Since TSR launched, we have been publishing Weekend Reviews which detail most of the top performances that took place over each respective weekend. However, those articles were often redundant and didn't mention anything that you couldn't already find. So this season, we're taking a different approach. We'll mention the top headlines from the weekend and discuss how they impact the rest of the country. Let's give this a go...
BYU Men Establish 10k and Steeplechase Dominance
The BYU men and women entered the Stanford Invite ready to make a statement and they did just that. The duo of Conner Mantz and Clayton Young ran away from the field to post a 1-2 finish and secure the top two times in the country, running a pair of 28:18's. Daniel Carney (28:49) wasn't far behind while veteran Dallin Farnsworth ran 28:56 in the non-invite heat.
But all of those men have shown that they were capable of posting times like that before, whether it be through their performances on the track or through their finishes during cross country. What might be even more impressive are the breakout performances we saw after that top group...
Michael Ottesen (28:58), Connor Weaver (29:02), and Brayden McLelland (29:19) added a trio of impressive results, giving the Cougars even more firepower to a roster that is already overflowing with talent. That makes for a total of SEVEN different men under 29:20 before April of this season. That doesn't even include Rory Linkletter who was in Denmark for the World Cross Country Championships or Connor McMillan who ran 13:50 in the 5k this past weekend.
And the steeplechase? That was just as impressive.
Matt Owens and Clayson Shumway weren't able to chase down Indiana's Daniel Michalski for the win, but they were able to take the next two spots with times of 8:36 and 8:38, respectively. Teammate Jacob Heslington ran 8:43 to finish 8th in the same heat.
Yet, what really grabbed my attention were the times we saw from their teammates. True freshman Kenneth Rooks ran 8:46 and Garrett Marsing ran 8:54 in the non-invite section. That gives the Cougars a total of five men under the nine minute barrier so far this season.
What's even crazier is that we never mentioned Alex Hedquist or Porter Reddish, two men who have run under nine minutes before in their careers. They will likely dip under that mark later this season.
It is difficult to fathom just how strong the BYU men were this past weekend. Still, we've seen this story before. In the past, the BYU men have destroyed their competition during the regular season, but would end up faltering on the national stage. Luckily, that trend seems to be diminishing when you look at the past two national meets. Between cross country and indoor track, the BYU men have earned eight All-American finishes from five different athletes this year.
Take note, the Cougars have found a formula to succeed and this might be the deepest their roster has ever been.
Hull Leads the Way for Numerous Breakout Performances
We knew Jessica Hull was talented. Really talented. But did anyone expect her to dominate the 5k this past weekend? The Oregon superstar can seemingly do it all after running 15:34 for 5000 meters to take home the win at the Stanford Invite. Hull cruised past her competition in the mile and 3000 meters this past winter, but never ventured in the 5000 meters, leaving many to question how effective she could be by moving up in distance. Obviously, those doubts have been erased.
Yet, as exciting as that performance was, let's chat about the runners who finished behind Hull. It was no surprise to see women like Erica Birk (15:38) or Makena Morley (15:43) cross the line with strong results, but the breakout performances we saw were just as impressive. Iowa State sophomore Cailie Logue came up big this past weekend, finishing as the 3rd overall collegiate in a time of 15:40.
Utah's Sarah Feeney, who finished as an All-American in the mile this past indoor season, was close behind in 15:41. Minnesota's Bethany Hasz ran 15:45 and was closely followed by Georgetown's Josette Norris, the Hoya ace who has rallied back from injury to run a massive personal best of 15:46.
Of the top seven collegiates in the Stanford Invite 5k, six of those women ended up with new personal bests.
However, there is more to this race than just a few new personal bests. With Colorado's Dani Jones expected to make a return to the outdoor oval this season, many fans around the country were expecting her to matchup with Hull in the 1500 meters at Nationals. Is that potential head-to-head battle now in jeopardy? Could Hull move up to the 5000 meters where her kick becomes even more potent in tactical races? It suddenly seems possible...
Camp & Huerta have breakout performances, drop roughly three seconds off PR
Cal State Fullerton ace Samantha Huerta had never run faster than 2:07.36, a personal best that dates back to March of last year. However, that changed this past weekend after she soloed a 2:04.33 to take home the win by nearly seven seconds at the Titan Team Challenge. As for BYU's Anna Camp, she was in a similar situation prior to this weekend. With a personal best of 2:07.27, she wasn't expected to be in contention for a top finish. Of course, that all changed when she dropped a 2:04.86 to finish as the 2nd overall collegiate (behind Notre Dame's Jessica Harris). Danae Rivers may have run 2:03 at the Florida Relays, but Huerta and Camp stole the spotlight this weekend.
