Each year, Camel City Elite ends up as one of the premier of indoor track meets in the entire country. Their generous prize money paired with their willingness to combine collegiates and professionals makes JDL Fast Track one of the most unique racing venues that the nation has to offer.
The 2019 races will likely be some of the fastest we've ever seen at Camel City, which should bode well for the top collegiate women who are vying for a spot to Nationals in March.
Let's start with the 800, an event that holds some underrated collegiate talent. Abike Egbeniyi has been on fire in the first half of the season. She has earned back-to-back victories in the 800, run 53 seconds for 400 meters, and has defeated UCONN's Susan Aneno enroute to an NCAA #2 time of 2:03. On a good day, she could be a sleeper pick to win this entire race.
However, Norfolk State's Martha Bissa has had some strong performances as well. She is currently #4 in the NCAA for 800 meters with a time of 2:04 and even posted a time of 2:45 for 1000 meters. Don't overlook this accomplished junior, she is carrying some serious momentum right now.
Kristen Metcalfe is the last collegiate in this field. She is currently the #2 ranked half-miler in Division II with a strong time of 2:06. She will be looking to close the gap on the D2 NCAA #1 time of 2:05.72, held by Skylyn Webb of UC-Colorado Springs.
As we make our way to the women's mile field, it's hard not to get excited about the performances we could see. The Virginia Tech duo of Rachel Pocratsky and Sarah Edwards could make some serious noise in this field after a quiet, but strong start to their 2019 indoor seasons. Pocratsky has only run the 1000 meters (twice) so far this season, but with times of 2:47 and then 2:43, it's clear that the Virginia Tech ace is riding momentum into what should be a breakout mile performance.
As for her teammate Sarah Edwards, she has also run a strong pair of times in the 1000 meters (2:52 twice). With a personal best of 4:42, Edwards will likely be eyeing a sub-4:40 performance. If things go well, the Hokies should be looking at a very dangerous DMR in 2019.
Nevado Mareno (NC State) and Kim Hallowes (Duke) may not have the same personal bests that the VT duo does, but they'll be contenders who are looking for a big race. Mareno, the transfer from Stanford, is looking to regain some momentum after a few respectable finishes during cross country season. As for Hallowes, she has some sneaky good PR's of 2:08, 2:49, and 4:24 (1500 meters). Don't be surprised if she earns a top mark.
As we make our way into the 3000, there are a ton of entries to keep an eye on. I suppose the first few names we should mention are the NC State women. The trio of Elly Henes, Dominique Clairmonte, and Nell Crosby could legitimately be the top three collegiates in this race if the pacing and positioning go in their favor.
Henes has already proven that she is one of the top long distance runners in the nation after a standout cross country season and a converted 15:34 5k which was also run on this same track. While Henes will steal the headlines, I'll be keeping an eye on Clairmonte who recorded a 4:38 personal best at Virginia Tech a few weeks ago and upset Henes in the process. I am expecting a breakout performance for her. When you add in Nell Crosby's 9:19 personal best for 3000 meters, the Wolfpack women look awfully dangerous...
The Furman women of Savannah Carnahan and Emma Grace Hurley continue to fly under the radar despite a series of strong performances. Carnahan will be a big name to watch this weekend when you see that her personal bests are 9:11 and 15:49. She could be one of the few women to truly contend with Henes on Saturday.
If you're looking for a sleeper pick, UNC's Morgan Ilse is someone you may want to consider. The Tar Heel veteran can seemingly do it all with times of 2:09, 4:40, 9:12, and 16:05. With back-to-back PR's at last week's Bob Pollock Invite, Ilse will return to her primary distance where she could surprise a lot of people.
Others women like Logan Morris (Clemson), Sara Freix (Virginia Tech), Leah Hanle (Mount Olive), and Hannah Steelman (Wofford) are all respectable competitors, but don't necessarily have 3k PR's that jump off the page. That said, each of these women bring something unique to the table. Whether it's success during cross country (Steelman), impressive range (Morris), an abundance of championship experience (Hanle), or outstanding consistency (Freix), these women will find a way to stay competitive.