NCAA Men’s 5000 — Anyone’s Race, Wolfe Wins It

Fifth last year, Parker Wolfe kicked best to turn back the CR holder and the defending champ. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

THIS RACE PROJECTED as a compelling, and probably tactical, match among three juniors: last year’s winner, Stanford’s Ky Robinson; ’23 runner-up Graham Blanks (Harvard); and ’23 8th-placer Nico Young (Northern Arizona).

This had been Young’s season so far, as he produced the first sub-13:00 and the first sub-27:00 by a collegian, with an additional 3:34 metric mile. The others made their best marks indoors, perhaps opening late-season opportunities for Oklahoma State’s Brian Musau, Wednesday’s 10K winner Habtom Samuel (New Mexico), and North Carolina junior Parker Wolfe.

Predicting results is always a hit-or-miss affliction, with the only certainty being that very slow races will typically produce surprises. And so it was here.

After a promising 64.7 first 400, the pace slowed to what might be generously described as “pedestrian.” The first kilometer took 2:46, with all 24 entrants bunched tightly. The second took 3:03, and at 5:49 the same 24 formed a snug little community. David Mullarkey (Florida State) led at 3000 in 8:45.26, with the tail-end of the pack only 1.2 seconds behind.

Little had changed with 3 laps remaining, except for alternating faces at the front. But on the backstretch approaching the 4K mark, Blanks moved strongly to the front, followed by Robinson, and held onto the lead. Young, who to this point had made the least of his advantages, apparently realized he had a problem, and took off in pursuit.

At the bell after a 57.3 lap, Blanks still led, from Young, Robinson, Musau and Samuel. First Robinson and then Young passed him, and as those five fought for the lead, Parker Wolfe emerged out of the scrum, led into the stretch and held off Robinson and a frantic push by Young for the win. Wolfe’s last 400 took only 54.86.

Musau finished strongly for 4th, with Blanks 5th and Samuel 6th. The first 17 all crossed the line within 9 seconds.

Wolfe seemed as surprised as many at the result. “I had a little side stitch the whole race,” he said, “so my mind was conscious that this hurts a lot, and I knew the main players and knew they were going to be there with 2 laps to go, a lap to go. So I just followed through and gave it a go the last 150.”

Asked about being a national champion, he said, “It’s pretty amazing. It’s been a lot of hard work to get here, and no better place to do it. It’s a lot of feelings, but definitely relieved to have finally gotten one after a couple of 2nd-places indoors.”


(June 07)

1. *Parker Wolfe (NC) 13:54.43 (54.86, 1:52.10, 4:00.77);

2. *Nico Young (NnAz) 13:54.65 (55.17, 1:52.41, 4:01.12);

3. Ky Robinson’ (Stan-Aus) 13:55.00 (55.35, 1:52.84, 4:01.83);

4. ***Brian Musau’ (OkSt-Ken) 13:57.42 (57.67, 1:55.06, 4:04.03);

5. *Graham Blanks (Harv) 13:57.81 (58.55, 1:55.82, 4:04.33);

6. ***Habtom Samuel’ (NM-Eri) 13:58.83 (58.05, 1:56.43, 4:05.23);

7. *Toby Gillen’ (Ms-Aus) 13:59.00 (57.79, 1:56.32, 4:05.73);

8. *Jesse Hamlin (Butler) 13:59.11 (56.64, 1:56.20, 4:05.19);

9. *Cael Grotenhuis (NnAz) 13:59.63; 10. Jackson Sharp’ (Wi-Aus) 14:01.48; 11. *Yaseen Abdalla’ (Tn-Sud) 14:01.54; 12. *Wil Smith (Gonz) 14:02.70; 13. *Said Mechaal’ (IaSt-Spa) 14:03.41; 14. Brodey Hasty (NnAz) 14:04.07; 15. Chandler Gibbens (Ks) 14:04.20; 16. ***Rocky Hansen (WF) 14:04.44; 17. Alex Maier (OkSt) 14:04.87; 18. *David Mullarkey’ (FlSt-GB) 14:05.77; 19. *Dylan Schubert (Furm) 14:06.41; 20. *Aidan Troutner (BYU) 14:07.16; 21. ***Marco Langon (Vill) 14:10.41; 22. *Acer Iverson (Harv) 14:10.93; 23. Nickolas Scudder (UNCC) 14:15.40; 24. *Nicholas Bendtsen (Prin) 14:16.96.