Monday, January 21, 2013

2013 NCAA Women's Indoor 800m Preview

The Wood Report is starting a NCAA Indoor Women's Preview and is starting off with the 800m. The women's side of things is not what I specialize in, but due to many people requesting me to do a preview of the women's side, here it is. 

The number one returner in the country for 800m is Lithuanian native Natalja Piliusina who comes off of an outstanding 2012 indoor and outdoor campaigns.  At first glance it does not appear that Piliusina is the top returner because according to every source possible it seems that Nachelle Mackie is. If Mackie were to read this should we be doing so from her 5th grade classroom. Because of Mackie’s decision to end her career to teach and start a family Piliusina is in a perfect position to take the reins of the 800m at nationals. Piliusina has been a solid championship racer in her past and should be the same in 2013 where she will take her PR of 2:02.12 and pit it against the best in the country. Finishing second indoors in 2012 for 800m and 10th outdoors for 1500m and good DMR finishes in  Head-to-head it is hard to see anyone beating someone with the kind of strength she has. A 1500m PR of 4:09.51 and 55.4 400m speed, Piliusina is very-well rounded with nice range and is the favorite going into the 2013 indoor season.

With the second fastest time returning from last indoor season, Charlene Lipsey is poised for a run at the national championship in 2013. In terms of winning, Lipsey is no slouch in the 800m. The three – time All-American is the SEC indoor returning champion for 800m where she ran 2:05.55 for the win. After placing seventh at indoor nationals, Charlene followed up that with an amazing outdoor season, left short of a national title. As is the case with most of the 800m runners last year, none of them had the ability to get past Nachelle Mackie, and Lipsey is no different. She ran an amazing race at the outdoor national championships where she ran a PR of 2:01.40, but came up just short behind Mackie. This season Lipsey is one year older and wiser and should be ready for a shot at the national crown in Fayatteville.

With a national championship already at this event outdoors, Kesselring is primed and ready for a push for a national title indoors in 2013. Having run the mile indoors in 2012, if Kesselring does run the 800m in 2013 she has a legitimate chance to be in the mix with Piliusina, Lipsey, and others. She already has great PRs at both the mile and 800m with a 2:02.15 and 4:32.61, respectively. Coming off a 5th place finish outdoors in 2012 for 800m, Kesselring is a favorite in 2013 indoors for a national championship.

The 2011 indoor season was Addison’s coming out party when she ran 2:03.79 at the GVSU Big Meet and also won the Meyo Invite mile in 4:40.62. That year she went on to place eighth overall at the national championship for 800m. Since then Addison has been considered one of the top middle distance runners in the country. Another 8th place finish indoors for 800m in 2012 and solid outdoor season where she set a PR of 4:17.16 for 1500m has Addison ready for 2013 as a contender for another strong finish at nationals. Look for her to crack the top five at the national championships in Fayatteville for 800m.

Since her 10th place finish for 800m indoors in 2012, Brown has run only one 800m on any track and that was at the U.S. Olympic Trials where she ran 2:06.36 and finished 24th overall. One of only few women on this list that have run sub-2:03 for 800m, Brown is ready to finish off her senior season with a bang. Stephanie has good strength which will come in handy this indoor as she has a very strong field to compete against, but her 4:15 1500m PR strength will help her down the stretch in 2013.

A disappointing campaign in 2012 indoors for Roesler has her ready to roll in 2013 with one of the best resume’s of for 800m in the country. Last indoor,  Roesler finished 16th overall at the national championships at 800m in Boise and her DMR team came up one place short of first. From indoor to outdoor in 2012 Roesler continued to race well and a lot, running the 800m nine times outdoors alone (not counting the Trials). Roesler is a veteran for 800m and has been on the radar as one of the nation’s best for a while now, having run in the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2008 and 2012 being a semi-finalist both years for 800m. This year one of the most experienced 800m runners will be looking for her first individual national title (won the 4X400 outdoors in 2012).

The wildcard of this group is the freshman from Stanford Amy Weissenbach. She owns the National Federation High School Record for 800m with a PR of 2:02:04. In this group of outstanding 800m runners, that would put her near the top of the list purely off of PR alone, and she is only a freshman. Weissenbach is a proven winner having won the California state championship three times for 800m. With a great group of women to train around at Stanford, Weissenbach has a  legitimate chance to shock a lot of people at the national championships.

Oberg approaches her junior season (indoors) as a Cal Bear as one of the most consistent 800m runners in the country having broken 2:07 7 times since 2010. Oberg has a very good PR of 2:03.93 that she ran in Sweden. After being hurt for most of 2012 outdoors, Sofia comes in to the 2013 indoor season with one of the faster PRs in the country and is a legitimate contender for a spot in the final indoors for 800m and could surprise some people with her strength at the end of the race (4:17.72 1500m PR).

As the 2013 season is already underway, Smith has started her season with a win at the Jack Harvey invite for 800m running 2:11.80. Smith is a very good indoor 800m runner and is deserving a spot in the top 10 in the country at the event. Last season Smith finished 12 overall at 800m running 2:07.82 in the prelims at the national championships.  Was runner up at the Big-10 800m indoors and her and teammate Addison will push each other to strong finishes at the 2013 indoor national championships in Fayetteville.

