NCAA Men’s Preview

NCAA's are this week starting Wednesday

This year’s edition of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships offers a host of superstars looking to retain their respective NCAA titles and plenty more. We’ve broken down the men’s and women’s meets separately, you can find the women’s preview here and our yearly NCAA prediction contest here. If you’re not sure how or where to watch, take a look at this viewing guide as well as the schedule of events.

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Men’s 800: Your Guess is as Good as Ours

Full List of Entrants / Live Results / NCAA Rankings

As evidenced by what happened indoors when Iowa’s Rivaldo Marshall, a man who finished only 5th at Big 10’s, won the national title, this event is all over the place right now. It’s hard to peg a potential favorite in this event as a result of all the chaos this year but three names come to mind. 

The favorite in our minds is Texas veteran Yusuf Bizimana. He was the heavy favorite indoors before getting knocked out in the prelims but was second last year to only Will Sumner. He is undefeated against college competition this outdoor season over 800 meters.

Another contender is NCAA leader Sam Whitmarsh of Texas A&M who has run almost a second faster than anyone else in the country so far this year (1:44.46). He has only one loss this year in the regular season over 800m. He is the SEC champ but lacks national-level experience not making the indoor meet and getting knocked out in the prelims outdoors last year. 

Sean Dolan of Villanova will also be in the mix to win it as well, he was second indoors, and although he raced sparingly he won the Big East. He was also knocked out in the prelims last year outdoors. 

Two men with experience that could be in the mix are Tarees Rhoden and Handal Roban. Rhoden was the ACC champ and 5th indoors and Roban was third outdoors last year and 7th indoors.

Some men were able to run well indoors but have not had much to show for it outdoors, such as Rivaldo Marshall who was the indoor champion but has struggled outdoors, only getting fourth at his conference meet. Finley McLear was third indoors but has not won an 800 outdoors, not even making the Big 12 final. Nicholas Plant had a solid outdoor season but was only 4th at ACC’s. 

Two other names of note are Rynard Swanepoel and Shane Cohen who have the 2nd and 3rd fastest times in the NCAA this year. 

Joseph’s Prediction: Yusuf Bizimana makes up for indoors

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Men’s 1500: A Total Tossup?

Another race that is wide open is the men’s 1500. Lots of the top talent in the NCAA have chosen to race in this event. It is likely due to the talent level of the NCAA in this event that one of the men that we are about to mention gets knocked out in the prelims. 

There is no runaway favorite, but we think that the man with the best chance to win is NAU’s Colin Sahlman. He has been wonderful this year breaking out this winter with a 3:53.17 mile at BU. He ran a blistering fast NCAA lead of 3:33.96 to win against many of the NCAA’s top contenders at Bryan Clay and has exceptional speed running 1:45.63 for 800. This regular season he has only lost to Nico Young at the Oxy Invite, a loss he avenged at Big Sky’s a week later. 

The next man to talk about is Luke Houser. He was great indoors winning the NCAA title but he has had an interesting outdoors. He totally bombed at Bryan Clay running 3:42.12, but came back with a nice win at Payton Jordan running 3:39.05. He then ran the 800 and 1500 at Pac-12’s finishing just 5th and 3rd. Is he just timing his peak right or is he not as fit as he was indoors?

Staying on the theme of the Washington men we can now talk about Nathan Green. He is the reigning champ from last year, where he won in a slow 3:42.78. He spent his winter working on this speed but failed to qualify for the final indoors in a weak field. He had a monster run of 3:34.79 to finish second at Bryan Clay. He was 4th and 2nd in the 800 and 1500 at Pac-12’s leaving us question marks about his fitness. 

The third Washington man is Joe Waskom. He won this race in 2022, and was second last year, but then made the U.S. team. He was only 8th indoors and 4th at Pac-12’s. He has only run 3:39.83 this year at the west regionals. 

The man who beat all the Washington men to win the Pac-12 1500 m title is none other than Elliot Cook. He also won the 800 at Pac-12’s and could be rounding into form at the right time.

Liam Murphy is the Big East champion outdoors in the 1500. He was 4th in the 3k indoors and anchored his team to two impressive wins at the Penn Relays in the 4 X Mile and the DMR. He spent the whole winter staying away from speed and looks to be a title contender as that has now become a focus in training. 

Adam Spencer was second indoors before venturing back to Australia to take down a deep field to become a national champion. He won the Big 10 800 outdoors this year.

Anass Essayi has run 3:32.87 before overseas but was only 4th last year outdoors before DNF’ing indoors in the Mile. He got beat in the SEC 800 and 5k but has the talent to win it all.

