NCAA king takes on Mer­rie Mile

Ore­gon’s Ed­ward Ch­e­serek, the most dec­o­rated male ath­lete in NCAA his­tory, vis­its Hawaii

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - SPORTS - By Stan­ley Lee slee@starad­ver­

Be­fore the king runs into new ter­ri­tory, there are fi­nal mat­ters to con­quer. Ed­ward Ch­e­serek, the win­ningest run­ner in NCAA his­tory, has three fi­nal ex­ams to­day at the Univer­sity of Ore­gon. King

Ches, as he is known in run­ning cir­cles, boards a flight tonight for Satur­day’s Kalakaua Mer­rie Mile. The 17time NCAA cham­pion will be done with his un­der­grad­u­ate work in busi­ness and ven­ture full speed into life as a pro­fes­sional run­ner.

“My main thing is just come up there, race, en­joy the beau­ti­ful weather and my time there,” Ch­e­serek said by phone. “I’ve never been there.”

Held a day be­fore the Honolulu Marathon, the 7 a.m. mile in Waikiki is Ch­e­serek’s third race as a pro. His il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer with the Ducks ended early in May when a lower back strain kept him out of the NCAA West Re­gional, the qual­i­fier for the na­tional out­door track cham­pi­onship.

Ch­e­serek fin­ished his Ore­gon ca­reer with 17 NCAA ti­tles in cross coun­try, in­door track and out­door track, the win­ningest male ath­lete in Di­vi­sion I his­tory. His ti­tles in the 3,000- and 5,000-me­ter runs at March’s in­door cham­pi­onships broke the 35-year-old record of 15 ti­tles held by UTEP’s Suleiman Nyam­bui (19791982). Stan­ford’s Jenny Thomp­son has the most NCAA ti­tles with 19 in swim­ming.

There was no dis­tance where Ch­e­serek could not chase down a com­peti­tor. His three cross coun­try ti­tles came at 10 kilo­me­ters and track ti­tles ranged from the mile (in­door in 2015) to 10,000 me­ters (out­door 2014-16).

Healthy and with a spon­sor­ship deal with Skech­ers, Ch­e­serek made his pro de­but at Septem­ber’s 5th Av­enue Mile in New York. With a month of train­ing, he placed 16th in 3 min­utes, 57 sec­onds. Two-time New Zealand Olympian Nick Willis won the race in 3:52 and the two will race against each other here on Satur­day,

start­ing on Mon­sar­rat Av­enue near the Honolulu Zoo, go­ing down Kalakaua Av­enue be­fore turn­ing back.

“I went back home to Eu­gene. I (thought) I need to train more, harder,” Ch­e­serek said.

He won the Sil­i­con Val­ley Tur­key Trot 5K in 13:38 on Thanks­giv­ing Day. His at­ten­tion has been di­vided be­tween train­ing in Eu­gene and his fi­nal se­mes­ter. Ch­e­serek be­lieves he will get a bet­ter idea of where he’s at — and where he needs to be — once run­ning gets his un­di­vided at­ten­tion.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to play­ing harder,” Ch­e­serek said. “All those pro­fes­sion­als, they just fo­cus on train­ing. I think if I get time to fo­cus on one thing, I’ll be OK or in real good po­si­tion to see where I can mix it up with the top guys.”

Ch­e­serek plans to train in Hawaii af­ter the week­end be­fore fully launch­ing into 2018 as a pro. In the long run are the Olympics, where the Kenyan-born run­ner who moved to New Jersey for high school would like to run in a USA uni­form. He said his ap­pli­ca­tion for U.S. cit­i­zen­ship is still on­go­ing. An eas­ier route is to run for the coun­try he was born in, but Ch­e­serek feels a deeper con­nec­tion with the coun­try “where I grew up.”

“I just want to run for the coun­try I love,” Ch­e­serek ex­plained. “I love the peo­ple. I look up to these good run­ners, Meb (Ke­flezighi), Galen Rupp … (Steve) Pre­fontaine, all these fa­mous run­ners. I want my­self to be like that some­day. (Bernard) La­gat is al­ways my men­tor. He gives me mo­ti­va­tion to push my­self ev­ery sin­gle day.”


Ore­gon’s Ed­ward Ch­e­serek re­acted as he crossed the fin­ish line to win the men’s 3,000-me­ter run dur­ing the NCAA col­lege in­door track and field cham­pi­onships in Col­lege Sta­tion, Texas.

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