Throughout OgunMokun’s career she has run for three different universities (Temple, Seton Hall, and Baylor) and is finally settled on Baylor and is ready for 2013 indoors as one of the better 800m runners in the country. A second place finish outdoors at the Big 12 Championships was good, but a poor finish at the west regional left her out of the national championships in an individual event. Her 4X4 team made it there though where she helped her team to a 13th place finish. With some good leg speed and a good 800m PR of 2:05.30, OgunMokun will be seen mixing things up this season for a spot in the top 10 at the national championships indoors in Fayetteville.

Monday, January 14, 2013

2013 NCAA Men's Indoor DMR Preview

This is an easy one. Cas Loxsom, Ricky West, Robby Creese, and whoever else they feel like putting at the 400m, makes Penn State the obvious choice for the number one DMR team in the country starting the 2013 season.  Loxsom has a PR of 1:45.08 for 800 and just ran 1:46.98 already, Ricky West has gone 1:46, and is a very good choice for the 1200m leg. Robby Creese is a 3:58 guy as a freshman and as long as he continues to improve and does not plateau, he will be a very good anchor leg. One of the possibilities for Penn State for a 400m leg is Emanuel Mpanduki who this past weekend ran 48.44, which is very fast this early and is a likely candidate for that spot. All things considered, Penn State is by and large the favorite, right now, to win the DMR.

2. Oregon
As much as Penn State appears to be a clear favorite for the number one DMR team in the country, Oregon is not that far behind. Mike Berry came on very strong last year as one of the premier 400m runners in the country. Oregon has two very good 800m runner in Elijah Greer and Boru Guyota (either can run the 1200m or 800m interchangeably). The one question mark will be at the Mile. Not that the Ducks do not have a slew of outstanding potential anchor legs, just who do you choose to run it. Some possibilities are Mac Fleet, Trevor Dunbar, maybe Stinson are some options.  It is also important to note that all most likely every one of the members of their DMR will be competing in other events besides the relay (not saying other schools athletes are not either). 

Another possible contender for the title is Villanova which has  a slew of really good middle distance runners. Samuel Ellison at 800m has run 1:47, Jordy Williamsz is a very good option at 1200m with PRs of 3:36 and 1:47 as well. Sam McEntee has run 3:57 and 3:36 and will provide an anchor leg that could possibly beat Penn State or whatever team is up front with them. Bryan Murphy provides them with a good option at the 400m leg. Murphy has PRs of 48.30 open and 47.90 split 400m times. Williamsz will be sure to give them a good lead or put them in the mix from the beginning and will give Villanova good position and help McEntee anchor home a very good DMR team that is legitimate threat to Penn State and Oregon.

4. Texas
The middle distance power house has had its fair share of quality athletes come through, and this year is no different. Kyle Thompson is a very solid up and coming 800m runner and will surely give them a good 1:48. A big question mark is who will fill the 1200m leg. Some options are Joe Stilin, Patrick MacGregor, Trevor Van Ackeren (eligibility?). Kyle Merber (who has run 3:58) will provide a nice anchor leg and will look to bring home All-American status for him and his teammates. The 400m leg is probably going to be filled by Zack Bilderback who has already run 48.16, but Texas has plenty of good 400m runners that can run the 400m spot.

Anytime Henry Lelei has the stick in his hand, he seems to bring it and that should definitely be the case for Texas A&M and their potential excellent DMR squad. With a ridiculous amount of unreal 400m runners (i.e. Aldrich Bailey, Ricky Babineaux, Deon Lendore, etc.) the Aggies are sure to have the best 400m leg in the race. A question mark will be who can take the place of Michael Preble and Joey Roberts at 800m. Josh Hernandez has run 1:53.41 already and should for sure be a sub 1:50 guy by the end of the season going into nationals. The problem is Texas A&M needs to find someone that can contribute in the 800m early enough to assure them a spot at the NCAAs in Fayetteville.

Others considered: Indiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Notre Dame, Wisconsin (they can move up if they put together a solid team, Wisconsin hasn't had incredible success indoors and therefore need to prove it first. Mudd, Hatz and Finnerty are solid options though.

Friday, January 11, 2013

2013 NCAA Men's Indoor 5000m Preview

As was mentioned in the 3000m preview already, Lawi Lalang, although has not been running up to the standard that most of us hold him to, he still is Lawi and still has a 13:08 5000m PR and therefore as the returning champion deserves to be the number one on this list. What makes Lawi Lalang so scary is his speed, which can come into play, especially in the 5K and especially in a slow race. He owns a 3:55.09 Mile PR.  A third place finish at the national championships outdoors behind Levins and Chelimo was definitely not what we thought Lalang was capable of, but keep in mind having to run a 1500m before and maybe that he was tired from a long season of incredible running every race.  Either way you spin it, Lalang has the fastest PR, by a decent margin, of everyone in the country and should be considered the favorites in the 5000m this indoor season (as long as he runs the 5000m).