Bartlett edges Perretta at Florida Relays
Although Florida alum Andres Arroyo pulled away for the win in a time of 1:45, he was closely followed by two national-caliber collegiates. After running a 3:44 last week, Avery Bartlett took top collegiate honors by out-kicking 2019 indoor finalist Domenic Perretta for the win, 1:47.54 to 1:47.75. Bartlett showed us last year that he thrives on the outdoor oval and 2019 seems to be no different.
Women's steeplechase confirms speculation
In our Stanford Invite Preview, Sam Ivanecky was expecting a big performance for South Dakota State's Rachel King while I sung the praises of Providence's Brianna Ilarda. As it turns out, we were both right. Ilarda went on to take the win in an NCAA #1 time of 9:50 while King settled for 2nd in 9:54 (NCAA #2). The consistency of Ilarda and the history of success for King made these two women great sleeper picks.
Justine Kiprotich returns to national spotlight
I'm not sure why, but there may not be anyone more dangerous than Kiprotich during outdoor track. The Michigan State star was runner-up in the 1500 at the national meet in 2017 and then 7th in the same race during 2018. After running 3:43 to take the win at the Raleigh Relays this past weekend, he will look to maintain his status as a legitimate title threat this outdoor season.
Orton reclaims top position in the 1500
The BYU miler entered the indoor track season with high expectations from fans within the running community. However, some of her performances seemed to lack a spark as she barely snuck into the national meet and failed to get out of the prelims at Nationals. Despite the less than ideal ending to her indoor season, Orton found a way to regain her momentum this past weekend by finishing as the top collegiate in the Stanford Invite 1500 with a time of 4:15 (NCAA #1) to defeat other national stars like Millie Paladino, Susan Ejore, and Lauren Gregory (among others).
Aaron Templeton continues to validate breakout year
When the Furman superstar finished 4th in the Pre-Nats Cardinal race during cross country, some people (including ourselves) wondered if he would be able to replicate that performance...then he finished 5th at the Cross Country National Championships. After training through the indoor track season due to expired eligibility, Templeton came back to the outdoor oval and made a huge statement. The Paladin veteran ran 28:27 at the Raleigh Relays to easily outrun an established 10k stud in Lawrence Kipkoech who ran 28:41 for 2nd. In a year where the 10,000 meter title seems relatively wide-open, Templeton has emerged as an exciting sleeper pick for June.
Cole Rockhold (Colorado State)
He was injured at the end of cross country and caught the tail-end of the indoor season. To comeback and run 13:53 at Stanford is a very good sign for someone who could end up as an All-American.
Isobel Batt-Doyle (Washington)
Lilli Burdon and Katie Rainsberger often grab the attention on the Huskies' roster, but Batt-Dolye had an excellent performance in the 10k at Stanford this past weekend. While Ostrander, Stoner, and Kurgat stole the spotlight, it was Batt-Dolye who finished 4th in a time of 32:20. She should be getting more attention for a performance that was quietly one of the better breakout results of the weekend (it was a new personal best by a minute and 21 seconds).
Theo Quax (Northern Arizona)
The true freshman from New Zealand toed the line for the first major invite of his college career and the result did not disappoint. Despite some of the initial attention being directed to teammate Brodey Hasty (who ran 13:55), it was Quax who ran a time of 13:49 to win section two of the Stanford Invite 5k. With this performance, Quax adds even more firepower to NAU's endless roster of superstars. With many top veterans on the team leaving after this season, Quax's emergence could not have come at a better time.
Furman's Steeplechase Duo
How about the Lady Paladins? Gabrielle Jennings and Kristlin Gear went 1-2 in the steeplechase at the Raleigh Relays with times of 9:59 and 10:05, respectively. The next closest finisher was 10 seconds back. Whenever you can go into a major invitational and cruise past the competition, it's hard not to be excited. Those times aren't going to win a national title, but it's a great way to start the spring. Expect Jennings and Gear to use this past weekend as a momentum builder for the next few months.
Kyle Mau and Ben Veatch are going to be a problem. The Hoosier duo went 1-2 in the Stanford Invite 5k with times of 13:44 and 13:45, respectively. Their ability to close in the final 400 meters showed how dynamic their racing style is. However, the biggest performance had to be from Daniel Michalski. He had a respectable indoor season, but no one was expecting him to unleash an 8:35 steeplechase to upset some of the biggest and best names in the nation. He showed us plenty of potential this past winter with consistent PR's as well as a few wins. Don't think he can't be a contender for a national title.
Jessica Lawson (Stanford)
Let's talk about sophomore Jessica Lawson. She had a few respectable performances during the winter and fall, but to run 4:18 in her season debut is a very encouraging result. The Stanford underclassman finished 4th in the Stanford Invite 1500 and held off a few notable names in the process. It's taken some time for the New York native to acclimate to collegiate competition, but this is the first result we've seen from Lawson that indicates that she can be just as good as teammates like Fiona O'Keeffe, Abbie McNulty, Christina Aragon, Caitlin Collier, and Ella Donaghu.