2023 NCAA M10K/5K/SC Preview: Dylan Jacobs’ Title Defense & Potential History in the Steeplechase

The 2023 NCAA Championships are almost here and LetsRun.com will have boots on the ground to provide extensive coverage of the action from Austin, Texas. Every distance event will be previewed on LetsRun.com as the NCAA Championship is one of the most highly anticipated events of the outdoor season. This article will focus on the men’s 5,000m, 10,000m, and steeplechase.

There is no clear favorite for any of the long distance events which makes for a very interesting championships. Adding to the intrigue of these events is the fact that there is a returning champion. Tennessee’s Dylan Jacobs won the 10,000m while running for Notre Dame last year and will look to successfully defend his title in 2023. Jacobs will be trying to be the first man to win consecutive NCAA 10,000m titles since the most decorated NCAA distance runner ever, Edward Cheserek. Additionally, how does Jacobs fare in the 10,000m/5,000m double along with Charles Hicks, who won NCAA XC but did not come away with an NCAA indoor title? Finally, a highly touted battle in the steeplechase between Duncan Hamilton and Kenneth Rooks could put the legendary Henry Rono‘s steeplechase meet record of 8:12.39 in danger.

We start the preview with the 10,000m, the first track final of the the championships.

Men’s 10,000: Can Jacobs defend his title?

(Final Wednesday 10:08 p.m. ET. Times below are from regionals, regular season times here)

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  1  Isai Rodriguez                SR OK State           28:17.98 
  2  Patrick Kiprop                JR Arkansas           28:19.23 
  3  Bob Liking                    JR Wisconsin          28:21.65 
  4  Cormac Dalton                 SR Tulsa              28:21.98 
  5  Scott Beattie                 SR Tulsa              28:21.98 
  6  Charles Hicks                 JR Stanford           28:22.04 
  7  James Mwaura                  SR Gonzaga            28:22.05 
  8  Ky Robinson                   JR Stanford           28:22.84 
  9  Casey Clinger                 JR BYU                28:23.41 
 10  Brandon Garnica               SR BYU                28:24.05 
 11  Ben Perrin                    JR MT State           28:25.57 
 12  Alex Maier                    JR OK State           28:30.26 
 13  Victor Kiprop                 SO Alabama            28:54.97 
 14  Barry Keane                   SR Butler             28:57.59 
 15  Nickolas Scudder              JR Charlotte          29:00.07 
 16  Perry Mackinnon               SR Cornell            29:02.74 
 17  Kirami Yego                   JR So. Alabama        29:03.53 
 18  Haftu Strintzos               JR Villanova          29:04.93 
 19  Marcelo Rocha                 SR Providence         29:05.20 
 20  Graham Blanks                 SO Harvard            29:09.37 
 21  Dylan Jacobs                  SR Tennessee          29:09.57 
 22  Paul O'Donnell                SR Syracuse           29:11.54 
 23  Aidan O'Gorman                JR No. Florida        29:12.89 
 24  Acer Iverson                  JR Harvard            29:18.85

Last year, NAU’s Abdihamid Nur was a heavy favorite to win the men’s 10,000m. Yet, Jacobs, at that time representing Notre Dame, was able to throw in a devastating kick and break him with less than 150 meters to go to secure the win. This year, Jacobs has continued his prominence at the longer distances. He was 4th at the NCAA XC championship behind Charles Hicks, Nico Young, and Drew Bosley, two of whom are not in this race. Jacobs followed up his strong XC campaign with an American collegiate record of 13:11.01 indoors and ran less than 1/2 a second off of the NCAA indoor 3,000m record. At NCAA indoors, he won the 5,000m in 13:37 but failed to complete the 5,000m/3,000m double and placed sixth in the 3,000m.

Dylan Jacobs wins the 2022 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field 10,000 title. Photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs @lhanndowns via TrackTown USA

Outside of his title last year, Jacobs has proven himself to be a winner in championship-style races elsewhere. He won the 2023 SEC 5,000m in 13:36, beating Arkansas’ Patrick Kiprop, a top contender in this race. At SEC indoors this year, he won the 3,000m and anchored Tennessee to a win in the DMR. During his final year at Notre Dame, he won ACC championships in the outdoor 5,000m and the indoor 3,000m.

Jacobs is not the only one returning from the 2022 10,000m NCAA final. Out of the 24 spots on the entry list, 10 of them were in the final last year in Eugene. This should be a confidence booster for Jacobs, as he has beaten many of these runners before.

That all being said, Charles Hicks is also a heavyweight in this race as well. The Jacksonville native representing Stanford won the NCAA XC championships this year, beating Jacobs. While most of his success has come on the trails and grass of cross country courses, Hicks possesses the leading time in the NCAA this year with a 27:57 at the Stanford Invitational. Hicks has the closing speed to be able to contend for the win in a sit and kick race, yet can also run a fast time to win. The NCAA XC champ is always one to watch over 10,000m on the track.

