Updated: Feb 5
Written by Maura Beattie, Sam Ivanecky, and Sean Collins
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TSR contributors may value certain aspects and ranking criteria differently between men and women when constructing our Indoor Top 25...
Was not ranked the week before.
First number indicates how much the individual has moved in the rankings.
The second number indicates where they were ranked the week before.
25. Gabrielle Jennings, Senior, Furman (Unranked)
On Friday night, Gabrielle Jennings crushed a mile field that included previously-ranked Hannah Steelman at the Carolina Challenge. The Furman senior stormed to a 4:39.97 en route to a seven second victory over Steelman. This was a new PR for the Furman star.
This performance is strong, but that time alone is not exactly why Jennings gets ranked. Seeing this kind of jump-up in speed from someone is primarily a long distance specialist makes her potential extremely interesting.
Given her increased success over the last few seasons, Jennings seems prepped for even more breakouts this season.
24. Petronela Simiuc, Senior, Toledo (Unranked)
Simiuc enters the rankings after a 4:38 mile to take 6th place in the BU John Terrier Classic. This time was a four second personal best and now leaves her at #13 in the NCAA.
This result was a total breakthrough for Simiuc who has never qualified for an NCAA Championship and hs never won a conference title. Simiuc’s only other race this season was at the traditional BGSU/Toledo Dual where she emerged victorious over 3000 meters in a largely unchallenged effort.
Simiuc also brings a PR of 2:08 for 800 meters to her resume which she achieved at the 2019 Raleigh Relays. While it is not the quickest 800 PR of the NCAA mile contenders, it should be enough speed to stay in contention in a battle that does not heat up until the final laps.
That extended range gives her a slight edge over a few women who recorded a slightly faster mile time than her this past weekend.
23. Meg Darmofal, Rs. Senior, Michigan (Unranked)
This Michigan Wolverine enters our Top 25 for the first time in her career after a strong set of early season performances. Darmofal began her 2020 campaign with a new 800 meter PR of 2:08.24 at the Wolverine Invitational. She then followed that up with a mile victory at the Simmons-Harvey Invitational the following weekend.
However, Darmofal’s most impressive result was a 4:39.19 mile at the Power 5 Invitational to finish as the top collegiate athlete. This was a new PR for the distance, shaving off more than four seconds. Darmofal is also strengthening her speed for championship races by consistently featuring in Michigan's 4x400 relay lineups at every meet she has competed in. She is has proven to be one of the most well-rounded distance runners in the nation so far this season.
22. Julia Heymach, Junior, Stanford (+2 / 24)
Heymach was the Stanford Cardinal who did not breakout during the 2019 cross country season while some of her fellow teammates stepped into the national spotlight for the first time. But now it appears that Heymach will not need to wait any longer to enter the NCAA contender discussion.
Heymach was featured in the victorious 10:55 DMR performance in the 800 meter leg and competed at that distance for the individual race as well. On Friday night, Heymach split 2:05.57 as the fastest 800 leg of the night before returning on Saturday to place 2nd in an excellent time of 2:04.94. This appears to be at least a three second collegiate best for Heymach and it ranks her at #6 on the NCAA descending order list
Heymach’s season is also strengthened by a 2nd place at the 2020 UW Preview 1000 meter race where she ran 2:45.36, barely finishing runner-up to Susan Ejore. The rising Stanford ace is picking up plenty of steam as we head into the most crucial part of the season.
21. Carmela Cardama Baez, Rs. Senior, Oregon (+1 / 22)
Cardama Baez made a surprising appearance in the mile at the Razorback Invitational, an event that she has only run one other time during her career at Oregon. She emerged with a 7th place result and a new PR of 4:42.13.
While that mile result only places Cardama Baez at #22 on the NCAA descending order list, it indicates that Cardama Baez is working on her speed as she prepares for the longer distance races. She has yet to race a 3k this year, but she's almost guaranteed a 5k appearance at NCAA's with her time of 15:25 from December.
20. Avi'Tal Wilson-Perteete, Junior, UNLV (-3 / 17)
While the UW Invitational 800 was headlined by a spectacular performance by Shelby Houlihan’s 2:01.82, Wilson-Perteete’s performance did not follow the same trajectory. Wilson-Perteete was the only collegiate athlete in the final heat, accompanied by seven professionals and could not keep the pace.
