This is a column from Sean MacPherson. Sean wrote for RunBlogRun in the Nike Pre this year, and has written a daily column during the NCAAs. I really like his takeaways from the Men’s Champs. I liked his approach. I think that you will too!
Trey Cunningham takes the 110m hurdles in Eugene in 13.00, photo by Kevin Neri / SOJC Track Bureau
By Sean MacPherson RunBlogRun
It was a fantastic night of track and field in Eugene as the Men’s NCAA Championship delivered a variety of memorable performers and storylines. Here were my biggest takeaways from the meet:
Powell’s Huskies Shine in Men’s 1500 Meters
The Men’s 1,500m final, June 10, 2022, NCAA Outdoor Champs, by Kevin Neri / SOJC Track Bureau
Andy Powell brought his coaching talents to Seattle in 2018 after building quite the resume at the University of Oregon for over 13 years. Powell coached the likes of Galen Rupp, Ed Cheserek in Eugene and coached the Ducks to 34 individual NCAA titles. But when he bolted to the University of Washington and the storied Oregon track program continued to churn out elite athletes, questions could have been raised about just how good of a coach Powell is. Well, the Huskies’ dominance in the NCAA Men’s 1500 this year may have answered some of those questions. Washington athletes took home 1st, 5th, and 7th place, respectively, scoring 16 points in the event. While Joe Waskom’s winning time of 3:45.58 isn’t exactly a groundbreaking time, the former steeplechaser now has a Pac-12 and NCAA title to his name. He becomes the first 1500m winner from UW since 1928.
Trey Cunningham Caps Off Incredible Season
Trey Cunningham takes the 110m hurdles, June 10, 2022, NCAA Outdoor Champs, photo by Kevin Neri /SOJC Track Bureau
Trey Cunningham of Florida State capped off an undefeated senior season with a blazing personal best of 13.00 to win the 110m hurdles. This time is a new personal best for Cunningham and ranks him tied for second all-time in the NCAA. He also became one of four collegians ever to run 13.00 or faster. With this level of dominance at the moment, Cunningham may be a serious threat at the upcoming US Championships and potentially even the World Championships. After all, the decorated Seminole already ranked first in the world going into today with his time of 13.07 in the NCAA Regionals. I believe Cunningham is capable of posting some sub-13 performances and is a darkhorse to medal at the World Championships this summer.
Joseph Fanbuelleh Pulls Off Sprinting Double
Joseph Fanbuellah takes the 100m/200m double, June 10, 2022, NCAA Outdoor Champs, photo by Kevin Neri/ SOJC Track Bureau
Last year’s parlay of NCAA 200m Title and 5th place Olympics finish was awfully impressive, but clearly, Joseph Fanbuelleh had bigger things in store this season. To me, he had the most impressive individual performance of anyone in this meet. First, he nearly chased down the entire field on the anchor leg in the 4×100 but ultimately helped his team place second. Next, he stumbled out of blacks but turned on the jets in the final 30 meters of the 100 meters to pull off the upset in 10.00. Then, he pulled off the double by winning in his main event, the 200 meters, in a PB time of 19.84. This time places Fanbuelleh as the third fastest athlete in the world this season The sophomore from Florida is not strong out of the blocks with his large frame. However, he displays one of the most marveling acceleration phases you will ever see. It’ll be fun to watch Fanbulleh compete against the world’s best in Eugene this summer and potentially try to chase down the collegiate record of 19.69 if he stays in school next season.
Micah Williams Places 7th in the Men’s 100
Micah Williams, photo by Kevin Morris / @kevmofoto
The Eugene crowd was ready to witness something special in the Men’s 100 meters by a local athlete, Oregon’s Micah Williams. The 20-year-old had been dominating in this event all season, posting a couple of blazing times, including a PB of 9.86 back in April and a 9.86 in the Regional meet just two weeks ago. Unfortunately, in Friday’s 100m Final, something went awry for Williams. His start wasn’t as assertive as it usually is, and he tightened up over the final stages of this race. He ultimately placed 7th with a time of 10.19. Considering Williams also DQ’d with a false start in the 2022 60m NCAA Indoor final, he’s certainly had a collegiate career of highs and lows. While this race didn’t go as planned, I’m certainly not counting out an athlete of his caliber from making serious noise in Eugene this summer. I expect him and his coaches to learn from this disappointment and bounce back in a major way at the U.S. Championships later this month in Eugene.
Olin Hacker Takes The 5K
Olin Hacker takes the 5,000m ! June 10, 2022, NCAA Outdoor Champs, photo by Kevin Neri/SOJC Track Bureau
Going into this year’s distance events, it didn’t feel like there was a clear favorite, just a handful of great runners with different skillsets. The 5K and 10K were wide open, and many of these runners were still searching for their first NCAA title. Dylan Jacobs claimed the 10K on Wednesday after overtaking the gutsy Athanas Kioko and outlasting the favorite, Abdihamid Nur. Similar to that race, the lead in Friday’s 5K swapped hands multiple times, and the win really felt wide open for the taking. Ultimately, as this 5K went on, it came down to three athletes: Morgan Beadlescomb (Michigan State), Nico Young (Northern Arizona), and Olin Hacker (Wisconsin). I came into this race picking Nico Young to win, but over the last lap, he couldn’t hang with the speed of Hacker (3:56 mile PB) and Beadlescomb (3:52 mile). Hacker sprinted past Beadlescomb with about 120 meters to go and claimed his first NCAA title in 13:27.73. Hacker dropped a 54.5 final lap; it was truly a gutsy performance, and he deserved the win.