WALNUT, CALIFORNIA, May 06 — It pays to have patience.
BYU junior Kenneth Rooks finished his Mormon mission in ’21 not knowing how his 2-year layoff would affect his running career. After having steepled a promising 8:36.08 in ’19 as a Cougar frosh, Rooks returned to the running environs of Provo in ’22 not knowing what to expect. An 8:22.56 for 6th at the NCAA indicated all was not lost and a 3:59.65 indoor mile this past January proved his speed was in place. All he needed now was a race to put it all together, and the On Track Fest at Mt. SAC was to be that place.
The race started with a pair of Olympians — defending U.S. champion Hillary Bor and Tokyo teammate Benard Keter — leading the way, with Rooks looking comfortable nestled in 5th after the first kilo.
At 2000, it was Bor, followed by Americans Alec Basten, Keter, Anthony Rotich, Canada’s Jean-Simon Desgagnés, Rooks and Kiwi Geordie Beamish.
At the bell, Bor had 10m on Rooks, who had made a big move and was now in position to set not only a huge PR, but also get close to a sub-8:20 run.
Rooks wasted no time and caught and passed Bor as he entered the backstretch. He was now in full sprint mode and ended his journey with a sub-60 final circuit, finishing in a world-leading 8:17.62, the best American collegiate performer and the best ever non-Rono performance.
Beamish finished strongly in just his second foray into the steeple, his lifetime best passing Bor down the stretch for 2nd, 8:20.62–8:20.67, with Desgagnés 4th in a PR 8:20.68.
Said Rooks, “When you take two years off of running and go on a mission, you wonder what it’s going to be like to get back in shape. It’s about trusting and being patient. Your body remembers things really well.”
Not as an afterthought, but more of homage, he added, “It also helps having teammates who have been through it before.”
Other outstanding performances included Cooper Teare’s outdoor 5000 American-leading 13:12.73 over Morgan Beadlescomb’s 13:12.95 PR and Canadian Ben Flanagan’s 13:13.97 PR.
Coming down in distance, Yared Nuguse clocked a PR 1:46.30 in the 800, outsprinting Mexico’s Jesús López (1:46.75), U.S. Olympian Isaiah Harris (1:46.93) and Spain’s Mario García (1:47.10).
ON TRACK FEST MEN’S RESULTS
800: 1. Yared Nuguse (OAC) 1:46.30 PR; 2. Jesús López’ (Mex) 1:46.75; 3. Isaiah…
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