The UNLV star fell back to 14th place, running 2:08.07. While this was a significant underperformance in comparison to her performances outdoors, there is a lot to be happy about. This is Wilson-Perteete’s fastest indoor 800 meter opener of her collegiate career and only trails her 2019 season best by .02 seconds.
There are still a number of questions about Wilson-Perteete and the indoor season, but do not let this result overshadow the fact that she has a 2:01.14 personal best and that she went for it in a race full of pros.
19. Anna Camp-Bennett, Senior, BYU (Unranked)
Anna Camp-Bennett may have had one of the more unusual weekend doubles in the NCAA. Camp-Bennett ran two 1200 legs of the DMR after Friday’s DMR race was cancelled mid-race due to a lap-counting error on the 800 legs where some teams passed the baton a lap too early on the 300 meter indoor track.
With that odd double, Camp-Bennett came back for Saturday’s rerun with a stellar leg, contributing to BYU’s NCAA leading 10:53.95. This was also a BYU school record and the #7 fastest time in NCAA history according to BYU’s official social media. At this time, no split times have been released for either Friday or Saturday’s races.
Camp-Bennett has also had individual success as of late, placing 3rd in the Dr. Sander Columbia Challenge over 800, finishing in 2:06.71.
18. Andrea Foster, Senior, Clemson (+7 / 25)
Andrea Foster slides up our rankings after a quick 800 meter race at the 2020 Clemson Invitational (as well as a few other athletes dropping out of our Top 25). Foster’s 2:05.30 from mid-January still ranks #7 in the NCAA and will likely earn her a berth at the NCAA Championships based on results from 2019.
Foster also has the most unique racing schedule of anyone in our rankings. She has competed in the 300 meters, 600 meters, 800 meters, and 1000 meters as well as both NCAA Championship relays. This makes Foster the only athlete in this rankings to have raced a distance below 400 meters and showcases an interesting approach as to how she prepares for postseason competition.
17. Martha Bissah, Senior, Norfolk State (-6 / 11)
Bissah falls victim to the same downfalls that have “hurt” other pure 800 meter runners in the rankings. The Norfolk State senior is very good at her event, but has yet to put down a time that separates her from the rest of the NCAA and looks to be limited to only this event at the national meet.
Over the weekend, Bissah finished runner-up to Danae Rivers at the Penn State National Open, clocking a time of 2:05.38 for 800 meters. While that result is good enough to be listed as the #8 time in the NCAA, there are a lot of other women clustered at the top of the NCAA for 800 meters, with only Carley Thomas looking like a true title favorite right now.
Bissah has previously run 2:03.99 during indoors and will need to put down a similar time in 2020 if she wants to separate herself from a slew of other talented middle distance runners. It's still early, but Bissah will need to do more in the coming weeks if she hopes to move up in the rankings.
16. Lotte Black, Junior, Rhode Island (Unranked)
When Black clocked a 9:10 to win the BU Season Opener 3k, it was apparent that she was ready for a breakthrough season. Fast forward to the John Thomas Terrier Classic and that breakthrough has arrived.
The Rhode Island junior finished as the second collegian in the mile at that meet and put down a huge personal best of 4:36 in the mile. That mark is good enough to be listed at the #7 best time in the NCAA right now and should give Black a very good chance at qualifying for her first-ever Indoor National Championship.
Besides her performance in the mile, Black had solid showings this past weekend at the NEICAAA Championships. She won the 1000 meters in a huge time of 2:44 and was part of a 4x800 relay that finished runner-up in a time of 9:11.
Black has shown range from the 800 meter to the 3000 meters this season and looks to be getting better with each passing week. That 1000 meter time of 2:44 should not be overlooked.
15. Katie Rainsberger, Senior, Washington (+3 / 18)
Rainsberger has only raced once over the past two weeks. After some issues on Friday, the DMR event was moved to Saturday in Washington and the Husky team did not disappoint.
Rainsberger was the anchor leg of a team that also included Washington stars Allie Schadler (1200) and Carley Thomas (800). Although Rainsberger was eventually bested by BYU’s Whittni Orton on the final leg, the Huskies still ran 10:56 which will almost certainly get them to the big dance. No splits were available for this race.
