2017 NCAA Indoor Men’s + Women’s DMR Preview: Expect Oregon’s Edward Cheserek to Put the Team on His Back Again As The Ducks Shoot for a DMR Sweep

By LetsRun.com
March 8, 2017

The 2017 indoor track and field season culminates this weekend at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in College Station, Texas. We’ll be on-site in the Lone Star State starting Thursday, but before we get down there we’ve previewed the mid-d/distance events so that you can know what to watch for at the meet. Below you’ll find our look at the men’s and women’s distance medley relays, where the Oregon Ducks are favored in each race.

LRC Event Previews: *Women’s 800 *Men’s 800 *Women’s Mile *Men’s Mile *W3k/5k *M3k/5k *W & M DMR
*Schedule/start lists/broadcast information *Men’s team projections & analysis *Women’s team projections & analysis *All LRC coverage

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TV/Streaming: The meet will be streamed live on Watch ESPN.

Men’s DMR (Friday, 9:55 p.m. ET)

Note: Athletes listed are the ones who ran the qualifying time and are subject to change

  1  Ole Miss                                             9:26.55 
     1) 416 Ryan Manahan SR             2) 411 Nick DeRay FR              
     3) 413 Craig Engels SR             4) 417 Sean Tobin JR              
  2  Indiana                                              9:28.14 
     1) 229 Joseph Murphy SO            2) 230 Markevious Roach SO        
     3) 226 Daniel Kuhn JR              4) 227 Kyle Mau FR                
  3  Stanford                                             9:28.72 
     1) 505 Tai Dinger SO               2) 507 Jackson Shumway SR         
     3) 508 Brian Smith FR              4) 506 Jack Keelan JR             
  4  Oklahoma State                                       9:28.83 
     1) 405 Craig Nowak SR              2) 406 Brandon Singleton JR       
     3) 404 Bradley Johnson SR          4) 407 Joshua Thompson SR         
  5  Arkansas                                             9:30.04 
     1) 71 Ethan Moehn SO               2) 77 Jamarco Stephen JR          
     3) 74 Carlton Orange SO            4) 65 Jack Bruce JR               
  6  New Mexico                                           9:30.07 
     1) 359 Elmar Engholm SR            2) 361 Mark Haywood JR            
     3) 360 Kristian Hansen FR          4) 362 Josh Kerr FR               
  7  Villanova                                            9:30.16 
     1) 611 Elliot Slade JR             2) 610 Harry Purcell SO           
     3) 608 Ville Lampinen SO           4) 612 Logan Wetzel SO            
  8  Minnesota                                            9:30.48 
     1) 343 Shane Streich SO            2) 344 Jack Wellenstein SO        
     3) 341 Mitch Hechsel SR            4) 345 Derek Wiebke JR            
  9  Oregon                                               9:30.86 
     1) 439 Matthew Maton SO            2) 443 Cameron Stone FR           
     3) 442 Mick Stanovsek FR           4) 436 Edward Cheserek SR         
 10  UTEP                                                 9:31.13 
     1) 596 Michael Saruni FR           2) 592 Asa Guevara JR             
     3) 594 Emmanuel Korir FR           4) 593 Jonah Koech SO             
 11  Virginia Tech                                        9:31.15 
     1) 625 Drew Piazza SR              2) 619 Gregory Chiles JR          
     3) 623 Patrick Joseph JR           4) 620 Vincent Ciattei JR         
 12  Georgetown                                           9:31.26 
     1) 180 Spencer Brown SO            2) 184 Kenneth Rowe FR            
     3) 185 Joseph White JR             4) 181 Scott Carpenter JR
Can Cheserek deliver a third straight DMR title for the Ducks?

Can Cheserek deliver a third straight DMR title for the Ducks?

As in 2016, the outcome of this race hinges on whether Oregon runs Edward Cheserek on the anchor leg. Last year, we predicted Oregon wouldn’t do it as they didn’t need the points. Cheserek ran it anyway, doubling back from the 5k with less than 35 minutes’ rest and splitting an incredible 3:52.84 to lead Oregon to victory.

