Geordie Beamish describes himself as the kind of runner who doesn't like to stay in a comfort zone.
After winning the indoor mile NCAA title, Beamish going for the 1,500-meter outdoor championship seemed like an obvious choice, but he heard that a few of the best of this year's big names were going to be in the 5000m.
“I think it’s pretty gutsy," said Michael Smith, director of cross country and track and field at Northern Arizona University.
Smith had no problem with his seasoned junior wanting to take on the challenge. Beamish quickly proved his value at the distance when he qualified for the 5K finals at the NCAA Division I West Region Preliminary Rounds a few weeks ago with a time of 14:06.00.
He won his heat in the process at prelims and had the 14th-best overall time. The runners he hopes to upset recorded the top times overall.
Featured in the 5K NCAA championship field is Stanford's Grant Fisher and Wisconsin's Morgan McDonald. Both are seniors.
Fisher, who posted the best West prelims times at 13:45.64, takes a personal best of 13:29.52 into the 5K finale, while McDonald, who ran a 13:46.76 at prelims, owns a PR in the distance of 13:29.79.
"The main reason was that I thought the competition was better," said Beamish of choosing the event in which he has a PR of 13:31.58. "I thought the 5K was the event to be in. Grant Fisher and Morgan McDonald, those are the two best runners right now, no one’s going to argue with that, and they are in the 5K.”
Smith and Beamish aren't worried about times heading into Friday night's race in Austin, Texas. Running a good, tactical race is what they are focused on.
Even if the race goes out fast and surges, Smith knows Beamish has a mix of instinct, talent and fitness that makes him a threat.
“You are already in high gear and then he has that gear off the highest gear, so he’s going to be tough to deal with," Smith said.
Beamish won the Big Sky Conference 1500m outdoor title in early March, beating out teammates Brodey Hasty and Luis Grijalva, a Lumberjacks pair also set to run the NCAA 5000m on Friday. He took 16th in the Big Sky 5000m championship race, with Hasty and Grijalva finishing ahead of him in that outing.
The NCAA indoor mile title went to Beamish, who put on quite the show as he maneuvered through a maze-like pack for the gold, his long hair flying behind him as he picked up the pace. Beamish became the fourth Northern Arizona runner in school history to win an indoor title. He paired the NCAA gold medal with his 2019 conference indoor title in the mile.
“The 5K was looking like more of a challenge for me -- and it looked less and less like I was going to make it even to the NCAAs -- and I wanted that challenge of running a tactical 5K," said Beamish, a New Zealand native.
Those races have made for a busy stretch for Beamish, who said he gained more confidence from the outdoor conference and prelim races than he did lose strength. Smith said Beamish's recent workouts haven't been intense, but that he makes the training look smooth, bold and easy.
Beamish said it's all about devotion.
“I haven’t been doing any workouts that show some huge jump in fitness. It’s just that I’ve been more consistent than I have, just chipping away, mediocre mileage, mediocre workouts, nothing to write home about, but just doing it week in and out, that’s definitely the key to it," he said.
The laser focus on his goal to win has allowed him to learn how to embrace the big moments. He has seen plenty, too, including playing a role in the Lumberjacks cross country team riding its current three-peat of NCAA titles in the sport.
The 5000m outdoor championship race Friday starts at 7:25 p.m.
It will be his first time at the NCAA outdoors.
“It’s the pinnacle of the sport and I think it brings the best out of everyone, the best out of the competition, and I think it’s entertaining to watch, hopefully," Beamish said. "This season, especially, I feel like I’ve been better at just enjoying the moment I am in, like the stressful situations and nervous moments before a big race like that. Just totally immersing yourself in something like that is a pretty cool thing to be a part of.”
He and Smith hope the All-American's immersion and instincts take others out of their comfort zones and lead to upsets.