D3 National Championship Preview (Post-Cancelation)


Editors Note: Due to the extensive amount of time that is required to edit content and create graphics, we will not be releasing any additional previews. We are opting to release our D3 national meet preview on the basis that we did not release any content for the division earlier in the week.


NOTE: This article was initially written with the understanding that certain teams/athletes would not be competing at the national meet. As a result, some notable names may not be mentioned in this article.

Men


800: Kyler Lueck of UW-Eau Claire has been on a roll this season, but there are many other names who are chasing the national title. Who else will factor into this race?


Brett: Besides Lueck, Potter, and Jasa, Matt D’Anieri (Tufts) and George Papoulis (UMass Dartmouth) are some really talented guys who could challenge for the title. Papoulis took 2nd last year behind Lueck indoors and could be fired up to avenge that loss from last year. He also just has one event in the 800 meters, so that gives him that edge. On the other hand, while this might be D'Anieri’s first individual race on the national level, he’s competed like a seasoned veteran all year, even stepping up in distance to run a 4:14 mile. He’ll likely be on the DMR, but so will Lueck.


Hannah: Kyler Lueck is easily the favorite going into this event, but he has to navigate prelims and the DMR the night before. That could make him a bit vulnerable. With four guys running 1:52, they are praying he fumbles. My bet is on either Mike Jasa from Loras or Steven Potter from UW-Oshkosh. Jasa has the second fastest seed time at 1:52.34 and he is used to navigating semis and finals as a staple on Loras’ 4x400 relay. Potter has the advantage because he has raced Lueck a number of times, most recently at the WIAC Championship where he finished in 1:52.70 to Lueck’s 1:51.80. These conference rivals will push each other with one probably taking home the win.


Mile: Noah Falasco’s (RPI) breakout season has put him on top of the D3 leaderboard with a 4:05 mile, but Nick Matteucci (Wash. U) will be fighting hard for the national title. Who do you have winning it all and who else be battling for a top spot?


Brett: Even though Falasco has the top mark, I like the odds of Matteucci a whole lot. He seems to be competing right near the front of every national meet in the middle distance races and I think this is his time to earn an individual national title. The one advantage that Falasco has, though, is that Matteucci is doubling in the DMR, while Falasco is only entered in the mile.


Hailing from the MIAC, Sean Lonergan of St. Olaf and Karl Watcher of St. Thomas have both run very well this year and should be very solid competitors to the front-runners. I could see these two vying for finishing in the top three this weekend.


Also from Wash U., Jacob Ridderhoff has continued a hot streak of racing, earning a place in the national meet. At the UAA Championships, Ridderhoff finished nearly behind Matteucci with a 4:09, but was DQ’d due to contact with another athlete. Knowing that result, even when not on paper, is telling that Ridderhoff can really stick his nose in the front of the race and compete for a high-end finish at the national level, along with a fellow teammate in Matteucci.


Hannah: Noah Falasco is no slouch when it comes to championship racing. The senior is a five-time All American, including being a part of a national title-winning DMR. While this race is so closely contested, I think Falasco has what it takes to come out on top. I expect guys like Matteucci, Watcher, Lonergan, and Ridderhoff to make it difficult and challenge Falasco, but I still think he will come out on top.


5000: It’s a “Battle of the Big 3” as Matthew Wilkinson (Carleton), Patrick Watson (Stevenson), and David Fassbender (UW-Whitewater) all have times ranging from 14:22 to 14:26. Although Wilkinson has the fastest time, he will be coming off of 3k prelims while Watson and Fassbender will be fresh. Who do you have winning?


Hannah: I think the 3k prelim evens the playing field as Wilkinson will be running on tired legs. This race is truly anybody's to take. I think Wilkinson will want this race to go out conservatively to save energy for the 3k final the next day and he will rely on his kick to win. If Fassbender and Watson work together to make the race more competitive, then I think that could benefit Fassbender. He looked incredibly smooth at the WIAC Championships, pulling away from Tyler Nault with ease in the 3k and running an 8:15 in the process.


If this race comes down to the last mile, my pick is Matthew Wilkinson, but if it’s an honest pace from the gun, I am picking David Fassbender to pick up his first NCAA title.


Brett: Not many men are doing the 3k/5k double this year, so this will be a very fun race with a lot of fresh guys. I think that Fassbender, Nault and Watson could really make this a fast race, which would benefit them in being fresh. Wilkinson shouldn’t have a problem hanging with these guys, he is quite fit, so this is going to be one big tossup. I’ve got to go with David Fassbender though, he’s been quite dominant this season and fares really well with competition.