With the performance this weekend, it brings into question which event(s) Rainsberger will compete in at the national meet. She is currently ranked at #3 in the NCAA in the 3000 meters and has the potential to be a qualifier in either the mile or the 5000 meters as well. Given that the 3k and the DMR have historically been on opposite days, Rainsberger would likely have the option to double up if she chooses to pursue those two events.
14. Kathryn Gillespie, Rs. Senior, Texas (Unranked)
Welcome to the rankings, Kathryn Gillespie. The Texas redshirt senior made the biggest jump of any athlete after coming in unranked. But why the big jump? Let’s start with the mile at the Dr. Sander Columbia Challenge.
In a field that contained a mix of collegiates and professionals, Gillespie notched a huge personal best in the mile with a time of 4:34 which was good enough for 4th overall in the race. That mark is currently the #4 fastest time in the NCAA. If that wasn't good enough, Gillespie anchored Texas to a time of 11:05 in the DMR and came back the next day to run 2:06 in the 800 meters.
Gillespie is currently having the best season of her life and looks likely to run multiple events at the Indoor National Championships. She is all but guaranteed an entry in the mile and Texas seems to have a strong chance of qualifying for Nationals in the DMR as well. The only downside is that Gillespie racing both events could hinder her performance if she makes the mile final, but that is a bridge to cross when we get there.
For now, Gillespie looks like one of the new stars in the NCAA track world.
13. Nia Akins, Senior, Penn (-7 / 5)
Akins made her season debut in the 800 at the Dr. Sander Columbia Challenge, finishing as the second collegian in a time of 2:04.31. That mark currently puts her at #4 in the NCAA. Despite a solid performance, Akins dropped substantially in this week’s rankings for a number of reasons.
First and foremost is that Akins will likely be in only one event at the Indoor Championships, as Penn is unlikely to send a DMR team. This greatly limits Akins ability to score points.
Secondly, Akins competes in one of the most unpredictable indoor events. There are currently 13 women with marks of 2:04 to 2:06 in the event and two more who have run 2:03. While Akins is currently ranked at #4, she hasn't shown the level of dominance that we were expecting and will need to put down a much faster time in order to be considered a clear favorite.
Akins should be a solid contender in the 800 meters come March, but Rivers and Thomas are looming. The combination of a highly contested event makes it hard to justify slotting Akins ahead of women who will likely be elite in multiple races.
12. Susan Ejore, Rs. Senior, Oregon (+7 / 19)
After numerous indoor seasons of attempting the mile, it appears that Ejore has found her groove in the 800 meters. She clocked a 2:04.77 this past weekend to narrowly win the Razorback Invitational over Stanford's Julia Heymach, one day after helping Oregon’s DMR team to a time of 11:15. Ejore currently sits at #5 in the NCAA for the 800 meters.
Funny enough, Ejore also edged out Heymach in the 1000 meters at the UW Preview a few weeks back en route to an absurdly fast time of 2:44.
The Oregon redshirt senior has historically run the mile during indoors, but appears to have switched distances after she finished 4th in the 800 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships last spring. There is still a chance Ejore will run the mile later this season as she owns a personal best of 4:35 and has over a month until the Indoor National Championships.
It is extremely likely Ejore will be in two events come March, as Oregon almost always has a DMR team at Indoor Nationals and she should be safe to qualify in the 800 with her current mark.
11. Makena Morley, Rs. Senior, Colorado (+1 / 12)
In her season debut for Colorado, Morley put down a very impressive 3000 meter time in Boulder over the weekend. The race took place on the CU campus which is just north of 5000 feet in elevation. Morley ran 9:15 for 3000 meters which, after altitude conversions, becomes 9:00.36. That mark gives her an NCAA #2 ranking right now - a great start to her season after sitting out of cross country due to exhausted eligibility.
Morley looks to be a real threat in the 3k and 5k this indoor season. She is known for her clutch postseason finishes and she somehow looks stronger than she's ever been. Her 3k time this weekend converts to a two second personal best and she will likely be making her season debut in the 5000 meters at Washington in the near future. Morley's current indoor personal best of 15:37 may be in jeopardy this season.
