of Penn State and Shaquille Walker of BYU — all advanced to the final but there were a few casualties as indoor runner-up Dylan Capwell of Monmouth and Ole Miss’s Craig Engels (4th-fastest sb of anyone racing today) didn’t advance.

Heat #1
Heat one was the heat of death as it featured the NCAA #1 and #2 in Brannon Kidder of Penn State (1:45.58 sb) and BYU’s Shaquille Walker (1:45.78 sb) and the indoor champ in Iowa State’s Edward Kemboi with only the top two finishers advancing to the final automatically. All three would end up moving on.

UCLA’s Nick Hartle led the first 400 in a quick 51.62 with Walker and Kemboi in second and third. At 600, however it was the nation’s #1 in Kidder and #2 in Walker that were in front with Kemboi just behind. Halfway down the homstretch, Kemboi shot to the lead with an inside move that took him from third to first and he’d go on to win convincingly in 1:45.58 – equal to the national leader of Kidder. It also was the first 1:45 clocking for Kemboi ever outdoors (he ran 1:46.06 as a frosh and ran 1:45.98 indoors this year). Kidder held on for second with Walker advancing to the final on time in 3rd. Collins Kibet was a distant 4th in 1:47.11 but would make the final on time.

14084Edward KemboiIowa State1:45.58 Q25.30 [25.30]51.85 [26.56]1:19.29 [27.45]1:45.58 [26.30]
28117Brannon KidderPenn State1:45.95 Q25.51 [25.51]52.15 [26.65]1:19.10 [26.96]1:45.95 [26.85]
31695Shaquille WalkerBYU1:46.24q25.25 [25.25]51.78 [26.54]1:19.08 [27.30]1:46.24 [27.17]
4603Collins KibetArizona1:47.11q25.60 [25.60]52.43 [26.84]1:19.85 [27.42]1:47.11 [27.27]
55772Goaner DengMinnesota1:47.3225.44 [25.44]52.36 [26.92]1:19.36 [27.01]1:47.32 [27.96]
63366Charles GrethenGeorgia1:48.6725.97 [25.97]52.03 [26.07]1:19.68 [27.65]1:48.67 [29.00]
710471Nick HartleUCLA1:49.7325.18 [25.18]51.64 [26.47]1:19.56 [27.92]1:49.73 [30.18]
82788Ryan SchnulleFlorida1:51.7325.63 [25.63]52.53 [26.91]1:20.79 [28.27]1:51.73 [30.94]

Heat #2
Despite the fact the opening 400 was slow (53.30), Florida sophomore Andres Arroyo had a three-meter gap on the field. He soon was joined by Capwell on the backstretch as those two had close to 10 meters on everyone else at 500. By 600, Binghamton’s Jessse Garn had joined the top two and would take the heat victory in 1:47.68. Arroyo would outduel Capwell, the indoor runner-up, for the final auto spot 1:48.08 to 1:48.14. Capwell wouldn’t advance on time.

11465Jesse GarnBinghamton1:47.68 Q26.14 [26.14]54.43 [28.29]1:21.18 [26.76]1:47.68 [26.50]
22696Andres ArroyoFlorida1:48.08 Q25.81 [25.81]53.31 [27.50]1:20.80 [27.49]1:48.08 [27.28]
36274Dylan CapwellMonmouth1:48.1425.98 [25.98]53.63 [27.65]1:20.64 [27.01]1:48.14 [27.51]
410793Robert FordUSC1:48.6726.12 [26.12]54.33 [28.22]1:21.71 [27.38]1:48.67 [26.96]
53227Joseph WhiteGeorgetown1:49.0125.92 [25.92]54.06 [28.15]1:21.78 [27.72]1:49.01 [27.24]
69832Josh HernandezTexas A&M1:49.6125.91 [25.91]53.72 [27.82]1:21.38 [27.66]1:49.61 [28.24]
710211Simon GreinerTulsa1:49.8826.29 [26.29]54.58 [28.30]1:22.17 [27.59]1:49.88 [27.72]
86198Holland SherrerMississippi1:52.9826.23 [26.23]54.65 [28.43]1:22.99 [28.34]1:52.98 [30.00]

Heat #3
The defending champ Brandon McBride led by three meters at 400 in 51.79. He was followed by Craig Engels of Ole Miss. Those two seemed to have the two spots locked up until the final meters as Akron’s Clayton Murphy, who was third indoors, came up late to steal the final spot from Engels as the top three were almost in a blanket finish.

