*Honorable mentions below*
25. Brianna Ilarda, Senior, Providence
Millie Paladino took most of the spotlight during the indoor season, but Ilarda was quietly posting strong results of her own. Last weekend, she comfortably took the win in the Stanford Invite steeplechase with an NCAA leading time of 9:54. Watch out, she's a great sleeper pick to keep on your radar.
24. Sharon Lokedi, Senior, Kansas
Running a huge 5k at Boston U really helped boost her resume which faltered a bit at the end of the indoor season where she finished 11th at NCAA's. Expect Lokedi to prosper in the 10k distance this spring and find a more consistent groove.
23. Whittni Orton, Junior, BYU
The BYU ace was a bit uninspiring during the indoor season after barely making it to Nationals in the mile and then failing to make the finals. However, Orton has regained some of her momentum after taking home the win at Stanford last weekend in the 1500 over some big names.
22. Paige Stoner, Senior, Syracuse
She had a relatively quiet indoor season, but with the spring season introducing events such as the 10k and steeplechase, Stoner is expected to thrive. She just ran 32:07 at Stanford in her outdoor debut to finish 4th in a loaded field. I'd like to see more from her, but I'm excited for what she brings to the table.
21. Sinclaire Johnson, Junior, Oklahoma State
With no DMR duties to worry about, Johnson will have the freedom to race whichever open event she chooses this spring. Expect the Oklahoma State sophomore to thrive this season in championship races where she has underrated fitness and strong tactical race execution.
20. Makena Morley, Junior, Colorado
Morley is one of the most consistent performers in the country, especially on the national stage. She just ran 15:43 at Stanford which is a solid result for her, but it also had the potential to be a bit faster. Still, Morley is not someone I'm willing to bet against this season (or ever).
19. Martha Bissah, Junior, Norfolk State
For someone who is known for their prowess in the 800, Bissah showed off some impressive range at the Florida Relays where she ran 4:18 for 5th overall in the 1500 (against a very underrated field). When she enters the 800, expect her to throw down something fast.
18. Karisa Nelson, Senior, Samford
She hasn't run yet this outdoor season, but the Samford veteran had a great finish to her indoor season with a runner-up finish in the mile at the national meet. She'll continue to be a major problem for her competitors this spring.
17. Julia Rizk, Senior, Ohio State
It feels almost insulting to put the 2019 indoor mile champion at the #17 spot, but the 1500 field still seems like it's anyone's to win this spring in the right tactical setting. Luckily, tactical speed isn't something that Rizk is lacking. She just ran 2:05 at the Florida Relays behind two collegiate half-mile specialists in Danae Rivers and Gabrielle Wilkinson. I'll be excited to see how low she can drop her 1500 personal best this spring.
16. Millie Paladino, Senior, Providence
Consistency. Experience. Range. Fast times. Those are the four biggest qualities that make up some of the best runners in the country and Paladino has all of those. After placing 3rd in the mile at the Indoor National Championships, the Providence veteran was able to post another strong mark of 4:16 in the 1500 at the Stanford Invite. BYU's Whittni Orton was the only other collegiate ahead of Paladino.
15. Allie Wilson, Senior, Monmouth
She hasn't toed the line yet for the outdoor season, but last winter was no fluke. Wilson will continue to stay relevant in the national conversation as long as she maintains her impressive composure on big stages and is willing to assert fast paces. So far, we have no reason to doubt that she won't do that.
14. Lauren Gregory, Rs. Freshman, Arkansas
Gregory didn't have the best opener at Stanford last weekend, finishing 8th in the invite 1500 with a time of 4:22. Although it wasn't her best race, she posted some very strong marks during the indoor season and secured All-American honors as well. She's talented enough to stay inside the top 15.
13. Fiona O'Keeffe, Rs. Sophomore, Stanford
O'Keeffe was wildly impressive this past indoor season, running times of 8:58 (3k) and 15:35 (5k). She went on to finish 3rd in the 5000 meters at Nationals in what was likely one of the more underrated performances of the national meet. We've boosted her ranking a bit after realizing that we may have overlooked her.
12. Rachel Pocratsky, Senior, Virginia Tech
The 3rd place finisher in the 800 at the indoor national meet just ran 55 seconds at the Raleigh Relays last weekend in what was likely an easy reintroduction to the outdoor oval. Pocratsky will continue to be a major threat in both the 800 and 1500 this season. She is one of the few women who can realistically challenge Danae Rivers in both of those events.
