Three Big Takeaways: Cyclone men earn four PRs at Stanford Invite


Iowa State junior Wesley Kiptoo (left) and redshirt senior Thomas Pollard (right) compete in the 2022 Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships on Feb. 25 at Lied Recreation Center.

Adarsh Tamma

Iowa State track and field’s distance group took to the Cobb Track and Angel Field Complex on Friday evening, as five athletes competed at the 47th running of the Stanford Relays.

The Cyclone men had entries in the 5000m and 10000m events and came away with a handful of personal bests in a meet marked by fast times and intense competition down the stretch. Four of Iowa State’s athletes set new PRs in their respective events, with one even making the program’s all-time leaderboard.

Bungei PRs in outdoor debut

The night kicked off for the Cyclones with sophomore Kelvin Bungei lowering his 5000m personal best by nearly seven seconds. Bungei finished 21st in his heat in a time of 14:21.90.

Bungei made his outdoor debut for Iowa State on Friday, having competed in just two meets for the Cyclones during the indoor season. Bungei last competed at the Big 12 Indoor Championships, where he finished 12th and 27th in the mile and 3000m events respectively.

Bungei’s previous distance running experience came at Iowa Central Community College, where he competed in a multitude of events spanning from the 800m all the way up to the 3000m steeplechase. He also won the 2020 NJCAA cross country national championship, finishing ahead of the field by nearly 15 seconds.

The 5K heat was marked by its early pace, as the field went through each of the first half of the race in split times under 1:10. Northern Arizona’s John Shea held the lead through 2600 meters as he crossed the line at the 7:20.50 mark. Bungei meanwhile was a bit back in the pack over the first half of the race, but turned in the fastest split time of the group between the 1400 and 1800-meter marks (1:05.97).

The pace only helped Bungei’s goal of breaking his personal record as the leaders began to speed up each at the start of each new lap. At the bell, Bungei was at the back of the back, but turned in a final lap split time of 1:06.80 to set a new personal mark. Shea was also able to maintain his lead through the finish, taking victory with a time 13:56.32 on a 58.33 second final lap.

Too-for-two” in 5K

Bungei’s 5000m exploits were proceeded by Iowa State’s second personal best of the night as Nehemia Too and teammate Gable Sieperda both ran in a hotly-contested second heat. 

Too, who was named a second-team All-American in the men’s distance medley relay, started out the race running split times hovering around the 1:07 mark. Sieperda recorded the fastest split time of the field on the second lap at 1:06.07, but hung towards the back of the pack at the start.

The middle portion of the race saw a lot of jostling for a good position, as Too fought through the front pack to gain the first place position. The Northern Arizona trio of George Kusche, Theo Quax and Brody Hasty dominated the top five spots, as all three athletes would eventually finish in the top flight of the field.

Too seemed to use an extra gear over the final 800 meters or so, recording a split time of 1:03.76 through 4200m before turning in a mark of 1:08.51 over the final 400m to kick home. Finishing in 12th, Too crossed the line in a time of 13:52.12 to run his first sub-14 minute 5K. Sieperda finished in 20th with a time of 13:59.40, while Kusche took victory in 13:39.51, the fastest time in the nation so far this season.

Pollard, Ford close night in 10K

Seniors Thomas Pollard and Ryan Ford took to the track one more time for Iowa State as the pair competed in the 10000m invitational heat.

The field was full of national-level talent, as reigning indoor 3000m and 5000m Abdihamid Nur of Northern Arizona was also running in his first outdoor meet of the year. Oklahoma State’s Alex Maier, who beat Pollard in the 3000m at the Big 12 Indoor Championships, was also one of the 36 entries for the race.

Pollard, like Too, pursued an aggressive style of racing right from the gun in order to stick with the leaders and clocked in an opening lap time of 1:09.68. Ford fell back towards last place, but slowly built his way back up through the next five to six laps to sit in the middle of the pack at the halfway point.

Pollard continued his offensive strategy on the back half of the race, as he began to contend with Maier and Nur, both of whom had used slow and steady tactics to gradually move their way through the field. At one point, Pollard was as high as third place over the last few kilometers, but each of his pursuits to claim the top spot were quickly wrestled back by a field that continued to jostle for position.

In the last kilometer, both Pollard and Ford were on the outside looking into the top-ten, but managed to stay with the lead pack and continue the punishing pace. Pollard was finally able to get into the top-ten, but was passed by both Maier and Nur. At the tape, he crossed the line in tenth with a new personal record of 28:23.19, smashing his previous best by nearly 25 seconds. 

Pollard’s performance means that he now owns the sixth-fastest time in Iowa State history, as he overtook former world champion Yones Obdieki’s mark of 28:25.44 to achieve it. Ford also had a strong finish, as he was able to maintain his hold in the middle of the pack and crossed the line in 15th with a time of 28:34.35.

Ford also made history, as his time is now the eighth fastest on the Iowa State leaderboard, beating out Pollard’s previous PR from the 2021 Big 12 Championships.

Both athletes were part of one of the fastest 10K races so far this year, as Maier also lowered his personal best by over 30 seconds, while Nur finished fourth in the sixth-fastest time in the nation this year at 28:17.33

Iowa State will stay on the West Coast for their next meet, as the Cyclones will be competing at the Sun Angel Classic in Tempe, Arizona, from April 7-9.