This year, Oregon needs the points. Desperately. So even though Cheserek is entered in the mile, 3k and 5k — and no athlete in history has won three individual events at a single NCAA Indoor meet — we think he will quadruple and anchor the DMR as well. As we pointed out in our analysis of the team race, even if you give Cheserek the win in the mile, 3k and 5k, Oregon is only projected to score 35 points (30 points from Cheserek + 5 from Damarcus Simpson in the long jump). That’s not going to be enough. It’s taken at least 40 points to win NCAA Indoors every year since 2002, and at least 52 points every year since 2009. Florida is projected to score 53 this year.

Oregon could pick up points in other events (they have seven entrants not projected to score, including the DMR), but the best way to goose their total is to turn that 0 in the DMR into a 10. Oregon coach Robert Johnson could put Matthew Maton or Tim Gorman on anchor, each of whom has run 3:58 this year, which could be enough to score but likely not enough to win. Or he could put in Cheserek, who gives the Ducks a better chance to win but carries a small risk: that he’s tired from the mile prelim/5k final and that he’ll be more tired for the mile/3k finals on Saturday. If Oregon is to overcome the gap to Florida, they need a best-case scenario. That means being aggressive in search of big points, and that means quadrupling Cheserek.

If that’s the case, here’s Cheserek’s schedule for the weekend (all times Central):

Friday, March 10
5:45 p.m. Mile prelim
8:20 p.m. 5000 final
8:55 p.m. DMR final

Saturday, March 11
4:10 p.m. Mile final
6:15 p.m. 3000 final

The 5000-DMR double is obviously the toughest one, with just 35 minutes separating the start of the races, but Cheserek is so good that he come back and anchor Oregon to victory as long as they aren’t totally out of it by the anchor leg. And they won’t be. Oregon will likely have a 3:58 miler on the 1200 leg (whichever one of Maton/Gorman doesn’t make the mile final) and assuming Marcus Chambers (46.40 sb) is available, they’ll have the #2 400 leg in the field. So all they need is an 800 leg. Their best 800 guy is Mick Stanovsek, who has run 1:50.63 this year as a freshman. Ideally you’d have a sub-1:50 guy, but we just don’t see Stanovsek losing enough ground for Cheserek to be totally out of it at the final exchange. And if he’s within a few seconds of the lead, it’s game over as Cheserek is the fastest anchor leg by far (remember, he set the NCAA mile record of 3:52.01 two weeks ago). If Izaic Yorks, a 3:53 miler and total stud, couldn’t drop a tired Cheserek with a 55-second first 400 and a 3:54.24 split last year, what chance does the 2017 field have against him? Yes, he’ll have one more race in his legs this year with the mile prelim, but a 3:59 mile over three hours before the DMR won’t make much of a difference.

A win for Oregon would also make history as the Ducks would be the first school to win three straight men’s DMR titles.

If Cheserek doesn’t run — or if he’s too far back at the final exchange — there are a few schools that could win it. Ole Miss is the #1 seed on paper, and their seed time of 9:26.55 would put them #2 in NCAA history. But we’re not anointing them as the favorites for a couple of reasons. First, the Rebels didn’t actually run 9:26.55; they ran 9:34.24 on a flat 200m track, which was converted to 9:26.55. In fact, Ole Miss ran the exact same lineup three weeks earlier on a banked track at Arkansas and didn’t even win the race; they ran 9:34.49 and lost to Oklahoma State. Second, even if you’re willing to give Ole Miss a 9:26, season’s bests aren’t as important in the DMR as who you’ve got on the anchor leg. Here are the five fastest DMRs in NCAA history:

1. Texas, 9:25.97                          2008
2. Penn State, 9:26.59                2014
3. Oklahoma St., 9:26.60          2016
3. Penn State, 9:26.60                2013
5. Oregon, 9:26.78                      2011

Just one of those squads (Texas in 2008) went on to win the NCAA title, and that’s because they had a guy by the name of Leo Manzano on the anchor leg. Ole Miss has a stellar mid-distance crew, but their anchor, Sean Tobin, has a PR of 3:59.91 in the mile. You’ve got to be better than that to win an NCAA DMR title these days. Here’s a look at the winning anchors since Manzano:

