Updated: Jan 13
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TSR contributors may value certain aspects and ranking criteria differently between men and women when constructing our Indoor Top 25...
JUST MISSED (in no particular order)
Thomas Ratcliffe (Stanford)
It's no secret that Thomas Ratcliffe is the NCAA's newest distance superstar. After running 13:32 for 5000 meters last spring (en route to a bronze medal at NCAA's) and posting a handful of strong results this past fall, it seems fair to suggest that Ratcliffe could be in contention for a Top 25 spot.
The problem? He's only recorded two indoor results in a Stanford singlet.
Last winter, Ratcliffe ran 4:04 for the mile before posting a very strong mark of 7:54 for 3000 meters (although he ran 7:53 unattached back in 2017 as a freshman). We feel relatively confident that Ratcliffe is going to a major contender on the indoor oval this winter, but we'll wait to see it before we give him a ranking.
Mick Stanovsek (Washington)
This one hurts, mainly because I love the consistency and underdog story that Stanovsek brings to the table. Prior to transferring to Washington, Stanovsek ran a personal best of 3:57 in 2018 and was one of the premier milers in an always-loaded Oregon roster. Stanovsek still had strong showings last winter and spring, but has been unable to shake some of his postseason woes, failing to earn an All-American finish for three straight national meets (on the track) in a row.
With sneaky good range in the middle distance events (1:49 for 800 and 2:21 for 1000), it's safe to say that you could probably make an argument for Stanovsek in our Preseason Top 25.
Reed Brown (Oregon)
Look, I'm not happy about this either, but when you begin to do side-by-side comparisons, Brown doesn't always come out on top. He underwhelmed in the postseason of both track seasons last year and had an indoor seasonal best mile time of 3:58 which fell behind a few of the men that we opted to rank inside our Preseason Top 25. His personal best of 2:21 for the 1000 meters is a nice aspect of his resume, but we'll have to keep him out of our rankings...for now.
Cooper Williams (Indiana)
Sometimes you have to make tough decisions and leaving out Cooper Williams is one of those tough decisions. Truthfully, it all depends on what you value here. When you compare him to some of the half-milers inside our Top 25, he clearly displays better range and is better at peaking in the postseason (but only by a little bit). However, his times simply aren't as fast as some of the 800 meter runners ahead of him and he isn't completely invincible to upsets after losing to Penn State's Domenic Perretta at the 2019 BIG 10 Championships last winter. We can't wait for Williams to prove us wrong.
Kasey Knevelbaard (Florida State)
The First Man Out of our Preseason Top 25 is Knevelbaard...and this was one was especially tough. We went back and forth on a handful of highly respected and highly accomplished names for that final spot in our Preseason Top 25. Much like Cooper Williams, a lot of this depends on what you value.
Knevelbaard had a very respectable 2019 indoor track season, but wasn't in the top 10 of the NCAA (based on times) and didn't finish his winter as an All-American. His converted marks from 2018 tell us that he's in the upper echelon of the NCAA, and his All-American finish during outdoors was encouraging. However, if we're putting a greater emphasis on indoor track, then we'll have to keep him at our #26 spot for the moment.
Gilbert Boit (Arkansas)
Boit is one of those talents where we knew he wasn't going to make it into our rankings, but we also knew that he was going into the "Just Missed" column. He is exceptionally fast in the long distance events (13:37 outdoors, 13:42 indoors, 28:25 10k) and he's one of the few who can go head-to-head with the Alabama duo and win. However, he's never finished a season as an individual All-American and didn't even qualify for Indoor Nationals last year in the 5000 meters. Regardless, he is still a top talent who deserves some attention.
Michael Rhoads (Air Force)
Rhoads is one of the most underrated middle distance runners in the NCAA. He knows how to peak perfectly for the postseason, finishing as an All-American in his last two national meet appearances (6th outdoors, 8th indoors). With a personal best of 1:46 from the NCAA Outdoor Championships, we'll be interested to see if Rhoads can replicate a performance like that on a more consistent basis. He was much closer to making our Preseason Top 25 than some people may realize.
Charlie Hunter (Oregon)
It seems almost criminal to put a 3:57 miler (and 2019 NCAA #5 miler) in our Just Miss category. Unfortunately, that's the case for Charlie Hunter. It's not that Hunter ever really performed poorly, but his 8th place finish at Indoor Nationals didn't bring a ton of spark to his resume...neither did his inability to qualify for Outdoor Nationals. He has very respectable range (1:49 for 800 meters, 7:57 for 3000 meters, 14:04 for 5000 meters), but that range wasn't strong enough relative to other top-tier milers when trying to establish our Preseason Top 25. I imagine that Hunter will make us regret this decision...
