Updated: Apr 16
#1 Abbey Cooper (née D’Agostino) (Dartmouth ‘14)
#16 Katie Erdman (Michigan '07)
One of the most prolific winners in NCAA history, Abbey D’Agostino owns a stunning seven national titles including the 2013 NCAA Cross Country Championships title and double victories in the 3k and 5k at the NCAA Indoor Championship in 2013 and 2014. With PR’s of 4:11 (1500), 8:51 (3000), and 15:11 (5000), she also has the times to stack up with the best runner’s to ever step foot on the oval.
Trying to pull of the upset is Katie Erdman, a truthfully underrated 800 meter runner who has a place in the history books. The Michigan graduate owns a jaw-dropping personal best of 1:59.35 in the 800 meters which stemmed from her legendary battle against Alysia Johnson (now Montano) back at the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Erdman finished 2nd that day and based on all of the results we could find, she left the NCAA without a national title (which is the main reason why she is listed as a #16 seed). Even so, her legendary moment should be enough for us to consider her among the greatest collegiate distance runners of this century.
#8 Laura Roesler (Oregon ‘14)
#9 Emily Richards (Ohio Northern ‘18)
In a tight battle between two of the best 800 runners of the 2000’s, we have Laura Roesler as the #8 seed. The former Duck was the 2013 NCAA indoor and outdoor 800 meter runner-up before winning both 800 meter titles in 2014. She also ran on Oregon’s elite 4x400 relay and DMR teams throughout her career. She owns a top 15 indoor time of 2:02.32, but she also ran a 2:01 on an oversized track. Additionally, Roesler ran 2:00.54 outdoors to earn her a top 10 spot all-time in the NCAA.
One of the greatest D3 runners ever, Emily Richards won a whopping nine national titles during her time as an Ohio Northern Polar Bear. Five 800 titles to go along with four 1500/mile victories marks her productive career. Her personal bests, however, is what really makes her career stand out.
Richards' PR of 2:00.62 in the 800 meters earned her an all-division outdoor NCAA #10 spot and NCAA #1 spot amongst the D3 ranks. In fact, she is one spot behind Roesler on the all-time outdoor 800 meter list according to USTFCCCA. Richards also owns the D3 indoor national record of 2:06.53.
#5 Weini Kelati (New Mexico)
#12 Colleen Quigley (Florida State '15)
Weini Kelati's career is not yet complete, which sounds surprising since it feels like she has been dominating the NCAA distance scene for what feels like forever. The New Mexico star had earned a plethora of top finishes at national meet during the early stages of her collegiate career, but her first national title didn't come until the spring of 2019 when she won the 10k national title. She later won the NCAA XC Championships the following spring. With a personal best of 15:14 in the 5000 meters (NCAA #4 All-Time), a handful of runner-up finishes and plenty of future opportunities to win even more national titles, Kelati's resume is far from being finalized.
Colleen Quigley may be known for her success with Bowerman Track Club nowadays, but the Florida State graduate was an absolute star during her college days as well. Her personal best of 9:29 in the steeplechase is what ultimately gave her the national title at the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Prior to that, Quigley had displayed impressive range, earning eight additional All-American finishes. When it came to national meets, no one was more consistent than Quigley.
#4 Kara Goucher (née Grgas-Wheeler) (Colorado ‘01)
#13 Kate Avery (Iona ‘15)
Kara Goucher is one of the earliest athletes on this list, graduating in 2001, but her accomplishments are extensive. In 2000, Goucher won all three of the NCAA Championship races she competed in, taking titles in the 5k and 3k at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. She then won the NCAA Cross Country Championships that fall. A full listing of Goucher’s collegiate PR’s are not available, although she ran 9:02 and 15:54 to win her national titles.
Kate Avery became the first British woman to win an cross country title when she won the 2014 NCAA Championships. Avery had debuted the year prior with a 3rd place finish behind only Abbey D’Agostino and Emma Bates. Her 2013-2014 season also included a 4th place finish at the U-23 European Championships in cross country.
Avery’s 2014 campaign was an undefeated one, winning conference and regional titles en route to the NCAA Championship title. Avery’s final NCAA race was a 4th place in the 5k at the 2015 Outdoor Championships, her best track finish of her career.
Avery graduated with collegiate PR’s of 31:41 (10k), 15:25 (5k) and 8:53 (3000).
