#1 Jenny Simpson (née Barringer) (Colorado ‘09)
#16 Erin Finn (Michigan ‘19)
Colorado’s Jenny Simpson (née Barringer), one of the NCAA's best athletes, had a stellar career as a Buffalo, rewriting the collegiate record books. She currently owns three NCAA #1 all-time marks between the 1500 meters, the mile and the outdoor 5000 meters. She also boasts the NCAA #2 all-time mark in the 3000 meters, the NCAA #3 all-time mark in the steeplechase, and the fastest indoor 5k on an oversized track in college history.
The only event that didn’t make the list was Simpson’s 800 meter, but her 2:02 in said event is still eye-popping. As a Buffalo, Simpson surprised many with her 3:59 (1500), 8:42 (3k), and 15:01 (5k) collegiate bests. She was a four-time NCAA champion and five-time All-American at Colorado.
Michigan’s Erin Finn raced at the collegiate level from 2013 to 2019 and graduated with 10 All-American honors. Finn came so close to winning a title four times during her career, once in cross country, once in the 3k and twice in the indoor 5k. However she had to settle for runner-up each time. Finn was a 4:38 miler who also recorded a personal best of 8:58 (3k) while thriving in the 5000 meters (15:23) and 10,000 (32:41). Aside from finishing 30th at the cross country national meet during her freshman year, Finn never failed to finish outside of the top 20, even after returning from injury.
#8 Leah O'Connor (Michigan State '15)
#9 Caroline Kurgat (Alaska-Anchorage ‘19)
Leah O’Connor was a two-time national champion for Michigan State. She won the steeplechase national title at the 2014 Outdoor National Championships and the mile national title at the 2015 Indoor National Championships. She owns the NCAA #5 all-time mark in the steeplechase with her collegiate best of 9:33. O'Connor earned four additional All-American honors, once in cross country, once in the mile and two more times in the steeplechase throughout her NCAA career. Leah O’Connor was a fantastic steeplechaser who displayed underrated range compared to her peers.
Alaska-Anchorage’s Caroline Kurgat was extremely strong towards the end of her collegiate career. Kurgat was a seven-time NCAA D2 champion between cross country and track. All of those honors came between 2017-2019.
What makes Kurgat’s career standout at Alaska-Anchorage is that she recorded bests of 2:09 (800), 4:19 (1500), 9:07 (3k), 15:28 (5k) and 32:08 (10k). Those are times that most wouldn’t expect from a stronger long distance runner. Kurgat has the D2 NCAA #3 all-time best mark in the outdoor 5k, the D2 national record in the 10k as well as the fastest 3k and indoor 5k on an oversized track in D2 history.
#5 Dominique Scott (Arkansas ‘16)
#12 Elinor Purrier (New Hampshire ‘18)
Dominique Scott, a South Africa native, left the collegiate scene with five NCAA title to her name. She was a member of Arkansas’ winning DMR in 2014 and 2015, won the 3k national title in 2015 and won the 10k/5k double gold in 2016. In her last two years as a Razorback, Scott never finished outside of the top six in cross country course or track. Her times of 4:12 (1500), 4:32 (mile), 8:52 (3k), 15:25 (outdoor 5k), and 31:56 (10k) show Scott’s versatility. The latter of her collegiate bests (the 31:56 10k) is also the NCAA's #6 all-time best mark.
Elinor Purrier, who competed for New Hampshire, was a well-rounded athlete on the cross country course and on the track. The Wildcat ace was a 2:03 half-miler, a 4:10 1500 meter runner, a 4:26 miler, a 8:55 3k athlete and a 9:43 steeplechaser.
An 11-time All-American, Purrier made a name for herself in the steeplechase, earning three top-eight finishes between 2005 and 2007. Things changed in 2017 after Purrier finished 2nd in the mile at the indoor national meet. Purrier then began focusing on the middle distance events, seeing success in the mile by holding off Colorado’s Dani Jones by .06 seconds and effectively securing her first individual national title.
#4 Kim Smith (Providence ‘05)
#13 Shannon Rowbury (Duke ‘07)
New Zealand native Kim Smith had one of the best, if not the best, careers of the early 2000’s. Her four NCAA titles rank her in the top 10 of the 2000’s and her times put her into an ever higher category. Smith is ranked with the NCAA's top five in three different events which includes the 3k as well as the indoor and outdoor 5k.
Her times? 8:49 (3k), 15:14 (5k) and 15:09 (5k).
Not surprisingly, Smith won an NCAA title in each of these events. Not only a star on the track, the Providence graduate earned one her national titles on the cross country course in 2004.
