The Ten Delivers: Grant Fisher Leads 8 Men To Olympic 10,000m Qualifiers

By Kyle Merber

March 20, 2024

If there is anything more consistent than Grant Fisher, it’s the ol’ reliable weather of San Juan Capistrano, where the fast times instinctively flock like salmon. If the women’s marquee race was a chaotic implosion playing out over 25 laps, the men’s was a big long train of souls chasing the Olympic standard of 27:00, and they were willing to work together to do it.

Ultimately, although a few fallen soldiers fell on the sword to help others in their pursuit, eight men walked away with that elusive mark.

Let’s dive into why we should be excited for each of these guys, despite our own feelings of overwhelming dread and pessimism about the world today!

Edwin Kurgat - The move to UA Dark Sky has been a great one for the 2019 NCAA XC Champion, as he now adds a second Olympic standard to his resume following the 12:57.52 from Boston University. The problem is that Kenya has eight guys with the standard, who will all be vying for the three spots at their Trials at a location to be announced soon. But Kurgat now has the fastest seed, and aside from Daniel Ebenyo, who has a World silver from Budapest in the event, is only the second guy to actually get his mark on the track.

Woody Kincaid racing at The Ten in 2024. Woody Kincaid racing at The Ten in 2024.

Kevin Morris/@KevMoFoto

Woody Kincaid - The 13:15 5000m in Boston this winter wasn’t the most promising start to the 2024 campaign considering a year earlier Kincaid ran the American record. But this is why you can’t look at a single performance or workout video in a vacuum. A year ago he won this thing, albeit in a time about six seconds too slow. But we wanted Woody to tick this time trial off his list of things to do because if there is an American who could be a potential wildcard on a warm day in Paris, it’s the dude who never says die despite often looking sort of dead.

Adriaan Wildschutt qualifying for the 2024 Olympics at The Ten. Adriaan Wildschutt qualifying for the 2024 Olympics at The Ten.

Kevin Morris/@KevMoFoto

Adriaan Wildschutt - The HOKA NAZ Elite pro essentially packed his bags for the Olympics and all he’ll need to do now is show his South African passport to the gate agent to get there. He was already well on his way after the 12:56.76 indoors, but now there will be less time to enjoy the Athlete’s Village as he can do the double. I am still thinking about this TikTok I watched after that race where some kid referred to him as a “random nobody” and no insult has ever aged worse than that.

Habtom Samuel - Not bad for a freshman! Samuel arrived to the NCAA from Eritrea with high expectations and his transition has been seamless. A runner up finish at NCAA XC was not a surprise given his previous success at World XC. But his fourth place finish in the 5000m at NCAAs didn’t necessarily indicate all of this. This time was well under the previous collegiate record of 27:08, set by Sam Chelanga in 2010, and yet it will be overlooked. Once Nico is out of the picture, can Habtom Samuel become The Guy?

Moh Ahmed - It’s simple. We are happy for Moh because we like Moh. He’s been in the front-pack at the bell at seemingly every global 5000m/10000m race for so long that he has squatters’ rights. And now at 33 years old, you have to wonder how much longer that will be the case. Not because he can’t, but because the roads are likely calling his name. He was announced for this winter’s Houston Half Marathon, but he had to withdraw due to injury.

And this is why every team needs its reliable veterans to be an important backstop. This was a critical run for the Bowerman Track Club after a tough winter of departures and a bout of quiet performances. Allow Moh to remind everyone that the formula still works.

Andreas Almgren - Buckle up and get out your globes, Americans, because there is a little place called Sweden I’d like to introduce you to! Maybe we weren’t listening, but the Europeans were telling us before the race, “watch out for Almgren!” That’s because Andreas set the Swedish half marathon record of 59:23 in Barcelona last month to cap off an insane range of personal bests dating back to a 1:45 800m set a decade ago. Yes, he has run 3:32/7:34/13:01, but it’s much funnier to think about a 10,000m guy having official 100m and 200m personal bests.

There was a period of time where his career had stagnated a bit, though the past couple of years things have positively exploded. How? Well, check your globe and you’ll see how close Sweden is to Norway. It was always about double threshold.

Nico Young breaks the NCAA 10,000m record at The Ten. Nico Young breaks the NCAA 10,000m record at The Ten.

Kevin Morris/@KevMoFoto

Nico Young - I guess it was a good thing coach Mike Smith let Nico run! There are so many angles from which to consider this performance that make it ridiculously impressive and one of the most overlooked is that he beat everyone except Fisher. Another is that this was his debut at the distance. Remember a month ago, for a hot second there it almost looked like Nico was a miler!

Adding yet another NCAA record to his resume, Young’s hot streak is historic and it’s impossible to imagine that his value could get any higher than where it is currently. The irony is that this performance technically does not qualify Nico for the NCAA West Regional meet, but will he need it? It’s notable that while there was every opportunity to sign a NIL, xYoung opted not to commit. My unsolicited advice: stay in Flagstaff.

Grant Fisher - Most running fans who don’t live with their nose pages deep in the Road To Paris tracker probably just assumed Fisher was all set with his Olympic standard. But it had been two years since his American record run, and last year’s US Championships 10,000m was predictably not a fast one. We are happy for Grant because we want Grant on that team (unless you are yourself an American 10,000m guy or related to one). He is our best shot at a global medal in the event since Rupp in 2012.

This was not a classic-Grant race with that turning of the screws from an uncomfortable distance out. Instead, he wasn’t touching the pace until the very end and he seemed to win comfortably. It was remarkable how quickly he went from crossing the finish-line to standing beside Ryan Fenton for an interview. Following an American record 2-mile, a near solo American record 5000m, and now a very good tempo run, the markets haven’t felt this bullish about the “return to your high school coach” stock since Alan Webb.

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Kyle Merber

After hanging up his spikes – but never his running shoes – Kyle pivoted to the media side of things, where he shares his enthusiasm, insights, and experiences with subscribers of The Lap Count newsletter, as well as viewers of CITIUS MAG live shows.