If Charles Hicks was to win this race, he would put himself into some legendary company. This may surprise some people but there have only been seven men to win NCAA XC and the outdoor 10,000m title in the same school year.

  1. Gerry Lindgren, Washington State (1966, 1967 cross country champion, 1967, 1968 10,000m champion)
  2. Suleiman Nyambui, UTEP (1980 cross country champion, 1981 10,000m champion)
  3. Ed Eyestone, BYU (1984 cross country champion, 1985 10,000m champion)
  4. Godfrey Siamusiye, Arkansas (1995 cross country champion, 1996 10,000m champion)
  5. Boaz Cheboiywo, Eastern Michigan (2001 cross country champion, 2002 10,000m champion)
  6. Galen Rupp, Oregon (2008 cross country champion, 2009 10,000m champion)
  7. Edward Cheserek, Oregon (2013, 2014, 2015 cross country champion, 2014, 2015, 2016 10,000m champion)

But Hicks didn’t even win the Pac-12 title. Washington’s Brian Fay was the winner, but he opted to run the 5000 fresh. Aussie Ky Robinson should also be in the mix for the win, as he has a fast PB of 13:11 in the 5,000m. Robinson placed 23rd at World XC Championships in February.

BYU’s Casey Clinger was 2nd indoors in the 5000 and top 10 (7th) in xc.

Lastly, the runners from Oklahoma State including Alex Maier (2nd 2022 NCAA 10,000m, 5th 2022 NCAA XC) and Isai Rodriguez (8th 2022 NCAA XC, 1st West Regional 10,000m) should be ones to watch as well.

Who wins the m 10,000?

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LRC Prediction: Jacobs won last year and looked amazing in the 5000 indoors. He repeats here.

Men’s 5,000: Field is Wide Open

(Final Friday 10:55 p.m. ET. Times below are from regionals, regular season times here)

  1  Ky Robinson                   JR Stanford           13:22.29 
  2  Brian Fay                     SR Washington         13:24.71 
  3  Jackson Sharp                 JR Wisconsin          13:26.56 
  4  Charles Hicks                 JR Stanford           13:26.65 
  5  Matt Strangio                 SO Portland           13:30.16 
  6  Toby Gillen                   SO Saint Louis        13:30.27 
  7  Nico Young                    JR No. Arizona        13:33.77 
  8  Casey Clinger                 JR BYU                13:36.27 
  9  Sam Gilman                    SR Air Force          13:36.31 
 10  James Mwaura                  SR Gonzaga            13:38.82 
 11  Eli Bennett                   JR Air Force          13:39.50 
 12  Chandler Gibbens              JR Kansas             13:40.31 
 13  Graham Blanks                 SO Harvard            13:52.97 
 14  Carter Solomon                SO Notre Dame         13:53.59 
 15  Yaseen Abdalla                JR Tennessee          13:53.80 
 16  Brian Masai                   FR Akron              13:53.98 
 17  Simon Bedard                  SR Butler             13:54.07 
 18  Zach Facioni                  SR Wake Forest        13:54.15 
 19  David Mullarkey               SO FL State           13:55.29 
 20  Dylan Jacobs                  SR Tennessee          14:03.91 
 21  Parker Wolfe                  SO North Carolina     14:04.33 
 22  Luke Tewalt                   SO Wake Forest        14:04.79 
 23  Nicholas Bendtsen             SO Princeton          14:04.89 
 24  Antonio Lopez Segura          SR VA Tech            14:05.28

There are many key players in the 5,000m and none of them stand out as being a heavy favorite. Rather, any one of them could have their moment and be the next NCAA 5,000m champion.

Of course anyone who wins the 10,000 may be the favorite here. Not to keep mentioning him, but Dylan Jacobs is the NCAA indoor 5,000m champion and our pick to win the 10,000. He has the fastest 5,000m PB out of anyone in the field as well.

The NCAA 5000 leader in 2023 at 13:21.99 is the Brian Fay of UW, who has been on a hot streak as of late, which is always very good for a boost of confidence coming into the most important meet of the year. The real confidence for betting on Fay should come from the fact that he swept the 5,000m and 10,000m at Pac-12s this year. Both of those races were tactical, which is usually how NCAA championship races like to develop. Fay is also a 3:52 miler, which shows he has the closing speed to win a sit and kick, championship style race.

BATHURST, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 18: Ky Robinson of Team Australia (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images for World Athletics )

Ky Robinson should be more of a factor in the 5,000m than in the 10,000m. His 13:11.53 is only 1/2 a second off from Jacobs’ PB. Robinson won his heat of the West regional 5,000m and placed fourth at last years NCAA Championship. His experience racing against professionals should come in handy against in what should be a race won by the savviest tactician of the day.

Nico Young of NAU also has a very fast PB of 13:11.30 over 5,000m. This is 0.29 slower than Jacobs’ PB. Young won the Big Sky Championship 5,000m this year and is going to hungry to earn his first NCAA title. Young came in third last year at the NCAA championship and fourth at the NCAA indoor championships this year. Young was also second this year at the NCAA XC Championships behind Charles Hicks. An athlete of Mike Smith and the coaching staff at NAU should never be counted out of a championship race, especially one with the talent level of Nico Young.

