2022 NCAA M5K/10K/SC Preview: NAU Duo of Abdihamid Nur & Nico Young Lead the Way
By Jonathan Gault
June 6, 2022
The 2022 NCAA Outdoor Championships are upon us and LetsRun.com will have wall-to-wall coverage from Eugene all week. To get you ready for what is always one of the highlights of the outdoor season, we’re previewing every distance event. This article will focus on the men’s 5,000, 10,000, and steeplechase.
Our men’s 800 and 1500 preview is already out: 2022 NCAA M800/1500 Preview: Monster Talents from Morocco.
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Only one of the three events has a clear favorite, Northern Arizona’s Abdihamid Nur in the 10,000. In the other events, there are plenty of top athletes but no overwhelming favorite and no previous NCAA champions. That should make for some exciting action, particularly with young NAU star Nico Young — still a teenager — going up against veterans like Michigan State 6th-year Morgan Beadlescomb and Wisconsin 7th-year Olin Hacker.
We start our previews with the first track final of the entire championships: the men’s 10,000 meters.
Men’s 10,000: Abdihamid Nur favored to win NCAA title #3
(Prelims Wednesday 10:08 p.m. ET. Times below are from regionals, regular season times here)
1 Athanas Kioko SR Campbell 28:25.69 2 Adriaan Wildschutt SR FL State 28:28.86 3 Victor Kiprop FR Alabama 28:38.36 4 Acer Iverson FR Harvard 28:38.90 5 Barry Keane JR Butler 28:41.52 6 Joshua Methner SO Notre Dame 28:41.89 7 Haftu Strintzos SO Villanova 28:42.13 8 Matthew Carmody JR Notre Dame 28:42.50 9 Dylan Jacobs JR Notre Dame 28:43.22 10 Matthew Pereira JR Harvard 28:44.05 11 Andrew Alexander SR Notre Dame 28:44.55 12 Abdihamid Nur JR No. Arizona 28:45.90 13 Fearghal Curtin JR Charleston South 28:45.92 14 Cole Sprout SO Stanford 28:46.65 15 Patrick Kiprop SO Arkansas 28:46.99 16 Aaron Bienenfeld SR Oregon 28:47.04 17 Alex Maier SO OK State 28:47.08 18 Amon Kemboi SR Arkansas 28:47.33 19 Charles Hicks SO Stanford 28:47.37 20 Bob Liking SO Wisconsin 28:47.40 21 Casey Clinger SO BYU 28:47.45 22 Brandon Garnica JR BYU 28:47.75 23 Kieran Lumb SR Washington 28:49.48 24 James Mwaura JR Gonzaga 28:52.55
There’s no shortage of top distance runners in the NCAA these days. At last year’s NCAA Championships, 10 men broke 28:00 for 10,000 and 12 broke 13:30 for 5,000. Clearly the supershoe revolution and extra year of eligibility has played a significant role, but the depth is simply tremendous.
Yet as impressive as that depth is, it is hard to imagine Northern Arizona’s Abdihamid Nur losing this race. Nur entered this year as one of the top runners in the NCAA — he was 7th in both NCAA XC champs held in 2021 and 3rd in the 10,000 outdoors — but has vaulted to an entirely different level in 2022. Indoors, he won NCAA titles in the 5,000 and 3,000, setting a championship record of 13:19.01 in the former. Outdoors, he’s run personal bests 3:36.33 for 1500 and 13:06.32 for 5,000 — the latter the fastest time ever by an NCAA athlete during the collegiate season.
Nur has not yet demonstrated a monster kick — something he may need to work on to contend at the next level — but against collegians, he hasn’t needed one so far. Take the NCAA indoor 5,000 final. He ran his last 200 in 30.03 — pretty pedestrian for an NCAA champion. But he was able to do that because he had already wrapped up the title by that point by running his final 1200 in 3:02. A day later in the 3000, he took the lead with just over 600 to go and held off anyone who tried to pass him over the final three laps.
Nur’s strength means he is unlikely to be dropped at NCAAs (good luck getting rid of a 13:06 guy). And if Nur is still there with a mile to go, it’s only a matter of time until he ratchets up the pace to a speed where he is the only one who can handle it. The best solution for beating him relies on Nur making a tactical mistake; if he waits too long and leaves it to the last 400 or 200, someone else in the field may be able to outkick him on the way home. But that scenario seems unlikely, especially with true distance men in the field such as Adriaan Wildschutt (2nd 2020 NCAA XC) and Athanas Kioko (3rd 2021 NCAA XC) likely favoring a faster pace.
