Vin's quote on AJ Acosta


“He has a big upside,” Lananna said. “If you don’t have A.J. Acosta as one of your potential qualifiers I think you’ve missed the boat, because he’s going to be a contender.”

Talk about being a homer and an optimist or perhaps Vin knows something that we don’t…that would have to be it. While AJ is certainly good enough that you can’t absolutely-completely count him out, but I would say the Vegas odds are very-very low. AJ is a big talent and I would say a national team is somewhere in his future, although I am not sure if it will even be in the 1500 and I seriously doubt it will be this year. I would give AJ a 50/50 chance of winning PC-10s and less than 50/50 of winning the NCAAs and less than 50/50 of making the USATF national 1500m finals. It’s not that AJ isn’t good, it’s just a tough year, the toughest year I can recall. Among the U.S. middle distance athletes, I would put AJ somewhere near the top of that big tier 3 group; see below:

Tier 1:

Tier 2:

Tier 2:

Btw, I am not just going by a one time performance, a PR, because I know AJ ran a 3:53x mile last year, but the range you consistently run in and your ability to close off of decent pace. Torrence for example only has a 3:34x PR, but he has shown to be a legit 3:34 or better guy and is a legit 1:45 800m runner as well.

What would perhaps convince me AJ has a shot is if I saw a fast 800 like a 1:46x or a 5000 in the mid 13:20s.


AJ must be in absolutely dirty shape right now for vin to say something like that… we all know that AJ is an amazing racer and a great tactician… always seems to be in the right place, at the right time, every time… i could be wrong about that but its very rare to hear of a disappointing finish from him… if he can get the PR to back up that tactical ability, he’d be a BIG threat


Vin is obviously in a position to know plenty about this kid and has the advantage of close range viewing of Wheating, Brown, Webb, Centro and Fleet. It may be a homer quote talking about a star senior who he really needs to succeed this year but . . .

It seems to me that AJ could still be a bit of an unknown. His progression has been very solid outdoors since he entered Oregon and 3:53 and 3:36.48 is no joke for a Junior and was quite a revelation. I also like the finishing speed he showed at the NCAA outdoor meet last year. To boot I am sure he is assuming the USA final won’t be that fast and at that point anyone with finishing speed has a chance in the right race.

Vin may be seeing a young man coming into his own and he certainly has the vantage point to see it.

I’m sure AJ hopes he is right.


He finished second in the 1500 last year. I think he has as good a shot as anyone of winning NCAAs. As for making the world team…well, anything can happen in the 1500.


People seem to be forgetting this. Getting barely outkicked by Wheating is nothing to hang your head about.


Getting out kickedby Wheating isn’t anything to be disappointed at, you’re right, but AJ DID NOT get outkicked by Andrew last year, he LET him win. Everybody who watched the race commented on the fact that AJ was kicking like crazy, saw that Oregon had the sweep, and let Wheating take the win his senior year.


He actually closed faster than anyone in that race, including Wheating.
Finished pretty well in the 3:53y and 3:36 as well, so one could reasonably say that there was/is more in the tank.

I hope this is sarcasm.


That’s true, I forgot that’s how it happened; I just had in my head the image of him being just behind Wheating at the line (although Wheating going through 800 & 1500 rounds might have been a reason for that). Even still, that’s just more evidence for the point this thread is making.

And I knew someone was going to bring up Acosta “letting Wheating win.” Obviously I don’t know him or have any inside information, but from what I do know about elite athletes like this, that’s not the way they’re programmed. AJ isn’t going to be charging down the last 100 in the 1500m final, running past everyone, and then just suddenly switch out of that mode and say, “I’m going to be a nice guy today and let my buddy win nationals.” That’s not how it works.


why is everyone assuming he is going to run the 1500 at USAs? I would put money on him entering the steeple, where i think he can beat everyone in the field except for dan huling.


Speaking of Steeple, whatever happened to Fam?


Come on Maverick, really?