Year Winning team Anchor leg Mile PR at the time
2016 Oregon Edward Cheserek 3:56.43 (3:36.50 1500)
2015 Oregon Edward Cheserek 3:56.43 (3:36.50 1500)
2014 Stanford Michael Atchoo 3:57.14
2013 Princeton Peter Callahan 3:58.76
2012 Notre Dame Jeremy Rae 3:59.31
2011 BYU Miles Batty 3:55.79
2010 Oregon Andrew Wheating 3:58.16 (3:38.60 1500/1:45.03 800)
2009 Oregon Galen Rupp 3:57.86
2008 Texas Leo Manzano 3:58.78 (3:35.29 1500)

In seven of the nine years, the winning team’s anchor had run at least 3:57 or its equivalent. Only two teams in this year’s field have a guy who’s run that fast: Oregon and Oklahoma State (Josh Thompson ran 3:56.89 this year). And if Thompson qualifies for the mile final, we think he skips the DMR to focus on the mile. Ole Miss’ Craig Engels has run the equivalent time for 1500 (3:37.66) but he’s not as fit right now after losing training time earlier this year due to a broken clavicle. It’s telling that Ole Miss hasn’t put Engels on anchor in any of their DMRs this year.

We already respect the hell out of Cheserek for entering the mile, 3k and 5k, but if he were to win all of those events AND the DMR, that performance would have to go down as one of the most remarkable feats in NCAA history, regardless of sport. It might be the most impressive NCAA track & field quadruple since Jesse Owens broke three world records and tied a fourth at the 1935 Big 10 Championships. And if Cheserek pulls off the quadruple and Oregon wins the team title, the NCAA should just give Cheserek the trophy directly and engrave his name on it.

LRC prediction: We’re going with Oregon and Cheserek for the win. If Cheserek doesn’t run, we like Virginia Tech, which has a 3:59 guy in Neil Gourley plus two 1:46 guys in Patrick Joseph and Drew Piazza. The Hokies have run 9:31 twice this year and both of those squads were missing at least one of VaTech’s “Big Three.”

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Women’s DMR (Friday, 9:40 p.m. ET)

Note: Athletes listed are the ones who ran the qualifying time and are subject to change

  1  Oregon                                              10:48.77 
     1) 419 Lilli Burdon SO             2) 425 Ashante Horsley SR         
     3) 429 Raevyn Rogers JR            4) 428 Katie Rainsberger FR       
  2  Indiana                                             10:55.94 
     1) 217 Brenna Calder JR            2) 222 Taylor Williams SO         
     3) 219 Olivia Hippensteel SR       4) 220 Katherine Receveur SO      
  3  BYU                                                 10:56.93 
     1) 113 Ashleigh Warner JR          2) 110 Brenna Porter SO           
     3) 108 Shea Collinsworth SR        4) 107 Erica Birk JR              
  4  LSU                                                 10:57.66 
     1) 304 Ruby Stauber FR             2) 295 Travia Jones SR            
     3) 301 Hollie Parker SO            4) 303 Morgan Schuetz SR          
  5  Arkansas                                            10:57.93 
     1) 55 Therese Haiss SR             2) 56 Daina Harper SR             
     3) 50 Damajahnee Birch FR          4) 58 Nikki Hiltz JR              
  6  Michigan                                            10:58.02 
     1) 324 Jamie Morrissey SR          2) 323 Jade Harrison FR           
     3) 325 Jaimie Phelan JR            4) 326 Gina Sereno JR             
  7  Colorado                                            10:58.68 
     1) 136 Tabor Scholl FR             2) 135 Elissa Mann SO             
     3) 133 Sage Hurta FR               4) 134 Dani Jones SO              
  8  Stanford                                            10:59.82 
     1) 498 Vanessa Fraser JR           2) 499 Gabrielle Gayles JR        
     3) 502 Malika Waschmann SR         4) 497 Elise Cranny JR            
  9  Villanova                                           11:01.14 
     1) 603 Siofra Cleirigh Buttner JR  2) 605 McKenna Keegan FR          
     3) 602 Kaley Ciluffo SO            4) 604 Nicole Hutchinson SO       
 10  Penn State                                          11:01.16 
     1) 448 Julie Kocjancic SR          2) 449 Tichina Rhodes SR          
     3) 445 Rachel Banks FR             4) 450 Danae Rivers FR            
 11  Kansas                                              11:01.85 
     1) 254 Riley Cooney SO             2) 256 Nicole Montgomery SO       
     3) 251 Whitney Adams SR            4) 257 Hannah Richardson SR       
 12  Notre Dame                                          11:02.32 
     1) 377 Kelly Hart SO               2) 379 Payton Miller JR           
     3) 378 Jamie Marvil SR             4) 376 Jessica Harris JR
Rogers running the 4x400 at NCAAs last year

