2022 USA 10,000 Champs Preview: Can Grant Fisher & Elise Cranny Make It a Bowerman TC Sweep?

By Jonathan Gault
May 25, 2022

5/26 Update: Elise Cranny has pulled out of the 10,000m.

Distance Night at the 2022 Pre Classic — the Friday night appetizer ahead of Saturday’s main Diamond League program — has been a staple at the meet for over a decade now. It has played host to some memorable 10,000-meter races through the years: Mo Farah‘s coming-out party in 2011, the Kenyan Olympic trials in 2012, Galen Rupp‘s American record in 2014. But few 10,000-meter races can match the significance of what’s on the line this Friday: six spots on the US team for the first World Championships contested on American soil.

Traditionally, USATF has picked its 10,000 team at the USATF Outdoor Championships. But in 2022, USAs will be held just three weeks before Worlds in Eugene (July 15-24), leaving little time to recover from an all-out 10,000. So USATF made the decision to stage the 10,000 trials a month earlier than usual at a separate meet.

The big benefit, of course, is that athletes who make the team will have more time to recover not just for Worlds, but for the 5,000 at USAs. In a non-Olympic year, the 5k/10k double at USAs is one of the toughest on the schedule as athletes have at most two days to recover from a grueling 25-lap race. Over the last nine US Championships in World Championship years, only four athletes have finished in the top three in both the 5k and 10k in the same year: Galen Rupp (2011, 2013, 2015), Ben True (2015), Molly Huddle (2017), and Lopez Lomong (2019). And of those four, only Rupp and Huddle contested both events at Worlds.

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Fisher, Kincaid, and Klecker kicked away from the 10k field at last year’s Olympic Trials (Paul Merca for TrackTown USA)

As a result, the 5k and 10k teams will be tougher to make than in a typical World Championship year as America’s best athletes — such as Grant FisherWoody Kincaid, and Karissa Schweizer, all of whom made the Olympic team in both events in 2021 — will be more likely to attempt (and succeed in) the double.

The drawback of moving the trials to Memorial Day weekend is that no collegiate athletes get a chance to run because the NCAA regional meets are this weekend. That’s not ideal, though it’s rare for a collegian to make the US 10k team — it hasn’t happened since Jordan Hasay in 2013. While it would have been great to see Northern Arizona’s Abdihamid Nur battle this field, at least Nur will still be in the 5,000 at USAs next month.

The other ostensible benefit of moving the 10,000 trials earlier in the schedule is that the 10,000s get more attention being held at a separate meet rather than at USAs. That may have been true if USATF had stuck to its original plan of hosting the 10,000s at Mt. SAC last week, and it’s probably still true now. But this isn’t like the UK’s Night of the 10,000m PBs, where the 10,000 is the only attraction. After the US 10,000 champs, there are three world record attempts at Pre on Friday night (women’s 2-mile, women’s 5,000, men’s 5,000), meaning it’s possible the 10,000s are not the biggest story of the night in Eugene.

That’s the backstory. Let’s break down the races.

How to watch: Friday night’s races will be live on USATF.TV+ (requires subscription) starting at 10:30 p.m. ET. Results will be here.

Men’s 10,000 (11:15 p.m. ET)

Athletes in bold have the World Championship standard of 27:28.00. USATF says in its selection procedures that it will allow athletes to chase the standard this year. So anyone who finishes in the top 3 without the standard will have until June 26 to hit the mark.

One other note: Ben True, who finished 4th at the Olympic Trials last year, is currently entered but told LetsRun.com that as of now, he is not planning on competing and instead focusing on the roads in 2022.

