Wow! Talk about unclear on the concept! The race had nothing to do with running fast and everything to do with finishing high. With the first three places all but guaranteed to go to the Stanford trio, no matter what the pace, the other runners knew they were running for 4th and 5th and thus had to be careful not to do anything stupid.
You can bet that most of the runners in the field qualified for the Regional by being part of a train in some set up race like the Stanford Invitational or Mt. SAC. Something that requires no racing skills whatsoever.
When the Stanford runners upped the ante from 80-second pace to 75 in the middle of the race, suddenly the rest of the field was left to fend for itself. Hats off to those who handled it well enough to advance to the Nationals. I'd rather see somebody who ran 16:25 for 4th at Regionals make it to the big show than somebody who ran 16:00 for 10th in a paced race, which is what would have happened in the old days.