Boston University Valentine Invite Preview

Written by Conor Stack and Michael Weidenbruch

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Can Georgetown help push Hawthorne towards his PR?

La Salle’s Anthony Hawthorne comes in as the top collegiate seed, with a personal best of 1:47.77. He ran that time in the spring of 2018, but his season best of 1:50.32 isn't quite at that level. If Hawthorne can perform at the caliber he is seeded at, he could find himself in position to be on the line at Indoor Nationals. Even if he doesn't dip under 1:48 again, this field could help him return to the sub-1:49 club.

The Georgetown duo of Ruach Padhal and Kenneth Rowe are both seeded at 1:48 and will certainly be looking to break out into the national qualifying picture. Both Padhal and Rowe will be potential pieces for Georgetown’s DMR later this season, which is seemingly always in contention for a NCAA title. With Joe White now gone, the Hoyas will be looking for a new middle distance star to step up in his absence.

The 800 meters looks to be full of athletes primed for a breakout race. Athletes such as Leon Atkins (Buffalo), Nathan Gillis (La Salle), Tim Zepf (Dartmouth), Tyler Gleen (UCONN), and Jackson Storey (Columbia) all add some respectable depth to this field. Boston University’s own Paul Luevano is seeded at 1:49, and with his aggressive front-running style, he could also be primed for a big race.

Knevelbaard and then everyone else

Most commonly seen as the hottest event at the BU Valentine meet, the mile this year seems to be no different. There are currently a total of 37 men entered that are seeded at 4:00 or faster, displaying depth that can't be found elsewhere.

The field is headlined by Florida State’s Kasey Knevelbaard who is seeded second overall and the top collegian, sitting at 3:57.

Knevelbaard has had a quiet start to the season thus far. He opened up on the weekend of January 25th as a member of an FSU DMR squad that ran 9:40, splitting 3:58 in the process. He then followed it up at the Indiana Relays running a solid 4:03 in the mile to finish 3rd. Knevelbaard definitely has the firepower to go well under four minutes (he has before), and if the BU mile runs as fast as it usually does, he should have a great chance at doing so.

Another guy to look out for is Harvard’s Kieran Tuntivate. Two weeks ago at the BU Bruce Lehane Scarlet and White Invitational, Tuntivate threw down a huge NCAA #3 time of 7:49 in the 3000. His only mile performance this season came at the Dr. Sander Columbia Challenge at the Armory when he ran a respectable 4:06. Conventional wisdom tells us that he won't run under 4:00 this weekend, but the confidence someone can gain after running 7:49 is game-changing.

Nick Steele (Villanova), Matthew Schadler (Indiana), Will Laird (Yale), and Arjun Jha (Indiana) are the next few collegians who could possibly mix it up with Knevelbaard and Tuntivate. The Indiana duo of Schadler and Jha can look to work together and go under four minutes, both having run 4:00 already this season. Each of them have displayed promising consistency and progression.

Finally, the Georgetown trio of Matthew Payamps, Nicholas Wareham, and Spencer Brown are all seeded at 3:58. Although none of them have ever run that fast, it's not totally out of the question, specifically for Spencer Brown who owns a personal best of 3:39 (1500).

Day, Beamish, Grijalva, oh my...

This weekend’s 3000 looks to be one of the deepest that the Valentine meet has seen in recent history. With 43 men currently seeded at 8:00 or faster, there are bound to be huge PR’s and breakthrough performances across the board.

Everyone’s favorite NAU men will be back for more, this time in a race that is 2000 meters shorter than their standout 5k performances from three weeks ago. Tyler Day, Geordie Beamish, and Luis Grijalva are all seeded at 7:47 or faster and will look to get themselves right into the mix with the other top collegians and top pros.

Day, Grijalva, and Beamish currently have the NCAA #1, #3, and #11 5k times this season and will look to take over the top 10 in the 3k as well. The NAU men seem to work with each other incredibly well and this weekend should be no different.

The next collegians entered are Harvard’s Will Battershill and Hofstra’s Alex Masai, two men who have quietly put together a respectable amount of success over the past few seasons.

Battershill has run a pair of sub-4:10 mile times this season and really made a name for himself last spring in the steeplechase. Meanwhile, Masai was a standout during this past fall and has recently dropping a 7:54 3k performance at the Dr. Sander Columbia Challenge.

These two are still on the brink of the national contenders conversation, but have a chance to really throw down an attention-capturing result this weekend.

Other notable names to watch include Ari Klau (Virginia), Joe Dragon (Syracuse), and Conor Lundy (Princeton) who are all seeded at 7:55. Dragon was able to run under 14 minutes in the 5k for the first time in his career at BU’s Terrier meet three weeks ago while Lundy put out a solid 8:09 3k mark at the Dr. Sander Columbia Challenge that same weekend.