15944Brandon McBrideMiss State1:47.28 Q25.43 [25.43]51.79 [26.37]1:19.30 [27.51]1:47.28 [27.99]
2216Clayton MurphyAkron1:47.29 Q25.51 [25.51]52.32 [26.82]1:19.73 [27.42]1:47.29 [27.56]
36137Craig EngelsMississippi1:47.3325.71 [25.71]52.10 [26.40]1:19.53 [27.44]1:47.33 [27.80]
411485Jesse JorgensenWashington St.1:47.4525.54 [25.54]52.36 [26.82]1:19.69 [27.34]1:47.45 [27.77]
51381Brandon MooreBaylor1:48.3525.63 [25.63]52.62 [27.00]1:20.12 [27.50]1:48.35 [28.24]
611852Harry FisherWyoming1:48.9326.07 [26.07]53.29 [27.23]1:21.06 [27.77]1:48.93 [27.88]
74893Chris LowLong Beach St.1:49.7225.91 [25.91]52.98 [27.08]1:21.07 [28.09]1:49.72 [28.66]
88548Brandon HazouriSamford1:51.6325.89 [25.89]52.83 [26.95]1:21.27 [28.44]1:51.63 [30.37]

Quick Thought #1: Kemboi was justifiably pumped to finally get a 1:45 outdoor pb. Check out his seasonal bests dating to his freshman year at Iowa State.

2011: 1:46.06
2012: 1:46.20
2014: 1:46.14
2015: 1:46.17 (before today)

Quick Thought #2:Brandon McBride has won 2 NCAA titles but he knows #3 will be tough with this arguably one of the best years in terms of depth in the NCAA 800 ever.

McBride knows this field is historically good (four sub-1:46 guys coming into NCAAs, a 5th ran it today). His plan is to come back to the track tomorrow to watch the Mississippi St. women and then be back for the final Friday.

Quick Thought #3: Arroyo is dreaming of the team title.

Andres Arroyo of Florida made his first NCAA final and said getting as many points as possible is important for the Gatos in the team title chase.

Post-race interview with Capwell:

Post-race interview with Murphy:

Men’s 1500: Robby Creese and Thomas Joyce Go Home; Cristian Soratos and Jordan Williamsz Advance As Time Qualifiers

The two biggest casualties not making it to the final were the NCAAs second- and fourth-fastest men in 2015, Robby Creese of Penn State (3:39.02 sb) and Thomas Joyce of Cal (3:39.43 sb). Creese’s failure to advance wasn’t a big surprise as he struggled at Regionals and was the last qualifier to Eugene.

Heat 1
The pace in this one was honest for the first 300 but the pack slowed down in the middle of the race, covering 300 to 700 in 65.52. Colorado’s Ben Saarel took the lead on the penultimate lap and sped up the pace slightly (62.02 for 700 to 1100), though he didn’t go fast enough to drop anyone in the 12-man field. As a result, there was some bumping in the tightly-packed field and as they hit the bell (2:52.17), Pac-12 champion Izaic Yorks of Washington was tripped up and fell into lane 3, causing several runners to dodge him (Wisconsin’s Joe Hardy was later DQ’ed, presumably for his involvement in Yorks’ fall and Yorks was placed into the final as a 13th runner).

The kicking really got going heading on to the backstretch as 2013 NCAA runner-up Zach Perkins of Air Force took the lead. Perkins looked strong for the rest of the race and held the lead until the finish, using a 53.17 last lap to win it in 3:45.63.

Peter Callahan of New Mexico, the top returner from last year, was not in great position late in the race, as he was several meters behind Perkins entering the final turn with a lot of work to do. But Callahan closed well over the final 200 and moved up to grab one of the five auto spots in fourth, along with Oregon’s Daniel Winn (second), Wake Forest’s Kyle Graves (third; his last lap of 53.00 was the best in the field) and Villanova’s Robert Denault.