10. Danae Rivers, Senior, Penn State (-7 / 3)
Since our last rankings update, Danae Rivers has raced the 800 twice. In her season debut at the event, the Penn State senior clocked a solid 2:05.20 at the Dr. Sander Columbia Challenge, but finished as only the third collegiate in the race. Rivers was bested by both Nia Akins and Carley Thomas in that race.
This past weekend, Rivers raced at the Penn State National Open and dropped a second off her season best with a 2:04.22, giving her a comfortable win over a talented middle distance specialist in Martha Bissah of Norfolk State. Rivers also came back as part of the Penn State 4x400 meter team which finished 2nd.
So if Rivers ran faster, why did she drop this week? For starters, she has yet to show that she can perform well in other events. If she is able to run a fast mile, it would help her ranking, but even then there are some problems.
Rivers is primarily an 800 runner and right now, the top of that event is getting crowded. We have seen plenty of individuals run in the 2:04 to 2:06 range, with only Carley Thomas looking somewhat dominant. Rivers will likely be in only one event come March. Penn State does not have the depth for a DMR this season and the 800/mile double is usually not a feasible option.
As of now, Rivers appears to just be one of many women who have a shot at the 800 meter title.
9. Carina Viljoen, Senior, Arkansas (+1 / 10)
Viljoen continues to impress in the middle distances this season. She ran the 1200 meter lead-off leg for Arkansas’ DMR squad on Friday, splitting 3:22 en route to an overall time of 10:57. The next day, Viljoen came back in the mile to finish 3rd with a mark of 4:36. That time was a second faster than she ran at the Arkansas Invitational to open her season.
Determining what events Viljoen will run at the Indoor National Championships should be interesting. Right now, she is the #6 fastest miler in the country and Arkansas sits at #4 on the DMR list. Realistically, Viljoen should run both of these events, but keep in mind that she opened her year with a 9:12 3k at the BU Season Opener, leaving the door open to step up in distance if she improves upon that time.
Seeing Viljoen slowly progress in the mile is a good sign as March approaches. Her marks this season are still a couple seconds shy of her 4:33 personal best, but if she can continue to inch towards that mark, then she will be a serious contender in the mile this year.
8. Jessica Lawson, Rs. Sophomore, Stanford (+5 / 13)
Stanford’s Lawson has run two mile races so far this season and each time she has improved upon her personal best. After a strong cross country season, it was expected that Lawson would turn in some quick times during the indoor season and we were right about that. At the UW Preview in mid-January, Lawson placed 4th in the mile in a time of 4:37, nearly a nine second PR. She was the first collegiate in the field by a solid nine seconds.
Two weeks later, Lawson traveled to Arkansas and again competed in the mile. This time around, Lawson ran 4:35 to place 2nd behind teammate Donaghu. She is currently ranked at #5 in the mile in Division One and there is still plenty of time for her to show why she is in the conversation for a top three finish at NCAA’s.
Lawson is also a member of Stanford’s DMR team that ran 10:55 and won the Razorback Invitational over the weekend. Lawson ran a 4:36 1600 meter leg to secure the victory for the Cardinal. The mile and DMR seem to be the best options for Lawson as we inch closer to the indoor national meet. Her consistency and continuous improvement have been aspects of her season so far.
7. Carley Thomas, Freshman, Washington (+13 / 20)
In her first collegiate track meet, Thomas exceeded expectations. At the Dr. Sander Columbia Challenge, Thomas, who was competing against both professionals and collegiates, ran 2:03 and placed 3rd overall. She beat out the likes of Danae Rivers and Nia Akins, which clearly puts her into the conversation to compete for this year's 800 meter national title.
Thomas did not compete in the 800 this past weekend at the Washington Invitational, instead acting as a member of the Washington DMR team that ran 10:56. With Thomas on the 800 leg, Washington could challenge BYU, Stanford, and Arkansas for the DMR title. Of course, they'll need great races from all three of their distance legs (and maybe a little bit of luck) to make that goal a reality.
With some additional racing under her legs, it seems likely that Thomas could improve upon her 800 meter PR. The season is just getting started for the freshman star and so is her collegiate career.
