Can Jordan Hasay capture her first NCAA title?
By Chris Lotsbom
(c) 2010 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
This weekend’s NCAA Regionals should feature noteworthy contests in the 1500m. Here is our exclusive preview:
In the Eastern Region, the 1500m is up for grabs with any one of a handful of competitors able to take the top spot. Entering the Regional with the top time is Felix Kiboiywo, a senior out of Auburn with a time of 3:40.50. The SEC Champion in the 1500m, Kiboiywo is looking to improve upon his appearance at last year’s NCAA Championships, where he was unable to advance out of the preliminary round. University of Maine sophomore Riley Masters, the first sub-4 miler in school history, could pose a threat to Kiboiywo. Although he has only run three 1500m races this outdoor season, Masters has the experience of a fifth place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships behind him. Finishing one place behind him at NCAA Indoors was Ohio State’s Jeff See. See, a senior, also has experience to his advantage; he placed eighth at last year’s NCAA Outdoor Championships in addition to his sixth place finish at this year’s indoor championships in the mile. It will be interesting to see how See responds after finishing fourth at the Big Ten Championship earlier this spring. Other names to look out for are Columbia’s sub-4 minute miler Kyle Merber, and Providence’s trio of Dominic Channon (SO, 3:42.25), Julian Matthews (SO, 3:43.95), and Hayden McLaren (SR, 3:43.95).
On paper, it looks like the West has a big advantage in depth at this distance. Four athletes have gone sub 3:41, whereas only one athlete has done so in the East (Kiboiywo). Leading the group is 2010 NCAA Indoor mile champ Lee Emanuel of New Mexico. A senior from Great Britain, Emanuel has the second-fastest time of the field (3:38.79), which was run at the Oregon Relays in late April. More recently, Emanuel won the Mountain West Conference Championship 1500m, while also placing second in the 800m. Joining Emanuel will be Olympian Andrew Wheating (Oregon), who is entered in both the 800m and 1500m. Wheating beat Emanuel at the Oregon Relays with a ferocious kick in the last 100 meters, where he ran his qualifying time of 3:37.83, the fastest time of all collegians this year. Wheating has seemed to focus mostly on the 800m; he has he only ran one 1500m this year. Will doubling at Regionals impact his chances? Only time will tell, but my best guess is no. He doubled at Penn Relays (anchoring the 4x800m and distance medley relay) and looked great, so judging from the past, he will be fine. Fellow Ducks A.J. Acosta (3:39.44), Matt Centrowitz (3:41.16), and Mac Fleet (3:42.11) are also entered, and all have seemed to be in top shape recently. Freshman sensation Fleet placed second at the NCAA Indoor Championships earlier this year, while Acosta finished two spots behind in fourth. Centrowitz has won the PAC-10 Championship, Pepsi Team Challenge, and Oregon Preview meets all this spring. Any one of these ‘Men of Oregon’ can take the win at Regionals. Also in the mix will be Dylan Ferris (SO, Stanford), Eric Harasyn (JR, Oklahoma), Abdi Hassan (SO, Arizona), and Craig Miller (JR, Wisconsin), all who have made it to the final round of the NCAA National Championship meets in either the 1500m or mile.
The Eastern Region is led by Florida senior Charlotte Browning, a Briton. The SEC and NCAA Indoor Champion in the 1500m and mile, respectively, Browning has proven that she is a big meet runner. With a time of 4:13.96, Browning tops the start list for the East, but is closely followed by Florida State senior Pilar McShine. A native of Trinidad and Tobago, McShine has won the ACC 1500m title for two straight years now, and is looking to close out her career on top with a national title. If she wins, Florida State would have captured the Outdoor 1500m title for three straight years, as Hannah England and Susan Kuijken have won the past two NCAA Outdoor titles. Like Browning, McShine is coming off of a successful indoor campaign, as she placed third at NCAA Indoors. Other athletes who have national experience and could be threats include Lucy Van Dalen (JR, Stony Brook/NZL), Keri Bland (JR, West Virginia), Dina Nosenko (SO, Wake Forest), and Heidi Gregson (SO, Iona).
Like on the men’s side, the West Region seems to have the advantage on the women’s side, too. Five athletes have recorded times under 4:16. Washington’s Katie Follett is the favorite coming in –she finished second at the PAC-10 Championship, and is coming off of a third place finish at NCAA Indoors. With the fastest collegiate time this year by over two seconds, Follett will be tough to stop. The top returner from the NCAA Outdoor Championship last year is UC Riverside’s Brenda Martinez, who finished second to Kuijken in Fayettville one year ago. Martinez has run three 1500m races this year, and has a season best of 4:19.66. With such a deep field, Martinez will likely have to run faster than that to make the NCAA Championship. Similar to the men, Oregon has a handful of contenders in the women’s 1500m. Zoe Buckman, Jordan Hasay, and Alex Kosinski all have the ability to take the race. Buckman leads the group with a time of 4:12.80, and is also coming off a PAC-10 Championships victory. Freshman Hasay, though, had the best finish of the bunch at the Indoor Championships earlier this year, placing fourth in the mile. Oregon assistant athletic director Vin Lananna certainly has a squad which can sweep the top three spots at regionals and/or nationals. Also in the field is Oklahoma State’s Mihaela Susa, who finished fifth at NCAA Indoor’s.