Oregon’s Cheserek & Rogers Make History at Millrose Games
By Kyle Terwillegar, USTFCCCA
February 20, 2016
Cheserek Moves to No. 2 All-Time at 3000 Meters
Twelve years and a week ago, Alistair Cragg of Arkansas ran 7:38.59 over 3000 meters for a brand new collegiate record – even when considering the converted two-mile times of such fabled legends as Henry Rono and Suleiman Nyambui. Since then, only Lawi Lalang of Arizona has come within five seconds of that performance with a 7:42.79 three years ago.
Until today, that is.
While Edward Cheserek of Oregon – a 10-time NCAA champion on the track and in cross country – ultimately couldn’t topple Cragg’s achievement, he came closer than anybody ever has with a 7:40.51, sixth-place showing in the Paavo Nurmi 3000 at the Millrose Games.
In contrast to his signature style against fellow collegians, the junior ran from the front of the star-studded pack throughout most of the race and looked to be applying some severe pressure to Cragg’s all-time standard.
Alas, the fearsome kick that has proven lethal to many an NCAA challenger proved ineffective in the late stages of the race. Racing against the likes of all-time American greats Ryan Hall and Evan Jager, as well as other world-class pros in Hassan Mead, former teammate Eric Jenkins, and Mo Ahmed – and combined with the fact that the sustained quick pace had sapped the energy reserves from his patented kick – he was unable to hold his position over the final 600 meters.
He ultimately finished less than two seconds behind the photo-finish between Hill and Mead.
Still, only Cragg can claim to have run as fast over this same distance as a collegian, and Cheserek now ranks No. 1 among all collegians in 2016 at both 3000 and 5000 meters, and is equal to No. 3 in the mile.
The next question for Cheserek? Will he do all three events at the NCAA Championships in a bid to help his Ducks three-peat as NCAA team champions? The last man to try that triple, Lalang, was derailed in part by none other than Edward Cheserek.
Raevyn Rogers Narrowly Misses 800-Meter College Record
It took nearly the entire 2014-15 NCAA track & field campaign for Oregon’s Raevyn Rogers to burst onto the national scene. Saving her very best for last, she became the first freshman in collegiate history to run sub-two-minutes over 800 meters en route to an upset NCAA title on her home Hayward Field track in June.
The only delay in her ascent to the top of the collegiate leaderboard in 2015-16 has been her competition schedule – she hadn’t run an 800-meter race before Saturday at the Millrose Games – and the wait is over.
Not only did she rocket to the top of the NCAA ranks with a 2:00.90 to finish fourth in a blanket finish in the iconic Millrose Games (less than a second away from winner Ajee Wilson), she nearly sailed right past the long-standing collegiate record.
In collegiate history, only former Tennessee star Nicole Cook has gone faster, running 2:00.75 a week shy of 11 years ago at the SEC Championships.
Among those Rogers surpassed on the all-time collegiate list today? Tennessee’s Phoebe Wright, Clemson’s Natoya Goule and former Bowerman winner Laura Roesler of Oregon – all three of whom were in the field at The Armory. Roesler finished less than half a second ahead of her heir apparent in third, while Wright and Goule were sixth and seventh, respectively.
Of all the top-10 women in collegiate history, only Rogers has achieved her performance as an underclassman – that is, a sophomore or freshman.
Though this was her first 800 of the year, her performances over other distances has indicated such a performance was in the offing. She debuted with a 1:26.34 over 600 meters for the fastest time ever recorded by a collegian at that distance (though it was on an oversized track) and she has since shown great strength at 400 meters both on the open circuit and in the 4×400 relay.