Klau has had a relatively quiet start to his indoor season, but owns an 8:03 3k PR, so watch for him to go under that in Boston.

No stars, but a bunch of underrated talents

The 5000 meters has been the marquee event of Boston University’s slate of indoor meets this season. We have seen Edwin Kurgat throw down a 13:24 in December, which looked like it could hold up as the NCAA leading time all season until Tyler Day came out and blew that time out of the water with a 13:16.

It seems unlikely that we will see another performance on that level this time around, but a decent field is shaping up nonetheless.

Ryan Kutch of Fordham comes in as the top-seeded collegiate athlete among a strong group of professionals and elites ahead of him. Kutch put Fordham on the map this past fall by finishing 4th at the Northeast Regional Championship and qualifying for the NCAA Cross Country Championships. Last year, Kutch won both the 5k and 10k at the A10 Championships and later ran the 10k at the NCAA East Preliminaries. He will be looking to go under 14:00 for the first time in his career, and will certainly have a good field in which to do so.

Seeded right behind Kutch is Virginia’s Alex Corbett (racing unattached) who will also be looking to dip under the 14:00 barrier as well.

Some more names to watch out for are Matthew Scrape of Syracuse and Benjamin Petrella of Army West Point. The two men from up-state New York will also be looking to battle it out for the title of top collegian in this race.

Petrella is one of the top athletes in the Patriot League and is the conference leader in the 3000 meters with a time of 8:09. With a fast 5k this weekend, he has the chance to head into championship season as the Patriot League favorite in both events.

Georgetown’s Rusty Kujdych and Matthew Bouthillette, as well as their teammate Shea Weilbaker who is racing unattached, will be lining up in search of fast times. Many of Georgetown’s men have yet to run in super fast fields in their primary events this season, so this weekend will serve as the perfect opportunity for them to do so.


Akins is the headliner, but Black is looking for the trifecta

The women’s 800 is highlighted by Penn’s Nia Akins and it's easy to understand why.

Last year, Akins finished 2nd in the 800 meters at both the Indoor and Outdoor National Championships. Her personal best of 2:01.67 makes her one of the best 800 meter runners in the NCAA right now, although the competition is just as stiff as usual this year. She will undoubtedly be one of the favorites to win the NCAA title this season.

Akins will likely be the only collegian in the fastest heat, but she will be racing alongside some talented professionals who should be able to help her run a phenomenal time. While Akins is clearly the class of the collegiate field in this race, there will be a showcase of next-level talent behind her.

Richmond’s Brooke Fazio ran 2:08 on a flat-track at Camel City last weekend, and she holds a PR of 2:05. This race could be a massive breakthrough for Fazio, as she will be vying for a NCAA top 16 spot to put herself in qualifying position for the National Championships next month.

Rhode Island’s Lotte Black is seeded right behind Fazio. Black has been on an absolute tear this indoor season, boasting personal bests of 4:36 (mile) and 9:10 (3k) on her resume. The 4th place finisher in the 1500 meters at last year’s Outdoor National Championships will be a solid pick to add another All-American honor to her resume this season.

Black is currently in national qualifying position in both the mile and 3k. With a strong performance this weekend, she could make it three events. Her personal best is 2:04.69 which puts her in top-tier company, even in what could be considered an off-event for her.

Some other names to watch for are Claire Dougherty (Dartmouth), Melissa Tanaka (Penn), Maria Acosta (Richmond), and Sarah Hendrick (Kennesaw State). All of these women are seeded at 2:05 or faster.

Another name that may slip through the cracks is Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Sydney Packard. The D3 star has a personal best of 2:08.67 and is seeded at 2:06. If she is in PR shape, which her seed suggests she, then she will take over the Division Three lead and instantly make herself the favorite to win a national title. She is a four-time D3 All-American, so there is no reason to think that she cannot compete with the other top entrants this weekend.

The most underrated mile field of the year?

Harvard’s Anna Juul, who is showing tremendous progression this season, is the top collegiate entry this weekend, seeded at a blazing 4:31. Juul has slowly crept into the national qualifying conversation, running 4:37.50 at BU’s Bruce Lehane Scarlet and White Invitational. In that race, she was followed by teammate Abbe Goldstein who finished just 0.34 seconds behind. Goldstein is also entered in the mile, so we can expect the Harvard duo to work together to put down some results that are more likely to earn them bids to the NCAA Championships in March.