1128Zach PerkinsAir Force3:45.63 Q45.03 [45.03]1:50.44 [1:05.42]2:52.47 [1:02.03]3:45.63 [53.17]
27991Daniel WinnOregon3:45.78 Q44.82 [44.82]1:50.23 [1:05.42]2:52.26 [1:02.03]3:45.78 [53.53]
311303Kyle GravesWake Forest3:45.94 Q45.75 [45.75]1:51.12 [1:05.38]2:52.94 [1:01.82]3:45.94 [53.00]
46665Peter CallahanNew Mexico3:46.19 Q45.48 [45.48]1:50.81 [1:05.34]2:52.55 [1:01.75]3:46.19 [53.64]
511074Robert DenaultVillanova3:46.22 Q45.28 [45.28]1:50.72 [1:05.44]2:52.64 [1:01.93]3:46.22 [53.58]
661210Robert DomanicMississippi3:46.2745.24 [45.24]1:50.39 [1:05.15]2:52.28 [1:01.89]3:46.27 [54.00]
73859Rorey HunterIndiana3:46.4345.53 [45.53]1:50.95 [1:05.43]2:52.86 [1:01.91]3:46.43 [53.57]
85256Jakub ZivecMaryland3:46.8245.33 [45.33]1:50.67 [1:05.34]2:52.71 [1:02.05]3:46.82 [54.12]
922212Ben SaarelColorado3:47.0745.11 [45.11]1:50.58 [1:05.47]2:52.17 [1:01.60]3:47.07 [54.90]
103232Cole WilliamsGeorgetown3:48.3144.86 [44.86]1:50.27 [1:05.41]2:52.65 [1:02.38]3:48.31 [55.66]
11113711Izaic YorksWashington3:56.3544.62 [44.62]1:50.11 [1:05.50]2:52.43 [1:02.32]3:56.35 [1:03.93]
DQ11817Joe HardyWisconsin44.59 [44.59]1:50.39 [1:05.81]2:52.44 [1:02.05]3:51.56 [59.12]

Quick Take #1: Top Returner Peter Callahan Feels that He Is Ahead of Where He Was Last Year

Callahan left it late in this one, but he’s shown in the past that his kick is among the best in the NCAA (he was 4th in the 1500 last year and anchored Princeton to a DMR title in 2013). He said he feels stronger than he did last year and though he has yet to match his 3:39.27 PR from last summer, he ran 3:40.37 prior to regionals, over two seconds faster than he did heading into regionals last year (3:42.62).

Quick Take #2: Colorado’s Ben Saarel will be doing some soul-searching after this one

For the second straight year, former prep phenom Ben Saarel failed to make the final at NCAAs. He had no excuses in this one as he had the lead with 300 to go and admitted that the guys who beat him were just better than him today.

After the race, a contemplative Saarel said he had some soul-searching coming up.

“I think I need to sit down and figure out for myself what I want to do with my running career – how good do I want to be and what do I need to do to get better,” said Saarel, who ran 4:02 in HS. “Hopefully I can find a solution and a way to get better or if I’ve tapped out [my potential] I’ve had a good run while I was at it, but I’d definitely like to get better.”

Quick Take #3: It looked like Hardy may have pushed Yorks at the bell, causing him to be DQ’ed

Hardy lost his balance and almost fell as he entered the homestretch of the penultimate lap, and Yorks was the one who tripped him. 100 meters later, Hardy may have had that on his mind as he battled for position and it looked like he initiated contact with Yorks with his right arm that caused him to go down. Hardq was DQd and Yorks later put into the final

Heat 2
After a first 400 of 60.15, NCAA indoor mile runner-up Cristian Soratos used a toned-down version of the move he used in that NCAA indoor race, dropping a 56-second second 400 to string out the field. Soratos still led at the bell (2:41.56) as it became clear that all of the time qualifiers were going to come from this heat. On the backstretch, Soratos began to fade slightly and Mountain West champion David Elliott of Boise State went to the lead. He would hold it for the remainder of the race and won it in 3:40.44, a PR of over a second. To show how much faster the early laps were in this one compared to heat 1, Elliott closed in 58.71 compared to heat 1 winner Perkins in 53.17.

