D1 Headlines & Highlights (5/12/19)


Men by Garrett Zatlin

Women by Maura Beattie

BIG 12 & PAC 12 Championships are still in progress. We are waiting on results to be finalized.

Four Sub-10 Steeplechase Performances

Charlotte Prouse, Paige Stoner, Devin Clark, and Cierra Simmons all ran under 10 minutes at their respective conferences this past weekend. Prouse turned in a 9:47, putting her at #3 on the NCAA leaderboard, following only Allie Ostrander and Adva Cohen. Stoner won her race by 19 seconds and finished with a 9:51 while Clark ran 9:55 and Simmons finished with a 9:56. All four of these women are in the top 10 and potential All-Americans.

Stoner of Syracuse was the 3rd place finisher last year at the NCAA Championships, but this season she looks like she could make a run for the championship. Stoner had an excellent weekend at the ACC Championships following her steeple performance because she also won the 5k in 16:05. Running a solo 9:51 is promising for Stoner.

Arkansas' Clark ran her first steeple of the season, but it seems like she picked up right where she left off last season. Clark was accompanied up front by Auburn’s Joyce Kimeli at the SEC Championships, but came away with the win. Clark has been an All-American before in the steeplechase and could do so again in 2019.

Simmons’s finished 2nd to Prouse at the Mountain West Championships in a seasonal best. The Utah State athlete should gain some confidence from her performance because she had yet to break 10 minutes this season. Last year’s 8th place finisher at NCAA's looks to have found her groove at the right time this season.

Kiprotich Stuns Hoare, Wins 1500 at BIG 10 Championships

Justine Kiprotich continues to be one of the most underrated 1500 runners in the country. Maybe it's because the BIG 10 is crowded with talent. Maybe it's because he's relatively quiet during indoors. Maybe it's because this is one of the fastest year's for the men's 1500 in recorded history.

Whatever the reason is, it's time that we start giving the Michigan State ace some attention. He was runner-up at the 2017 Outdoor National Championships in the 1500 and came back last year to finish as an All-American (again). Now, the Spartan veteran has secured yet another BIG 10 title by upsetting one of the best distance runners in the country.

Earlier today, Kiprotich pulled out a win over Wisconsin's Oliver Hoare, 3:42.69 to 3:43.08. What many people don't realize is that Kiprotich is one of the best tactical runners in the NCAA and he has been for a while. He may not throw down jaw-dropping sub-3:40 performances, but he is consistently in the low 3:40's and has shown that he can win in any reasonable race scenario. He will be a very big name to watch as we enter the postseason.

As for Hoare, it's yet another reminder that the Wisconsin superstar is still human. Still, we shouldn't overreact to this loss. Hoare is still one the top talents in the country and I'm not sure people are going to view him as anything less than the favorite come Nationals.

Arkansas Shows Depth in Distance Races

Coach Harter’s Razorbacks took five of the top seven places in the 1500 at the SEC Championships. The Razorbacks were led by runner-up Carina Viljoen’s 4:17, who already sits at an NCAA #10 ranking with a 4:14. Alabama’s Esther Gitahi broke up the Razorback pack, but quickly following her were Taylor Werner, Lauren Gregory, Sydney Brown, and Megan Underwood. Gregory led much of the race, but it seems like her strength might be better suited in the 5k.

Werner and Gregory later teamed up for the 5000 meters and ran a pair of 15:51’s to take down Georgia’s Jessica Drop. Although these women did not run PR's, they are still ranked in the top 15 in the nation and have their eyes set on All-American honors. It is very unlikely that Werner runs the 1500 at the regional meet based on her being ranked #7 in the 5k and #6 in the 10k.

This depth in the distance events will come in handy for the Razorbacks at the West Regional Championships when you consider that they have six women in the 1500, five women in the 5k, one woman in the 10k, and one in the steeplechase. If Arkansas wants to keep their hopes of an NCAA team title alive, they will have to look to maximize points in the distance events.