Whenever the name Lalang comes up nowadays the other name that seems to be going along with it is Kithuka. What many people do not realize is that before Kithuka transferred, he and Lalang have actually raced each other before. As Wayland Baptist, Kithuka ran the Invited 5000m at Mt. Sac where he ran his solid PR of 13:28.61, but placed 9th--10 seconds behind Lalang who was 2nd. Now it appears that Kithuka is obviously as fit as he’s ever been and is definitely capable of beating Lawi (we saw him do it in cross). If Kithuka carries his momentum from cross country to indoor, he and Lalang are going to have some exciting battles.

Coming off of an Olympic year in which Ahmed was able to represent Canada in the 10,000m, Ahmed pushed back his training in order to not get hurt and to keep the possibility of a redshirt going in to the 2012 cross country season. Luckily for Wisconsin and for himself, Ahmed was able to stay healthy and get fit for the end of the season where Ahmed finished 8th overall in Louisville and helped Wisconsin to a 2nd place team finish. Mo redshirted indoor last year, but his outdoor season was equally as impressive as his 2011 cross country season (finished 5th in cross). Ahmed broke the Big 10 record for 10,000m with a PR of 27:34.64. He has a myriad of experience running 5000m including: 11th in 2011 at indoor nationals, 14th in 2011 at outdoor nationals, and  7th in 2012 outdoor nationals. Ahmed has run 13:44 or better four different times and is consistently running well at championship races which puts him high on this list for 5000m.  

Although Rotich was running last year at all of the same meets that everyone else was, no one really knew who he was, and was definitely never in the picture as a contender for a national title or even in anyone’s top 10 or any list you can think of about the best distance runners in the country.  It’s amazing what one year’s difference can make. Rotich did have a pretty good outdoor season in 2012 finishing 6th in the 3000m Steeplechase and has a nice PR of 8:41.14. That was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Rotich’s ability and that was evident during the 2012 cross country season. Rotich finished no worse than 4th in every race he ran in cross and that 4th place finish was at nationals. He won Pre-Nats, won Conference USA, and was 2nd at Mountain Regionals (behind Kithuka). As long as he stays healthy Rotich has a chance to surprise a lot of people indoors as he continues to improve and progress.

Much of what that makes Chelimo so great and worthy of being in this list was mentioned in the 3000m preview, and he almost did not make this list because of that reason, but you cannot leave out the number one returner in the 5000m from outdoors. If Chelimo is fully recovered from an injury plagued cross country season in 2012, he has a shot to place very high in both the 3k and 5k. Chelimo has a very good PR of 13:21.89 that he ran at Payton Jordan last year. He has actually never run 5000m indoors and so could very easily be taken off this list if that trend continues, but the top returner in this event outdoors definitely deserves inclusion in this particular list.

Another repeat name from the 3k that also belongs on this list is Estrada. Behind Lalang, Estrada is the number 2 returner from the 5000m at last year’s indoor championships, where he ran 13:38.12 in the final behind some pretty good company (Lalang, Derrick, Sambu and Levins). Diego also has a legitimate 5000m PR in 13:26.94. Estrada is always considered a threat whenever he races especially in the 5k where he has a 4th place 2011 indoor finish and 5th place finish indoors in 2012.

A 10th place finish in 2012 indoors for 5000m and the number four returner in all the land puts Mecheso in the top 10. Girma came off of a redshirt cross season in 2011 to a solid 10th place indoor nats finish for 5000m, but led to a decent (maybe sub-par) outdoor season.  A DNF in Des Moines at outdoor nats for 10,000m was too bad because he definitely was a contender for a top finish in that race. That was most likely due to his solid finish for 5000m in the same championships placing 8th in 13:57. Mecheso redeemed himself in cross country this past season, running very well all season and finishing 5th at nationals (he was 2nd at Chili Pepper, 2nd at Big 12’s, and 2nd at Midwest Regionals). With all of that in mind he also has a good 5000m PR of 13:34.83 and should improve upon that this upcoming indoor season.

Mecheso’s teammate, who actually finished one spot ahead of him in last year’s indoor 5000m, is Shadrack Kipchirchir. Being a top returner in this event last year gives him a sure spot in the top 10, but behind Mecheso because of his great cross season. Kipchirchir had a good cross country season in 2012 finishing 18th overall at nationals and finishing behind Mecheso in nearly every other race they ran together. Kiprchirchir has good PRs in the distance events of 7:59.79, 13:46.00 and 29:32.99. Look for Shadrack to either move up or off of the list throughout the season depending on his performances and health.

