Clay Invitational — Josh Kerr Claims Collegiate 1500 Record

Azusa, California, April 19-20—Josh Kerr confessed that he had been planning his big night for a while.

Kerr figured he would be “thereabouts” Sydney Maree’s 37-year-old CR. (UNM ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS)

“The Collegiate Record was very important to me,” said the New Mexico junior after recording a 3:35.01 win at the Bryan Clay Invitational.

“We looked at it right at the start of the year and thought, ‘You know, especially after last year’s race, that’s kind of always being in the back of our minds—that it’s point seven of a second over 1500 meters. It’s not a lot of time.’

“We knew we were going to be thereabouts, but yeah, the record was definitely the first thought on my mind.”

Sydney Maree’s standard of 3:35.30 had stood for 37 years, taunting generations of talented runners. The time won the ’81 NCAA title in steamy Baton Rouge for the Villanova great. Kerr knew all that: “The history of the very old NCAA record was definitely right in my mind when I was running the race.”

With a trio of rabbits at the fore on a balmy evening at the Azusa Pacific track, the young Scot—still just 20—clicked off his first lap in 55-point, a couple of seconds faster than last year, when he had run his breakthrough 3:35.99 on this same track.

Behind him, a powerful field of collegians lurked, headlined by Oregon’s Sam Prakel and Justyn Knight of Syracuse. The pace eventually settled down and entering the penultimate turn, Kerr flew past the final rabbit. “He was kind of slowing down, so I just took over from there,” he said.

Finally free to stretch out his stride, the NCAA mile winner indoors widened his lead over Knight and hit the backstretch in full flight: “I feel comfortable running the front. I’m not really a guy that hangs back and plays around at the back before kind of doing this massive kick at the end. I knew I had to be up at the front behind the pacers and if the pace slowed then I would have to push it home.”

That he did, crossing the line in 3:35.01, just a few ticks away from Elijah Manangoi’s yearly world leader, having taken 0.29 from Maree’s record. His last lap took 54.85, his last two 1:53.66.

“It was an awesome experience,” said Kerr.

Behind him, Knight moved up to No. 7 all-time collegian at 3:36.07 and Mississippi’s Robert Domanic took 2.4 seconds off his PR to run a U.S.-leading 3:36.33. Prakel, 3:36.84 in 4th, moved to No. 7 among U.S. collegians.

Note that T&FN’s definition of a collegiate season ends with the NCAA Championships. If you look at “extended-season” marks, those made after the NCAA, the fastest ever are a 3:33.07 by Mt. St. Mary’s Kip Cheruiyot in ’86 and a hand-timed 3:33.1 by Jim Ryun of Kansas in ’67.

The All-Time Collegiate Men’s 1500 List
Time Athlete Date
3:35.01 Josh Kerr’ (New Mexico) 4/20/18
3:35.30 Sydney Maree’ (Villanova) 6/06/81
3:35.59 Kyle Merber (Columbia) 5/14/12
3:35.79 Abdi Bile’ (George Mason) 6/06/87
3:35.84 Joe Falcon (Arkansas) 4/16/88
3:35.84 Brian Hyde (William & Mary) 5/13/95
3:36.07 Justyn Knight’ (Syracuse) 4/20/18
3:36.25 Miles Batty (BYU) 4/15/11
3:36.34 Lawi Lalang’ (Arizona) 5/18/14
3:36.33 Robert Domanic (Mississippi) 4/10/18
3:36.38 Clayton Murphy (Akron) 6/10/16
3:36.48 Joaquim Cruz’ (Oregon) 6/02/84
3:36.50 Edward Cheserek’ (Oregon) 5/18/14
3:36.62 Kevin Sullivan’ (Michigan) 5/15/98
3:36.92 Matthew Centrowitz (Oregon) 5/02/09

The meet served as the season opener for a number of the Bowerman TC runners. In the women’s 1500 they put on a show, with Shelby Houlihan (4:06.07 AL) topping teammates Colleen Quigley (4:07.01) and Kate Grace (4:08.82). In the 5000s, Evan Jager kicked to a narrow win in 13:24.77 while Marielle Hall had more breathing room in her 15:39.42 victory.

Yet the night belonged to Kerr, who now sits atop collegiate history despite the fact that a few years ago, he was turned down by most of the D1 distance powerhouses after he started a letterwriting campaign to get an athletic scholarship.

“In Scotland you leave a year earlier from high school than you do here,” he explained. “The times that I’d run (1:51.18/3:44.12) were quick for a 16, 17-year-old, but for a D1 university, it wasn’t that quick.