Syracuse's Iliass Aouani Secures 10k/5k Gold at ACC Championships Despite Fasting for Ramadan

The Syracuse senior has come a long way since he transferred from Lamar two years ago. The Milan, Italy native has had an underrated role for the Orange since he's entered the program, posting strong times and often finding himself in a position to score points at conference championship meets. However, there have clearly been times when Aouani lacked consistency and failed to make an impact on the national stage.

In 2019, that has changed.

Iliass Aouani seems to be at an entirely new level this spring. Earlier this season, he broke the Syracuse school record in the 10,000 meters with an NCAA #9 time of 28:25 at the Stanford Invite. He later ran a personal best of 3:45 for 1500 meters at the Virginia Challenge to develop some of his mid-distance speed. This past weekend, Aouani pulled off two wins in both the 10k and 5k, defeating ACC powers like Peter Sefuer, Zach Facioni, and Brent Demarest in the process. It was a statement meet for Aouani who was out to prove that he is the real deal in 2019.

Yet, maybe the most impressive piece of information that we need to consider is that Aouani is currently in the middle of Ramadan - a month-long period designated for religious observance which requires followers of Muslim faith to fast during the daylight hours.

Yep, that's right.

Aouani (likely) never ate anything during his waking hours this past weekend...and still won two gold medals in a Power Five conference.

Since Ramadan lasts until June 4th, Aouani will continue fasting up until the NCAA Championships. It will be interesting to see how that fasting impacts the Syracuse ace as we move into late May and early June.

Weini Kelati Has Her Choice of Races

New Mexico’s Kelati ran 32:09 to finish 1st in the Mountain West Championship 10k. She won by an astounding two minutes and 11 seconds over Clare O’Brien of Boise State. With Kelati’s time, she jumps up to #3 in the nation, behind only Ostrander and Stoner. Kelati has the potential to win either the 5k or the 10k next month at the NCAA Championships, especially since Ostrander and Stoner may opt to focus on the steeplechase.

Dixon Blows Away Arop & Field to Win SEC 800 in 1:44.76

The knock on Texas A&M's Devin Dixon for a while now has been the fact that he has struggled to perform on the national stage. Despite running 1:44 this past indoor season, the Aggie ace still struggled to match expectations at the national meet and had to settle for a 4th place finish.

Although he will have to wait until early June to change that narrative, Dixon took a BIG step in the right direction this past weekend after staying relatively quiet for most of the spring. The Texas A&M superstar popped off a monster time of 1:44.76 to establish a new NCAA lead and win the SEC title.

In the process of wining the title, Dixon was able to soundly defeat Mississippi State star Marco Arop (1:46) who has been in the national title conversation since the beginning of 2019.

Despite Hoppel's indoor national title and active win streak, the 800 is still a race that Dixon, Arop, or a handful of others can win on the right day. Still, you have to wonder whether or not this Devin Dixon performance will lead to a different result at the national meet. While that criticism may be fair, keep in mind that most of Dixon's seasonal bests have often come early-on in the regular season. Never have we seen him run this fast during championship season.

Could Dixon be peaking at the perfect time? It would explain why most of his spring track season has been relatively uneventful...

Underappreciated Performances

Kristie Schoffield’s Runner-up Performance

Boise State’s Schoffield ran an impressive 2:03.94 to push NCAA leader Avi’ Tal Wilson-Perteete to the line at the Mountain West Conference. Although Wilson-Perteete got the win, Schoffield showed she is a potential All-American in the 800, currently sitting at #11 in the nation.

Bryce Hoppel Keeps His Winning Streak Alive

Dixon will gain most of the attention due to his NCAA leading time of 1:44, but Hoppel was able to secure his 15th straight win at the BIG 12 Championships. Not only that, but he validated his 1:45 from earlier in this season by throwing down yet another 1:45 performance and defeating Texas Tech's Jonah Koech in the process. Dixon may have run the faster time, but Hoppel will still be the favorite in the eyes of many.

Ohio State’s Abby Nichols Earns Surprise Win in BIG 10 5k

Nichols may have been considered an underdog in the BIG 10 5k this season as she was seeded with a 16:08. Nichols beat the likes of Margaret Allen (IU), Amy Davis (UW), the Hasz twins (UM), etc. The winning time of 15:56 was a 12 second PR for Nichols, which should catapult her from #61 in the nation to the top 30.