Stanford’s Charles Hicks (4th NCAA XC, 3rd NCAA indoor 3k, Pac-12 10k champ) should also be a factor up front, regardless of race style.
JG prediction: It should be pretty obvious who I’m picking by now Nur FTW. The only question I have is why isn’t he doubling back in the 5,000? Perhaps to preserve himself for USAs two weeks from now?
Men’s 5,000: Can Nico Young win his first NCAA title against a slew of veterans?
(Final Friday 10:55 p.m. ET. Times below are from regionals, regular season times here)
1 Brian Fay JR Washington 13:28.41 2 Casey Clinger SO BYU 13:28.69 3 Nico Young SO No. Arizona 13:29.37 4 Cole Sprout SO Stanford 13:29.99 5 Michael Power JR Tulsa 13:31.41 6 Aaron Bienenfeld SR Oregon 13:32.13 7 Ryan Ford SR IA State 13:34.79 8 Dylan Jacobs JR Notre Dame 13:38.05 9 Sam Gilman JR Air Force 13:38.09 10 Olin Hacker SR Wisconsin 13:38.44 11 Athanas Kioko SR Campbell 13:38.55 12 Amon Kemboi SR Arkansas 13:38.92 13 Matthew Pereira JR Harvard 13:38.99 14 Ky Robinson SO Stanford 13:39.02 15 Vincent Mauri SO AZ State 13:39.13 16 Eric Van Der Els SR Connecticut 13:39.29 17 Adriaan Wildschutt SR FL State 13:39.33 18 Dan Schaffer SR Binghamton 13:39.37 19 Morgan Beadlescomb SR Mich State 13:42.21 20 Acer Iverson FR Harvard 13:42.30 21 Cole Bullock SO Ole Miss 13:42.86 22 Zach Facioni JR Wake Forest 13:44.04 23 Ahmed Muhumed SR FL State 13:44.42 24 Alex Ostberg SR North Carolina 13:44.42
From a 30,000-foot American distance running perspective, the storyline here could be Nico Young. One of the top distance prospects of his generation coming out of high school in 2020, Young has progressed very nicely in two years at Northern Arizona, finishing 4th at NCAA XC as a true freshman last year and 3rd at NCAA indoors in the 5k this year. Then, on May 6, he ran 13:11 for 5,000 to become the fastest American teenager ever and move up to #5 on the all-time collegiate list. Young enters NCAAs with the fastest season’s best in the field (though Adriaan Wildschutt did run 13:09 indoors). Grant Fisher, the last great distance prospect before Young, capped his sophomore year with an NCAA 5,000 title. On Friday, Young will have the opportunity to do the same.
But while he won’t have to defeat his teammate Nur (running the 10k only in Eugene), this is a very tough field. Morgan Beadlescomb of Michigan State was only 8th in this race last year (though he still ran 13:21) but then finished 6th at the Olympic Trials and has been in great form in 2022, running 3:50 in the mile and finishing second in that event at NCAA indoors. That was a particularly impressive performance considering the NCAA mile final was a real kicker’s race (4:07 winning time). You’d think that wouldn’t favor a guy like Beadlescomb, who has maintained all along that the 5k is his focus in 2022, but he closed in 25.55 for his last 200 — second-best in the race. Though Beadlescomb was beaten earlier this season at the Bryan Clay Invite thanks to a monster last lap from Washington’s Brian Fay (13:16 to 13:17), which makes Fay a contender here as well.
Wisconsin’s Olin Hacker (13:19 pb, closed in 55 to win Big 10s) is another guy who has the combination of pb and closing speed to win this race (I would have mentioned Pac-12 champ Eduardo Herrera of Colorado here too, but he shockingly failed to qualify). And Stanford’s Ky Robinson (2nd NCAA indoor 5k), Arkansas’ Amon Kemboi (2nd NCAA indoor 3k), and Campbell’s Athanas Kioko (3rd NCAA XC, 3rd NCAA outdoor 5k) have all been close to winning national titles in the past.
JG prediction: This is Youngs vs. Olds. The Youngs: Nico Young (duh…he’s 19) and Ky Robinson (20). The Olds: pretty much everyone else. Beadlescomb (24) and Hacker (25) are significantly older than reigning NCAA champ and Cooper Teare (22), who finished a full four-year career at Oregon and turned pro. Kemboi and Kioko could be even older than that — Kioko’s World Athletics profile says he was born in 1995 but does not list an actual birthday.
The one thing the Youngs and Olds have in common: none of them have won an individual NCAA title. For the Youngs, it could be the first of many. For the Olds, this is their last chance.