The 2012 Indoor season was Parker Stinson’s coming out party where we saw him tear up the scene and emerged as an elite distance runner with some very good times he ran for 3k and 5k. First, was at the Husky Classic where Stinson ran 13:39.22 and then at the MPSF Championships he went 7:55.60 for 3k. Outdoors was also good for Parker with a nice 10th place finish at nationals in the 5000m running 13:58.28. Stinson was ready for a breakout cross country season as well in 2012, and in general one could say he did, minus nationals. He placed 9th at Pre-Nats, 4th at Pac-12’s (behind Lalang, Sambu, and Dunbar), and 7th at the West Regional). Unfortunately the national meet was probably not exactly what he was shooting for (240th). If Stinson can get over the troubles he had at the end of the season in cross, he is definitely a contender for the 5k indoors.

If you were to only look at what Ward ran indoors and outdoors, he might not deserve inclusion on this list. On the other hand, in terms of momentum and running well recently Ward could be one of the up and coming distance runners in the country.  Ward has good, but not great PR’s indoors and outdoors with an 8:01.99, 13:52.05 and 28:59, in the 3k, 5k, and 10k, respectively. What really helped him emerge on to the scene was his very good 5th place finish in Des Moines last June for 10,000m. Ward kept this momentum through the 2012 cross country season where he proved to be one of the top American-born distance runners.  He finished 8th at Pre-Nats, 1st at the West Coast Conference meet, 3rd in a very good Mountain Regional and 14th at nationals. Going into the indoor season Ward is definitely a darkhorse (but each list should have at least one) and could be seen, just as Kipchirchir, either moving up or off the list throughout the season.

Others not mentioned but of note are: Ryan Hill (NC State), Soufiane Bouchikhi (Eastern Kentucky), David Rooney (McNeese State) Tom Farrell (Oklahoma State)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

2013 NCAA Men's Indoor 3000m Preview

Here is the 3000m preview for this upcoming indoor season. Just a reminder that this is an active list of the top 10 runners in each event, meaning that it will be changing throughout the season because in essence this is my predictions for the top 10 finishers in Fayetteville. A side note for those who read this and don't see their buddy on their list or someone else who they feel like is deserving, remember that if they do run better or prove that they can beat anyone on the list, they will be replaced. Also keep in mind there is only room for 10 runners on each list so that is bound to happen. 

Probably the hottest athlete, in terms of running well recently, going into the 2013 indoor season is the Wolfpack senior Ryan Hill. He returns as the fastest 3k runner in the country last year with his PR of 7:43.08. Hill has been extremely impressive over the last year and has made a name for himself as one of the great up and coming American-born distance runners. His fifth-place finish in the 5k at the U.S. Olympic Trials solidified that along with his outstanding PR of 13:27.49 that came with it. Outside of his amazing PRs, Hill is also a very good runner indoors. Out of the five races he ran indoors, Hill won 4 of them including the ACC Championship for 3k and DMR,  the Virginia Tech Elite Meet Mile for 3:58.33, and the Husky Classic 3k which included his unreal PR of 7:43. As the number one returner for 3k in the all the land, Hill is the man to beat in 2013.

Going from the hottest athlete to Lawi Lalang, who is possibly the coldest runner in NCAA right now, (it is all relative). Lalang burst onto the NCAA cross country landscape in 2011 where he demolished anyone who even threatened him in any race and went on to easily win the NCAA XC title. He next moved on to indoor where he pulled off the 3k-5k double and also was second in the Millrose Games with his ridiculous 13:08.28. But, since his double at indoor nats in 2012 Lalang has won only one race that really mattered---the Pac-12 1500 meter title. Granted, placing second at the Mt. Sac 5k in 13:18.88 is quite good, especially considering he lost to Bowerman Award winner Cam Levins. The bad news gets worse for Lalang as he was overtaken as the best in the land during the most recent cross country season where he got beat by, soon to be mentioned in this list, Kennedy Kithuka. Regardless of all the down talk, Lalang is still a legitimate threat to win any time he steps up to the starting line, and therefore should be thought of as a favorite to repeat as champion for 3k.

The returning champ from NAIA for 3k and 5k is Texas Tech’s Kennedy Kithuka.  Although Kithuka has relatively decent PRs compared to everyone else in this list, Kithuka cannot be discounted for the times he ran last year as an NAIA competitor. He still has run 7:58 for 3k indoors and has OK wheels with a humble PR of 4:04 and 3:46 for mile and 1500m, respectively. Kithuka blew everyone away this past NCAA cross country season, by winning every race he won by a considerable margin and especially the move he made at 6k at XC nats was absolutely devastating and seems to be fitter and faster than the good runner he was last year. If his indoor season follows suit, Kithuka is definitely one to watch in the 3k.

Coming off of a redshirt outdoor season in 2012 and not being eligible for cross country this past season, Diego Estrada is fresh and ready to roll for the 2013 indoor year. Estrada may be the most exciting runner to watch as he is known for always taking the race out hard and making everyone else around him run faster. Estrada is the number four returner in the country at this distance and has a PR of 7:44.63, only tenths away from Lalang’s PR. This indoor season will be the first time he has run in an official NCAA race since last indoor where he placed 7th overall behind some pretty legitimate names like: Lalang, Derrick, Levins, Chelimo (to be mentioned later), and Hill. Diego did have an awesome opportunity to represent Mexico at the Olympics in London, where he finished 21st in the 10,000.  It is likely that Estrada has an amazing base going into this season and is primed to be a contender once again for the 3k indoors this year.