Name Affiliation Mark Status Declaration
Grant Fisher NIKE / Bowerman Track Club 26:33.84 qualified declared
William Kincaid NIKE / Bowerman Track Club 27:12.78 qualified declared
Benjamin True ASICS / Northwoods Athletics 27:14.95 qualified declared
Sean McGorty NIKE / Bowerman Track Club 27:18.15 qualified declared
Emmanuel Bor 27:22.80 qualified declared
Joe Klecker On Athletics Club 27:23.44 qualified declared
Shadrack Kipchirchir American Distance Project 27:24.93 qualified declared
Conner Mantz NIKE 27:25.23 qualified declared
Sam Chelanga U.S. Army 27:33.77 qualified declared
Dillon Maggard 27:37.26 qualified declared
Lopez Lomong NIKE / Bowerman Track Club 27:39.96 qualified declared
Connor McMillan 27:40.55 qualified declared
Frank Lara Altra 27:43.13 qualified declared
Jacob Thomson Under Armour 27:57.32 accepted declared
Abbabiya Simbassa Under Armour / Dark Sky Distance 27:59.94 accepted declared
Benjamin Eidenschink 28:00.54 accepted declared
Zachery Panning Hansons-Brooks Distance Project 28:01.80 accepted declared
John Reniewicki Under Armour 28:15.65 accepted declared
Tai Dinger Wisconsin Runner Racing Team 28:19.79 accepted declared
Geoffrey Kipchumba U.S. Army 28:22.84 accepted declared
Aidan Reed Roots Running Project 28:44.68 accepted declared
Ryan Kutch Central Park Track Club (CPTC) – Tracksmith 28:45.49 accepted declared

Fisher, who finished 5th at the Olympics last year and smashed the American record with his 26:33 in California on March 6, is the clear favorite and will be expected to win his first US title on Friday.

If this race were a pure time trial, Fisher would be a total lock. Fisher is the seventh-fastest human ever in the 10,000 meters; no one else in this race has ever broken 27:00, let alone 26:40.

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But we’re less than a year removed from Fisher getting outkicked in this very race, and if you don’t think there is at least some possibility of that happening again, you haven’t been paying attention to Woody Kincaid. Last year, Kincaid ran his final lap of the Olympic Trials in 53.47, over a second faster than anyone else in the field, and crushed Fisher over the final 100. A week later in the 5,000 final, Fisher outkicked Kincaid — but Kincaid actually had the fastest lap, 52.74 (Kincaid also ran a lot of extra distance on that lap).

And how about indoors this year? Fisher (deservedly) got the headlines with his American record of 12:53.73, closing in 58.73 and 28.96 for his last lap. But in the “slow” section, Kincaid ran 13:05.56 but closed much faster — 56.89 and 26.45 for his last lap (though obviously it is easier to close faster off a slower pace). If Kincaid is there with a lap to go, he’s a massive threat to win.

The ball is in Fisher’s court here. His kick is strong enough that he can probably make the team in any scenario. But if he wants to win the US title, his best bet is to pull the same move he used to set his 5k and 10k records earlier this year and push hard from a mile out. If he does that, there’s no one in America who can hang with him.

It’s a little tough to forecast this race accurately as a number of the key contenders run for the Bowerman Track Club, who, per team tradition, have been training and not racing in Utah for the past month. Fisher, Kincaid, and their teammates Sean McGorty (the #3 seed at 27:18) and Lopez Lomong (2018 & 2019 US champ) haven’t raced since The TEN on March 6.

So it’s worth looking at that March 6 race in more detail considering four of the seven men at USAs with the standard got it in that race. Here are the relevant results from that night:

1. Grant Fisher, 26:33.84
4. Sean McGorty, 27:18.15
7. Shadrack Kipchirchir, 27:24.93
8. Conner Mantz, 27:25.23
10. Sam Chelanga, 27:33.77
12. Lopez Lomong, 27:39.96

Obviously Fisher is way ahead of the rest, but six seconds between McGorty and the others is a noteworthy gap. Frankly, the fact that McGorty is even in position to make a US team is remarkable as he’s endured a lifetime’s worth of injuries over the past five years. He missed almost the entire 2017 season due to Achilles surgery but bounced back to win the NCAA 5,000 title as a senior in 2018. Then in 2019, his first year as a pro, McGorty underwent three separate surgeries to combat a nasty foot infection. And in July 2021, he was back under the knife (another Achilles surgery), only to return this year to run 13:09 and 27:18. To finally make a US team would be quite an accomplishment.

