Olympic 1500m Qualifying Explained: Which Men Need the Standard in the Trials Final?

Half of the field either has the standard or world ranking to go to Paris; the other half will need to run fast by the end of this week

EUGENE, Ore. — The men’s 1500-meter final at the 2024 Olympic Trials is set for Monday night at 8:47 p.m. ET at Hayward Field and it should be a classic. Yared Nuguse and Cole Hocker have both already run 3:34 in the rounds, Hobbs Kessler looked terrific in the semis, and there are five hungry collegians (if you count NCAA champ Joe Waskom, who is now representing adidas) trying to hunt down a spot on the Olympic team.

But for some of them, it will take more than just a top-three finish in Monday’s final to earn an Olympic berth. You also need to have the Olympic standard of 3:33.50 or a world ranking in the top 45 in the world on the filtered Road to Paris list to qualify for the Olympics. And that is where the professionals have a distinct advantage. Pro meets carry far more ranking points than college meets, and as a result, six of the seven pros in the field either have the Olympic standard or world ranking to go to Paris, whereas none of the collegians have either. Here’s a look at who needs to do what in Monday’s final in order to qualify.

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Have the Olympic standard, only need to finish top 3

Yared Nuguse, Cole Hocker, Hobbs Kessler, Cooper Teare

Have a world ranking within the top 45 of the Road to Paris list, only need to finish top 3

Vincent Ciattei, Henry Wynne

Could move into the top 45 depending on how fast they run in the final

Craig Engels, Joe Waskom

Kevin Morris photo

Currently, Luxembourg’s Charles Grethen is ranked 45th on the Road to Paris list with a ranking score of 1228 points (the ranking is an average of an athlete’s five best performances in the qualifying window). Right now, Engels is at 1214 points and Waskom at 1201. However, each man could move into the top 45 with a strong run in the final. Engels would be assured of a top-45 spot if he is 3rd in 3:36.31 or faster, but he’d only need to run 3:38.51 if he wins because you get more bonus points for finishing higher.

Waskom, for all intents and purposes, had to run the 3:33.50 standard (either in the final or by the end of the week). He could get in off ranking if he wins the Trials in 3:33.92 or faster but in all other situations he’d need to run the time.

Time if 1st Time if 2nd Time if 3rd
Craig Engels 3:38.51 3:37.04 3:36.31
Joe Waskom 3:33.92 3:33.50 3:33.50

Need to finish top 3 and run under 3:33.50

Nathan Green, Elliott Cook, Ethan Strand, Liam Murphy

These are the four remaining college runners and none of them have a world ranking remotely close enough to get in at the moment. All of them would need to run the standard to qualify for Paris.

Is there any way for the seven without the standard/ranking to make the team if they don’t hit the standard in the final?

This is where things could get complicated. Let’s say Joe Waskom finishes 3rd in 3:34.00. That would bump his ranking up to 1221 points — very close to the 45th spot on the Road to Paris list, but not quite there. So he’s out, right?

Not necessarily. First, Waskom (or whoever the hypothetical 3rd placer without the standard is) might be able to set up a race by the end of next week to chase the standard since the Olympic qualifying window does not end until the final day of the Trials — June 30. We’ve seen already in the steeple that third-place James Corrigan, who does not have the Olympic standard, will be chasing the standard at the Penn Relays Summer Series at Franklin Field on Saturday. If someone without the standard finishes in the top 3 in the 1500, they could do the same thing and try to qualify at that meet.

The other thing to remember is that 45th place on the Road to Paris list is not set in stone. As other countries hold their championships, someone could bump Grethen from the 45th spot so it may take more than 1228 points to qualify. On the other hand, not every athlete in the top 45 might declare for Paris, which means someone on the bubble might still get an invitation. And remember, if Waskom is 3rd, one of the people in the top 45 would be an American that he beat at the Trials (and who the US would not be entering if it sent Waskom). The final Road to Paris list will not be published until July 7 so we’ll have to wait until then to get more certainty.

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