6. Ella Donaghu, Junior, Stanford (+3 / 9)
Week after week, Donaghu impresses the NCAA with her performances. After such a superb cross country season, it was only expected that the Stanford junior would make great strides on the track. A few weeks ago, Donaghu crossed the finish line in Washington with an 8:59, obviously not a bad time for her first collegiate 3k.
Already on the move, Donaghu then went to Arkansas and competed in both the DMR and mile. She paced the Cardinal women to a top two time in Division One n on the lead-off leg, putting Stanford in front with a 3:20 split. Less than 24 hours later, Donaghu won the mile in a time of 4:33, a 10 second PR. Aside from that, she beat some tough competitors, such as Lawson (Stanford), Viljoen (Arkansas), and Izzo (Arkansas). Donaghu also set the Stanford school record here, improving upon Elise Cranny’s 4:34 from 2018.
As the season progresses, it will be interesting to see what Donaghu decides to focus on. Does she go for the mile/DMR double, the mile/3k double, the 3k/DMR double, or the mile/3k/DMR triple at NCAA’s? Either way, whatever she chooses to do, Donaghu could vie for a top three finish in any event.
5. Katie Izzo, Senior, Arkansas (+1 / 6)
Izzo’s rise to glory at Arkansas is not going unnoticed after this past cross country season. The Razorback has been on a complete tear since she arrived in Fayetteville. She placed 3rd at the NCAA XC Championships and then two weeks later dropped a massive 5k PR, running 15:13 and just falling short of the all-time NCAA indoor 5k record of 15:12 set by Emily Sisson (Providence) in 2015.
Izzo didn’t stop there. At her first indoor meet of 2020, she competed in the mile at the Arkansas Invitational, running a 4:39 to finish 2nd to teammate Carina Viljoen. That was a PR, but then she bettered that mark by running a 4:37 to finish 5th this past weekend at the Razorback Invitational. All of the women ahead of her are stronger middle distance athletes, so there is no shame in a 5th place finish.
Also at the Razorback Invitational, Izzo was a member of Arkasnas’ DMR team that ran a 10:57. On the 1600 meter leg, Izzo split a 4:36 to lead the Razorbacks to a 2nd place finish behind a very good Stanford team.
As the season continues to progress towards NCAA’s, Izzo is bound to run a 3k somewhere, most likely the UW Husky Classic. Her current best is 9:29, but that time is sure to drop to the low 9:00's, if not sub-9:00.
4. Alicia Monson, Senior, Wisconsin (0 / 4)
Monson made her indoor season debut at the Indiana University Relays in the mile before she travels to New York for the Millrose Games to defend her 3k win from 2019. Monson recorded a mile time of 4:38.14 (a new PR) and was 11 seconds ahead of the next collegiate athlete in the field. The Wisconsin senior was pushed to the line by Kelsey Harris, who was competing unattached.
This upcoming Saturday will be Monson’s first chance to race against Weini Kelati (New Mexico) since the NCAA XC Championships, as well as a slew of professional athletes. Monson won the Millrose Games 3k in a time of 8:45 last year and should be primed to compete for the win yet again after her strong mile at IU this past weekend.
Keep in mind that Monson was the indoor 5k national champion last year and has plenty of experience to race against (and beat) some of the nation’s best. She is a stronger and more educated runner this year and could vie for a top spot in any race she competes in.
3. Whittni Orton, Senior, BYU (+4 / 7)
BYU’s Orton has been reached the upper echelon when it comes to elite talents in the NCAA. She was undefeated in cross country heading into the national meet and walked away with a 7th place finish there in an extremely deep field. Two weeks following NCAA’s, Orton traveled to Boston and ran her first 5k on the track. Her 15:22 is the #3 fastest 5k time so far this season.
Since her 5k at Boston, Orton has run the mile at the Dr. Sander Columbia Challenge and the DMR at the Washington Invitational. The BYU senior entered the mile at Columbia with a 4:35 personal best, but she left with a jaw-dropping 4:29 PR. Orton placed 2nd in that race, less than four tenths of a second behind professional runner Nikki Hiltz. Her time of 4:29 broke BYU’s indoor mile record and catapulted Orton to the top of the NCAA, three seconds ahead of the next competitor.
This weekend at Washington, Orton was BYU’s 1600 meter leg on the DMR. Due to officials miscounting laps on Friday night, the top heat of DMR teams had to be run on Saturday, but that didn’t stop the Cougars from posting an NCAA-leading time of 10:53.
