With NCAA Division II Nationals coming up this weekend, it is time to take a look at who could potentially stake a claim to the 1500 meter national title. A strong contingency of Colorado-based veterans on both the men’s and women’s sides look to have a strong chance, while some outside competitors and dark horses from the indoor season could cause chaos as well.
There is potential for the 1500 to be the most compelling event at this year’s championship meet. Anything is possible, and I expect at least one or two surprises to come out of the metric mile this weekend in Texas.
On the women’s side, the top three seed times coming in all come from RMAC schools. Adams State junior Roisin Flanagan’s 4:16.42, which she ran at Bryan Clay, leads the field. The mark is three seconds clear of Roisin’s freshman teammate, Stephanie Cotter, who ran an impressive 4:19.84 at Payton Jordan. These two are the only ones that have broken 4:20 this season, with Western State’s Alicja Konieczek seeded third in 4:22. Neither Flanagan nor Cotter appear to be doubling, so the pair should be relatively fresh with a day of rest between prelims and finals. I expect these two to work well together much like they did in the mile final at the indoor national meet when they finished 1-2.
The 3rd place finisher from that race, Allie Ludge of Grand Valley State, comes into these championships seeded fourth with a 4:22.33. She is also entered in the 5000 meters later that evening, so it will be interesting to see how that plays a role in how she runs her 1500 earlier in the day (given she makes finals).
Walsh junior Andra Lehotay ran her personal best of 4:23.16 back in March coming off a 5th place finish during indoors. She hasn’t run quite that fast since, but she could be a formidable opponent in the right circumstances.
Also returning from the indoor final is Edinboro freshman Stefanie Parsons. She ran 4:25.91 back in mid-April and has found a way to integrate herself into the All-American conversation. She has some respectable range which could come in handy for this weekend.
On the flip side of things, Cal Poly Pomona senior Casey Monoszlay is an athlete who has been on fire when you look at her recent performances. She ran her personal best to qualify for Nationals only a few weeks ago when she had a phenomenal race to upset the field at the CCAA Championships in a time of 4:26.43. A dark horse, Monoszlay could potentially use this momentum from strong races late in the season to snag an All-American position or maybe even a top spot on the podium. Like Ludge, she is also entered in the 5k on Saturday evening. Monoszlay, as well as others in the field, must look to peak at the right time in order to usurp what could be a repeat of Adam’s indoor dominance.
Roisin Flanagan (Adams State)
Stephanie Cotter (Adams State)
Alicja Konieczek (Western Colorado)
Andra Lehotay (Walsh)
Stefanie Parsons (Edinboro)
Allie Ludge (Grand Valley State)
Liz Bloch (Michigan Tech)
Casey Monoszlay (Cal Poly Pomona)
The men’s side of things doesn’t appear to be as one-sided as the women’s. One interesting storyline has to be if the Queens duo of Daniel Wallis and Felix Wammetsberger can replicate their phenomenal 1-2 performance from Indoor Nationals back in March. They will face some stiff competition, as six men are coming into these championships packed closer together with seed times under 3:45.
As usual, the Grizzlies of Adams State are represented well with Elias Gedyon owning the top seed time of 3:42.5. Behind him, Colorado Mines’ Luke Julian comes in seeded second with a 3:42.98. Julian is coming off of a victory at the RMAC Outdoor Championships over teammate Josh Evans, who is also entered in the 1500 field with a time of 3:44.94. Julian has been one of the better rising stars this season and a strong performance at Nationals could validate his breakout 2019.
One of the biggest surprise entries in the field has to be Adams State’s Sydney Gidabuday. We are used to seeing Gidabuday running the 10k/5k double, but he’s opted for the shorter 1500/5k double this year. It will be interesting to see how his speed holds up against other more established speedsters such as Shane Bracken of Saint Leo or Brett Meyer of Fort Hays State.
What we often forget after seeing Gidabuday’s successful transition to the longer distances is that he sports a 4:09 1600 meter PR from high school and finished 3rd at the California State Championships as a senior. He is no slouch in the middle distances and should be in contention for a title going into the final.
Beyond him, there are a handful of others in the field, such as Academy of Art’s Victor Moreau, Sioux Falls’ Zach Lundberg, and Western Colorado’s Ross Husch who could make some noise and potentially snag All-American honors. Each of these men boast a specific racing weapon of either pure fitness, exceptional range, or veteran-like consistency. They'll be serious contenders in this race should they make the final.
In terms of doubles and other races throughout the weekend, only one athlete, Embry-Riddle’s Calahan Warren, appears to be attempting the 800/1500 double. He comes in with one of the slower times in the 1500, so it is yet to be seen whether or not he can sneak through to the finals for that. If he can, he will have a busy weekend ahead of him.
A handful of athletes, including Gedyon, Gidabuday, Husch, Moreau, and Julian are also scheduled to run the 5k final on Saturday night. Assuming a majority of these individuals make the 1500 final, it will be interesting to see if they decide to slow the early pace in order to save some energy. In this case, the advantage will go to those with the best finishing speed. At this level though, everyone has some sort of finishing ability. I expect nothing less than a dogfight with 400 meters to go come race-time in Texas.
Daniel Wallis (Queens)
Elias Gedyon (Adams State)
Felix Wammetsberger (Queens)
Luke Julian (Colorado Mines)
Josh Evans (Colorado Mines)
Brett Meyer (Fort Hays State)
Sydney Gidabuday (Adams State)
Shane Bracken (Saint Leo)