2020 D1 Indoor Top 25 Rankings (Women): Update #3

Updated: Feb 17


Written by Sam Ivanecky and Sean Collins

Want to know how we rank certain athletes? Click here to learn more.


TSR contributors may value certain aspects and ranking criteria differently between men and women when constructing our Indoor Top 25...

KEY

(Unranked):

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. Bethany Hasz, Senior, Minnesota (Unranked)

Hasz set herself up for her best indoor season yet with a new 5000 meter PR in Boston back in December. At the BU Season Opener, Bethany completed her 25 laps in 15:25.33, a time that will almost certainly bring her to the NCAA Championships. After a short hiatus, Hasz returned to racing at the Meyo Invitational, earning herself another PR in the mile. This time, that personal best was a result of 4:38.86. At that meet, she also anchored the Minnesota DMR to an 11:24.


This past weekend, Hasz ran the 3000 meters at the Iowa State Classic. While this was not a PR, Hasz did come away with the victory in 9:13.46. With her mile, 3k, and 5k results so far this season, Hasz is currently ranked within the top 25 in the NCAA in three events, her highest being an NCAA #5 in the 5000 meters.


The Minnesota standout will need to improve her other two results in order to qualify for the NCAA Championships, but even if she doesn't, she will be an underrated threat in a 5k given her well-roundedness.


24. Petronela Simiuc, Senior, Toledo (0 / 24)

After a 4:38.40 mile two weeks ago, Simiuc has maintained her focus on the eight-lap affair. The Toledo star ran at the Camel City Invitational before returning to Boston for the Valentine Invitational. Simiuc has maintained her status at the top of the NCAA, improving her PR to 4:34.59 (NCAA #8). Her time was the top collegiate result at the meet.


Simiuc is gaining a lot of momentum right now as we head into the championship portion of the season. She's showing excellent consistently and is making significant progress in each race that she runs. Her continually developing race tactics could come be out in full force come Nationals.


23. Anna Camp-Bennett, Senior, BYU (-4 / 19)

After Camp-Bennett’s 1200 meter leg on BYU's twice (which was actually run twice due to a lap counting error), the BYU senior returned to her individual events at the Husky Classic. Camp-Bennett improved her season best in the 800 meters from 2:06.71 to 2:05.56. This is the new NCAA #15 mark in the country which still leaves her on the qualifying bubble moving forward. Regardless, Camp-Bennett is making the progress that we thought she could this season and her race tactics should not be overlooked.


As the BYU Cougars continue to improve in the national rankings, the challenge of deciding which events to run at the NCAA Championships will get even more difficult. Having Camp-Bennett and the Ellsworth sisters continue their improvements pushes the BYU DMR into a great position, but would it be more beneficial to spread their resources out to multiple events? We don't have the answer for that, we're just asking the question.


22. Kathryn Gillespie, Senior, Texas (-8 / 14)

Gillespie was out of action this past weekend, but had a very competitive weekend at the Razorback Invitational. There she anchored the Texas DMR, running a combined 11:04.31 to earn Texas the NCAA #7 time. The next day, the Longhorn star ran a new PR of 2:06.71 improving beyond her previous personal best 2:08 from earlier in the season.


That extra speed will be crucial as Gillespie aims to hold off the likes of the NCAA’s best milers come championship time. Expect Gillespie to be in action next weekend as Texas attempts to qualify for NCAA’s in the DMR.


21. Carmela Cardama Baez, Rs. Senior, Oregon (0 / 21)

Cardama Baez has attempted three races this season and earned new personal bests each time. First, it was a new PR in the 5000 meters when she ran 15:25.41 in Boston, almost guaranteeing her a trip to NCAA’s. Then, at the Razorback Invitational, Cardama Baez stepped down to the mile to earn a 4:42 result.