It will be interesting to see what Orton does going forward. She has yet to race in the 3000 meters, a race that would seem to be a perfect blend of speed and endurance. BYU is a legitimate title contender in the DMR with Orton on the anchor, but what individual events does she opt for and how will that impact Orton's individual title hopes?
2. Weini Kelati, Junior, New Mexico (0 / 2)
Kelati has been pretty quiet this indoor season after dropping a 15:14 5k in December following the conclusion of this past cross country season. This is not unheard of for distance runners as they aim to peak for NCAA's.
It took almost two months for the nation to see Kelati compete again, but the wait was well worth it as the New Mexico Lobo toed the line for the mile and finished in a time of 4:38, which converts to 4:32 due to altitude.
Kelati will most likely focus on the 3k and 5k for the remainder of the season, but this was a solid race before she heads to New York for the Millrose Games. The New Mexico junior is slated to race the 3k and will compete against professionals and two fellow collegiates in Alicia Monson (Wisconsin) and Taylor Werner (Arkansas). Kelati owns an 8:53 PR in the 3k which happened to be run at 2019’s Millrose Games. Since then, Kelati has won two NCAA titles and has seemingly improved executing her race strategies.
1. Dani Jones, Rs. Senior, Colorado (0 / 1)
Jones finally made her indoor season debut which also happened to be her first race since July after exhausting her cross country eligibility. At the Colorado Invitational, Jones easily won the 800 by about five seconds over teammate Rachel McArthur. Her time of 2:04.38 converts to 2:03.57 due to altitude and that time puts her near the top of Division One in the 800 meter.
It is unlikely that Jones will compete in the 800 meters come NCAA’s, but her time does prove that she is in great shape and should be ready for either a fast mile or 3k. Having that kind of speed could be wildly useful in tactical, championship-style races.
The next race up for Jones is the Millrose Games where she will compete in the mile against professional athletes and fellow collegiate Danea Rivers (Penn State). Jones currently holds a 4:31 mile PR and that could be lowered this weekend after she displayed tremendous speed in a simple rust-buster this past weekend.
Charlotte Prouse (New Mexico)
Fiona O’Keeffe (Stanford)
Kristie Schoffield (Boise State)
Hannah Steelman (Wofford)
Anna Rohrer (Notre Dame)
Lauren Gregory (Arkansas)
Kathryn Gillespie (Texas)
Lotte Black (Rhode Island)
Gabrielle Jennings (Furman)
Anna Camp-Bennett (BYU)
Meg Darmofal (Michigan)
Petronela Simiuc (Toledo)
JUST MISSED (in no particular order)
Charlotte Prouse (New Mexico)
Fiona O’Keeffe (Stanford)
Kristie Schoffield (Boise State)
Hannah Steelman (Wofford)
Anna Rohrer (Notre Dame)
Lauren Gregory (Arkansas)
Bethany Hasz (Minnesota)
Aubrey Roberts (Northwestern)
Jeralyn Poe (Michigan State)
Annie Fuller (Michigan State)
Krissy Gear (Arkansas)
Savannah Carnahan (Furman)
Laurie Barton (Clemson)
Sarah Edwards (Virginia Tech)
Allie Schadler (Washington)
Michaela Reinhardt (Duke)
Megan Hasz (Minnesota)
Lauren Ellsworth (BYU)
Savannah Shaw (NC State)
Anna Juul (Harvard)
Abbe Goldstein (Harvard) Rebekah Topham (Wichita State)
HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no particular order)
Abbey Wheeler (Providence)
Katy Ann-McDonald (LSU)
Adva Cohen (New Mexico)
Nicole Fegans (Georgia Tech)
Maudie Skyring (Florida State)
Ericka VanderLende (Michigan)
Kayla Johnson (Miami (FL))
Sara Freix (Virginia Tech)
Kelsey Chmiel (NC State)
Kennedy Thomson (Arkansas)
Macy Heinz (South Dakota)
Sara Freix (Virginia Tech)
Joyce Kimeli (Auburn)
Egle Morenaite (Iona)
Jessica Drop (Georgia)
Haley Herberg (Washington)