The past few weeks have seen some stunning and memorable races that have pushed lesser known athletes into the upper stratosphere of the Olympic quest. Recent meets at Stanford and Mt. SAC have furnished the opportunity for some outstanding performances notably from those still splitting their time not on the pro circuit but on their studies. From the college ranks the running community has seen the youngest and – most assuredly – busy athletes being just as prepared as their pro counterparts. Here we can look at which of these individuals have either booked their ticket to London or have a shot at being able to wear their nation’s colors come summer.
Cam Levins, the Canadian national and Southern Utah student, was a sleeper star after an impressive year in cross country and indoor track but has followed up with superb races in successive weeks at 5000 and 10,000 meters. Though hunting for a chance to win NCAA’s against the once unstoppable force that is Lawi Lalang of Arizona, Levins outkicked the wunderkind to win the 5k at Mt.SAC in an A standard time of 13:18. Showing even greater range at Stanford in the 10k he matched spikes with Sam Chelanga and Chris Derrick and took away the win with an impressive 27:27. Being a lock for the Canadian team along with Wisconsin’s Mo Ahmed, Levins may be able to be an outside threat to contend with his ridiculous finishing speed if the race is allowed to be a sit and kick situation. Whatever the circumstance the world has a new Canadian athlete who does not require ice to make a name for themselves.
Though he has yet to get the elusive individual NCAA title, Derrick may be the fastest man ever not to grab one. The Stanford Cardinal has made big strides and his times in the 5k and 10k (27:31 and 13:19) are both A qualifiers. He may be in search of the collegiate championship but has been cursed with having run during a period of giants that have overshadowed his own prowess. With that said, he may have a door open to him to gain a seat on the ride to London via the 10k. With Galen Rupp a lock the other two spots are up in the air with a recovering Dathan Ritzenhein and inconsistency from other contenders. The feather in the cap of the Olympics may wash away the tragedy of not having an NCAA title. Do not be surprised if we see this man be dragging it out with the world’s best come July near the Thames.
No U.S. papers on time, no issue for Diego Estrada. After becoming an American citizen in November 2011, Estrada dealt with a lengthy and complicated eligibility process and may now be forced to compete for Mexico. It may not turn out to be a bad move, however, as his time of 27:32 in the 10k is for sure a contender to run for our neighboring republic. After being a solid athlete as a prep in California, he exploded while attending Northern Arizona to becoming a national title contender. His tenacity and training base in Flagstaff could make him an interesting individual to watch as he may have the mettle to slug it out with the big boys.
After becoming the possessor of the indoor collegiate mile record this year, Miles Batty has stamped himself as a legitimate contender to make a very deep 1500 meter squad. Though he is competing with the likes of Matt Centrowitz, Leo Manzano, Andrew Wheating and dare I say Alan Webb, Batty should not be left out of the discussion. He has strength in the finishing sections of races and has proven that his versatility in longer races as evidenced by his wonderful cross country races and a decent showing in a debut 5k at Mt.SAC in 13:46. If the 1500 trials go off in their usual wait and see style Batty may be the surprise collegiate Olympian as Wheating was four years ago. The power type of runner that he is compliments the racing style of the pros and has showed he can be there when the races are on the line toward the end. Though he looks like he is struggling with a painful form, it gets to the finish quickly.