It’s been two years since Edward Cheserek raced at The Armory, and as much of a high school sensation as he was then, he’s even bigger now.
Cheserek was the dominant high school cross country and distance running athlete in the country during his three-year stay at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, N.J. after moving from his native Kenya.
Now at the University of Oregon, “King Ches” has taken college distance running by storm. He is already a two-time NCAA cross country champion and has three track titles under his belt – and he’s still getting started.
Even in the context of Oregon’s rich heritage of distance running – from Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight and the birth of Nike to athletes such as Steve Prefontaine, Alberto Salazar and Galen Rupp – Cheserek’s growing list of accomplishments stand apart.
“I love seeing anyone at Oregon do well,” said Galen Rupp, who won six NCAA distance titles in 2008-09. “Edward handles it with class. I’ve met him several times. Oregon is lucky to have a guy like that.”
Rupp and Cheserek are among 15 current or former Oregon Ducks who are on the starting lists for the NYRR Millrose Games on Feb. 14.
Cheserek, who broke the national high school record in the 2-mile at the 2013 Millrose (8:39.15), is entered in the Wanamaker Mile against three previous champions – Bernard Lagat, Matthew Centrowitz and Will Leer. Cheserek has not yet joined the sub-four mile club, but figures to go well under in his Armory homecoming.
Rupp, who will head the field in the 5,000 meters, believes that Cheserek could end up being the most decorated distance runner in NCAA history, not just the University of Oregon.
“What he’s been doing right now, I think he will have the best (college career),” Rupp said. “What he did as a freshman, indoors and out, was a great way to start off a college career. There’s no reason why he can’t go all four years winning everything.”
Cheserek won his second NCAA title in cross country last fall, going 1-2 with teammate Eric Jenkins. Jenkins, who transferred from Northeastern, is one of five current Oregon Ducks entered in the men’s 3,000 meters at Millrose.
Cheserek split 3:57.98 on the anchor leg of Oregon’s DMR victory at the Penn Relays last April. The Wanamaker will be his first chance to race in an actual mile since the 2013 high school mile at the adidas Grand Prix at Icahn Stadium, where he ran 4:05.36.