The other thing that stands out on the list above is the ages. McGorty (27) and Conner Mantz (25) are in their primes and still improving. Shadrack Kipchirchir (33), Sam Chelanga (37), and Lopez Lomong (37) are going in the opposite direction, though Kipchirchir (USA XC champ) and Lomong (13:07 indoors) have both shown flashes of their old selves this year.

Courtesy On Athletics Club

There are two other serious contenders who didn’t race at The TEN. Emmanuel Bor ran 13:00 indoors this year (#2 ever by an American) but admitted that he peaked too soon last year (he was 10th in the 10k and 5th in the 5k at the Olympic Trials). He will be a factor. And of course there’s 2021 Olympian Joe Klecker. Klecker was injured over the winter and missed the entire indoor season (minus a pace job in December), so there were serious doubts about whether he could turn it around in time for the US trials. But he looked great in his return to the track on May 6 at the Sound Running Track Meet, running a pb of 13:04. He’ll be in the thick of it once again on Friday.

Dillon Maggard (9th at World Indoors in the 3k, 27:37 FTW at Payton Jordan) has also been having a great 2022 campaign, but may be outclassed against this strong field.

JG prediction: Could we see a Bowerman 1-2-3? Between Fisher, Kincaid, and McGorty, it’s certainly possible, but my gut says either Bor or Klecker breaks them up. It’s a boring choice, but I’m going to say the three Olympians from 2021 run it back. Fisher has been incredible, Kincaid has only raced once but has a strong track record at US championships, and Klecker assuaged any doubts about his fitness with his 13:04 at the Track Meet. Those three were (significantly) better than everyone else 11 months ago and I haven’t seen much evidence to suggest that is no longer the case in 2022, aside from McGorty asserting himself at The TEN.

What I’m more interested in seeing is how Fisher handles this field. No American man has ever medalled in the 10,000 at Worlds. Fisher has the talent to do so, but if he is going to medal in Eugene in July, this is the sort of race he needs to win.

All of this is of course assuming all parties are healthy — with so much time between races for the top contenders, who knows if one of them is carrying an injury into Friday’s race.

1. Fisher 2. Kincaid 3. Klecker

Women’s 10,000 (10:30 p.m. ET)

Athletes in bold have the World Championship standard of 31:25.00. USATF says in its selection procedures that it will allow athletes to chase the standard this year. So anyone who finishes in the top 3 without the standard will have until June 26 to hit the mark.

Name Affiliation Mark Status Declaration
Elise Cranny NIKE / Bowerman Track Club 30:14.66 qualified declared
Karissa Schweizer NIKE / Bowerman Track Club 30:47.99 qualified declared
Emily Infeld NIKE 31:08.57 qualified declared
Alicia Monson On Athletics Club 31:10.84 qualified declared
Weini Kelati Under Armour / Dark Sky Distance 31:11.11 qualified declared
Natosha Rogers Hansons-Brooks Distance Project 31:12.28 qualified declared
Ednah Kurgat U.S. Army 31:21.65 qualified declared
Sarah Lancaster 31:21.75 qualified declared
Marielle Hall NIKE 31:21.78 qualified declared
Paige Stoner Reebok Boston Track Club 31:22.55 qualified declared
Danielle Shanahan HOKA / HOKA NAZ Elite 31:22.86 qualified declared
Stephanie Bruce HOKA NAZ Elite 31:24.47 qualified declared
Emily Lipari adidas / Golden Coast Track Club 31:24.82 qualified declared
Makena Morley ASICS 31:25.19 qualified declared
Emily Durgin adidas 31:33.83 qualified declared
Carrie Verdon T.E.A.M Boulder 31:37.26 qualified declared
Olivia Pratt Hansons-Brooks Distance Project 31:48.72 accepted declared
Susanna Sullivan 31:56.38 accepted declared
Katrina Coogan New Balance / New Balance Boston 31:56.59 accepted declared
Molly Grabill RISE Athletics 31:57.72 accepted declared
Jeralyn Poe 31:59.49 accepted declared
Madeline Alm 32:01.28 accepted declared
Margareta Montoya 32:06.37 accepted declared
Caroline Sang U.S. Army 32:27.40 accepted declared

UPDATE: Elise Cranny announced Thursday that she will not be competing in the 10,000 on Friday.