Her most recent result is a 9:01.67 at the Husky Classic, an NCAA #10 mark. The new PR is impressive and it shows us that this Oregon Duck is in the best form of her life. Still, Cardama Baez was significantly behind the best athletes in the NCAA in that race with six other collegiate athletes ahead of her.


Overall, Cardama Baez should be seen as a threat at 5000 meters, but will likely need to refine a few aspects of her speed development to become a greater threat in the 3000 meters.


20. Lauren Ellsworth-Barnes, Junior, BYU (Unranked)

Ellsworth-Barnes, like Anna Camp-Bennett, is also returning to individual events this weekend after the odd DMR double at the UW Invitational. Ellsworth-Barnes took the event win in the 800 meters at the Husky Classic with a season best of 2:05.33, a three second improvement from her result at the Dr. Sander Columbia Challenge.


Her time is a new NCAA #12 mark and it would have qualified her for the NCAA Championships in 2019. However, it looks like the qualifying time will be slightly quicker in 2020 which means that Ellsworth-Barnes will probably need a slight improvement to guarantee individual qualification. Still, both her and Camp-Bennett are making significant improvements and are certainly trending in the right direction which is a good sign for the latter half of the season.


19. Lotte Black, Junior, Rhode Island (-3 / 16)

Lotte Black returned to Boston for another attempt at the mile this weekend, this time finishing with a result of 4:36.35. Unfortunately for Black, she was placed in the second heat as opposed to the top section.


Although Black did win her heat ahead of Mille Howard of Temple and Maudie Skyring of Florida State, Black did not benefit from the quickened pace of the best section. This bodes well for Black emerging victorious in each of her races, but puts into question whether Black will be able to keep her spot to NCAA's. We think she could, but it's hard to say for sure with a few weeks left still to go in the season.


18. Gabrielle Jennings, Senior, Furman (+7 / 25)

Jennings has found a new level of strength this indoor season, emerging from huge outdoor track and cross country campaigns in 2019. The Furman veteran has built upon those successes with new PR's in multiple events this winter. At Camel City, Jennings led the Paladins with a 4:37.46 on the JDL flat track, which converts to an NCAA #11 time of 4:34.74. That time would have guaranteed her a trip to Birmingham in 2019 (and it will likely do the same in 2020).


Jennings continued her PR streak with a 3000 meter race at the Husky Classic. While this appears to be over a 10 second improvement from her previous personal best, Jennings found herself in no man’s land in her heat, losing contact with the top athletes. Her time of 9:11 currently ranks at NCAA #17 and indicates how much she has improved over the last year.


The mile is likely going to be the event she pursues at Nationals, so this 3k performance isn't life or death. If anything, it's a nice display of endurance and a good way to mix up her racing schedule.


17. Krissy Gear, Junior, Arkansas (Unranked)

Gear has experienced great improvements this indoor season after transferring from Furman to Arkansas. The new Razorback has earned new personal bests in the mile and 3000 meters, both coming this past weekend at the Husky Classic. In the mile, Gear dropped her time to a 4:36 for an NCAA #18 mark. Her 3k time was an NCAA #22 result of 9:14.39.


This double shows Gear’s ability to perform at a high level in future championship meets, although her qualifying status is still up in the air. Her mile time, however, does open the door for a variety of Arkansas arrangements in the DMR. Gear was the 800 meter leg when they ran 10:57.08 at their home Razorback Invitational, but could easily step up to the mile or 1200 leg to take some of the pressure off of Viljoen or Izzo.


16. Amber Tanner, Senior, Georgia (Unranked)

Tanner makes a huge jump into the rankings this week. The Georgia Bulldog dropped over two seconds off her season best and a second and a half off of her personal best outdoors to step into the 2:03 range. Her 2:03.02 at the Tyson Invitational in Arkansas now leaves Tanner in the NCAA #2 position behind only Nia Akins.


Tanner is not unaccustomed to NCAA Championship experience, having qualified for both the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships in 2019. However, Tanner only barely snuck into the indoor meet when Karisa Nelson scratched for the mile. Now, with her ascent up the rankings, Tanner will be facing pressure to make her first NCAA final.