Ethan Strand was the ACC champ and was 4th indoors in the mile.

Joseph’s Prediction: Colin Sahlman takes down the field

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Men’s Steeple: Can the Mountain be Climbed? 

This is a race where although no one has been dominant there is a clear favorite. Nathan Mountain opened up his steeple season this year narrowly losing to pro Matthew Wilkinson and running a jaw-dropping 8:20.68. That is the fastest time in the NCAA by about five seconds. He then came back and won ACC’s. He looks to have leveled up from last year where he finished 4th. 

His main competition will come from Victor Kibiego who was the SEC champ and was third last year. 

​​ who was 6th last year holds the second fastest time in the NCAA running 8:25.37 at Bryan Clay. He won both his regular season steeples narrowly taking down Rob McManus, the Big Sky champ at the Stanford Invite. 

Parker Stokes was third in 2022 with a blazing fast 8:18.88 but was 14th this past year. He has run 8:26.61 this season. James Corrigan was the Big 12 champion and is an NCAA XC All-American.

The two regional champions were Yasin Sado of Virginia, who beat his teammate Nathan Mountain, and Victor Shitsama who was 7th last year, but was only second at Big 12’s. 

Joseph’s Prediction: Nathan Mountain is a cut above the rest

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Men’s 5,000: Nico Young Vs. The Field

This race is one that very few men have the capability of winning. Many of the top stars have opted for just the 5k in an attempt to save their legs in an Olympic year. The obvious favorite is Nico Young. He has had a senior year for the ages and has been on fire. He ran 12:57.14 to set the collegiate record at BU indoors this year in the 5k and set the 10k record at sound running two weeks later. He is the 5k and 3k champion from indoors and dominated. He has been focusing on his speed outdoors running lots of 800 and 1500’s and will be comfortable kicking off a slow pace or going with a hot pace from the gun.  

Young will have a few contenders that will look to give him trouble, the first being the reigning 5k/10k champion from last year Ky Robinson. He has run 13:06.42 for second indoors at BU and has the experience needed to capitalize in the right situation.

Next up is the man who beat Robinson in that race Graham Blanks. He was dominant in cross country and was undefeated winning the national title. He ran 13:03.78, to set what was then a collegiate record at BU and looked like a national title contender…and then got hurt and missed indoor nationals. Since then he has just done what he needed to qualify and has kept under the radar. 

The man behind Nico Young indoors was Parker Wolfe. He has been great this year running 13:13.61 at BU and lost by one and two seconds in the 3k and 5kk to Young. In a super tactical race, he has a chance to come home with the gold.

We also have Habtom Samuel who will be doubling back from the 10k but has run 13:13.34 this year. He is exceptionally talented but struggles in tactical races finishing 4th and 7th in the 5k and 3k indoors. Brian Musau is the NCAA leader at 13:13.29 and finished 6th in the 3k indoors.

Joseph’s Prediction: Young wins in an all-time classic

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Men’s 10,000: Habtom Samuel Vs. The Field

This is also a race that has an extremely clear favorite. Habtom Samuel has run over a minute quicker than the rest of the field running an NCAA #2 all-time 26:53.84. He lost to Nico Young who never ran an NCAA qualifying eligible 10k and opted to focus on just the 5k to stay fresh for the trials. Some names that Samuel beat in that 10k at Sound Running include USA champions Joe Klecker, Woody Kincaid, and Abdihamid Nur. He also beat Sub-13 man Adriaan Wildschutt, and world 4th placer  Luis Grijalva. He is a world-class athlete and is the man to beat. His only flaw is his lack of speed in slow races as he finished just 4th and 7th in the 5k and 3k indoors. As long as he pushed the pace before the final laps he should be fine. 

The rest of the field is tricky to analyze as many of these men try and “tempo” efforts early in the season to qualify for this meet. The current NCAA “leader” who has a time in an NCAA-approved race is Alex Phillip from North Carolina. He only finished third in a tactical ACC race but could be a factor if the pace is fast. 

The conference champs include Victor Kiprop from Alabama. He is the SEC champion and he won the East Regional. Patrick Kiprop won the 5k at SEC’s working on his speed and was third at West Regionals. Tom Brady won the 10K at Big 10’s while Sanele Masondo won the Big 12. Alex Maier won the Big 12 5k and was second in the 10k last year.

Additionally, you have Denis Kipngetich who was 4th in XC but has been very inconsistent, and Ernest Cheruiyot with the second fastest time in the NCAA with a 27:51.13. 

Joseph’s Prediction: Habtom Samuel dominates over the last mile 

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