Favorite Abdihamid Nur Upset
June 8, 2022
EUGENE, Ore. – Dylan Jacobs. 2017 Foot Locker champion. 2022 NCAA champion.
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Jacobs, the Notre Dame junior, kicked a 55.45 final lap to pull off the upset win in the 10,000m final tonight at the 2022 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in 28:12.32. That was enough to pull away from the heavy pre-race favorite, indoor 3,000 and 5,000 champ Abdihamid Nur of NAU, who took the lead with three laps to go and tried to control things from the front as he did indoors. Nur had little left once Jacobs passed him on the final turn and faded to third as he could only manage a 57.76 final 400. Oklahoma State’s Alex Maier had the best final 200 to finish second only .36 behind Jacobs thanks to a 55.50 final lap, but was not in contention for the win on the final lap.
Athanas Kioko, the Campbell senior who was third in cross country and third in the 5000 last year, tried to steal this one early as he opened a big gap on the first lap thanks to a 63.35 opening 400 (26:23 pace). Kioko kept the pedal down and passed 1600 in 4:19. At 2k, he led by nearly 17 seconds, and still led by over 15 seconds at 3600m (he hit 3200 in 8:51). But he was slowing and by 4 miles, he was running over 70-second laps. It was only a matter of time before the chase pack, which was largely together, would catch him. With 6 laps to go the pack caught Kioko, and with a mile to go it was anyone’s race as 17 of the 24 starters were still in the lead pack.
Just before three laps to go, Nur decided it was time for him to do what he did indoors: control things from the front. He took the lead and a slight uptick in pace (66.41) whittled it down to 10 guys within a second of the lead with 2 laps to go. Nur really ran like the favorite on the penultimate lap as he dropped it down to a 62.11 but Jacobs was right on him with a slight gap to Maier. On the final lap, Jacobs tried to seize the lead at the bell and again on the backstretch but Nur held him off. Jacobs didn’t wait until the final straight to try again as he moved for a third time with just under 150m to go and soon opened up a gap. Very quickly, it was clear the battle for the win was over as Nur was looking back over his shoulder. Maier would close better than anyone the final 200m to go and get second, but he had too much ground to make up to try to get the win.
Jacobs said after the race he wasn’t worried about Kioko’s bold move early and that he very much expected Nur to try to control things from the front.
“[When Kioko took the early lead], I was like [thinking], ‘Stay relaxed. We have a lot of great guys [in this chase pack]. I’m sure we’ll catch back up eventually,’” said Jacobs.”We knew coming in that we just wanted to stay relaxed, be in a solid position, don’t try to take the lead and just wait for the pace to start dropping and that’s what we did and that’s what we were ready for.
“[When Nur took the lead with 3 laps remaining] , I mean that’s what we were kind of planning for. In the indoor 5k, he did it with a k out, and we were just ready for that and ready to stick on it and go with it.”
Jacobs ran a big negative split of 14:16.4/13:55.9, with a last 1600 of 4:11.76.
Full analysis with post-race interviews below results, but first watch the last two laps (or whole race if you so desire but it’s cued to 800 to go).
1 Dylan JACOBS JR NOTRE DAME 28:12.32
2 Alex MAIER SO OKLAHOMA STATE 28:12.68 PB
3 Abdihamid NUR JR NORTHERN ARIZONA 28:14.51 SB
4 Cole SPROUT SO STANFORD 28:14.89
5 Athanas KIOKO SR CAMPBELL 28:17.17
6 Charles HICKS SO STANFORD 28:17.88
7 Adriaan WILDSCHUTT SR FLORIDA STATE 28:18.28
8 Aaron BIENENFELD SR OREGON 28:19.05
9 Barry KEANE JR BUTLER 28:19.94
10 Amon KEMBOI SR ARKANSAS 28:21.64
11 Brandon GARNICA JR BYU 28:21.81
12 Casey CLINGER SO BYU 28:22.99
13 Acer IVERSON FR HARVARD 28:23.29 PB
14 Patrick KIPROP SO ARKANSAS 28:26.25
15 James MWAURA JR GONZAGA 28:29.58
16 Matthew CARMODY JR NOTRE DAME 28:34.28 PB
17 Kieran LUMB SR WASHINGTON 28:36.31
18 Matthew PEREIRA JR HARVARD 28:43.95
19 Haftu STRINTZOS SO VILLANOVA 28:47.35
20 Fearghal CURTIN JR CHARLESTON SOUTHERN 28:52.40
21 Joshua METHNER SO NOTRE DAME 28:57.31
22 Bob LIKING SO WISCONSIN 29:02.46
23 Victor KIPROP FR ALABAMA 29:05.83
24 Andrew ALEXANDER SR NOTRE DAME 29:09.02
Quick Take: Dylan Jacobs played this one perfectly
As mentioned above, Jacobs was keying off Nur coming into the race and expected him to move to the front with around three laps to go, similar to how Nur won a pair of NCAA titles in the 3k and 5k indoors. If that happened, Jacobs wanted to make sure he was right on Nur’s shoulder and that’s exactly where he was.
It would be harder for Jacobs to be any closer to Nur than he was throughout the second half of this race. On 7 of the 12 laps, he was less than 1/10th of a second behind him. Here’s how far back Jacobs was behind Nur each time they hit the finish line from 5200 to 9600:
0.02. 0.05, 0.18, 0.23, .0.30, 0.05, 0.12, 0.05, 0.09, 0.09, 0.05, 0.13
Once Nur took the lead, Jacobs made sure no one got between him and Nur, and then on the final lap it took three tries, but Jacobs finally got by Nur with 150 to go and the win was his.
