D2 Headlines & Highlights (4/22/19)

Panning Leads 5000 Meter Crew At Bryan Clay

As if there needed to be another reason for people to remind me of how good Zach Panning is, he decided to set a nine second personal best this weekend at Bryan Clay and nearly got me fired (ok, not really, but it makes for a good story). The senior dipped under 13:40 for the first time in his career and ran 13:37. Panning was the 9th fastest finisher in the entire meet and was only behind the likes of Gilbert Kigen, Cole Rockhold, Joe Klecker, Rory Linkletter and Gilbert Boit (as well as three professional runners). Panning has been on another level this indoor and outdoor season and he is looking to defend his title at 5000 meters this May.

Adams State ace Elias Gedyon moved up in distance from 1500 this weekend and competed in his first ever 5000 race. It’s safe to say that the move wasn’t a bad idea as he ran 13:45 and was the second D2 athlete across the finish line. Gedyon’s move up is likely an effort to bolster the team’s chances at Nationals given he only ran one race during outdoors last year. He’s got the potential to finish as a top five athlete in both the 1500 and 5000 in May.

Colorado Mines' Josh Hoskinson lowered his personal best another four seconds running 14:04 in the second heat at Bryan Clay. CSU-Pubelo's Marcelo Laguera matched his altitude converted mark of 14:08 while American International's Victor Moreau continued his onslaught of personal bests by dropping 42 seconds with a time of 14:09. Ross Husch of Western Colorado ran 14:16 and Adam State’s Isaiah Rodarte returned to form as he ran 14:18.

The marks set this weekend were all inside the top 20, and from the top of the paragraph to the bottom follows as so: Panning, 1st; Gedyon, 2nd; Hoskinson, 4th; Laguera, 7th; Moreau, 8th; Husch, 12th; and Rodarte, 15th.

Women’s Mid-Distance Events Are DEEP

Coming into this weekend, we were already in store for a strong championship racing schedule on the women’s side. Given what we saw this weekend, the level of competition from the middle distance portion of NCAA's is going to be worth the price of admission.

At Bryan Clay, we saw the fastest and second fastest times run in D2 this season. Rachael Walters of Grand Valley State ran 2:04.15 to secure the fastest D2 finish in the section and good enough for 3rd in the section. The mark is three-tenths better than her previous best which was run at the NCAA meet last year. In the same section was Danielle McCormick who also bettered her mark from earlier this year. She ran 2:05.00 and was the 6th place finisher. Carsyn Koch-Johnson looks to be rounding into top shape as she ran her fastest time since the 2017 NCAA 800 final where she won the event.

Skylyn Webb of UCCS competed at Mt. SAC the next day where she ran 2:04.70 in a runner-up place finish behind Sage Hurta of Colorado who was running unattached. It’s currently the #2 fastest time in the country and seems to be a good sign after her early 2:07 race the week after Indoor Nationals. It's a step in the right direction towards solidifying her role as the national title favorite.

Not to go unnoticed, Alana Mussatto (Simon Fraser) jumped up to #6 on the list as she ran 2:07.83. Yasmine Hernandez (CSU-Pueblo) ran 2:08.72 to move into the #10 spot.

Looking at the 1500, we see two familiar times sit atop the leaderboard after their performances at Bryan Clay. First, we have Roisin Flanagan of Adams State who ran 4:16.42 from the second section. In the next section, we saw Caroline Kurgat bounce back from a strong performance in the 5k the night before and run 4:19.48.

Flanagan and Kurgat join Alicja Konieczek and Eilish Flanagan as the other athletes to secure an automatic mark on the season. Kurgat will likely opt for longer events such as the 10k and 5k leaving us with the Flanagan sisters and Konieczek as the early favorites this year.

Other marks from the weekend include the indoor champion Stephanie Cotter who ran 4:25.21 for the 1500 distance while Julia Howley continues to make her name known as she ran 4:26.01. Right behind her is Elysia Burgos who ran 4:27.12.

