Let's run had a fascinating take on the question of whether Edward Cheserek is the 'best' college distance runner of all time. Like most sports, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to name a singular greatest player or athlete. Times change and we can really only compare athletes against the generation in which they competed.
First, I need to come clean, so to speak. I was a distance runner as a child. I met and ran with too many running superstars to count. When I was a freshman in high school, Bill McChesney's wife was my PE teacher; Steve McChesney was my high school cross-country coach; Kenny McChesney was a contemporary and a friend. I have spent many hours at Bill, Sr. and Marcia McChesney's house. I consider them the 'first family' of American distance running.
But I think the question on Cheserek isn't whether he was the best of all time at the collegiate level, because he may not even be the best all time at Oregon! What Cheserek is is the most decorated distance runner in NCAA history. I think that is non-debatable.
Steve Prefontaine did not run in multiple NCAA indoor meets; plus the Ducks did not run him in three and four events at the NCAA level, otherwise, he likely would have surpassed Cheserek's win totals and championship medals.
I look at what Steve Prefontaine did as a runner and he was just better against his era than Cheserek is against his own. I actually think Galen Rupp was probably just as good a runner in his era.
But this should not dissuade the celebration of Keng Ches's mark on the Oregon track program. He took this team to another level with his dominance at the collegiate level. As the Let's Run article pointed out from quotes, he made others better by his dominance.
Is Cheserek the best ever? Does it really matter? He is incomparable; he is the most decorated distance runner in Oregon history. He was a tremendous representative for the university and for that, all track fans should applaud his career. The greatest is just something for us to ponder during a slow time in sports!