It should be noted that Jacobs fell early in the race after stepping on the rail around 3k, but it’s hardly unprecedented for someone to fall in a 10,000 and come back to win – Lasse Viren (1972) and Mo Farah (2016) both famously did it in Olympic finals.
“I got up, got to the back and said I’m definitely not affected, because nothing happened to me,” Jacobs said.
While Jacobs’ win will go down as an upset – Nur was heavily favored after dominating the NCAA in 2022 – it’s hardly a rags to riches story. He was a Foot Locker champion in high school and ran an American collegiate record of 13:14 indoors in February. Outdoors, he won ACCs in 13:23. Jacobs was only 9th in the 5k at NCAA indoors, but it’s not as if he bombed. The better explanation is that there is a lot of talent in the NCAA right now, with a number of guys capable of winning on their best day. Jacobs didn’t have his best day at NCAA indoors. He did tonight.
Quick Take: For the second time in the last three NCAA meets, someone won the 10k in Vaporflys
Three years ago, BYU’s Clayton Young wore Vaporflys when he won the NCAA 10,000 final in Austin, and tonight Jacobs followed suit, wearing a blacked-out pair. Jacobs is also entered in the 5k on Friday and said he wanted to be as fresh as possible for that race, thus the choice to wear the padded Vaporflys as opposed to spikes.
“I figured the shoes probably don’t make too much of a difference between these and the spikes,” Jacobs said.
He said he hadn’t practiced running fast in them before but trusted his fitness. That trust was well-placed as he ran his last lap in 55.45, fastest in the field.
Quick Take: Future looks very bright for Jacobs & Maire, neither of whom had scored at NCAAs before
Believe it or not, neither Jacobs nor Maier had scored at NCAAs yet they went 1-2 as Americans swept the top four places.
Jacobs had the better pedigree coming in with the 2017 Foot Locker XC crown, a 10th place at NCAA Cross, a 13:14 indoor 5000m, and an NCAA DMR title, and he ran like it the final three laps contending up front the entire time. That might have made the difference as Maier actually ran faster the final 1200m than Jacobs (2:03.83 vs 2:04.02) but Maier was 10th with 3 laps to go.
Maier on paper didn’t have the pedigree Jacobs did, but he’s a tremendous talent. He went sub-9:00 in the 3200 as a sophomore in high school and was top 5 at NXN and Foot Lockers AS A SOPHOMORE. That doesn’t happen on the boys’ side. Problem was, he struggled the rest of his high school career and never did better.
As a collegian, Maier started to put things together. He ran 13:25 and won Big 12s this year, and was 17th at NCAA cross in 2020. Now he’s the NCAA runner-up.
Both he and Jacobs are 21 years old (Jacobs’ birthday is next week).
Quick Take: Abdihamid Nur was still proud of 3rd place
Nur had no regrets about his race tonight. Before the race, his coach Mike Smith told Nur to take the lead when he felt the time was right and close as hard as possible from there. Nur did that, running his last 800 in 1:59.87, but tonight his kick just wasn’t good enough.
“This field is an incredible field,” Nur said. “I knew it was going to be hard to win. I tried my best to put myself in a winning position and close.”
The fact that Nur didn’t win tonight does not detract from what has been a remarkable journey. He didn’t qualify for NAU academically out of high school, so he spent a year at Coconino Community College in Flagstaff to get his grades up. One year wasn’t enough though, so Nur had to spend a second year at CCC before finally enrolling at NAU in the fall of 2019. Now he’s graduating with a 3.0 GPA, two NCAA individual titles, and two NCAA team titles in XC. Quite a career. He still has one year of eligibility remaining if he wants to use it, but after running 13:06 this spring, he should have some pro offers. Especially if his next race goes well. He’s not running the 5,000 at NCAAs, in part to rest up because he is running the event at USAs two weeks from now.
“I think I have a really good chance [at USAs], me and my teammate Nico,” Nur said. “Having that A standard, it gives you a whole new perspective on things. I just want to go out there, compete with the big boys, and see how high I can place.”
Quick Take: Charles Hicks finished 6th with a bloody nose
Charles Hicks gets nosebleeds fairly regularly, but until tonight, he had never gotten one in a race.
“I felt it start to rush,” Hicks said. “All of a sudden, I couldn’t really breathe through my nose. It just kept coming down and coming down.”
Not what you want in an NCAA championship, but Hicks fought through it and still managed to finish 6th, collapsing to the ground in a bloodied singlet upon crossing the finish line. Afterward, Hicks was all smiles, however, and displayed a mature, admirably positive perspective for a 20-year-old.
“[The last few laps were] less than ideal, if I’m going to be honest,” Hicks said. “Kind of like breathing through a snorkel, a little bit. But as I said before, it’s one of those moments where you test what you’re really made of. Regionals last week, I had another one where I fell down and had to get back up. And so you take these kind of experiences and maybe I wanted to go for the win today and I didn’t get that, but I come away with a lot of confidence in myself and pride how I was able to compete under the circumstances. I’ll be able to race again. I’ve got plenty ahead of me. There will be a time when things go better, I know I’m going to have a better performance.”
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