There are the favorites who are sitting at the top and it’s certainly easy to say that’s who will be in the running when it comes down to it. However, this weekend told us that the battle for an All-American spot is going to be grueling.

Mt. SAC Produces Top Results Despite Lack of Depth

I’m sure that there are those out there who believe that Mt. Sac is still the place to compete. That’s fair and everything, but since the beginning of the construction for their new track, athletes have taken their talents other places.

Luckily, there are some races that still produce top results for those who are looking for it. And those looking for it are mainly the D2 athletes who are now able to sneak into races that were once not available for them.

We mentioned earlier that Skylyn Webb opted for this meet instead of Bryan Clay and the Beach Invitational. Ultimately, wherever she ran she was likely to post a fast time and that’s what she did. She ran 2:04.15 which was good enough for 2nd place in the event.

Bobbi Patrick of Minnesota State and Taylor Hestekin of U-Mary both dipped under the 2:12 mark and ran 2:11.88 and 2:11.91, respectively.

Eddie King from Chico State moved into the top five after this weekend where he ran 14:06.79 from the slower of the two heats. Alicja Konieczek was also present at Mt. SAC as she tested her fitness at the 5000 discipline. She also moved into the top five running 16:15.97.

We saw the most action at 10,000 meters this weekend and that’s been the case most years when we look back at results.

Stetson Rayas of Dallas Baptist now sits at #6 on the list after running 29:33. Charlie Sweeney from Western Colorado ran 29:43 and is now #11. Derek Myers from U-Mary ran 29:47 and is #14 on TFRRS. Nadir Yusuf from MSU-Moorhead rounds out the top 18 as he ran 29:58.

With Yusuf’s time, it’s now a certainty that you need to run under the 30:00 mark to go Nationals. Plus, with most of these athletes likely not scratching this event, it means at least one or two more 10,000 meter efforts will be needed to make the list without any expansion.

On the women’s side, Ida Narbuvoll of U-Mary moved into the #5 spot by running 34:46. Alexandria Tucker sits #10 with her time of 35:11. Billie Hatch of Dixie State ran 35:47 to place her at #17 while Cassidy Ahrens of Western Colorado is sitting at #19 after her 35:48.

Taylor Stack ran 8:56 (also fell twice) to move into the top five on the performance list in the 3000 steeplechase while Corbin Hansen of Nebraska-Kearney ran 9:02 to move into #11 on the list. Kale Adams of Adams State is currently sitting #17 after his performance of 9:06.

Underappreciated Performances

Lee (Tenn.) Performances

Christian Noble highlights this list as he was expected to come to California and join in on the festivities, but ultimately stayed back home. He ran 8:55 in the steeple and is now the current leader in D2. His teammate Thomas Kelton ran 9:06 and currently sits at #16 on the TFRRS list. Charlee Boxall on the women’s side ran the #18 fastest time in the 1500 running 4:29.18 which is also a five second personal best.

Boxall and Kelton likely have to run faster times to get themselves into NCAA's, but it’s worth noting that the Flames from Lee are putting together an exceptional season.

Ayman Zahafi, TAMU-Kingsville

Zahafi’s performance got lost in the weekend after all of the California ruckus, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. He ran the fastest 800 time in the country besting Thomas Staines mark of 1:48.96. The sophomore ran 1:48.85 at the Fred J. Duckett Invitational. It’s yet another personal best for the Javelina as he continues to improve upon his strong indoor season.

Duke Invite 5k

This was mentioned in the D1 portion of the weekend review, but it’s also worth mentioning here. Three athletes posted top 20 marks and all three came with personal bests. Tai Smith of Mount Olive moved into the #6 position on the TFRRS list as he ran 14:08. That time was better than his previous by 16 seconds. Jack Mastandrea from Charleston (W.V.) improved his personal best by a second and moved to #13. And lastly, freshman Emeric Arnaud ran 14:22 which is a 21 second improvement and moves him inside the top 18.