VERONA, WISCONSIN, October 14 — Studded with 19 nationally-ranked teams and a boatload of talented runners, this year’s Nuttycombe Invitational men’s race saw intense competition at its finest as Stanford’s Ky Robinson won in 23:09.9 for a 10th-second margin over Northern Arizona’s Nico Young.
In a battle of sophs, the Aussie held off the NAU standout on the long upgrade to the line in a finish reminiscent of Morgan McDonald’s win over Grant Fisher in the NCAA here 4 years ago. Robinson’s time was the third-fastest in the meet’s 13-year history, trailing only Wesley Kiptoo’s runaway win in 22:11.2 a year ago and Lawi Lalang’s 23:03 from a decade back.
It was a race dominated by youth, with the first 4 and 9 of the top 20 listed as sophomores, likely a result of extra COVID-dictated eligibility, but still, the young ’uns are better than ever and showing their mettle in high-pressure races.
Stanford’s Charles Hicks ended up 3rd in 23:12.7 while Wisconsin’s Bob Liking, whose first big impact race came here last year, closed strong to claim 4th (23:14) while NAU’s Drew Bosley, racing on home-state soil, was fifth in 23:17. Cole Sprout, the third of the Stanford triumvirate that raced up front nearly from the get-go, took 7th.
Prognosticators might have expected a closer team battle among the top three teams, although the team race went sorta-kinda to form for the nation’s top trio of squads. But it was never really a nail-biter as Robinson and his front-running Stanford mates established dominance relatively early and parlayed a 1-3-7-13-30 finish into a 54-point win.
That was more than good enough for a healthy margin over #1 BYU (89) — competing without top returner from ’21 Casey Clinger — and #3 and defending NCAA champ Northern Arizona (145).
The latter two teams got to those totals in different ways. BYU, also minus graduated erstwhile two-time NCAA champ and noted frontrunner Conner Mantz, relied on pack running, with Ed Eyestone’s crew bunching up in 15-16-17-20-21.
The Lumberjacks, on the other hand, started slowly and were well back in the pack early (2K score of 450 points) but moved up nicely with Young and eventual 5th-placer Drew Bosley keying the NAU surge into contention.
Air Force (No. 12-ranked) and Notre Dame (No. 13) showed well in 4th (145) and 5th (149) to best 14 other ranked teams, including six rated ahead of them.
Robinson said he felt good for himself but was more stoked about the team win. “That was really at the forefront for Stanford today,” he said. “I think if anything the team title is more important to us. We want to make a statement, want to show everyone what we can do, as we head into Stillwater.”
He said he tossed his race plan early on: “I went through the first part of the race and felt good. I was sort of gonna plan to sit in a second row and let everyone else do the work but then when we went through about 2K, I saw the time and it was a little bit too slow for my liking. I wanted to go out there and push the pace and just see how much I’d have towards the end.”
However, he admitted he was “scared that might not work out in the end and might look poorly on my race plan. But I thought, ‘We gotta have a Stanford guy at the front so I went for it.’”
Running in the WC 5000 heats has bolstered his confidence, he explained: “I was in the World Championships and there was sort of a matter of no fear, because I knew those guys were so much better than me. And then I beat some of the names that I look up to among the pros. And so, coming back down to collegiate running, there’s a bit less stress on your shoulders. It sort of gave me the confidence to, say, ‘Hey, I can go out there, I can push these guys,’ and you kind of learn you could run with them.”
The last upgrade to the finish was tough, he noted: “I mean, I was sort of scared because I felt really good. I thought, who’s got the best kick here? And then that last 50, I’m like, ‘Oh no, oh man.’ And so, I was just happy that was I able to hold him off that last little bit. I’ve always prided myself on my kick so I was just happy it could be there across the line.”
In analyzing his race, Young said he accomplished what he wanted to. “I think I executed it how I should have. I think at the end I could have been a little bit more decisive, but I mean like that’s like that with every race, there’s always little things I think I could have done better but I think overall it was OK,” he said. “I definitely feel like I’m always learning. I don’t think that’s ever going to end throughout my running career.
