October 15, 2016
The 2016 Pre-National Invitational went very much according to form on Saturday in Terre Haute, Ind., as the two highest ranked teams in the fields — the No. 4 Oregon men and the No. 2 Colorado women — rolled to victories. Oregon’s Edward Cheserek (23:34.7) and Michigan’s Erin Finn (19:44.7) both made statements in the individual races as Cheserek won by 21.4 seconds and Finn won by 23.7 seconds.
Results, recaps and analysis below.
Talk about the race on our fan forum / messageboard: MB: Official 2016 Wisco/Pre-Nats Discussion Thread
Men’s Race: Edward Cheserek Destroys the Field Over Final Three Kilometers
The race went out fairly conservatively and at 5k, a pack of nine men passed through at 15:06. At that point, it was a thoroughly international affair up front as the top 11 runners consisted of nine Kenyans and two Brits.
The race would not remain close for much longer as Cheserek, perhaps wanting to avoid a repeat of last year when he was caught unawares by Virginia Tech’s Thomas Curtin, made his move much earlier than normal, attacking the downhill just after the 5k mark and opening up a huge gap. No one even tried to go with him, and this one was over quickly as he ran his final three kilometers in a blazing 8:28, crossing in 23:34.7 to win at Pre-Nats for a second time. Arkansas’ Frankline Tonui was the best of the rest, finishing 21.4 seconds back in second place, while Cheserek’s Oregon sophomore teammate Matthew Maton earned top American honors in 24:07.7.
Cheserek is right on track to win an unprecedented fourth NCAA cross country crown as he told Flotrack after the race that today’s effort felt like a tempo run.
Men’s Team Results and Top 10 Individuals
|Place||Team (National rank)||Points||Places||Avg. Time||Spread|
|1||Oregon (#4)||85||1-4-18-26-36 (146)||24:15:00||1:04.1|
|2||Arkansas (#5)||110||2-12-14-29-53 (77) (99)||24:24:00||0:58.9|
|3||Colorado (#6)||124||15-24-27-28-30 (54) (66)||24:29:00||0:12.5|
|4||Michigan (#20)||200||8-13-49-58-72 (78) (236)||24:41:00||0:54.7|
|5||Indiana (#13)||255||31-37-38-51-98 (130) (160)||24:50:00||0:42.4|
|6||UTEP (#12)||258||9-10-32-71-136 (170)||24:44:00||1:21.0|
|7||Air Force||272||33-44-45-70-80 (105)||24:53:00||0:32.4|
|9||San Francisco||323||7-43-47-81-145 (147) (195)||24:55:00||1:27.5|
|10||California (RV)||331||25-39-84-88-95 (166) (196)||24:59:00||0:48.3|
|11||Furman||358||20-21-61-108-148 (176) (193)||24:58:00||1:15.8|
|12||Cal Poly||401||22-65-94-103-117 (197)||25:06:00||0:59.7|
|14||Utah State||454||11-52-92-122-177 (206) (219)||25:08:00||1:36.3|
|15||Ohio State||468||23-82-91-120-152 (155) (199)||25:12:00||1:15.0|
|17||Oklahoma||495||34-50-85-144-182 (208) (225)||25:15:00||1:16.9|
|18||Dartmouth (RV)||498||56-57-102-124-159 (175) (203)||25:17:00||0:47.0|
|19||Butler||516||73-97-106-111-129 (163) (164)||25:20:00||0:22.9|
|22||Eastern Kentucky (#15)||604||67-101-123-156-157 (184) (231)||25:27:00||0:39.7|
|23||Louisville (RV)||645||5-6-194-216-224 (259)||25:25:00||2:23.4|
|25||Florida||656||55-86-154-180-181 (183) (188)||25:31:00||0:57.3|
|26||IUPUI||658||19-87-112-213-227 (249) (251)||25:35:00||2:12.5|
|28||Dayton||700||63-118-151-178-190 (204) (238)||25:35:00||0:55.3|
|29||Wichita State||733||48-125-173-186-201 (220) (228)||25:38:00||1:13.4|
|30||Nebraska||744||89-131-161-174-189 (207) (222)||25:39:00||0:42.4|
|31||Utah Valley||750||60-109-165-169-247 (257) (258)||25:49:00||2:11.4|
|33||Arizona State||778||83-132-153-200-210 (232) (233)||25:44:00||1:03.9|
|35||Iowa||812||104-138-171-187-212 (223) (241)||25:47:00||0:54.5|
|36||Indiana State||818||96-100-143-237-242 (245) (246)||26:00:00||1:39.7|
|37||North Texas||913||126-149-191-218-229 (248) (252)||26:01:00||1:09.0|
|38||Bowling Green||918||140-172-179-192-235 (253)||26:01:00||1:09.0|
|40||Youngstown St.||1020||113-202-217-234-254 (255)||26:26:00||2:16.8|
Top 10 Individuals *Full Results Here
|7||Short, Alex||SR||San Francisco||24:11.2|
Quick Thought #1: Oregon is a national title contender, though Northern Arizona will still be No. 1 when the new coaches’ poll comes out
The Ducks ran a good race today, particularly Maton, who emerged as a potential second low stick at NCAAs. But NAU’s performance yesterday was better. NAU scored 78 to Oregon’s 85 today, and though there were more teams at Pre-Nats (40 vs. 30 at Wisconsin), there were far more ranked teams at Wisconsin (19 vs. 6 at Pre-Nats), which is more relevant when it comes to comparing point totals.