11. Nicole Hutchinson, Senior, Villanova
Outside of her 13th place finish at Indoor Nationals in the 3000 meters, the Villanova senior had a huge indoor season that resulted in numerous wins as well as a personal best of 8:55. She also anchored her DMR to a 4th place All-American finish at the national meet.
10. Chalotte Prouse, Junior, New Mexico
Prouse is one of the few steeplechasers capable of challenging Ostrander come Nationals. Her personal best of 9:45 instantly makes her a national contender, especially when you consider the experience that she's been able to accumulate.
9. Ednah Kurgat, Senior, New Mexico
Ednah Kurgat was able to run 32:14 in the Stanford Invite 10k last weekend, but she let other women like Ostrander, Stoner, and Caroline Kurgat get away from her. It's another fast time early in the season for New Mexico's veteran star, but it feels like she has lost her edge to compete with the country's most elite collegiate women.
8. Taylor Werner, Rs. Sophomore, Arkansas
After an indoor season where she challenged some of the best women in the country and earned runner-up in the 3000 meters to Jessica Hull at the national meet, Werner returned to action at the Stanford Invite where she ran 32:26 to finish 12th overall. From the mile to the 10k, this Razorback star can seemingly do it all. There is a reason why we have her ranked #8.
7. Erica Birk, Rs. Junior, BYU
After one of the more underrated seasons out of anyone in the nation, Birk toed the line for a rematch against Hull at the Stanford Invite, this time in the 5000 meters. The BYU low-stick had to settle for 2nd, but earned yet another strong time of 15:38 while taking down a very strong field.
6. Weini Kelati, Sophomore, New Mexico
Kelati hasn't made her outdoor debut yet, but her indoor season showed us that she is one of the nation's most consistent collegiate elites. She'll eventually win a national title, but the only question is when?
5. Allie Ostrander, Rs. Junior, Boise State
The Boise State superstar has won the past two steeplechase titles. The chances she wins #3? High. Armed with a personal best of 9:38 in the steeplechase, Ostrander has become nearly automatic in this event. After finishing as the top collegiate in a time of 32:06 in the Stanford Invite 10k, the Boise State junior has seemingly rediscovered her killer instinct to win after collecting a few losses during the indoor season.
4. Alicia Monson, Junior, Wisconsin
When you run 8:45 for 3000 meters and then win a national title in the 5k, it's hard to not be considered as one of the best distance runners in the country. That said, the Wisconsin ace struggled a bit in the Stanford Invite 10k last weekend, falling to 22nd place overall and failing to break the 33 minute barrier. Of course, for an early season rust-buster, this shouldn't be seen with much alarm.
3. Danae Rivers, Junior, Penn State
After coming off of a (narrow) win at the Indoor NCAA Championships in the 800, Rivers was quick to return to her event. She ran 2:03 at the Florida Relays last weekend which was enough to walk away with the win. With Colorado's Dani Jones back in the mix, it is even more likely that we see Rivers stay away from the 1500 this season and pursue the 800 once again.
2. Dani Jones, Rs. Junior, Colorado
1. Jessica Hull, Rs. Junior, Oregon
Dani Jones is the 2018 NCAA cross country champion who is expected to return to the outdoor oval after redshirting the indoor season, but she is not yet entered for the Colorado Invitational which takes place this weekend. Regardless, if she ends up racing this season, she will be one of the few women in the NCAA (or the only woman in the NCAA) capable of taking down Hull. Of course, the Oregon Duck has only improved her fitness since the last time these two met. The only question is...will these two face against each other this season? Or will they choose separate events? It's a question that we still need the answer to...
Honorable Mentions (no order)
Carina Viljoen (Arkansas)
Cailie Logue (Iowa State)
Nia Akins (Penn)
Susan Aneno (UCONN)
Sarah Feeney (Utah State)
Sarah Edwards (Virginia Tech)
Hannah Meier (Michigan)
Susan Ejore (Oregon)
Katie Rainsberger (Washington)
Jaci Smith (Air Force)
Adva Cohen (New Mexico)
Anna Rohrer (Notre Dame)
Erin Finn (Michigan)
Dorcas Wasike (Louisville)
Elly Henes (NC State)