“Team-wise, obviously, you always want to win, but this makes guys hungry, I’m sure. There were definitely a lot of things that didn’t go how we wanted today, but I think a lot of it is kind of like, we kind of know what happened. We’ve still got a couple more races, so, yeah, I think we’re gonna be good.”
NUTTYCOMBE MEN’S RESULTS
Teams: 1. Stanford 54; 2. BYU 89; 3. Northern Arizona 145; 4. Air Force 149; 5. Notre Dame 186; 6. Tulsa 214; 7. Wisconsin 221; 8. Colorado 225; 9. Villanova 343; 10. NC State 366; 11. Portland 367; 12. Oregon 368; 13. Syracuse 370; 14. North Carolina 384; 15. Washington 398; 16. Utah State 443; 17. Georgetown 457; 18. Colorado State 475; 19. Duke 495; 20. Michigan 526.
Individuals (8K): 1. **Ky Robinson’ (Stan-Aus) 23:09.9; 2. **Nico Young (NnAz) 23:10.0; 3. **Charles Hicks’ (Stan-GB) 23:12.7; 4. **Bob Liking (Wi) 23:14.0; 5. *Drew Bosley (NnAz) 23:17.2; 6. **Parker Wolfe (NC) 23:17.9; 7. **Cole Sprout (Stan) 23:18.6; 8. *Acer Iverson (Harv) 23:22.1; 9. **Carter Solomon (NDm) 23:23.4; 10. Sam Gilman (AF) 23:24.3;
11. Michael Power (Tuls) 23:25.2; 12. **Dylan Schubert (Furm) 23:25.9; 13. **Devin Hart (Stan) 23:26.0; 14. **Shay McEvoy’ (Tuls-Ire) 23:26.5; 15. **Joey Nokes (BYU) 23:26.6; 16. Brandon Garnica (BYU) 23:27.1; 17. **Aidan Troutner (BYU) 23:27.3; 18. Isaac Akers’ (Tuls-GB) 23:27.8; 19. Cormac Dalton’ (Tuls-Ire) 23:28.1; 20. **Creed Thompson (BYU) 23:28.4;
21. **Davin Thompson (BYU) 23:28.5; 22. Austin Vancil (Co) 23:29.0; 23. Seth Hirsch (Co) 23:30.7; 24. Aaron Bienenfeld’ (Or-Ger) 23:30.8; 25. *Camren Todd (UtSt) 23:31.0; 26. **Graham Blanks (Harv) 23:31.5; 27. *Nathan Lawler (Syr) 23:31.9; 28. ***Izaiah Steury (NDm) 23:32.7; 29. *Luke Combs (AF) 23:35.8; 30. Meika Beaudoin-Rousseau (Stan) 23:36.1;
31. Ethan Marshall (AF) 23:37.0; 32. **Wil Smith (Gonz) 23:37.1; 33. **Santiago Prosser (NnAz) 23:37.4; 34. Brian Fay’ (Wa-Ire) 23:37.5; 35. **Joshua Methner (NDm) 23:38.9; 36. Kevin Berry (NDm) 23:39.6; 37. **Parker Stokes (Gtn) 23:40.1; 38. **Matt Strangio (Port) 23:40.3; 39. Ryan Johnson (AF) 23:40.3; 40. Scott Maison (AF) 23:40.5;
41. **Jack Meijer’ (Wi-GB) 23:40.7; 42. Charlie Wheeler’ (Wi-GB) 23:40.9; 43. **Bradley Peloquin (Port) 23:41.3; 44. Andrew Kent (Co) 23:42.1; 45. Ryan Raff (NnAz) 23:42.3; 46. Arjun Jha (Mi) 23:42.9; 47. *Haftu Strintzos’ (Vill-Aus) 23:45.5; 48. **Brett Gardner (NCSt) 23:46.1; 49. *Sean Maison (AF) 23:46.9; 50. **Jack Jennings (Vill) 23:47.0.