It's no surprise to me that these runners have found that racing, not pacing, is the best way to prepare for
an NCAA Championship[essentially any championship on the high school, college, national, or international level] where race tactics are sure to play a role and it's highly unlikely that anyone can just go out from the gun and pace their way to a championship.
Your fellow competitors help to push you beyond what you could do just on your own. Why do you think rabbits/pacers work? Any race you run has built-in rabbits/pacers for you if you want to take advantage of their presence: everyone faster than you.