15. Susan Ejore, Senior, Oregon (-3 / 12)

It’s tough to see Ejore drop a few spots after a new PR in the mile at the Husky Classic. Ejore was the second best collegiate athlete in that field, finishing with a time of 4:34 for an NCAA #10 mark. Ejore’s 800 meter result from the Razorback Invitational also leaves her in the top 10 of that event at NCAA #7 for the four-lapper.


Regardless of which race she attempts, Ejore has shown that she can be major contender on the national stage this year and having the flexibility to choose between the mile and 800 means that she can try to avoid the likes of Rivers and Jones as they choose where to focus.


14. Danae Rivers, Senior, Penn State (-4 / 10)

To describe Danae Rivers season in one word, it would be “underwhelming”. Although Rivers is nationally ranked at #4 in the 800 meters and #5 in the mile, she has yet to put down one of her season-defining performances that puts her a level above the competition. In the past, she has done anything from a 1k collegiate record to an NCAA leading 4:29 mile. Rivers has been good this season, but hardly stands out against a growing group of talented collegiate distance runners.

Besides failing to stand out this season, Rivers runs into trouble on the national level because she can realistically only compete in one event at the national meet. Her choice looks to be either the 800 or mile, both of which are hotly contested right now. The 800 meters currently has nine women who have run 2:04.xx or faster, and the mile has 11 women under 4:35. Regardless of which event she chooses, Rivers will face stiff competition in her pursuit of another national title.


13. Jessica Lawson, Sophomore, Stanford (-5 / 8)

Lawson earned a new PR this past weekend in the stacked Husky Classic 3k. Her time of 8:59.38 was good for 7th overall and 6th among collegiate athletes. It’s also a new NCAA #8 time. Still, Lawson falls in the rankings.


The rationale comes from the gap between Lawson and the other major contenders in the race. Lawson was 10 seconds off Whitnii Orton (who took the top spot among the collegians) and she was three seconds back of 5th place among collegiate athletes. With a tight sprint battle for 2nd through 5th among the collegiate finishers, Lawson fell off that pack by just a few seconds. This is not an issue for her maintaining NCAA qualifying position or even All-American status, but those few seconds could easily be the difference between 3rd and 7th at the NCAA Championships.


Lawson’s strengths are much more important than that small weakness. The Stanford distance runner has established new mile and 3k PR's this winter and is currently in NCAA qualifying position in both races, alongside an NCAA #2 DMR which she anchored to 10:55. It’s unclear which direction the Stanford ladies will take in March, but don’t be surprised if Lawson steps away with two first-team All-American honors by the end.


12. Katie Rainsberger, Senior, Washington (+3 / 15)

Rainsberger remains one of the most consistent runners in the NCAA by putting down near personal bests every single week. In the two weeks since we last ranked athletes, Rainsberger anchored the Washington DMR to a time of 10:56, which is currently the NCAA #3 mark. A week later, the Washington senior set a new personal best in the 3000 meters at the Husky Classic with a time of 8:56.


Her 3k time currently sits at NCAA #6, setting up Rainsberger for a potential DMR/3k double by the time the Indoor National Championships come around. There is also a chance that Rainsberger will try for the mile/3k double as she did in 2019, but that seems unlikely with the current state of the NCAA.


Rainsberger has yet to race a mile this season and would likely chase a time at the MPSF Championships, if she were to do such. The mile is already loaded with talent as it stands. It will likely come down to whether Rainsberger values team or individual more, but it’s probable that she will compete in the DMR/3k come March.


11. Makena Morley, Senior, Colorado (0 / 11)

It’s pretty hard to believe that Makena Morley doesn't improve in our rankings after running 15:26.22 in Boston, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. Nonetheless, it’s important to see this weekend as a huge success for Morley.