That age differential is what scares me off from picking Young…but should it, if he’s the most talented of the bunch? I’m stalling here because this is a terrific field with a number of worthy champions. I’ll ride with Beadlescomb (that indoor mile performance sold me on his championship chops) but he could just as easily finish 5th, such is the talent on hand.
Men’s 3,000 steeplechase: It’s anyone’s guess
(Prelims Wednesday, 8:02 p.m. ET, final Friday 9:24 p.m. ET. Times below are from regionals, regular season times here)
1 Matthew Wilkinson JR Minnesota 8:32.61 2 Ryan Smeeton SR OK State 8:32.76 3 Alec Basten SR Minnesota 8:33.91 4 Ed Trippas SR Princeton 8:33.93 5 Duncan Hamilton JR MT State 8:34.58 6 Kenneth Rooks SO BYU 8:34.91 7 Ahmed Jaziri JR E. Kentucky 8:35.81 8 Garrett Marsing SR BYU 8:36.19 9 Estanis Ruiz FR Loyola Marymount 8:36.42 10 Levi Taylor SO MT State 8:36.53 11 Parker Stokes SO Georgetown 8:37.04 12 Carson Williams SO Furman 8:37.73 13 Colton Johnsen SR WA State 8:38.24 14 Ahmed Kadri FR E. Kentucky 8:38.52 15 Alexander Korczynski SR Northeastern 8:39.16 16 Bennett Pascoe SR Ark State 8:39.46 17 Yasin Sado FR Virginia 8:39.68 18 Bryce Lentz FR Air Force 8:39.73 19 Adam Bunker FR UT Valley 8:40.00 20 Ben Garner SR Samford 8:40.15 21 Benjamin Nibbelink JR VA Tech 8:40.16 22 Ben Fleming SR VA Tech 8:40.55 23 Christian Hubaker SR Michigan 8:41.16 24 Tom Seitzer JR Notre Dame 8:42.16
This is a veteran crew as four of the top five from last year’s final return — only 2021 champ Kigen Chemadi of Middle Tennessee State is missing.
2021 NCAA final results
1. Kigen Chemadi, Middle Tennessee State 8:28.20
2. Alec Basten, Minnesota 8:29.03
3. Ryan Smeeton, Oklahoma State, 8:30.70
4. Garrett Marsing, BYU 8:31.54
5. Duncan Hamilton, Montana State 8:31.55
Of that group, Basten (8:33 sb), Smeeton (8:32 sb), and Hamilton (8:26 sb) have all been running well in 2022. Marsing was the only one who was struggling, running no faster than 8:47 in four regular-season steeples, but he seems to be on the right path now after running a season’s best of 8:36 at regionals.
There are other contenders. Ahmed Jaziri of Eastern Kentucky was also in last year’s final and finished 10th but has improved his pb by eight seconds this year to 8:24 to lead the NCAA (Hamilton is the only other collegian under 8:30 this year). But he doesn’t have the fastest pb in the field. That would be Ed Trippas of Princeton, who ran 8:19 last summer and was an Olympian for Australia (he didn’t compete in the NCAA last year). Should Trippas win, it would come 10 years after the Tigers’ last NCAA steeple champion, Donn Cabral.
Trippas has been to NCAAs before, (he qualified in 2019 but didn’t make the final in steamy Austin), which means the only real newcomer contender is Minnesota’s Matthew Wilkinson, the fastest qualifier out of regionals. Wilkinson still has championship experience though, albeit at a lower level — was the DIII steeple/5k champ at Carleton last year before heading an hour up I-35 for his grad year. He was second at Big 10s behind teammate Basten.
JG prediction: Most of the top guys have been in one or more NCAA finals before. Smeeton has the most impressive championship history, having finished second in 2019 and was charging hard in second place last year only to fall on the final barrier and finish 3rd. But realistically, there are half a dozen guys who could win this. I’ll pick Trippas — his 8:19 pb is a good deal faster than anyone else has run.
Talk about the meet on our world-famous fan forum / messageboard. MB: Official 2022 NCAA Outdoors Men’s Discussion Thread
More: Complete 2022 NCAA Outdoor Coverage
*2022 NCAA M800/1500 Preview: Monster Talents from Morocco A Moroccan has never won an NCAA distance title but two Moroccans have a legit shot this year as Moad Zahafi (1:43.69) and Anass Essayi (3:34.58) have gaudy pbs, but can they match the racing chops of indoor champs Brandon Miller & Mario Garcia Romo?