Finding Balance (Part 2)

Updated: Feb 21, 2019


We took a look at our current Scratch Tracker projections and decided to analyze all of the key entries (or scratches) heading into Nationals. If you have already be sure to read Part 1 by clicking the link here.


*We will be referencing our Scratch Tracker projections throughout this article which you can find by clicking here*


WOMEN

800

Unlike the men, it is very possible that we see a few women scratch out of the 800 this season. The first name that immediately comes to mind is Danae Rivers, the Penn State mid-distance star who has been lighting up the track every time she toes the line.


Right now, Rivers is ranked #3 in the 800 and #1 in the mile. What she will choose to race is a bit of a toss up. The 800 may not have the same level of competition that the mile will, but I think you can also make the argument that she is better in the mile than she is the 800. We have her scratching this event as of right now, but that could very easily swing the other way.


Virginia Tech's Rachel Pocratsky not only qualified in both the 800 and mile, but she also earned a spot in the DMR. In theory, it would make more sense for Pocratsky to scratch the mile in favor of the 800, an event where she has built up her reputation as a mid-distance ace. However, the Hokies may choose to run Pocratsky in the mile so that she has more time to recover for the DMR. From that perspective, it makes sense.


The same can be said for Oregon's Susan Ejore who we also have scratching the 800 in favor of the mile / DMR double.


Even though these three women are expected to scratch the 800 for the mile, keep in mind that the women's 800 is significantly lacking in depth this year. If someone wants to increase their chances of earning an All-American spot, they will likely want to run the 800.


We also have Samford's Karissa Nelson attempting the very rare 800 / mile double. While it's very possible that she only chooses to race one event, I'm not sure she is clearly better than one event over the other this weekend which is why we have her doubling. If she does scratch, we believe it will be from the 800 in favor of the mile, an event where she won the national title in 2017.


Mile

There is so much to talk about in this event when you consider all of the crossover between the 800 and 3000. We already spoke about Danae Rivers and Rachel Pocratsky, but the other name to watch at the top of the leaderboard is Jessica Hull who is currently qualified in the mile and 3000 and could add the DMR to her list of events.


If Hull does qualify for the DMR, we believe she would attempt the (very difficult) mile / 3k / DMR triple, mainly because we believe Oregon will want to focus on accumulating as many points as possible in the team battle. Of course, we could very easily see Hull scratch from one of those races. If she does, she may choose the mile over the 3000 due to the lack of firepower the mile holds in comparison to the 3000. Plus, there are numerous names at the top of the leaderboard in the mile who could scratch for other events (Rivers, Gregory, Kelati, Hutchinson, Pocratsky). Doing so would give Hull a wide-open path to a national title.


Weini Kelati seems like an obvious scratch. Although she has a top mark in the mile, she is simply better equipped for the two long distance events (3k and 5k). It will come as a shock if she decides to run the mile at Nationals.


Both Lauren Gregory and Nicole Hutchinson are projected to scratch from the mile in favor of the 3k / DMR double, but when you consider how stacked the 3000 has become this year, these two ladies may be incentivized to drop down in distance and run the mile. However, that means they would not be running the DMR completely fresh. It's an interesting tradeoff to consider....


Colorado's Tabor Scholl is qualified in the mile and 3000, leaving us to believe that she will attempt to the double without a DMR to hold her back. She seems to be equally talented in both events (based solely off of this season), so it's hard to find an argument where she doesn't try racing both events.


Katie Rainsberger is qualified in the mile, 3000, and DMR, but we think that the mile / DMR double will be what she settles on. The Washington junior is simply more experienced (and accomplished) in the mile this year and would have to deal with multiple superstars if she decided to run the 3000.


As for Allie Ostrander and Alicia Monson, it is almost a given that they will scratch out of the mile. Between the 3000, 5000, and DMR, both of these women will be focused on events other than the mile. We'll get into more of that a bit later...


Keep in mind that both Allie Schadler (Washington) and Rachel McArthur (Villanova) are just outside of qualifying right now based on current projections. If both of these women run fast enough this weekend, they could sneak into the final national qualifying spots. Both Whittni Orton (BYU) and Taryn Rawlings (Portland) are in danger of losing their spots to Nationals...


3000

For many of these women, running the 3000 makes a lot of sense. Still, the appeal of a less-intensive mile field may incentive scratches in the 3k. That could very easily happen with Nicole Hutchinson or Lauren Gregory, although we still expect them to run this event.


We already mentioned Jessica Hull's potential conflict with the mile / 3k / DMR triple IF Oregon qualifies for the DMR...and let's say that happens. If she does decide on a scratch, it will likely be the 3000. Of course, the Ducks may prefer to keep Hull completely fresh for the DMR and then have her rest overnight for the 3k. It's happened before, but it simply depends on what Oregon's priorities are.


5000

Alicia Monson, Allie Ostrander, and Sharon Lokedi are the three names we need to focus on when talking about the 5000 meters. All of these women are qualified in the DMR, an event that comes nearly 20 minutes after the completion of the 5k. The scheduling makes it extremely difficult (near impossible) to double back from the 5k to the DMR.


I think it's safe to say that both Alicia Monson and Allie Ostrander are scratching out of the mile and will be running the 3000. After that, things get tricky. Will these two women scratch the 5000 for the DMR, or vice versa?


Right now, our projections show that Ostrander will run the same DMR / 3k double she ran at Nationals last year while Monson will opt out of the DMR, favoring the 5k / 3k double instead. Could the roles be reversed? Absolutely, but this seems to make the most sense at the moment.


Sharon Lokedi is in the exact same situation. She doesn't have to worry about the mile (since she hasn't qualified) and will almost definitely run the 3000. However, she will have to face the tough decision of running either the 5000 or DMR.


In our mind, it's an easy choice. Lokedi should scratch the DMR and run the 5000. Despite a great performance last weekend, the Kansas veteran simply doesn't have the leg speed to contend with the top anchors at Nationals. Instead, she should run the event where she is ranked in the Top 10 All-Time.