British duo prominent in historic US national collegiate 25-lap race in Eugene
Patrick Dever won a thrilling NCAA 10,000m final which saw the first 10 men break the 42-year-old NCAA record and these included Charles Hicks who took a remarkable 36 seconds off Dave Bedford’s UK teenage record.
Racing in Oregon on Wednesday (June 9), Kenyan Wesley Kiptoo set off at a fast pace leading through 2000m in 5:31.46 and reaching halfway just inside 13:55 but astonishingly there were still 20 runners within a few seconds. Another Kenyan Alex Masai threw in a 64-second lap just after halfway but Kiptoo was back in front a few laps later as the paced generally slowed to 67 seconds.
Masai took over again in the eighth kilometre and the pace lifted a little to 65-66 seconds. There were still 10 contenders with 800m to go and Conner Mantz’s 63.14 penultimate lap reduced it to just six.
Those six were still in contention into the last 200 metres and Dever found a space in lane one in the straight to squeeze inside Mantz, who had won the NCAA cross-country title in style back in March where Dever was fifth. His last 50 metres was easily the fastest and he won by five metres in 27:41.87 from Mantz’s 27:42.46 with Abdihamid Nur set a Somalian record 27:42.73 in third. Dever’s last 400m was 57.37 and his final 800m 2:00.91.
After the race Dever, who was running for Tulsa, said: “I discussed with my coach beforehand and we were going to see how Kiptoo went out and judge where we were going to sit depending on how many people went with them and from the start it appeared everyone was going to go with it and if you didn’t you would be out of the back door and then I tried to relax.
“I looked on the big screen on the last lap and couldn’t believe how many were there considering how fast we were running and it’s testament to how strong the NCAAs are. It was a case of keeping calm and saving something for the home straight.”
Dever went 15th all-time in Britain and his time took 46 seconds off of his previous best. He moved to second in the UK rankings for 2021 and moved him ahead of Emile Cairess, who he shared in a near dead heat in the 2019 BUCS Cross-Country Championships and who had his breakthrough run at Birmingham last Friday (27:53.19).
The previous record was held by Tanzania’s Suleiman Nyambui with 28:01.30 in 1979.
Hicks, who is five years younger than Dever, only lost ground on the penultimate lap –a 64.34 – and he finished with a 61.38 final circuit but his time destroyed his PB and the British teenage best. Bedford had set that time (28:24.4) in 1969 when winning the South of England title at Crystal Palace when it was a UK senior record.
The only frustration for Hicks, who had fallen a second short of Bedford’s time in his 10,000m debut (28:25.29) in April was that this time he missed Bedford’s British under-23 record (27:47.00) by less than a second. When Bedford set that time it was a European record and the world’s second fastest ever time. Hicks though has over three years to break that under-23 mark.
Both Dever and Hicks feature in the 5000m on Friday where multiple NCAA champion Cole Hocker is favourite.
Other gold medallists on the first day (all men’s events) were pole vaulter Branson Ellis (5.70m), long jumper JuVaughn Harrison (8.27m), shot putter Turner Washington (21.10m), Norwegian hammer thrower Thomas Mardal (76.74m) and javelin thrower Tzuriel Pedigo (76.78m).
The quickest track times in qualifying were Micah Williams at 100m (10.11) Joe Fahnbulleh at 200m (20.05), Randolph Ross at 400m (45.24), Brits Yusuf Bizimana (1:46.90) ahead of Finley Mclear (1:46.92) at 800m, Yared Nuguse at 1500m (3:37.36), Bennett Pascoe at steeplechase (8:31.72), Phillip Lemonious at 110m hurdles (13.43) and Kenyan Moitalel Mpoke at 400m hurdles (48.85).
Others Brits in action on day one included James West who was sixth in his 1500m heat in 3:39.81, Tade Ojora who was fourth in his 110m hurdles heat in 13.61 while Jake Norris was 10th in the hammer with 67.12m while Bayley Campbell was 11th with 65.86m.