Morley basically guaranteed herself a trip to NCAA's in the 5000 meters and sits at NCAA #7 with a 10 second gap to NCAA #8 runner Mercy Chelangat (Alabama). Morley is also in the top 10 in the 3k standings.


Completing her 5k in Boston gives even more credibility to Morley’s 3k conversion from the Colorado Invitational. While Morley has consistently shown that she deserves to be at the NCAA Championships, it can be challenging to understand just how accurate the conversion rate is, especially from meets in Boulder which rarely feature major competition.


It’s now clear that Morley can perform well at altitude and sea level this season and should be ready to put her nose into any major distance race at MPSF or the NCAA Championships.


10. Julia Heymach, Junior, Stanford (+13 / 23)

If there was an award for “Most Improved” handed out during the indoor season, my vote would be for Heymach. Since the season started, she has knocked off a combined 13 seconds from her indoor personal bests in the 800 and mile. She is currently ranked NCAA #9 in the 800 meters, NCAA #5 in the mile, and was a member of Stanford’s NCAA #2 DMR team.


Heymach showed flashes of improvement during her cross country season this past fall, but it was unclear how that was going to translate to the track. Clearly, it has translated over quite well.


She has been an integral part of Stanford’s roster this winter and is a legitimate contender in the mile this season. The most important question for Heymach, as with many others, is what event(s) will she compete in at the Indoor National Championships? Doubling down in the mile and DMR is hard. Can it be done? Yes, but given that the mile preliminary round is before the DMR, it could hurt Stanford’s chances at a team title.


9. Carley Thomas, Freshman, Washington (-3 / 6)

Since opening her season at the Dr. Sander Columbia Challenge with an impressive win over Danae Rivers of Penn State and Nia Akins of Penn, Thomas has been relatively quiet. She ran the 800 meter leg of Washington’s DMR at the UW Invitational two weeks ago (which ranks #3 nationally). She then ran both the 400 meters and the 4x400 relay at the Husky Classic over the weekend, but neither race had much implication for Thomas.


The one concern about Thomas is how little she has raced. She came into Washington with an impressive resume and put down a great first performance in the 800 meters, but a sample size of one is hardly indicative of what to expect in the future. Washington has the MPSF Championships on the horizon where Thomas will (hopefully) race another 800 before the NCAA Championships.


8. Nia Akins, Senior, Penn (+5 / 13)

This ranking is going to garner a lot of backlash.


Nia Akins ran 2:00.71 at the BU Valentine meet this weekend, winning the race over several professionals and clocking the NCAA #2 all-time mark in the 800 meters. Akins time was only .02 seconds off of the collegiate record set by Jazmine Fray in 2017, and makes Akins 2.3 seconds faster than any other collegiate for 800 meters this season.


So how is she not ranked higher? Let me explain.


Akins run was nothing short of incredible this weekend, but like Thomas, a sample size of one does not tell us a whole lot. You might say, “Well, Akins is a seasoned veteran and has performed well at other NCAA Championships”, which is true, but maybe not directly tied to how fast she ran.


Prior to this weekend, Akins' fastest indoor mark was 2:03.74 from the Indoor Nationals Championships in 2019. In short, her run this weekend is a complete outlier and not necessarily representative of what her future races will look like. On paper, she is the best, but so was Fray in 2017 and she failed to win the indoor title that season.


Lastly, and most importantly, is that our rankings system does not favor runners like Akins. For better or worse, athletes in the TSR Power Rankings are judged on their impact at the National Championships and Akins falls short on that criteria. The Penn senior will only be in one event in Albuquerque as far as the distance races are concerned. She might win that event, but everyone ranked ahead of her will be in multiple races and will have decent chances at also winning national titles.


Some might make the case against Viljoen or Donaghu, but Viljoen is elite in the mile/3k and could be a member of a national title contending Arkansas DMR team. The same can be said for Donaghu by swapping Arkansas for Stanford.