DMR: The battle between Aidan Ryan (Williams), Nick Matteucci (Wash U) and Kyler Lueck (Eau Claire) on the anchor legs could simply be epic. Each athlete will have one prelim race under their belt before getting the stick. Who comes out on top?


Brett: If the pieces fall together on the final leg, this could truly be an electric battle between some of D3’s biggest stars. There’s Aidan Ryan, Nick Matteucci, and Kyler Lueck, all of whom represent some of D3’s best overall teams. There are points on the line for all, and all three runners have the speed to win an individual National Championship, let alone being a part of a team effort for a DMR. There’s so many different scenarios I could see happening between these three...I’m honestly have no idea who will win!


Hannah: I am going with Matteucci and Wash U. I think they have a chance to pull away before it even gets to the mile as they have Jacob Ridderhoff on their lead-off leg. If that is the case, then I think Matteucci’s experience will have him holding off the field.


If it comes down to a two-lap race at the end, Lueck and Eau Claire could steal this. Lueck’s kick is lethal and every other team will want to make sure they steer clear of it if at all possible.


3000: Will this race just be a duel between Aidan Ryan and Matthew Wilkinson?


Brett: This race is looking to be a great battle between Wilkinson and Aidan Ryan who have run 8:11 and 8:08, respectively. It really wouldn’t surprise me to see either of those two win, but there are two veteran runners who could do some major damage.


Brad Hodkinson of Wash U. ran a terrific 8:19 at the Wartburg Final Qualifier, closing quite hard over the last 400 meters. If he can channel that kick again, he’s got a shot to usurp the two favorites.


In addition, there’s also Joshua Schraeder of UW-La Crosse. He’s been getting better and better with each race he runs. We’ve seen him perform well in some postseason races, but also not the best in others. Based on his continued progression this year, my bet is that he’ll be competing for a top five finish this weekend.


Hannah: I think if Ryan and Wilkinson truly race this event and don’t make it tactical, then it will just come down to the two of them. I think Ryan, with his 4:05 mile speed will be able to out-kick Wilkinson and take home the victory. There are a ton of quality guys in this race, but I just don’t think they will be able to keep up if Ryan.


It will be interesting to see how Schraeder fares after going through some turmoil earlier this week as his school initially banned them from traveling to this meet and then unblocked them. It shouldn’t have too much of an impact as they only left a day later than originally planned.

Women


800: Sydney Packard (WPI) comes into the national meet with a commanding lead over the rest of Division Three with an incredible 2:06.54. Is this her race to lose?


Hannah: While the 800 meters is usually a tricky event where anything can happen, Packard looks to be a lock. She does have to run prelims and the mile leg of the DMR on Friday, but she should have the strength to take the win over the rest of the field. If anyone could challenge her, it’s Esther Seeland of Messiah.


Seeland is coming in with the NCAA #2 time in D3 this season with a 2:10.03. She ran the 400, 800, mile, 4x800, 4x400, and DMR at the Middle Atlantic Conference Championships, so she can easily carry the workload of a semifinal round. Lucky for Seeland, she will be coming in relatively fresh as the 800 meters is her only race of the weekend. She will be attempting to use that to her advantage as she tries to take down Packard.


Brett: Packard will have a prelim 800 and a DMR 1600 under her belt coming into the race, but her dominance compared to the field will surely put her in a great position to take the win. As Hannah mentioned, Esther Seeland will likely be Packard’s main competition this weekend in the 800. Maybe we will see a great battle on our hands?


Mile: Evie Bultemeyer (Trine), Ariel Keklak (Johns Hopkins), Emily Manfra (Suffolk), Carly Danoski (Moravian) have all run between 4:56 and 4:57. Who comes out on top in what might the closest battle of the weekend?


Brett: My odds are on Evie Bultemeyer. She comes into the national meet ranked in the top four in both the 800 meters and the mile, yet chose to go for just the mile. I think that decision will propel her towards earning a national title this weekend. However, the field is right there, so I wouldn’t count out any of the other names we’ve mentioned.


Hannah: This could be the closest race of the weekend as the top five runners are separated by 1.5 seconds. I am also picking Evie Bultemeyer to win. Instead of trying to double, she decided to focus on the mile. If this race comes down to a kick, her 800 speed could really come in handy.


One of Bultemeyer’s main challengers is Ariel Keklak from Johns Hopkins who has not raced since she threw down a 4:56 at the BU Valentine Invitational. That makes you wonder if she is possibly coming into this race a bit injured. Even if she is, there are a ton of other women who can fill her spot and challenge Bultemeyer for that win.