Soratos didn’t look great after surrendering the lead and there was some uncertainty about whether he and Villanova’s Jordy Williamsz would hold on in the final 100 and qualify as the field was gaining on them quickly. But both of them had done enough early work to gain a cushion and, knowing the first heat had gone slowly (and that only a top-seven finish would be required to advance), they were able to grab the two time qualifiers in sixth (Soratos) and seventh (Williamsz). Behind Elliott, Oregon’s Blake Haney and Johnny Gregorek both closed well to grab the second two auto qualifiers, ahead of NC State’s Graham Crawford (4th) and Oklahoma State’s Chad Noelle (5th).

11514David ElliottBoise State3:40.44 Q45.53 [45.53]1:43.46 [57.93]2:41.74 [58.28]3:40.44 [58.71]
27882Blake HaneyOregon3:40.81 Q45.37 [45.37]1:43.55 [58.18]2:41.98 [58.44]3:40.81 [58.84]
37876Johnny GregorekOregon3:40.89 Q46.05 [46.05]1:44.30 [58.25]2:42.55 [58.26]3:40.89 [58.34]
468412Graham CrawfordNorth Carolina St.3:40.91 Q46.37 [46.37]1:44.75 [58.38]2:43.88 [59.13]3:40.91 [57.04]
57557Chad NoelleOklahoma State3:40.91 Q45.40 [45.40]1:43.18 [57.79]2:42.02 [58.85]3:40.91 [58.89]
66323Cristian SoratosMontana State3:41.15q45.17 [45.17]1:42.78 [57.62]2:41.56 [58.79]3:41.15 [59.60]
711091Jordan WilliamszVillanova3:41.42q45.20 [45.20]1:43.35 [58.15]2:41.84 [58.49]3:41.42 [59.59]
880910Robby CreesePenn State3:42.0945.79 [45.79]1:44.05 [58.27]2:42.98 [58.93]3:42.09 [59.11]
93898David TimlinIndiana State3:42.2246.18 [46.18]1:45.05 [58.87]2:43.89 [58.85]3:42.22 [58.33]
1061411Trevor GilleyMississippi3:46.9345.81 [45.81]1:44.19 [58.39]2:43.39 [59.20]3:46.93 [1:03.55]
111855Thomas JoyceCalifornia3:48.4345.61 [45.61]1:44.01 [58.41]2:44.00 [59.99]3:48.43 [1:04.43]
1211179Henry WynneVirginia3:50.9144.98 [44.98]1:43.82 [58.85]2:44.15 [1:00.33]3:50.91 [1:06.77]

Quick Take #1: Don’t give much significance that Williamsz was the final time qualifier – he knew seven were getting in and was taking it easy.

Williamsz, who took down Edward Cheserek at Penn Relays, came into the race as one of the favorites but left the semis as the final time qualifier. But he said he knew seven guys were advancing out his heat as his heat was close to 10 seconds ahead of the first heat at 800.

When asked if he considers himself the favorite, Williamsz said his mindset was to consider all 24 guys in the field as the favorite.

Quick Take #2: Moving Down to the 1500 Has Worked Well for David Elliott

Heat 2 was definitely the more difficult heat on paper, but that didn’t faze Elliott, who says he didn’t pay attention to the start list and wanted to just go out and race. Elliott, who said he likes to fly under the radar (he didn’t escape us — we labeled him as a sleeper coming into this race), was a little surprised by his victory and says that in the final, all he wants to do is put himself in good position with 100 to go and race it in from there.

Elliott was mainly a 5k/10k runner the past two years but after he ran 3:41 at the Bryan Clay Invitational on April 17, his coach Corey Ihmels said he should consider moving down to the 1500. Ihmels usually moves athletes up in distance, not down, Elliott said, but a 1:49.48 800 two weeks later at a Boise State home meet showed that he had great speed. From there, they decided to focus on the 1500 and a win at the Mountain West champs (over Callahan and Perkins) confirmed the decision. Now he’s the fastest qualifier at the NCAA championships.

QT #3: Soratos Back from Injury Likes to Run a Bit Like Prefontaine

Cristian Soratos talked in more detail about the injury he had earlier outdoors. He had a problem with his toe that caused him to not run and have to cross train for 2.5-3 weeks. He said now he feels he’s in as good as shape as he was indoors where he got second in the mile.