“A lot of universities were turning me down saying, ‘Look, come back next year.’ But I heard back from the head coach here, Joseph Franklin and he said, ‘Look, we think you’ve got talent and you know how to win a race, so we want you.’ To have a coach that can see potential in you even in a young age without running extremely fast times is just awesome. It made me go, ‘Yeah, I’m really up for that.’ And I didn’t even come take a visit, I just committed.

“Since then, it’s been a heck of a lot of fun and there’s obviously been up-and-downs but the coaching staff and everyone at the University of New Mexico is just making it so much easier to compete at a high level as well as getting my education.”

After a rough first year saw him finish 10th in the NCAA as well as 10th in that summer’s World Junior Championships, Kerr’s belief in his abilities has steadily grown. As a soph, he won NCAA titles in and out. This past winter, he repeated indoors, running a dominating 3:57.01 five weeks after a Millrose performance of 3:54.72.

“From race to race, I’m just getting more and more confident,” Kerr revealed. “You can say I’m very confident in my coaches and my training and I believe in that. So as soon as you believe in that and you have the confidence to say, ‘I’m one of the best in the NCAA,’ then it gets kind of interesting when it comes to races.”

Training-wise, not a lot has changed in the past year. “We like consistency,” he explained, noting that Franklin is from the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” school of coaching. “We do similar sessions each year just to kind of pinpoint where we’re at. Obviously, we’re going to try and hit faster times, but the sessions we do don’t vary too much. But it gives us great indicators to see where we’re at from the year before and to know I was in a pretty good position last year.

“I didn’t feel like 3:35.99 was my peak last year. I just had one go at a fast race. So I definitely don’t believe that 3:35.01 is my fastest this year either.

“We’re going to keep hitting the consistency with the sessions and the mileage and we’re gonna come out for the next couple races and hit it hard and see where we’re at.”

Franklin’s runners compete sparingly, and Kerr feels that’s a big advantage while trying to juggle his opportunities to represent Britain internationally: “We underrace as much as possible and make sure that every race we do is on point and we’re making sure that we’re getting everything out from it. So when it comes to an 7- or 8-month-long season, you have to be pretty particular in the way you choose your races. When it comes to the business end of the NCAA season, I might be great, but when it comes to the business end of the European or world season, then I might be a bit flat.

“So yeah, we definitely factor in professional races as well or, you know, just the European Championships in the summer. We’d definitely go right on that, but you have to take it one step at a time and we’re definitely taking it one step at a time in the moment towards NCAAs.”

With 2019 being his senior campaign, and also a World Championship year, what are the odds that the young talent may want to leave the college ranks, go pro and try to improve on his performance at Worlds, where he got stuck in the heats last year?

“Right now, I’m enjoying where I’m at. I’m definitely getting my education and I’m on a 3/2 program to get an MBA with my 5 years. I can guarantee 100% I’ll be doing that.

“Whatever happens I’m definitely going to be attending the University of New Mexico, but I’m loving running collegiately, I love my team. They get me up in the morning and then make sure that I have a great time at practice. I’m not looking to be leaving anytime soon, but you never know. So you know, I definitely am going to be pretty vocal about it. It’s not really going to be something that I hide, but as of now, yes, I’m enjoying my school and I’m enjoying my running here. I’m here now and I’m not looking to change that.”

And why would he want to change anything when he has teammates that give him a bad time about the 0.01 at the end of his latest performance? “They give me a bit ‘a spit for that,’ saying, ‘You may have just taken a whole second off your time, but you’re still a 3:35 guy,’ he said in his Scottish burr.

“It’s all part of the fun and it’s not like it’s going to be my last-ever race. There’s plenty more opportunities to bring that record down even further and I’m hoping to do that.”


Azusa, California, April 19-20—

(4/19—St, 5K)

200(2.7): 1. *Chris Jefferson (SHous) 20.66w.

800: I–1. **Thomas Staines’ (CoStP) 1:48.29 PR; 2. Dean Cronin’ (FtH) 1:49.04.

II–1. *Michael Wilson (NM) 1:48.35 PR; 2. *Devundrick Walker (CoStP) 1:48.59 PR; 3. ***Devan Kirk (Wa) 1:48.88 PR (out AJL); 4. *Grey Howard (Tul) 1:49.02 PR.