Jonathan Davis (Illinois)
When healthy, Davis is one of the most lethal and dangerous distance runners in the country. Unfortunately, we haven't seen him toe the line for a collegiate race since last winter when he ran a 3:58 to beat Carlos Villarreal for the win before opting to anchor Illinois' DMR at Nationals. Back in 2018, Davis was running incredible times, including a 3:56 mile (flat-track conversion) and a 7:49 for 3000 meters. If he's at his best and healthy, he'll certainly jump into our rankings at some point this season.
Robert Brandt (UCLA)
Anyone who reads this site knows that we're big Robert Brandt fans, but a recent injury at the tail-end of the cross country season tells us that he may not be ready to race this winter. Despite owning personal bests of 7:50 and 13:36 (outdoors), as well as owning a handful of All-American honors, we'll hold off on ranking Brandt until we can see that he's healthy and racing again.
HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no particular order)
George Kusche (Nebraska)
A great tactical miler who is young and has tremendous upside. Showed us this past cross country season that he can be competitive in large, nationally competitive meets despite racing well over his ideal distance. Owns personal bests of 3:59 (mile), 7:57 (3k), 3:39 (1500).
Festus Lagat (Iowa State)
Quietly consistent with underrated range. Peaked incredibly well last outdoor season, running 1:45.05 to finish 3rd at the Outdoor National Championships. Put together a very respectable anchor leg to help Iowa State finish 5th at Indoor Nationals last winter. However, Lagat has never run faster than 1:48 during indoors. Owns personal bests of 1:45 (800), 4:00 (mile), 3:44 (1500).
Theo Quax (Northern Arizona)
A young, rising star with a high ceiling. Had a breakout spring track season in 2019, running personal bests of 3:39 (1500) and 13:49 (5k) as a freshman. Was unable to qualify for Nationals, but should be able to translate spring success to indoors.
Sam Tanner (Washington)
The only true freshman to earn a mention, the Kiwi youngster is expected to be a matchup nightmare for Washington's conference rivals. He was the first New Zealand high schooler to run under four minutes for the mile. Tanner has displayed quietly impressive range, but we are still waiting to see if he can translate that success to indoors. Owns personal bests of 1:49 (800), 3:58 (mile), 3:38 (1500), 8:22 (3k).
Domenic Perretta (Penn State)
One of the more underrated middle distance runners in the NCAA. Capable of challenging some of the top talents in the country. Upset Cooper Williams for the BIG 10 title last winter. Has underrated range. Will need to consistently run under 1:48 and capitalize on National Championship opportunities. Owns personal bests of 1:47 (800), 2:22 (1k), 3:46 (1500).
Roshon Roomes (Iowa State)
Quietly consistent and often underrated, Roomes brings top-tier times to the table for Iowa State. Valuable DMR leg who can drop down to the 400, but will need to prove himself as individual competitor on the national stage. Owns personal bests of 1:46 (800), 2:24 (1k).
Jackson Mestler (Oregon)
One of the more under appreciated distance runners in the country. Displayed exceptional range last winter and into the spring track season. Will need to take next step up in fitness and qualify for a national meet. Owns personal bests of 3:59 (mile), 7:57 (3k), 13:46 (5k), 8:44 (steeplechase).
Matt Manternach (Iowa)
Showed incredible progression and improvement throughout the 2019 outdoor track season. Lack of postseason experience caught up with him in the final few meets. Will need to translate success from last spring to this winter. Owns personal bests of 1:46 (800).
Andrew Jordan (Washington)
A talented, All-American caliber distance runner who ran 7:51 for 3000 meters last winter. A constant threat to other top runners in the country. Has consistently battled injuries and was recently held out of the NCAA XC Championships due to health concerns. Owns personal bests of 7:51 (3k), 13:55 (5k).
Jaret Carpenter (Purdue)
Lacks consistency on the track, but is capable of challenging the top distance runners in the nation when he's at 100%. Showed tremendous improvement in consistency this past fall, leading to the best postseason result of his collegiate career. Owns personal bests of 8:00 (3k), 13:43 (5k).