Northern Arizona also has more margin for error right now. NAU put all seven finishers in the top 60 at Wisconsin, while Oregon only had six men listed in the results (Austin Tamagno was not listed), with sixth man Bryan Fernandez way back in 149th.
Oregon already has an advantage over most NCAA teams in that it only has to score four runners at NCAAs (with Cheserek a virtual lock for the win), but top contenders NAU (Futsum Zienasellassie), Syracuse (Justyn Knight) and Stanford (Grant Fisher and Sean McGorty) all have guys who figure to finish in the top 10 as well. If Oregon is to win its first title since 2008, it needs Maton to keep running as a stud and the #3/#4/#5 guys to keep improving between now and November.
Quick Thought #2: The Colorado machine keeps grinding
The Buffaloes lost four guys from their 2015 NCAA runner-up squad, but they still managed to get third today and were only 14 points away from Arkansas in second. At this point, it’s no surprise — like New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, CU’s Mark Wetmore always manages to field a competitive team no matter the composition of the roster. But that doesn’t mean we should stop appreciating it. If you had told us that Colorado’s two returning All-Americans, John Dressel and Ben Saarel, would be their #3 and #4 guys today, we’d have predicted the Buffaloes would struggle. But sophomore Ryan Forsyth stepped up to lead the team in 15th and Colorado displayed impressive depth, putting all five scorers in the top 30 and finishing with the best #5/#6/#7 runners in the field.
The Buffs may not have the ammo at the front of the pack to contend for an NCAA crown (though Dressel and Saarel have shown the potential to get there by November), but this team is well-positioned for the next few years with only one senior in the top seven and stud recruits Eduardo Herrera and Phillip Rocha (who may end up redshirting this year) coming into the fold in 2017.
Quick Thought #3: Surprises and flops in the men’s team race
There weren’t a lot of shockers in this one. There were seven nationally ranked teams in the men’s race and six of those teams took the top six places, with the top three ranked teams going 1-2-3 in the order that they were ranked. The biggest surprise of that group was No. 20 Michigan finishing 4th.
Women’s Race: Erin Finn Puts on a Show
There was a large group of women together through one mile (5:25), at which point Finn began pushing the pace and stringing out the field. By just after two miles (10:44), it was down to Finn, Clemson’s Grace Barnett and Kansas’ Sharon Lokedi up front, but Finn was relentless and launched into another attack around 2.5 miles. She began to pull away quickly and was totally alone by the time she entered the home straight, pouring it on to win by 23.7 seconds in 19:44.7. 2015 champ Erin Clark of Colorado closed well to move up for second to lead the Buffaloes to a commanding team victory.
Women’s Team Results and Top 10 Individuals
|Place||Team (National rank)||Points||Places||Avg. Time||Spread|
|1||Colorado (#2)||93||2-12-17-26-36 (46) (76)||20:33||0:43.6|
|2||Oregon (#9)||154||6-13-34-48-53 (67) (98)||20:44||0:43.0|
|3||Michigan (#13)||179||1-22-49-51-56 (90) (93)||20:42||1:18.4|
|4||Portland (#5)||196||9-28-39-50-70 (108) (176)||20:51||0:48.6|
|5||Arkansas (#12)||225||7-27-52-65-74 (95) (117)||20:54||0:54.2|
|6||Stanford (#7)||229||24-29-41-47-88 (113) (122)||20:56||0:40.4|
|7||Eastern Michigan (#16)||255||18-32-43-68-94 (181) (231)||20:58||0:50.3|
|8||California (RV)||330||8-38-62-103-119 (162) (226)||21:06||1:16.3|
|9||Miss State (RV)||362||31-59-66-102-104 (229) (265)||21:13||0:43.9|
|10||Air Force||404||14-40-60-91-199 (251)||21:13||1:42.7|
|11||Cal Poly (RV)||477||3-87-116-130-141 (147) (211)||21:20||1:36.4|
|12||Missouri||479||4-92-96-127-160 (202) (273)||21:19||1:39.7|
|13||Kansas||492||10-58-86-165-173 (209) (215)||21:22||1:32.7|
|14||Florida (RV)||497||35-64-81-146-171 (179) (269)||21:25||1:06.2|
|15||Indiana (RV)||512||11-89-124-133-155 (182) (242)||21:25||1:25.9|
|16||Butler (RV)||518||15-55-111-125-212 (261) (275)||21:26||1:51.3|
|17||Eastern Kentucky||534||19-105-121-138-151 (174) (223)||21:28||1:17.9|
|18||Virginia (#22)||540||69-97-106-107-161 (219) (252)||21:31||0:44.5|
|19||Purdue||565||21-25-134-185-200 (232) (246)||21:28||1:36.4|
|20||Arizona||580*||20-37-115-158-250 (266) (282)||21:36||2:25.9|
|21||Ohio State||580*||63-100-131-137-149 (166) (188)||21:36||0:43.8|