Farrell solidified his mark as one of the top distance runners in the country outdoor last season as, although he was redshirting prepping for the Olympics, he ran a nice PR for 5,000 in 13:15.31 (which would have been the fastest time outdoors for any collegian). Farrell was also impressive this most recent cross country season with a 9th place finish at Nationals in Louisville. Tom is the number five returner in the land for 3000 indoors. In 2012, Farrell placed 9th in 7:55.09 indoors and has a PR of 7:52.38. With a  nice track record (literally) indoors, Farrell is on fire as of late and will surprise many in 2013 indoors.

As unbelievable as this may sound, Chelimo only lost one race in 2012 indoors and that was his 4th place finish at the national meet in Boise last year in the 3k. Chelimo followed up his awesome indoor season with an equally impressive outdoor when he won the East Regional 5000 and went on to place second at nationals behind Levins. Cross Country in 2012 was not nearly as good for Paul as he battled injuries and also some better competition up front (i.e. Kithuka, Mecheso back, Ahmed, Rotich, Lalang, Sambu, the list goes on). Chelimo did not win a single race he ran and was handled by Rotich at Pre-Nats, along with a good, but not great showing at XC nats where he finished 10th (once again it is all relative). The good news for Chelimo is it is a new season and with some solid wheels (3:40 1500m PR) he is someone to watch for to possibly upset some of the main guys up front.

The JUCO transfer from Central Arizona just added to an already loaded Texas A&M track team in 2012 and made an immediate impact indoors and outdoors.  Indoors Lelei anchored their DMR to seventh place finish at nationals (3:58.67 split) and broke school records in the mile (4:01.49) and 3000 (8:01.01). Lelei improved even more over 3000 meters on the track outdoors as he became one of the premier steeplechasers in the country finishing fourth at the national meet and a very good PR of 8:38.90. Lelei has continually improved and has risen to be one of the best distance runners in the country at really any distance. In cross country Lelei had several quality finishes: 2nd at Notre Dame, 4th at Wisco Invite, 1st at SEC, and 5th at Nationals. Lelei now has a solid base and the strength to roll on many of the top runners in the country for 3000m.

With a 7:48.35 PR for 3000m and being a returner from the final at indoor nationals in 2012, Andy Bayer is a must have on this list as a possible top 10 finisher in the 3K this season indoors. Bayer is so extremely versatile having incredible range (1:49.17 800m PR, 3:37.24 1500m PR, 3:57.75 Mile, above mentioned 3K PR, and 13:33.25 5000m PR) and that is what makes him so dangerous in any race, on any day when he toes the line. The real question is what he will actually be running at nationals and what he will be focusing on and finally how hard he has to run in the DMR Mile leg on day 1. Either way, Bayer is dangerous at every distance from 800m-5000m, but like mentioned in the Mile preview, he needs to get healthy and recover from the injury that hindered him from running at XC Nationals in Louisville.

The Alaska native and former Portland Pilot, Trevor Dunbar, enters the 2013 indoor season as the sixth best returner from the 3k at nationals in Boise last year. A year ago at this time the NCAA running world was shocked (or maybe some were) with the news of Dunbar’s transfer to Oregon. Trevor made an immediate impact as a Duck finishing 10th indoors in the 3k and putting out some legitimate times for 3000m and 5000m indoors alone running 7:51.55 and 13:36.86, respectively. Dunbar followed up a good indoor season with a good outdoor season with a 6th place finish for 5000m in Des Moines. Dunbar impressed early in the 2012 cross country season with a solid victory at Dellinger Invite over BYU’s Jared Ward and two 3rd place finishes at Pac-12’s and the West Regional. Unfortunately, things did not necessarily come together as he would have hoped for at nationals and was the first man out of All-American status with a 41st place finish in Louisville. Regardless of his finish in cross country, Dunbar is a clear standout on the track and is considered one of the better distance runners in the country.

In his final season as a Lobo, Ross Millington has one final indoor season left to leave his mark on a very good distance program. Millington has not run since indoors last season and one can only assume that he is going to be fit and hungry to run some fast times this season. A 13th place finish for 3000m at indoor nationals in 2012 makes him the 7th best returner in the country and Millington ran the fifth fastest time in all the land last year with a 7:49.11 clocking. The native of Stockport, England, Millington has a good chance to improve upon his school record in the 3000m and is definitely a dark horse in this event looking towards the national meet in Fayetteville later this year. Millington has quality speed which will help him indoors and hopefully finish well at nats (3:59.86 Mile PR). 