5000: We can’t not mention Parley Hannan (Ithaca) in this race as she is seeded 43 seconds faster than the next closest competitor. She will be coming off of a 3k prelim and possibly conserving energy before the DMR. How do you see this race playing out?


Hannah: This is truly the field vs. Hannan. The way Hannan wins is if she makes it a race. No one in D3 has been able to hang with her this year when the race is longer than a mile. It might not be the smartest decision to race an all-out 5k only an hour before she has to anchor Ithaca’s DMR, but it is the safest way for her to ensure a win.


For the field to win, they need to take this slow and hope they have a kick that can out do Hannan’s. They have to hope she puts herself tactically in a bad spot late in the race. This field is not compiled of any slouches. It has the national runner-up from cross country in Genny Corcoran of SUNY-Geneseo as well as previous national champions such as Paige Lawler of Wash. U and Kassie Rosenbum of Loras. However, none of these women have been able to hang with Hannan this year and I don’t see that changing this weekend.


Brett: If we’re going to put odds on it, I would say that Hannan has a 99% chance of winning. She is way ahead of the field with her D3 5k record of 16:05. Her dominance has simply been unparalleled. However, Corcoran and Lawler are coming into the 5k fresh. If they (or others) push the pace hard enough, who knows what could happen! Otherwise, Hannan should be a near-lock for the title.


DMR: The DMR poses some interesting questions. How will Parley Hannan fare in her third race of the day? Will Sydney Packard bring home the win for WPI? How about Williams or La Crosse?


Brett: Now this will be interesting. There are a slew of talented women listed as running the anchor leg of the DMR, including Hannan, Sydney Packard (WPI), Libby Brugger (La Crosse) and Anna Passannante (Williams). Hannan does have the fastest mile time of D3, but she will have already run two races on day one alone, with the 5k just an hour before. The possibilities with this race are endless. I think it’ll be a close race between all four of these teams that we mentioned.


On another note, with teams pulling their entries from the national meet, the Johns Hopkins women are now listed in the DMR. Their team is so deep and they have the potential to throw together quite a talented team. However, due to the proximity of finding out only two days away from Nationals, it is merely speculative as to what they will do.


Hannah: This could be the one race that Hannan loses to D3 competition this year. While Ithaca is coming in with the fastest seed time of 11:48, Hannan is anchoring after racing the 3k prelims and the 5k. Other teams can and should take advantage of this. This race almost always comes down to the mile leg and Anna Passannante from Williams will be the only one who has fresh legs. Sydney Packard from WPI will have run the 800 prelims.


I still think Packard has the speed to bring her team the title if they are in contention at the last baton pass. Although watch for a close race between Ithaca, WPI and Williams.


3000: We are starting to sound like a broken record with Parley Hannan, but at this point, she will have run three races prior to the 3k final on day two. Will she hold on for the win?


Hannah: This race is not a guaranteed win for Hannan. I think her biggest challenge is Isabel Cardi from Dickinson. Cardi just ran her 9:47 at the Centennial conference meet and is fully focused on only this event this weekend. If she pushes the pace with teammate Sarah House, there is a chance that they are able to capitalize on Hannan’s tired legs.


Brett: This will be Parley Hannan’s fourth race of the weekend. She will have run 9600 meters at JDL fast track on Friday night, only to run 3000 more meters on Saturday. Depending on how the races pan out on Friday, if they are more tactical, Hannan may be ready to go on Saturday. Regardless, I think that Felicia Koerner of Johns Hopkins will provide a good challenge, along with Isabel Cardi. Koerner has run 9:24 in the past and she could certainly channel a great performance knowing that Hannan might be tired.


One last thing...


Brett: With the concerns of COVID-19 running high and rampant, in the running community, Division Three appears to be highly affected with these concerns. There have been numerous, countless changes to the accepted entry lists all throughout this week, which has been adding and subtracting athletes like no other division.


Notably, we saw UW-La Crosse be barred from traveling to the national meet, then that ban was lifted just a few hours later. Their mens' and womens' teams were ranked #5 and #1 by USTFCCCA, respectively. If they remained barred from traveling, that would have completely changed the outlook of the national meet across the board.


We also saw MIT disappear off of the entry lists just a few hours ago, noting their removal from the national meet. Their women’s and men’s teams were both ranked #6 by USTFCCCA, giving away their chances to compete for team trophies, changing the outcome of the national meet.


We’ve seen the women’s mile shift like no other distance event, seeing nearly a two second difference in what it took to qualify for the meet after competitors were pulled, one by one.


All in all, this has been quite the stressful time for members of the running community, and especially for schools in Division Three, especially with the national meet right around the corner.