Kiptoo receives regional athlete of the year honors


Brad Tollefson

Iowa State’s Wesley Kiptoo in the 5,000-meter run during the 2021 Big 12 Indoor Track & Field Championship on Feb. 26, 2021, in Lubbock, Texas.

Adarsh Tamma

Sophomore distance runner Wesley Kiptoo was awarded the Midwest Region Men’s Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Friday. Kiptoo is the first Cyclone men’s runner to earn this award.

Kiptoo came off of an indoor season that saw him become the first Cyclone to capture an NCAA Indoor title since Edward Kemboi won the men’s 800 meters in 2015. In the 5,000-meter final, he led from gun to tape and won the race by nearly six seconds in a time of 13:23.77, breaking both the Iowa State and meet records.

Moving to the outdoor season, Kiptoo continued to produce top results. He began the season at the Hayward Premiere in Eugene, Oregon, in the 10,000 meters, and he and teammate Edwin Kurgat finished 1-2. Kiptoo ran a time of 27:58.10, establishing a new Iowa State record as well as the nation’s fastest time at that point of the year. He and Kurgat returned to Hayward Field on April 23, where the pair would stage an entertaining encounter with Oregon’s Cole Hocker and Cooper Teare, who were both NCAA champions during the indoor season. Over the 5,000-meter race, the quartet pulled away from the rest of the field to contest the title. Hocker pulled out a win in a time 13:19.98, while Kurgat and Kiptoo went 3-4 to finish in times of 13:20.48 and 13:21.02, respectively, to record the second and third fastest times in school history.

Kiptoo’s run of success continued at the Big 12 Championships in mid-May at Kansas State, as the sophomore produced a treble of wins in the 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters and 3,000-meter steeplechase. During his first appearance in the steeplechase as a Cyclone, Kiptoo won convincingly in a school and meet record time of 8:31.82 to score his first 10 of 30 points for the Cyclones. He completed the distance sweep with two more dominant runs in the 5K and 10K with two more meet record times of 13:29.92 and 28:22.98, running the former in pouring rain to become the first male athlete to win these three events at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships.

Kiptoo’s front-running tactics were again on display at the NCAA West Preliminary Meet in College Station, Texas. Completing another sweep of the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter races, he again ran meet records in both events. Kiptoo’s 10K win came in a time of 28:50.11 as Kurgat finished fourth in their race to also qualify for the NCAA meet, with a time of 29:11.05. He rounded out the weekend with a win in his 5K semifinal to punch another ticket to nationals with a winning time of 13:42.70, as nine more Iowa State athletes joined him to the NCAA championships.

Iowa State will compete in the national meet June 9 through 12 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.