Rogers running the 4×400 at NCAAs last year

Believe it or not, in their storied history the Oregon Duck women have never won an NCAA DMR title. Expect that to change on Friday as the Ducks attempt to be the first school to sweep the DMR titles since Michigan in 2005.

This UO team is loaded and already showed what it could do on January 27 in the Armory when the Ducks smashed the collegiate record, lowering 2009 Tennesee’s mark by over two seconds to 10:48.77. That team consisted of Lilli Burdon (3:20.56 1200), Ashante Horsley (53.77 400), Raevyn Rogers (2:03.53 800) and Katie Rainsberger (4:30.93 1600), and the squad they trot out at NCAAs could be even better as Horsley was only the Ducks’ third-fastest 400 runner this year. Elexis Guster was tops at 52.85 and she isn’t entered in the individual 400 at NCAAs.

Even if Oregon wasn’t so strong through three legs (Rogers is the best 800 leg, with BYU’s Shea Collinsworth the only woman who figures to be close), we’d still like Oregon’s chances as Rainsberger is the MPSF mile champ and split 4:30 (solo) earlier this year. Of Oregon’s four legs, only Rogers (800 prelim) won’t be 100% fresh, and she’ll have had an hour and a half to recover. On paper, the Ducks are just too good for us to see them losing.

The team with the best chance to beat the Ducks is Stanford. They can run Rebecca Mehra on the 1200 leg (2:05 800, 2:43 1k, 4:17 1500), Gabrielle Gayles (53.97 indoors) on the 400 leg and Olivia Baker (2:01.02/NCAA outdoor runner-up) on the 800 leg. Neither Mehra nor Baker ran on the team that qualified, though Mehra may not be available at NCAAs considering she hasn’t raced since January. If she does run, Mehra vs. Burdon is a wash, and Gayles and Baker aren’t that much slower than Guster and Rogers. Stanford also has a very good potential anchor leg in Elise Cranny (4:09 1500, NCAA outdoor runner-up). If we knew Cranny was in that kind of shape, we’d say they have a shot to beat Oregon. But Cranny ran the DMR two weeks ago at the MPSF meet, and while her split (4:34.8 according to the Stanford website) wasn’t bad, she was run down by Colorado’s Dani Jones, who received the baton behind Cranny. Jones, in turn, lost to Rainsberger earlier this season in the 3k.

Penn State’s Danae Rivers (4:32 mile) is another woman who may be able to challenge Rainsberger on the anchor leg, but unfortunately for Penn State, Rivers can only run one leg. Penn State’s fastest 400 runner this year (Frances Bull) has only run 56.74, and that’s a big deficit for likely 1200 leg Julie Kocjancic (4:40 mile) and 800 leg Rachel Banks (2:06.99) to overcome. Rivers will also be doubling back from the mile prelims while Rainsberger is fresh.

LRC prediction: The Ducks sprint squad might be good enough to win the NCAA team title without any help from the distance group, but they’ll get some help here. Oregon has the best first three legs and even if it’s close at the final exchange, Rainsberger may well be the best anchor in the field (her 4:30 solo split earlier this year was nuts). We don’t see how the Ducks lose.

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LRC Event Previews: *Women’s 800 *Men’s 800 *Women’s Mile *Men’s Mile *W3k/5k *M3k/5k *W & M DMR
*Schedule/start lists/broadcast information *Men’s team projections & analysis *Women’s team projections & analysis *All LRC coverage

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