Steeplechase Champions

The steeplechase is filled with a handful of underrated talents this year. Virginia Tech's Fitsum Seyoum held off an underrated field to take home the ACC win in a time of 8:44. Meanwhile, Tennessee's Alex Crigger ran 8:47 to continue the best season of his career. What about Stanford's Steven Fahy who blew out an established PAC 12 field to win the conference title in a time of 8:43? Christian Liddel (Georgetown), Obsa Ali (Minnesota), Kigen Chemadi (MTSU), and Craig Huff (San Jose State) all posted winning marks under 8:50. Guys like Ryan Smeeton and Matt Owens may hold most of the nation's attention in the steeplechase, but all of these men are capable of becoming an All-Americans next month.

Georgetown Freshman Wins BIG East 800

Cathilyn McIntosh stunned Rachel McArthur in the BIG East 800 as she won in 2:06.95 to McArthur’s 2:07.05. McIntosh’s time was a two second PR and puts her at #46 in the East region. The time isn't anything particularly spectacular, but beating McArthur is a promising result heading into the regional meet.

Quick Thoughts

Anna Rohrer (Notre Dame)

After not racing since the 2018 NCAA Cross Country Championships, Rohrer made her outdoor debut in the 10k at the ACC Championships. Although her time was well off her PR of 31:58, Rohrer’s 33:30 shows that she has recovered from her injury and is ready for the regional meets.

Michael Wilson (New Mexico)

With Josh Kerr gone, the Lobos have been looking for someone new to lead their team in the middle distances. Luckily, they have Michael Wilson who just upset Colorado State's Cole Rockhold in a (somewhat) tactical 1500 at the Mountain West Championships. He's a sneaky good 800 runner and could be a strong pick to qualify for NCAA's.

Rachel Pocratsky (Virginia Tech)

Pocratsky was a double-winner at the ACC Championships in the 800 and 1500. Her double of 2:04/4:18 shows her strength and competitive nature as she took down quality runners en route to a pair of titles.

Matt Manternach (Iowa)

After three consecutive personal bests that resulted in him owning a 1:46 PR, I was curious to see how the Iowa mid-distance ace would handle championship racing. Truthfully, it wasn't great. He finished 4th overall in a time of 1:49, although the names he lost to are all very established half-milers in the BIG 10. It will be interesting to see how Manternach handles what will likely be a tactical regional meet.

Angie Nickerson (Southern Utah)

Nickerson won the 5k and 10k and the BIG Sky Championships in 16:38 and 36:03. Nickerson has been on a roll since cross country and if she keeps improving, she could find herself on the start line in Austin next month.

Kyle Mau (Indiana)

I'm not sure why we're just thinking about this, but what is Mau going to run at Regionals? A 5k/1500 double would be incredibly difficult, so it's likely that we only see him in one event. Will he choose the 5000 which is dominated at the front by guys like Fisher and McDonald? Or will he opt to enter a much deeper 1500 where the national title favorite is more vulnerable to an upset? It's an interesting question to ponder in the coming days...

Erin Finn (Michigan)

Finn raced for the second time this season at BIG 10’s, this time in the 10k. Finn finished in 33:23, but was 7th overall, even after leading for a few laps. Finn has been away from racing for a year, but it may take more than two races to help her find her racing confidence.

Hassan Abdi (Oklahoma State)

We talked about Iliass Aouani winning double gold while fasting through Ramadan, but Hassan Abdi is also fasting through Ramadan and he was able to defeat Edwin Kurgat this past Friday night in the BIG 12 10k. Abdi will actually race the 5000 meters soon after we publish this article, so there's a very good chance that he actually pulls off the same double as Aouani.

Gabby Crank (Texas)

Even with having a season best of 2:04 and being ranked #17 in the nation, Crank failed to make the finals of the 800 at the BIG 12 Championships this past weekend. Crank will need to regroup before the regional meet to ensure that she can qualify for NCAA's.