Charles Hicks (9th), Parker Wolfe (5th), Patrick Kiprop (6th), and Casey Clinger (2nd) were all inside the top 10 at NCAA indoors for the 5,000m and should be factors in this race as well.

Ultimately, a dark horse contender from Harvard, Graham Blanks, could mix it up in the 5,000m. Blanks is the 2023 double champion in the Ivy League, winning both the 5,000m and 10,000m. Blanks won his heat at the East regional and including that race has won four straight 5,000m races (not losing once since NCAA indoors).

Who wins the m 5,000?

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LRC Prediction: After watching Jacobs win the 5000 indoors, we imagined he’d crush the 3000 but there is just too much talent. Look for history to repeat itself. It’s hot in Austin so we doubt this will be fast and we think a fresh 3:52 miler is your winner – Brian Fay.

Men’s 3,000m SC: Two-Horse Race

(Prelims Wednesday, 8:02 p.m. ET, final Friday 9:24 p.m. ET. Times below are from regionals, regular season times here)

  1  Duncan Hamilton               SR MT State            8:16.23 
  2  Kenneth Rooks                 JR BYU                 8:25.05 
  3  Matthew Wilkinson             SR Minnesota           8:26.33 
  4  Victor Kibiego                FR UTEP                8:26.80 
  5  Victor Shitsama               SR OK State            8:30.70 
  6  Rob McManus                   FR MT State            8:31.13 
  7  Ed Trippas                    SR Washington          8:31.36 
  8  Awet Yohannes                 SR New Mexico          8:33.80 
  9  Levi Taylor                   JR MT State            8:33.82 
 10  Alex Slenning                 JR Oregon              8:34.29 
 11  Peter Herold                  JR UCLA                8:35.19 
 12  Nathan Mountain               SO Virginia            8:37.40 
 13  Abdelhakim Abouzouhir         JR E. Kentucky         8:37.78 
 14  Carson Williams               JR Furman              8:38.40 
 15  Bronson Winter                JR Weber State         8:38.92 
 16  Ahmed Kadri                   SO E. Kentucky         8:40.79 
 17  Charles Harders               SR Miami (Ohio)        8:40.97 
 18  Parker Stokes                 JR Georgetown          8:44.06 
 19  Derek Johnson                 JR Virginia            8:44.73 
 20  Pedro Garcia- Palencia        JR E. Kentucky         8:45.79 
 21  Zach Jaeger                   JR GA Tech             8:47.47 
 22  Kevin Robertson               JR Syracuse            8:47.69 
 23  Marshall Williamson           SR North Carolina      8:49.85 
 24  Tom Seitzer                   JR Notre Dame          8:49.92 

This year’s steeplechase projects as a two-horse race between Montana State’s Duncan Hamilton and BYU’s Kenneth Rooks. Both men are having fantastic seasons and are contenders to not just win the NCAA Championship, but make the US Worlds team with Hillary Bor breaking his foot in Rabat.

In one of the more shocking performances of the outdoor season on the professional U.S. circuit, Rooks won the Sound Running On Track Festival versus 3-time steeplechase national champion Bor. In a remarkable performance, Rooks emerged victorious, leaving his competitors behind with a stunning final lap. His exceptional effort propelled him to the position of the second-fastest collegiate steeplechaser in history at that time, clocking an impressive winning time of 8:17.62. Additionally, Rooks is on fire this season, winning his last five straight steeplechase races this season (Hamilton’s time beat him at the West regional but they were in different heats).

Hamilton wins West Regional Steeplechase (Photo Courtesy of 406 Sports)

However, Duncan Hamilton’s performance at the West regional meet was amazing. He overtook Rooks for the second-fastest collegiate steeplechaser in history, running a blazing fast time of 8:16.23. Hamilton just missed out on making the World Championship team last year, placing fourth at USAs.

These two have separated themselves from the rest of the field, and could be on the verge of history. Hamilton and Rooks recently ran 8:16 and 8:17, respectively. Henry Rono’s NCAA meet record of 8:12.39 could be in danger. At three out of the last four NCAA Championships, the winner of the men’s steeplechase set a PB. With Rooks and Hamilton being such close competitors and history playing in their favor, Rono’s elusive record that has stood since 1978 might fall on Friday night. More specifically, last year Ahmed Jaziri won in 8:18, a PB by approximately 5 seconds. Rooks and Hamilton have not yet raced each other this season, and the two of them could push each other to new heights. If either Rooks or Hamilton were to PB by 5 seconds, Rono’s meet record that has stood for 45 years will fall.

Who wins the m steeple?

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LRC Prediction: Rooks and Hamilton support similar PBs and similar speed as both have run 1:50 for 800 and 3:59 for the mile, but Rooks is our pick as he’s won 5 straight steeples and beat Bor who went on to run 8:11 in Doha.

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