Don’t get me wrong, Akins is having an incredible season, but a combination of factors keeps her at only TSR #8...for now.


7. Carina Viljoen, Senior, Arkansas (+2 / 9)

As just mentioned, Carina Viljoen is elite across a number of NCAA events. She is nationally ranked at #13 in the mile, #7 in the 3000 meters, and #4 in the DMR. She continues to have the best season of her life (including cross country) and cemented her status as one of the NCAA’s best this weekend when she ran 8:56 at the Husky Classic. That 3k mark shattered her previous best by 16 seconds and now makes Viljoen a legitimate contender for the DMR/3k double.


The Arkansas senior has previously raced the mile at the Indoor National Championships, but looks to be on pace to change things up this season. On paper, her 3k mark is stronger than her mile time and it also sets her up for an easier double if Viljoen plans to compete in the DMR as well.


With her on that team, Arkansas is a national title contender despite strong competition from the likes of BYU, Stanford and Washington. It makes the most sense for Viljoen to run the DMR on Friday and come back Saturday in the 3k, but only time will tell what she lands on.


6. Ella Donaghu, Junior, Stanford (+1 / 7)

You can essentially copy and paste what was written about Viljoen here. Donaghu is (also) rising in the ranks of the mile and 3k, while being part of one of the nation’s best DMR squads.


Over the weekend, the Stanford junior broke 9:00 for the second time in her career with a new personal best of 8:54 at the Husky Classic. That time ranks her at #4 in the country this season. She also sits at #6 in the mile with a time of 4:33 which she ran back on January 31st at the Razorback Invitational.


It’s hard to see a scenario where Donaghu does not run the DMR/3k double at the Indoor National Championships. Stanford needs her in the DMR and running the mile would make for a much tougher double. There’s still the chance that Donaghu could find herself in the 5k/3k double if she can run a fast 5000 meter time at the MPSF Championships, but that scenario is the least likely considering that it would eliminate the DMR from her race plans entirely.


5. Alicia Monson, Senior, Wisconsin (-1 / 4)

Despite being ranked at NCAA #2 in the 3000 meters, Monson’s season has been a little bit on the quieter side. She clocked a time of 8:53 at the Millrose Games, but that was eight seconds slower than what she ran in 2019 at the same meet. The Wisconsin veteran has only raced twice this indoor season, but will likely chase a 5000 meter time at the BIG 10 Championships, as she has yet to run the event and will need a qualifying mark to double at the NCAA Championships.


We have all seen Monson run and know that she will be a major threat when the Indoor National Championships roll around. Her season has been relatively quiet, but she is the reigning indoor 5k champion and will certainly be hard to stop in March.


4. Katie Izzo, Senior, Arkansas (+1 / 5)

It should come as no surprise that Katie Izzo continues to smash her personal bests on the indoor track. She opened up the year coming just short of the 5k collegiate record and continues to rank at #1 in that event.


Over the weekend she (again) lowered her mile personal best, clocking a 4:35 at the Husky Classic. The day before, Izzo finished as the third best collegian in the 3000 meters where she also set a personal best of 8:55 for the distance. If that’s not enough, she was the anchor leg on the NCAA #4 ranked Arkansas DMR.


Izzo can essentially run any combination of events at the Indoor National Championships. Realistically, the Arkansas graduate transfer should compete in the 5k and 3k because it would be ludicrous to not run an event when you are ranked in the top. The downside of this double is Izzo cannot compete in the DMR, but Arkansas would still be able to move some women around to make a run at the national title in the event.


3. Weini Kelati, Junior, New Mexico (-1 / 2)

Kelati only raced once over the past two weeks, running a mark of 8:54 for 3000 meters at the Millrose Games. The New Mexico junior is nationally ranked at #3 in the mile, #3 in the 3k and #2 in the 5k, and is all but guaranteed to run the 5k/3k double at the Indoor National Championships.