Shannon Rowbury of Duke may not have as many All-American honors as other competitors, but she showed her strength in numerous events ranging from the 800 to the 5k. The Duke runner ran 2:04 (800), 4:12 (1500), 4:34 (mile), 9:02 (3k), and 15:38 (5k) during her time in the NCAA. Rowbury was also a strong cross country runner for the Blue Devils, placing 27th at the NCAA XC Championships in 2004 and leading her team to a 3rd place finish at the 2005 national meet.
A middle distance ace, Rowbury placed 8th (2004) and 2nd (2005) at the indoor national meet in the mile and finished 8th (2005) in the 1500 meters at the Outdoor National Championships.
#6 Natoya Goule (LSU / Clemson ‘15)
#11 Susan Krumins (née Kuijken) (Florida State '09)
Natoya Goule, who competed for LSU and Clemson, left her mark on the college scene when she recorded the NCAA #5 all-time best mark in the outdoor 800 meters with a 2:00 and the NCAA #7 all-time best mark in the indoor 800 meters with a 2:01. She won the 800 meter national title three times between her careers at LSU and Clemson, twice indoors and once outdoors.
While competing at Clemson in 2015, Goule won the indoor 800 meter national title by almost two seconds. Her 52.57 400 meter speed helped catapult her to a 2:00 800 meter collegiate PR and even a 4:20 1500 meter collegiate PR.
Susan Krumins was a strong runner across a handful of distances during her time at Florida State. She earned All-American honors in cross country all four years, including three top three finishes. After finishing runner-up in the 1500 meters as only a freshman at the outdoor national meet, Krumins really found her stride in 2008 when she won her first national title, claiming the indoor 3k title. She would go on to win the 1500 meter national title during her senior year (2009), earning her second title in her final track race for Florida State.
Krumins' final race for Florida State was a 3rd place run at the NCAA Cross Country Championships that fall.
#7 Angela Bizzarri (Illinois '10)
#10 Alicia Shay (née Craig) (Stanford '05)
Angela Bizzarri is easily the best distance runner to ever compete for the University of Illinois. She won three national titles - the 5k (2009), the 3k (2010) and cross country (2009) - and earned nine All-American honors along the way. She was an All-American in all four of her cross country seasons and graduated from Illinois with a total of five BIG 10 titles. Bizzarri also holds the school records in every event from the 1500 meters to the 500 meters, both indoors and outdoors, as well as the 6k for cross country.
Alicia Craig (now Alicia Shay) won two national titles and nine All-American honors for Stanford during her time in the NCAA. She was the 2003/2004 back-to-back 10k champion. She once held the collegiate record in the 10k with a PR of 32:19. Craig earned All-American honors in cross country four times, twice in the indoor 5k and once in the 3k. The Stanford ace was one of the most successful distance runners of the early 2000's.
#3 Sheila Reid (Villanova ‘12)
#14 Sinclaire Johnson (Oklahoma State ’19)
Sheila Reid of Villanova displayed her range at the 2011 outdoor national meet when she won the 1500 meter and 5k national titles. Reid owned collegiate personal bests of 4:11 (1500) and 15:23 (5k) in said two events, times that kept her near the top of the NCAA during her career. However, the highlight of Reid's career has to be her pair of NCAA cross country national title which she won in back-to-back years (2010 and 2011). Tack on a DMR national title, and Reid has a resume that puts her up among the all-time greats.
Another runner familiar with the top of the record book is Sinclaire Johnson whose performance in 2019 landed her a spot within our top 64. The former Oklahoma State Cowgirl took home the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Championships 1500 meter title in a thrilling race against Jessica Hull who is another highly ranked woman in this bracket. Not only did Johnson beat Hull, but she also secured the NCAA #2 all-time mark in the 1500 meters, running 4:05.98. The only other woman to run faster in the 1500 meters is TSR #1 seed Jenny Simpson.
#2 Karissa Schweizer (Missouri '18)
#15 Carsyn Koch-Johnson (Cedarville '19)
Karissa Schweizer is well known for out-kicking a talented field at the 2016 NCAA Cross Country Championships. She went on to win five more titles on the track and run the collegiate record in the 3000 meters. Schweizer ended her collegiate career with collegiate bests of 4:27 (mile), 8:41 (3k), and 15:17 (5k). The Mizzou superstar had a slow start to her NCAA career, but became one of the best distance runners ever by the end.
Carsyn Koch-Johnson was a successful middle distance runner for Cedarville. She dominated the Division Two 800 meters during most of her college career. She won four national titles and earned two additional All-American awards. She owns the Division Two record in the 800 meters, the D2 NCAA #2 all-time mark in the 1500 meters and the D2 NCAA #2 all-time in the indoor 800 meters.
Koch-Johnson left the NCAA with personal bests of 2:02 (800) and 4:12 (1500).