Others not mentioned but of note: Anthony Rotich (UTEP), Maverick Darling (Wisconsin), Reed Connor (Wisconsin), Rex Shields (BYU), Mark Amirault (Virginia). 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2013 NCAA Men's Indoor Mile Preview

This native of Scotland returns for his Senior season as the returning champion at this distance from indoor last year and is ready to repeat as champion. Unlike previous years, O’Hare was a standout for Tulsa in cross country in the fall when he won the Notre Dame Invite, the Midwest Regional, and placed 20th individually at the National Championships in Louisville. With PR’s of 3:56 and 3:37 O’Hare is one of the nation’s best and seems to be particularly better indoors.  He placed 2nd in 2011 and 1st in 2012, but struggles a bit outdoors (most likely due to the length of the season and maybe not having the best base) placing 11th and 12th in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Despite all that, O’Hare is a beast indoors and is the favorite to win the 2013 indoor mile. The only thing that would keep O’Hare from repeating is a rumor of a possible redshirt so he can run all three seasons next year (XC/IND/OUT).

The reigning 1500m outdoor champ from 2012 is an obvious pick as one of the top contenders for the national title indoors for the mile. Coming off an amazing summer where he won the 1500m and placed fourth at the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 1500m as the only collegiate in the race, Bayer is ready to win his first title indoors in his final season as a Hoosier. Bayer has some very nice PRs of 3:57.75 (mile) and 3:37.24 (1500 @ Oly Trials). He has some very nice range and will most likely be included in the 3k indoor preview because of his ability to go longer. This summer he also won the NACAC U-23 Championship in the 5,000 and has PRs of 7:48.35 and 13:33.25 for 3k and 5k respectively. With the ridiculous range Bayer possesses and the strength that he is sure to have, he is going to be very dangerous this indoor season in the mile. The only thing that could hinder Bayer is the injury that kept him from competing at the Cross Country National Championships this past fall. If his injury heals in time, Bayer has a legitimate shot to knock off O’Hare.

Peters had his coming out party as a Freshman right from Bristol, England where he ran 3:58.26 at Boston U.’s home invite, his first Mile on American soil. Since then, Peters has been one of the top milers in the country and is the second top returner for indoor because of his second place finish behind O’Hare at the 2012 Indoor Track Championships. Peters has impressively run 4:00 flat and under 5 different times and has a very impressive PR of 3:57.83 that he ran once again at Boston U.’s home indoor invitational. A solid 6th place in the 1500 outdoors is also a good sign of his versatility from indoor to outdoor.  Rich also had a nice 2012 cross country season winning two races, placing ninth at the Northeast Regional and 72nd at Nationals. With this good base, Peters is a serious contender for the national championships in the mile this 2013 indoor season.

After redshirting the 2012 Indoor season, Hammond came back on the radar as one of the top milers in the country with a very good 4th place finish at the 2012 Outdoor Championships in the 1500 only .6 behind the winner  Andy Bayer, Miles Batty, and Ryan Hill, all top-notch milers.  Hammond is not unfamiliar to success on the indoor side of things as in 2011 placed 7th overall at indoor nats. He has the Virginia Tech school record in the mile with a PR of 3:58.41. This most recent cross country season Hammond helped Virginia Tech win the ACC team title and showed pretty good range with a nice 24:17 8K PR. Hammond has run sub 4 twice and has a 1500m PR of 3:39.22. Hammond seems to be coming around at the right time and for his senior season will surprise some people with his finish at indoor nationals.

A native of Australia, McEntee comes in to the 2013 indoor season as the number three returner in the mile from indoor nationals last year. Sam followed his nice indoor up with a great outdoor season as well with a PR of 3:36.81 and a 9th place finish in the final. McEntee may be one of the most consistent athletes in this top 10 since his beginning at Villanova in 2011. It seems like his name always appears when it comes to a national championship race, which makes him dangerous as a race savvy runner who seems to bring it whenever it counts. McEntee had an up and down 2012 cross country season seeing him finish in an impressive 2nd place at the Mid Atlantic Regional and 4th place at Paul Short, but he also was 17th at the Big East Champs and at Nationals was 150th. With the focus now on the indoor season, McEntee will look to place himself in the mix at the national championships for a shot at the title.  

Another Villanova athlete from Australia is Jordy Williamsz who is probably the best miler in the country that no one has heard of. Not having run any track seasons in the NCAA yet, is the only downfall for this young freshman who has some very impressive PRs from High School.  WIlliamsz was the Australian junior champion at 800m, 1500m, 3000m and the runner up in cross country, with PRS of 1:47.34, 3:36.74, and 8:13.71, respectively. Those are some pretty amazing PRs for a kid in high school. With those times alone, last year he would have found himself in the finals for most likely 800m and 1500m outdoors.  Track fans should be prepared to see that very thing happen this year in his first season as a Wildcat under the tutelage of the great Marcus O’Sullivan.

The Montana State transfer is like many others coming into his redshirt senior year as a 3-time All-American, after breaking every record in middle-distance events you can think of in the state of Montana and at Montana State University. His transfer to Oklahoma was timely as Casey put out his best cross country season of his career in 2012 as Casey was Oklahoma’s number one runner throughout the majority of the season and was their number two at Nats with a 67th place finish individually. Casey also had a nice 2012 Outdoor season qualifying for Nats in the 1500m and placing 18th overall.  The good news for Casey is that he has run some of his best races indoors and looks to do the same this year to improve upon his already impressive 3:59.76 and 1:47.08 indoor PRs. 