For Kelati, her best chance to win a national title will be in the 5000 meters. This race is held on her home track and at altitude, which could be major factors for how the race plays out. Yes, Kelati has a very fast mile time, but if she wants to win the title here, she will need to string this out from the start. She cannot out-kick Dani Jones, and Katie Izzo has already beaten her over the distance.


Kelati has the edge on Izzo (and Monson) when it comes to running at altitude, but Jones will be coming from essentially the same elevation. I do not realistically see Kelati being a threat in the 3000 meters, so she needs to put all of her marbles in the 5k and make this an honest race from the gun.


2. Whittni Orton, Senior, BYU (+1 / 3)

While it doesn’t make sense on paper, part of me wanted to give Orton the top spot in this week’s rankings. The BYU senior has been incredible this season and continues to erase any hint of doubt around what she can do.


Two weeks ago, Orton anchored the BYU DMR team to the #1 ranking in the country with a time of 10:53 at the UW Invitational. This past weekend, she earned another #1 ranking by running 8:49.63 for 3000 meters at the Husky Classic…in her first time ever competing at the distance.


Honestly, what can’t Orton do? She is nationally ranked at #2 in the mile, #1 in the 3k, #4 in the 5k and #1 in the DMR. Orton has previously talked about valuing her competition with teammates which leads me to believe that she will run the DMR at the NCAA Championships. The question then becomes whether she feels like the mile or 3k is the better second event.


The mile is arguably the more wide-open event, but it also depends on what Dani Jones opts to run. If I’m Orton, I go for the mile/DMR double (and maybe the 3k as well, since it’s the last distance race).


1. Dani Jones, Rs. Senior, Colorado (0 / 1)

Dani Jones continues to do Dani Jones things. Coming into these rankings, Jones had only run in the 800 meters and the DMR at Colorado’s home meet. Then things got serious.


At the Millrose Game, Jones finished as the top collegiate by five seconds and clocked an NCAA #1 time of 4:27.88. A week later, the Colorado senior chased Colorado alum Jenny Simpson for 5000 meters at the BU Valentine meet and ran an NCAA #3 time of 15:17.


What makes that 5k even more impressive is that Simpson finished in 14:58, meaning Jones was largely on her own in the later stages of the race. Imagine what she could do with a little more competition…


Jones will be the favorite in any and all of the events she enters at the NCAA Championships. She has yet to run a 3k, but could easily run a qualifying mark at the MPSF Championships if she so chooses. Jones has previously won indoor national titles in both the DMR and 3k, while finishing runner-up in the mile to Elle Purrier in 2018.


With Sage Hurta out for the season, Colorado is a bit lacking in the DMR and the 5k/3k double might make more sense for Jones. Oh, and to top it all off, Jones is used to racing at altitude so the championships being in Albuquerque should not be a problem for her

KICKED OFF

Martha Bissah (Norfolk State)

Andrea Foster (Clemson)

Avi’ Tal Wilson-Perteete (UNLV)

Meg Darmofal (Michigan)


ADDED

Bethany Hasz (Minnesota)

Lauren Ellsworth-Barnes (BYU)

Krissy Gear (Arkansas)

Amber Tanner (Georgia)


JUST MISSED (in no particular order)

Meg Darmofal (Michigan)

Melany Smart (Washington)

Mercy Chelangat (Alabama) Alena Ellsworth (BYU)

Sara Freix (Virginia Tech)

Sarah Edwards (Virginia Tech)

Maudie Skyring (Florida State)

Katy-Ann McDonald (LSU)

Abbe Goldstein (Harvard)

Abby Wheeler (Providence)


HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no particular order)

Lindsey Rudden (Michigan State)

Christina Aragon (Stanford)

Millie Howard (Temple)

Egle Morenaite (Iona)

Maria Mettler (Air Force)

Hannah Steelman (Wofford) Grace Forbes (Rice)

Aubrey Roberts (Northwestern)

Kelsey Chmiel (NC State)

Allie Schadler (Washington)