|22||Oklahoma||619||83-110-139-142-145 (191) (228)||21:40||0:29.9|
|23||Colorado St.||620||54-101-129-159-177 (184) (218)||21:37||0:57.9|
|24||Utah State||656||45-61-150-178-222 (238) (267)||21:41||1:31.1|
|25||Furman||660||16-85-154-201-204 (235) (239)||21:38||1:43.8|
|26||Brown||665||71-80-114-194-206 (217) (225)||21:42||1:04.6|
|27||Dartmouth (RV)||679||84-99-152-169-175 (203) (227)||21:43||0:40.2|
|28||Louisville||701||30-120-172-189-190 (224) (234)||21:44||1:21.8|
|29||New Hampshire||720||5-153-163-192-207 (249)||21:42||2:01.4|
|31||Arizona State||772||78-112-143-198-241 (262)||21:56||1:31.1|
|33||Elon||777||57-148-164-195-213 (253) (281)||21:53||1:19.1|
|34||Toledo||794||123-136-156-183-196 (220) (236)||21:55||0:31.2|
|35||James Madison||814||72-132-168-187-255 (271) (279)||22:01||1:52.1|
|36||UMass Lowell||834||118-140-186-193-197 (258) (260)||21:58||0:33.5|
|37||Marquette||851||79-109-214-216-233 (254) (256)||22:03||1:18.4|
|41||Montana State||1034||73-210-245-247-259 (264) (276)||22:31||1:54.1|
|42||Tulane||1054||128-144-244-268-270 (280) (284)||22:40||1:49.1|
Arizona (580) 3 W-W-W-L-L Ohio State (580) 2 L-L-L-W-W Northwestern (945) 3 L-L-W-W-W Coastal Carolina (945) 2 W-W-L-L-L
Top 10 Individuals *Full Results Here
|3||Bilo, Peyton||SO||Cal Poly||20:11.5|
|5||Purrier, Elinor||JR||New Hampshire||20:15.4|
Quick Thought #1: Colorado is the best team in the country
As expected, the No. 2 Buffaloes won handily today, putting six runners in the top 50 to earn a 61-point victory over No. 9 Oregon. Though Washington’s win at Wisconsin yesterday was impressive (the Huskies put seven women in the top 50), we still give Colorado the edge. We’ll get a good look at how the two teams match up against each other as they’ll square off at Pac-12s in two weeks.
Quick Thought #2: A statement win from Erin Finn
Finn lost to Wisconsin champ Brenna Peloquin of Boise State at Roy Griak on September 24, but she has dominated in her three other races, two of which have come on the NCAA course in Terre Haute. Check out her 2016 results:
September 10: Won Sycamore Inv. at Indiana St. by 45 secs in 17:04.2 (5k)
September 24: 2nd at Roy Griak in 21:01.0 (6k), 11.5 secs behind Peloquin
October 1: Won Greater Louisville Classic by 23.6 secs in course-record 16:27.5 (5k)
October 15: Won Pre-Nats by 23.7 secs in 19:44.7 (6k)
Finn’s run today was the fastest ever by a woman at Pre-Nats at Terre Haute, and the first time anyone had broken 20:00 at Pre-Nats at Terre Haute since Jenny Simpson in 2009. Despite the loss to Peloquin earlier in the season, Finn will be extremely tough to beat at NCAAs as she has a ton of experience on the Terre Haute course (Peloquin has never raced there) and looks to be improving with every race.
Quick Thought #3: The Stanford women were only sixth, but they’re young and were running without Elise Cranny
No. 7 Stanford entered as the third-highest ranked team in the field, behind No. 2 Colorado and No. 5 Portland, but the Cardinal were only sixth today. That’s not a great result, though it didn’t help that Elise Cranny, who made the trip to Terre Haute, did not race (we don’t know why).
Stanford has a lot of talent on the roster, including true freshmen Christina Aragon (4:08, World U20 1500 bronze) and Ella Donaghu (4:14), but both had long track seasons (particularly Aragon, who ran the World U20 final on July 24), which may have shown in their performances today (Aragon was 41st, Donaghu 47th).
Stanford should be a force in the years to come, but right now they’re not good enough to compete in a loaded Pac-12, especially if they don’t have Cranny.
Quick Thought #4: Surprises and flops in the women’s team race
Team-wise, as in the men’s race, things pretty much went according to form. There were eight nationally ranked teams in the field and the seven teams that were ranked in the top 16 in the country in the race took the top seven places led by No. 2 Colorado, who won as expected. Sure, within that group there were a few minor deviations from the rankings, but nothing major.
For example, Stanford was worse than expected. They were the third-best team in terms of rankings but only were 6th in the race because, as we said above, Elise Cranny didn’t race. Michigan was better than expected as they were the sixth-best team in terms of rankings and yet finished third.
The eighth-highest ranked team in the field, No. 22 Virginia, struggled mightily, however, as they were just 18th in the race.