After Dan Huling the US had these for fastest steeplers in 2010:

Ben Bruce - 8:22 which was his PR
Steve Slattery - 8:24, his best is 8:15 but that was in '07 and he hasn’t broken 8:20 since and his 8:24 last was his best since '07
Kyle Alcorn 8:27, best of 8:21 in '08 and 8:27 last year was best since then
Brian Olinger - 8:28, 8:19 from '07 with his 8:28 the best since then
Kyle Heath - 8:29, I think this is his best
Fam - 8:30, best of 8:17 from '08
Josh McAdams - 8:34 but ran 8:22 in '09 and 8:21 the two years prior and ran a 4:01 indoor mile this year.

Seems to me a steeple focused Acosta could take on any of these gentleman.


Forget the mile, the steeple, and all that nonsense. AJ is going right to the 10k this year outdoor, then the marathon for the trials. You heard it here first!


If Vin says something like that, I’m sure he sees something we dont.

He saw a 3:30 shape Wheating and didn’t say stuff like that (although I’m sure he didn’t have to, he’d already made a team by that point).

As the fastest returner, AJ has a mark on his back, that’s for sure.


I’m still not understanding this leap. Acosta was 4th, 12 seconds back in his conference meet last year, so it can’t be steeple results that people are pointing to here. Lots and lots of guys could run 8:52 with minimal steeple training (and never do), but that doesn’t mean they’re suited for the event or that there are just 30 seconds ready to fall off once they “focus” on it. Had he run 8:52 in a very low-key winning effort, I’d give a shred more credence, but right now there’s not really anything suggesting the ability to make a team.


oh wait…wasn’t that 8:52 in that unreal triple?


None of this is meant to take any thing away from AJ because I like him and wish him well; I am just being realistic and not buying into Vin’s coachspeak.

  1. Manzano, Lomong, Wheating and Torrence can run 3 laps at AJ’s PR pace and then kick off of that pace.

  2. And then there is the matter of Webb, Brown and Heath to contend with.

  3. And then there is the matter of having to possibly average 3:40 to make the finals.

  4. And this is assuming none of the T3 guys get hot; I don’t see AJ having much seperation from Fernandez and few of those guys.

AJ’s 1500/mile PRs suggests he has a much better shot at the steeple; the fact is on the men’s and women’s side the steeple is the only events where you don’t have to contend with 3 solid world class athletes.



from what i’ve heard fam’s not really doin the whole steeple thing anymore


Yes. Second of 4 races, with the subsequent races being a 3:41.83 runner-up and 13:46.87 for third behind Derrick and Heath. The steeple (in black and white, anyway) is far and away inferior to every other mark.

It’s not that I’m claiming there’s no way he has the potential - it’s that finishing 80m behind the winner at the PAC 10 meet doesn’t really point to anything.


i know i am out on a bit of a limb here, but that is my gut prediction. Plus notice Vin never said WHICH event AJ would make the team in (only options are 1500/steeple since he is not going to be in the 13:00 shape necessary to make the 5k team).

Having been a former steepler myself, i know a thing or 2 about what it takes to be successful in the event and from what i know the following things generally make for an elite steepler:

  • well balanced strength/speed combo
  • above average height/average weight (i.e no nick symmonds bodies)
  • guts and balls

I doubt anyone can argue that he meets the first one, the 2nd may seem trivial but trust me, it is a lot easier to get over those barriers when you dont have to jump nearly as high to clear them (unless you are kenyan, but that is a different story altogether). The 3rd is crass, but you need to have the intestinal fortitude to deal with a pounding and getting thrown around a bit. The steeple is not exactly meant for silky smooth runners, it is an ugly man’s race and if AJ has shown anything over his career (especially in the last year), it is that he has a pair of cajones on him and is capable of handling multiple styles of racing and being successful. I think this year he goes just off his 1500/mile PR, 822 in the steeple and 1334 in the 5k.

EDIT: the triple really doesnt factor into my thinking at all, i thought even before that race that he had a better chance of making a steeple world team than in the 1500.