After the two Harvard athletes, a slew of top competitors are slated to line up. Paige Duca (Boston College), Petronela Simiuc (Toledo), and Katie Wasserman (Columbia) are all seeded under 4:35. That trio, along with the Harvard duo, makes this one of the deepest mile fields that we have seen all year. Simiuc and Wasserman are experiencing breakout seasons while Duca is an experienced and accomplishment mile specialist.

Entered right behind that group is Florida State’s Maudie Skyring.

Skyring has been a top name in the ACC for a couple of seasons now and she will be looking to finally break out and qualify for the National Championships this weekend. This race should be the perfect opportunity for her to do so.

Rhode Island’s Lotte Black is also entered in the mile as well as the 800 meters. Black has run 4:36.50 this season, and although she is scheduled to double, we can expect her to be running both races at full effort.

Another big name to look out for is North Carolina State’s Elly Henes, who is competing unattached.

Kimeli, Morenaite & a glimpse at NC State's future

The top entrant in the women’s 3000 meters is Joyce Kimeli of Auburn. Shortly after a 14th place finish at the NCAA XC Championships, Kimeli ran the 5000 meters at Boston in December, finishing 15:37.82 which stands as the #6 fastest time in the NCAA this season.

Kimeli has also run an impressive 4:38 mile earlier this winter. Her 3k personal best currently sits at 9:24.59, but she should be primed to obliterate that this weekend. An impressive professional field will certainly set her up for major success.

Iona’s Egle Morenaite is the next fastest collegiate entry. Morenaite is coming off a very strong cross country season in which she finished 2nd at Pre-Nats, won the MAAC title, took 5th in the Northeast regional meet, and placed 24th at the National Championships. She has run 9:19.71 so far this season, and could drop a considerable amount of time this weekend when running alongside a runner like Kimeli who isn't afraid to chase a fast pace.

Another exciting entry is North Carolina State’s freshman phenom Kelsey Chmiel. The Wolfpack pupil placed 22nd at the NCAA XC Championships as a true freshman this past fall and has been on fire since. She ran 16:02 for 5000 meters back in December (on this same track), which has held up as the #13 best time in the NCAA this year. She also just ran 9:18 for 3000 meters on a flat-track at Camel City.

Chmiel’s future teammate, current high school senior Marlee Starliper, is seeded at the same time as Chmiel (9:09). This race could give us an interesting glimpse of what NC State’s young squad could look like next year.

It's the Colorado Buffaloes show

Dani Jones is back after a pair of jaw-dropping performances in the 800 meters and the mile. Jones is coming off a new mile PR of 4:27 which she captured at the Millrose Games last weekend. She is primed to run another incredibly fast race in Boston this weekend and will look to benefit from the 5000 meters in what will be her first ever indoor race at the distance.

Jones will be able to save her legs from quicker racing (800, mile) and look to set a nice rhythm in the 5k to potentially grab a new PR. Jones is seeded only behind pro standout and former Colorado Buffalo Jenny Simpson.

Simpson’s seed time of 15:13 is notable better than Jones’ seed time of 15:25 by quite a bit, but look for Jones to race tenaciously and stick with Simpson for as long as possible.

Also, be on the lookout for Jones’ teammate Makena Morley who is seeded at the same time as Jones. Morley is more of a true long distance runner who excels in the 3000 and 5000 meter distances, so look for her to work with Jones throughout the race.

Morley has run just one race so far this indoor season coming at the Colorado Invitational two weeks ago. She won the 3000 in a time of 9:15 (again, quicker from altitude conversion) finishing nearly 20 seconds ahead of the 2nd place finisher. Look for Morley to race with confidence and show the northeast that she can make just as much noise as Jones.

The next two collegians are the Northwestern duo of Aubrey Roberts and Kelly O’Brien. The two ladies are seeded at 15:45 and 16:00, respectively and will look to chase the Colorado duo of Jones and Morley.

Roberts opened her season two weeks ago at the UW Invitational with a 16:14 run in the 5k, a performance she will look to improve upon greatly in Boston. O’Brien, on the other hand, has not run a 5k in her career and has not raced since February 24th, 2019 (via TFRRS site page). Given her seed time of 16:00 and possibly a year-long block of training, look for O’Brien to make a name for herself in this nationally recognized meet.

A final name to look out for is North Carolina State’s budding star Kelsey Chmiel, seeded eighth at 16:02. Chmiel’s three races so far this season have been very strong, so look for her to have a total breakthrough 5k this weekend. She has current PR’s of 4:46 in the mile, 9:18 in the 3000, and 16:02 in the 5k. Chmiel is young, but has great big meet experience, including her 22nd place finish at this past fall’s NCAA XC Championships. Look for her to race hard and with tenacity from the gun.