#6 Jessica Hull (Oregon '19)
#11 Alice Schmidt (North Carolina '05)
Jessica Hull really found her stride during her junior track season at Oregon. She had been a solid runner for the Ducks over the first 2.5 years of her career, but broke out with her 3rd place finish in the 3000 meters at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships. She was also a member of Oregon’s NCAA record-setting DMR team at that same meet.
During her outdoor season, Hull claimed her first national title, taking top honors in the 1500 meters. She carried that winning momentum over into the fall as she finished 3rd at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, the highest mark of her career. Hull took home another two titles during the indoor season, winning the 3k and repeating her victory in the DMR. Her final NCAA competition ended with a runner-up finish in the 1500 meters, a race where she set a new personal best of 4:06.
During her time at the University of North Carolina, Alice Schmidt won two national titles in the 800 meters and racked up a handful of All-American finishes. Schmidt was a pure middle-distance specialist and came out flying as a freshman, finishing runner-up in both the indoor and outdoor 800 meter finals.
Between her sophomore and junior campaigns, Schmidt earned back-to-back NCAA titles on the outdoor circuit and notched another 3rd place finish during the indoor finals. The UNC star graduated with a personal best of 2:01.16, finishing in the top five at both indoor and outdoor national meets during her senior season.
#3 Lauren Fleshman (Stanford '03)
#14 Christy Cazzola (Wisconsin-Oshkosh '13)
Lauren Fleshman was a phenomenal distance runner for Stanford. During her NCAA career, she earned All-American honors 15 times and was a five-time national champion. She made her mark on NCAA history by winning the outdoor 5k three years in a row (2001-2003). Her other titles were in the indoor 3k and DMR. She came close to two more titles, placing 3rd in the mile and 2nd in the 3k at the 2003 Indoor National Championships.
Fleshman was amazingly consistent in cross country with her worst finish being 7th at NCAA’s. She ended her collegiate career with personal bests of 15:20 (5k), 9:01 (3k) and 4:17 (1500).
Cazzola is easily the most successful female distance runner in Division Three history. She holds five Division Three records, won 17 national titles and was a 19-time All-American. During her senior year (2012-2013) at UW-Oshkosh, she put together an extremely successful year by winning seven national titles. She won the cross country national meet, the mile, 5k, and DMR at Indoor Nationals before eventually winning the 800, 1500, and 5k at Outdoor Nationals.
Cazzola had incredible range with personal bests of 57.5 (400), 2:05 (800), 4:17 (1500), 4:43 (mile) and 16:21 (5k).
#7 Courtney Frerichs (UMKC/New Mexico '16)
#10 Charlotte Browning (UNLV/Florida '11)
Courtney Frerichs started her collegiate career at University of Missouri-Kansas City before transferring to the distance powerhouse New Mexico to finish out her eligibility. In total, she earned seven All-American honors and one national title. She aided the 2015 New Mexico team to their cross country national championship with her 4th place overall finish. She is well known for her talent in the steeplechase and she holds the collegiate record with a time of 9:24 from her 2016 national title run. She ended her collegiate career with personal bests of 4:18 (1500), 9:24 )(steeplechase) and 15:47 (5k).
Charlotte Browning started at UNLV and transferred to Florida where she flourished as a middle distance runner. She won two national titles and an additional All-American honor. She won the mile at the 2010 Indoor National Championships and then continued her momentum into outdoor and won the 1500 meters. She ended her collegiate career with PRs of 2:05 (800), 4:13 (1500), 4:31 (mile) and 9:21 (3k),
#2 Shalane Flanagan (North Carolina '04)
#15 Skylyn Webb (UC-Colorado Springs '19)
Shalane Flanagan excelled on the cross country course during her time as a Tar Heel. She won back-to-back NCAA cross country titles in 2002 and 2003 and was the 2003 3000 meter champion as well. Additionally, she earned All-American honors five other times, twice in cross country, once in the mile, once in the DMR and once in the 1500 meters. Flanagan ended her collegiate career with personal bests of 4:11 (1500), 9:00 (3k), and 15:20 (5k).
Skylyn Webb made her mark on the Division Two record books by running the second fastest 800 meter time in D2 outdoor history with a personal best of 2:02.47. She was a four-time All-American and three-time national champion in the 800 meters. She won the 2018 outdoor title, the 2019 indoor national title and the 2019 outdoor national title.
Webb was an incredible middle distance runner who had complete control over the 800 in Division Two during her last two years of college.