If the progress seen from Callahan continues, he is a real challenger to those in front of him in the mile. In 2010 Callahan ran 4:12.6, in 2011 4:01.03, and 2012 3:58.76. Obviously, his times will not improve by those ridiculous measures, but he looks to be on track to possibly go 3:57 or maybe even 3:56. Callahan has not competed outdoors for the past couple of seasons and so the only real results we have from him have come from the indoor seasons the past couple of years.  Peter is the fifth returner in the mile indoors and is just race savvy enough to possibly place himself among the leaders in a good position to close well and maybe surprise some people. If this is so,  we could see a top 3 finish out of Callahan this indoor season.

Finnerty enters his senior season as a Badger and is most likely not on a lot of people’s minds as one of the top milers in the country.  This is especially true considering his not-so-impressive indoor career up to this point. Finnerty’s indoor PR in the mile came as a freshman and is only 4:05.80. The deciding factor in putting Finnerty in this top 10 to begin with is his ability to run well in big meets. Finnerty had an outstanding outdoor in 2012, winning the West Regional in 3:42.93 and placing 5th overall at outdoor nats in the 1500m. Although Finnerty was 5th at the Big 10 Champs in the 1500m, he was behind the likes of Bayer, Leslie, Creese, and Stockberger, who are all quality milers.  The most notable improvement that pushed him into this top 10 was his amazing improvements in cross country. Before this season Finnerty had run in, count them, two meets in his college career. He ended up placing 49th overall at the national meet and he seems primed to improve in the mile indoors and surprise a lot of people in the final.

Kemoy Campbell burst onto the NCAA scene after transferring from South Plains College (after tearing up the NJCAA scene in the 800, 1500, 3K and in Cross Country) by having several top finishes in some of the best cross country meets of the season (i.e. Wisco Invite, SEC, NCAA). Campbell finished in an impressive 17th place finish at XC Nats and is looking to carry his momentum in to the indoor season. Now it is not publicly known as of yet exactly what Campbell will focus on for indoors, but if he were to focus on the mile, it would seem fair to put him as one of the top 10 milers in the country with the nice base he has from cross country. Campbell has good PRs of 1:50.32, 3:42, and 8:20. With those in mind Campbell must be considered a threat in any race he decides to run indoors, especially the mile.

Others not mentioned but that were considered: Robby Creese (Penn State, poor indoor final, didn't qualify outdoors for 1500m and fair to poor xc season placed him outside the top 10, if  he runs well will be moved on to the list), Raul Botezan (Oklahoma State), Kirubel Erassa (Oklahoma State), and Alex Hatz (Wisconsin)

2013 NCAA Men's Indoor 800 Meters Preview

This edition of the Wood Report is the beginning of a top 10 ranking system that will be updated weekly after different meets are run. This is a ranking of how I feel the National Championship would play out if run today. It is not a ranking of the fastest times, but who would win head-to-head. Keep checking back the next couple of days for the rest of the previews for the Mile, 3K, 5K, and DMR. 
Greer is entering his senior season as a five time All-American and the third fastest 800m runner in Oregon history (that's saying something). This indoor season he comes in as the top returner from the 800m outdoor final in 2012 after finishing 3rd in 1:46.05. The last time Greer ran an 800m indoors competitively was in 2011 where he did not make it out of the prelims and ran a dismal 1:54.48. To counter that, the same year outdoors he ran 1:45.06 (his PR) and was the Pac-10 Champ and finished 3rd in the 800m final at nationals. Greer also has the opportunity of running with solid training partners for 800m (i.e. Boru Guyota and Russell Hornsby).  After a redshirt season indoors in 2012 and another solid 2012 outdoor season, Greer is poised to get his first national championship in 2013.

Kemboi, a redshirt Junior, is one of the few athletes in this list to have run 1:46 in back to back seasons. He owns the school record in the 800m for his PR of 1:46.06. He also might be one of the most consistent 800m runners in the country and is definitely the must underrated 800m guy in the country. Indoor 2012 Kemboi redshirted, but still ran the NCAA Qualifer unattached and won in 1:46.64. Outdoor in 2012 saw Kemboi winning the Big 12 800m in 1:46.65 and also placing 5th in the 1500m in 3:46.64, showing some nice range and strength. He is already the national leader in the 800m this season for his 1:52.42 win at the Holiday Preview, and do not be surprised to see him stay at the top of the national leaderboard for the majority of the 2013 indoor season. 

After running 1:46 twice in 2012 during the indoor season and outdoor season, senior Harun Abda is back this 2013 indoor season and looks to be one of the favorites as we enter indoor. Along with teammate David Pachuta, Abda had run the two fastest times of the year indoor with a nice 1:46.97 at the Bill Bergan Invite. Unfortunately, indoors, he only ran the 800m one more time, and that was at the National meet where he ran 1:49 and did not qualify for the finals. Outdoors, he looked fit enough to make the final in the 800m at nationals, but a tough heat made it so his 1:46.65 (second fastest time in school history) was not good enough to move on. If Abda can peak better and stay healthy, with his speed and tested ability, he has a legitimate shot to test some of the big guns up front in the 800m at the national meet.