“I haven’t been feeling like myself in training,” she wrote on Instagram. “I’d love nothing more than to be out there competing for a spot on Team USA, but I just don’t feel ready to compete right now. I have made the decision to shift my focus to the 5k next month.”

Emily Sisson, who crushed the field by 13 seconds at last year’s Olympic Trials, is bypassing the track to focus on the roads this summer and won’t be back to defend her title in Eugene, leaving 26-year-old Elise Cranny as the favorite to win the title. Cranny was also among the favorites in 2021 — she had the fastest seed time at 30:47.42 — but didn’t even make the Olympic team, finishing 4th at the Olympic Trials. A lot has changed since then, however.

Embed from Getty Images

For one, Sisson isn’t running. For another, Cranny’s Bowerman TC teammate Karissa Schweizer — the runner-up at last year’s Trials — underwent Achilles surgery in October and didn’t race again until April. But the biggest difference by far is that Cranny improved a ton. Cranny — who was already the US 5,000 champ last year — dropped her pbs this winter from 14:48 and 30:47 t0 14:33 (an American indoor record) and 30:14 (one second off Molly Huddle‘s AR). Considering Schweizer is the only other woman in the field who’s even broken 31:00, Cranny occupies a similar position to her fellow Stanford alum Fisher in the men’s race: a virtual lock to make the team.

If I had a guarantee Schweizer is fully healthy, she’d be a lock for the team as well. Last year, she battled an Achilles injury all year and still made the Olympic team in the 5k and 10k. And do you remember how good she was in her last fully healthy year, 2020? She ran 4:00, 8:25 (American indoor record), and 14:26. No other American woman can match that range of times. Schweizer has only raced once all year, but in that race she ran a US outdoor leader of 15:02 at Mt. SAC, beating Emily Infeld (one of the main challengers in this race) by three seconds. She may not be ready to contend with Cranny yet (though who knows what kind of a jump Schweizer has made in the six weeks since Mt. SAC), but as long as she hasn’t had any injury setbacks, she is a strong bet for the team.

That leaves one spot on Team USA, and going by pb, there are bunch of women who could fill it:

Marielle Hall 31:05.71 (2019)
Emily Infeld 31:08.57 (2021)
Weini Kelati 31:10.08 (2020)
Alicia Monson 31:10.84 (2020)
Natosha Rogers 31:12.28 (2020)

Monson ran 8:31 to win the Millrose 3k in January (Photo by Phil Bond)

Let’s leave out Hall since she hasn’t done anything to indicate she’s in that kind of shape lately (she was 36th at the Trials last year). The other four all have a shot at the team, but none has been as impressive over the past year as Monson, who made the team last year (she was 17 seconds ahead of 4th), then ran 14:42 for 5k in Brussels (#4 all-time by an American). She also crushed Kelati, Infeld, and Rogers at USA XC in January (which she won by 17 seconds).

It’s been impressive to see Infeld return to form at age 32 under coach Jon Green, and Rogers and Kelati have been running great as well. But the gap between those three and Monson was enormous at the Trials last year, and if anything, the 24-year-old Monson has only improved since. Infeld or someone like Emily Lipari (a big kicker) might have a chance if the top women let the pace dawdle (that’s how Infeld earned her World Championship medal in 2015), but I doubt it comes to that.

JG prediction: I’d love to know how Cranny and Schweizer’s workouts have gone over the past six weeks. As fast as Cranny has run, I’m not convinced she is a bigger talent than Schweizer — she’s just been healthier over the past two years. If Schweizer is back to peak fitness, I could see her toppling Cranny but I just don’t know enough to confidently pick her. Either way, I expect them to go 1-2 in some order, with Monson to finish a clear third.

1. Cranny 2. Schweizer 3. Monson

MB: Women’s 10000m US championships predictions

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