As we move into the middle of April, the temperatures start to heat up--though the Northeast might offer some push-back on that point--and so to does the outdoor track season. The top NCAA runners return to the track after a couple down weeks from indoors. We're still a week out from Mt. Sac, but plenty of intrigue occurred at the collegiate level this past weekend.
College Track and Field
Edward Cheserek doesn't frequently lose, especially to non-teammates. Last year's Penn Relays 4xmile remains in our memory not only because of the controversially slow pace Cheserek set at the beginning of the fourth leg to let Villanova's Jordy Williamsz back into the race, but because King Ches ultimately lost. This weekend, at Hayward Field, in a meet that featured team scoring, Edward Cheserek was out kicked by Washington's Colby Gilbert in the 5000m. Gilbert, to this point, wasn't a particularly notable NCAA athlete. He finished 32nd in Cross Country and 8th in the 3000m indoors. But Saturday, he blasted a 60-second final lap to beat the King by nearly six seconds. This probably means nothing for Cheserek's reign as the top distance runner, but anytime Cheserek is defeated demands attention.
Coming off a third-place finish indoors, Shaquille Walker shattered his previous PB of 1:45.58 to win the Sun Angel Classic in a sub-1:45 time. It's early in the season and the NCAA championships are still two months away, but a performance like this announces Walker as a favorite as the season progresses.
Also from the same meet, Andre De Grasse won the 200m in a time of 20.23 seconds. The time isn't particularly impressive, but if Walker is early in his season, De Grasse is even earlier in his as he is gearing up for the Olympics in Rio. He doesn't need to peak before Rio, as he's all but assured to make the Canadian team.
Coaches and their staffs will now be able to maintain constant communication with recruits as the NCAA has allowed schools to text recruits. Texting was sort of the last frontier in recruiting, as coaches were already utilizing social media direct messages to maintain constant communication with high schoolers. Twitter DMs and Facebook messages are easier to screen or block than text messages are, though. Whether this will ultimately change where high schoolers end up committing is uncertain, but it could profoundly change the recruiting experience as athletes can now be constantly bombarded by coaches after each race or workout.
Can you conceive of anything less pleasant than an indoor marathon? 211 laps on an indoor track sounds awful. There's a good reason that the NCAA or IAAF doesn't run anything longer than 5000m at their indoor championships: more than 25 laps on a track is just too much. The only thing worse would be a treadmill marathon.
This weekend featured two new World Records in the indoor track iteration of the marathon. Two men came in under the previous record of 2:27:21 set by Michael Wardian in 2010. Malcolm Richards won in 2:21:55 and Anthony Migliozzi came in second in 2:24:02. Only one woman ran the race: Allie Kieffer. She ran 2:44:44, which was over nine minutes under the previous record of 2:53:53.
Congratulations to those three for setting records in what may be the stupidest race in existence. Any record is deserving of praise and recognition, but a major question looms: At what cost? 211 laps on the indoor track is an inconceivable level of hell to me, and I have been known to do 8 mile runs on a 110 yard suspended indoor track in college during snowstorms.