Cas Loxsom’s PR of 1:45.31 (also a Penn State record) makes him one of the most dangerous runners in the country in the 800m. Loxsom set that PR in 2011 outdoors, but hasn’t run faster than 1:46.81 since. Regardless of his lack of big improvements over the last couple of seasons, he still has some unreal ability and speed, which makes him one of the favorites in every race he runs. In 2012 outdoors, Loxsom got stuck in the heat that even 1:46-mid did not get you into the final, and therefore was not able to improve upon his poor showing at indoor nationals earlier that year where he ran 1:54. The good news for Cas is that he gets to train now with two of the best middle-distance guys in the country in West and Creese and all things considered is one of the favorites in the 800m for this 2013 indoor season.

Penn State received a nice gift as Ricky West decided to transfer from Missouri to Penn State to join with Casimir Loxsom and Robby Creese as some of the top middle-distance runners in the country (that potential DMR is scary). West really came out of nowhere during the 2012 Indoor season as he redshirted all of 2011 and never had run faster than 1:50 his first year at Missouri.  After running 1:52.21 at Bill Bergan in 2012 (same meet Abda ran 1:46.97), the next race West ran he posted a very solid 1:48.84 at the Texas A&M Invite. He went on to win the Big 12 Indoor 800m Championship, but struggled into the National Indoor 800m final and finished in 8th place indoors. West continued his momentum in the outdoor season where he ran three straight 1:46 800s and finished 6th in the outdoor 800m final. Taking all that into account, it is hard to see another 800m runner with the type of national championship experience he has, including his ever-improving 800m times.

Junior Sean Obinwa came onto the scene during outdoor of 2012 as a top-tier 800m competitor where he posted a nice 1:48.44 and 1:47.73 in back to back meets after running no faster than 1:50 the previous year. The Texas A&M Challenge was good to him, as it was for many of the 800m runners in the field as Obinwa ran 1:47 one more time to lock up a national championship berth.  After making the final at the indoor national championship meet in 2012, Obinwa ran out of gas, finishing in 7th place. He redshirted outdoor track in 2012.  Obinwa is one of the top returners in the country looking towards the 2013 indoor track season.

The reigning Big East 800m Outdoor Track Champion and Pennsylvania product is back for his Junior Indoor season after an outstanding 2012 outdoor season and a solid and improved 2012 indoor. Before the indoor season of 2012, Ellison had not run faster than 1:51.22 and obviously was not even in the picture as an elite 800m runner. A nice indoor season in 2012 where he broke 1:50 led up to an incredible improvement during outdoor in 2012 where he ran a PR of 1:47.62, won the Big East 800m, and made the final at the National Championships for 800m, finishing in 8th place.  If Ellison can maintain his momentum from outdoor to the 2013 indoor season, he remains one of the up and coming 800m runners in the country and could be a possible dark horse at indoor nats.

8. Ryan Waite- BYU
Ever since Waite ran his 1:46.83 at the West Regional outdoors in 2010, he has been on the radar as one of the budding stars in the country at 800m. Since then Waite has consistently made the national meet indoors and outdoors, but has struggled to get back to the form he had in 2010. Since 2010, Waite has run 1:48 or 1:49 9 times.  Waite’s strength seems to be coming around after a solid 2012 outdoor, and the fact he finished well at the West regional outdoors to qualify for the national meet. Now a senior, if Waite can find his 2010 form, Waite is a solid championship race runner, and should be among the names of 800m runners that can challenge for the national title.

Travis Burkstrand comes into the 2013 Indoor season as the number 8 returner in the 800m. Burkstrand has solid PRs of 1:48.16 indoors and 1:48.65 outdoors. He was also able to be a solid contributor to the Minnesota Cross Country team (something not very many 800m runners are able to do, or want to do for that matter), which will help his strength at the end of races because of his solid base he is sure to have. Also, he gets to train with one of the country’s best in Harun Abda. With these factors, and with his national championship experience, look for Burkstrand to improve upon his 1:48.16 PR and to make the Indoor national meet during this, his final season as a Gopher.

Eichberger enters his senior season as a Wildcat as possibly one of the most consistent 800m runners for the past three seasons. Eichberger (who by the way has a Mexican passport), has made the NCAA Regional meet in the 800m for the past 3 seasons and has run 1:48 on numerous occasions. He was able to run at the National Championships Outdoor in 2012 after a PR at the West Regional, running 1:47.64. Eichberger has the ability to train with some of the best in the world, and showed some nice progress in the 2012 Outdoor season, which makes him one of the top 10 800m runners returning in the country for the 2013 Indoor season.

Others considered and to watch for are: Declan Murray (Loyola-Ill), Patrick Schoenball (Baylor-not on team roster), Kyle Thompson (Texas), Anthony Lieghio (Arkansas)