1500: XIV–1. **Carlos Villarreal’ (Az) 3:38.28 PR; 2. Daniel Estrada’ (Mex) 3:39.50 PR; 3. ***Reed Brown (Or) 3:39.56 PR; 4. ***Waleed Suliman (Ms) 3:39.76 PR; 5. Jack Bruce’ (Ar) 3:39.86 PR; 6. Eric Avila (unat) 3:39.89; 7. ***Sam Worley (Tx) 3:40.00 PR.

XV–1. *Josh Kerr’ (NM) 3:35.01 CR; old CR 3:35.30 Sydney Maree’ [Vill] ’81) (54.85, 1:53.66);

2. Justyn Knight’ (Syr) 3:36.07 PR (7, 8 C); 3. Robert Domanic (Ms) 3:36.33 PR (AL, out AmCL) (9, 10 C; 5, 5 AmC); 4. Sam Prakel (Or) 3:36.84 PR (7, x AmC);

5. Peter Callahan’ (Bel) 3:37.11 PR; 6. David Ribich (WnOr) 3:37.35 PR; 7. *James West’ (Or) 3:37.41 PR; 8. **Oliver Hoare’ (Wi) 3:37.84 PR; 9. Shoma Funatsu’ (Jpn) 3:38.65 PR; 10. Ryan Hill (BowTC) 3:39.62; 11. **Mick Stanovsek (Or) 3:39.82 PR; 12. *Alex Rogers (Tx) 3:40.49 PR; 13. Andy Trouard (NnAz) 3:41.40.

St: V–1. Kyle Hosting (Ar) 8:53.73 PR; 2. **Jackson Mestler (Or) 8:55.77 PR. VI–1. *Haran Dunderdale’ (Brad) 8:50.90; 2. Evan Verbal (CoChr) 8:51.06 PR; 3. ***Riley Osen (Port) 8:52.98; 4. *Kellen Manley (Gonz) 8:54.17; 5. **Parker Scott (Ms) 8:55.63 PR; 6. Jackson Sayler (unat) 8:55.67.

5000: 1. Evan Jager (BowTC) 13:24.77 (AL);

2. Isaac Kimeli’ (Bel) 13:24.92 PR; 3. Suguru Osako’ (Jpn) 13:29.11; 4. *Sydney Gidabuday (Adams) 13:29.31 PR; 5. Robin Hendrix’ (Bel) 13:29.57 PR;

6. Matthew Baxter’ (NnAz) 13:31.00 PR (CL);

7. Colby Gilbert (Wa) 13:41.88; 8. ***Cooper Teare (Or) 13:46.46 PR (AJL); 9. Joe Hardy’ (Wi) 13:46.85 PR; 10. Futsum Zienasellassie (HokaNAz) 13:47.09; 11. **Tanner Anderson (Or) 13:48.64 PR; 12. Simon Debognies’ (Bel) 13:49.35;

13. David Goodman (BouTC) 13:49.60 PR; 14. **Blaise Ferro (NnAz) 13:50.16 PR; 15. **Gilbert Boit’ (Ar) 13:50.36 PR; 16. *Austen Dalquist (Ar) 13:50.87 PR; 17. *Paul Hogan (MaL) 13:56.30 PR.

400H: 1. CJ Allen (unat) 50.42.

Field Events

HJ: 1. Corion Knight (FlSt) 7-1 (2.16).

PV: 1. ***Sander Moldau (WaSt) 17-8¼ (5.39) PR.

LJ: 1. Corion Knight (FlSt) 25-9¼ (7.85) PR; 2. Kenneth Fisher (FlSt) 25-5¼ (7.75).

TJ: 1. *Armani Wallace (FlSt) 53-3¾ (16.25); 2. *Jalon Monigan (Tif) 52-5¼ (15.98) PR.

DT: 1. *Kordell Hampton (UCSB) 186-0 (56.70).

Dec(4/18-19): 1. Zach Ziemek (adi) 8181 (AL) (10.72, 24-1/7.34, 44-10¾/13.68, 6-9½/2.07, 50.03, 14.53, 159-3/48.54, 17-¾/5.20, 167-9/51.14, 4:45.28);

2. **Nathaniel Mechler’ (Hous) 7722; 3. *Trent Nytes (Wi) 7683 (7-2¼/2.19); 4. *Harrison Williams (Stan) 7682; 5. William Dougherty (Ia) 7673; 6. Daniel Golubovic (unat) 7646; 7. *Steele Wasik (Tx) 7484; 8. Austin Bahner (SBTC) 7399.