He was a time qualifier here for the final but he said coming in at the end he knew he would qualify. He said, “I looked at the time and I knew we were going to be well beyond what the first heat ran… I knew from there if I wasn’t top five I would make it in by time. So I wasn’t too worried at the end.”

As for the final, he wouldn’t reveal his strategy. He has good speed having split 48 in the quarter, but as he showed indoors in the final he loves to push the pace. He didn’t mention Steve Prefontaine name’s but Pre would no doubt be proud about this comment, “I don’t like how distance running has become a jog and sprint fest. That’s not really what distance running is to me. To me it’s who can run as hard as they can for as long as they can and really push their limits so that’s what I try and do out there.”

Steeplechase: Stanley Kebenei and Anthony Rotich Advance With Ease

The two big favorites in the men’s steeple both won their heats to set up a mouth-watering clash between American Stanley Kebenei of Arkansas and two-time defending champ Anthony Rotich of UTEP/Kenya.

We present the results and then share a few quick thoughts below. Lap by lap splits and individual heat results here.

PlaceNameAffiliationTimeHeat (Pl)
1Anthony RotichSRUTEP8:40.52Q1 (1)
2Dylan LafondJRIllinois8:41.11Q1 (2)
3Zak SeddonJRFlorida State8:41.12Q1 (3)
4Steve FlintSRBYU8:41.18Q1 (4)
5Brandon DoughtyJROklahoma8:41.26Q1 (5)
6Mark ParrishSRFlorida8:41.32q1 (6)
7Stanley KebeneiSRArkansas8:42.07Q2 (1)
8Darren FahySOGeorgetown8:42.24Q2 (2)
9Ole HesselbjergSREastern Kentucky8:42.52Q2 (3)
10Mason FerlicJRMichigan8:42.78Q2 (4)
11Mike HardySRWeber State8:43.51Q2 (5)
12Edwin KibichiySOLouisville8:43.53q2 (6)
13Tanguy PepiotSROregon8:43.752 (7)
14Bryce MillerSOUMKC8:44.891 (7)
15Ryan GilSOGeorgetown8:46.622 (8)
16Jackson NeffSROhio State8:52.201 (8)
17Stuart RobertsonSOVirginia Tech8:53.541 (9)
18Kyle KingJRVirginia8:54.442 (9)
19John PrizziSRNew Hampshire8:55.661 (10)
20Tripp HurtSRFurman8:56.011 (11)
21Meron SimonJRWashington8:56.572 (10)
22Trac NorrisJRUtah Valley8:57.372 (11)
23Connor WinterJRColorado9:04.371 (12)
Emil BlombergSRUT-ArlingtonDNF2,

Quick Take #1: Stanley Kebenei’s Calf Didn’t Bother Him and He’s Motivated to Avenge a Fall on the Final Barrier Last Year

Kebenei developed a calf injury at the Husky Classic during the indoor season (February 14) and said that it’s been nagging him ever since. Heading into regionals, he thought it was gone, but it flared up again during the steeplechase and he decided to scratch from the 5,000 (which was run after the steeple and in which he had also entered). Usually that would mean that Kebenei wouldn’t be able to advance to NCAAs — in any event — but in the case of an injury, an athlete can advance if he’s cleared by the meet doctor which Kebenei said was the case there. A doctor back in Fayetteville cleared Kebenei to compete at nationals, and he said the calf didn’t bother him today but that he’ll ice it to make sure it doesn’t flare up between now and Friday’s final.

Kebenei said that he’s feeling extra motivated to win this year after falling on the final barrier and placing second last year.

Quick Take: Anthony Rotich said he’s ready to go but didn’t want to make a time prediction for the final

Rotich said he’s feeling great about his speed right now and also thinks he’s got good strength given his 13:31 pb in the 5000. Speed+strength; what is there not to like? Not much.

Quick Take #3: Michigan’s Mason Ferlic isn’t conceding the title to Rotich and Kebenei.

Ferlic, who was 4th last year in 8:38, said he thinks his plan for the final is to go out with Rotich and Kebenei and see if he can hang. He thinks he can given the fact he’s already run 8:35 this year.

Additional interview with Florida’s Mark Parrish and Oregon’s Tanguy Pepiot appear below.