(4/19—St, 5K)

100(-1.5): 1. Destiny Smith-Barnett (UNLV) 11.29.

200(1.5): 1. Katara Nelson (NMSt) 23.17.

400: 1. Emerald Egwim’ (Mn) 52.59; 2. Titania Markland’ (Mn) 52.64 PR; 3. Nicole Fotinos (NnAz) 53.04 PR.

800: I–1. Stephanie Brown (unat) 2:03.12; 2. Ashley Taylor’ (NnAz) 2:04.36 PR; 3. ***Avi’ Tal Wilson-Perteete (UNLV) 2:04.70 PR; 4. Raquel Lambdin (unat) 2:04.84; 5. Dalanne Zanotelli (unat) 2:05.13; 6. **Skylyn Webb (UCCoSp) 2:06.17; 7. *Rachael Walters (GVal) 2:06.56 PR; 8. Alisha Brown (unat) 2:06.69; 9. Pilar Covarrubias (Mex) 2:07.21; 10. Nicole Choquette (Il) 2:07.22.

II–1. *Gabby Crank (Tx) 2:05.22 PR 2. Sonia Gaskin’ (Bar) 2:05.44; 3. **Carly Smiedala (Mt) 2:06.22 PR.

1500: 1. Shelby Houlihan (BowTC) 4:06.07 (AL);

2. Colleen Quigley (BowTC) 4:07.01; 3. Kate Grace (BowTC) 4:08.82; 4. **Jessica Hull’ (Or) 4:10.46 PR; 5. Lindsey Butterworth’ (Can) 4:10.95 PR; 6. *Lilli Burdon’ (Or) 4:12.52; 7. *Alexis Fuller (Boise) 4:12.56 PR; 8. Amy-Eloise Neale’ (Wa) 4:14.39; 9. Courtney Frerichs (BowTC) 4:14.62 PR; 10. **Allie Ostrander (Boise) 4:15.06 PR; 11. ***Weini Kelati’ (NM) 4:16.28 PR; 12. Carina Gillespie (AF) 4:16.51 PR.

St: 1. **Charlotte Prouse’ (NM) 10:03.97; 2. Julia Howley’ (Can) 10:05.65 PR; 3. Sarah Berger (Walsh) 10:06.10 PR; 4. Anna McDonald (Boise) 10:08.69 PR; 5. *Minttu Hukka’ (Boise) 10:18.00; 6. **Olivia Hoj (BYU) 10:20.53 PR.

5000: 1. Marielle Hall (BowTC) 15:39.42 (out AL);

2. *Caroline Kurgat’ (Ak) 15:43.95 PR; 3. Samantha Nadel (Or) 15:57.48; 4. Bridget Lyons (AtlTC) 15:58.28 PR; 5. Maya Weigel (Strava) 15:58.41 PR; 6. *Gracie Tostenson (Boise) 15:58.88 PR; 7. Vallery Korir’ (WaSt) 15:59.73 PR; 8. Ashleigh Warner (BYU) 15:59.95 PR.

100H(0.9): 1. *Jasmyne Graham (UNLV) 13.13 PR; 2. Emma Spagnola (Mn) 13.23.

400H: I–1. Spagnola 57.76 PR; 2. **Rachel Schow (Mn) 58.41 PR; 3. ***Nicolee Foster (CAz) 59.04; 4. *Stephanie Cho (WaSt) 59.29.

II–1. ***Kate Sorensen (Web) 58.92 PR.

Field Events

HJ: 1. Stephanie Ahrens (NbO) 5-11½ (1.82) PR.

PV: 1. Taylor Amann (Wi) 14-0 (4.27) PR.

LJ: 1. *Tristyn Allen (SHous) 20-7¼ (6.28) PR; 2. Kiely Gode (UCSB) 20-2½ (6.16) PR.

SP: 1. **Mackenna Howard (UNLV) 52-6½ (16.01) PR.

DT: 1. *Hanna Barton (Wi) 168-8 (51.43).

Hept(4/18-19): 1. Georgia Ellenwood’ (Wi) 5983 PR (13.80, 5-7¾/1.72, 41-¼/12.50, 24.29w, 19-9½/6.03, 136-5/41.59, 2:14.96); 2. Jaclyn Siefring (Akr) 5872 PR; 3. Rachael McIntosh’ (Can) 5862; 4. **Michelle Atherley (Mia) 5816; 5. Alissa Brooks-Johnson (WaSt) 5740; 6. Aliyah Whisby (KennSt) 5590.

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