First Thoughts: Mountain West & Ivy League (Women)

Mountain West

Weini Kelati is the new national favorite

Kelati and Kurgat broke away from the rest of the Mountain West field a little before the "midway" split in San Diego. By split three, Kelati had established a gap over her teammate and only increased that margin of victory on her way to the finish, winning by 18 seconds.

This is her 2nd win of the season after winning at Pre-Nats and finishing 2nd at Nuttycombe. This is also Kelati’s 1st XC Conference Title. Her dominance over Kurgat in the last two races has been pretty incredible, especially considering Kurgat is still an NCAA top five runner.

What’s up with Allie O?

Probably nothing. Ostrander ran within seven seconds of the defending conference and NCAA champion Kurgat. Although she let the New Mexico duo break away mid-race, the only gap that matters is at the finish. It’s a little surprising to see Prouse beat out Ostrander, but I would expect Ostrander to beat her moving forward. Looking at the early part of her season, a win at Sundodger followed by a 5th place finish at Nuttycombe mimics Ostrander’s results from 2017 which led her to 4th place finish at NCAA's. Expect her to run great races moving forward and to keep fighting for a national title

New Mexico Wins!

New Mexico’s Mountain West Conference title is their 11th straight, an amazing feat. To place 1-2-3 in a race with Ostrander is also a huge deal, but we knew that the front three for New Mexico was going to take care of business. It was results from Adva Cohen and Sophia Eckel that truly won the meet for the Lobos. Cohen maintained her finish from Pre-Nats and placed 9th this weekend. While there’s definitely more potential there for a higher finish, 9th was a solid result that got the job done. Eckel’s 18th is a little more troublesome for the Lobos, but again, it got the job done. With Boise State placing six in the top 12, there was no guarantee the Lobos were going to have a fifth runner high enough to win.

Moving forward though, without much room to improve at 1-2-3, New Mexico needs an improvement from Cohen and either Eckel, Hannah Nuttall, or Emily Martin to defend their other championship from 2017: NCAA's.

So Does Boise State!

While the Broncos did not take home the conference title, this race should tell Boise State that they’re better suited to win a national title in 2018 than their conference rivals. Ostrander is still an important low-stick, while anyone in their top four could be All-American in three weeks. Emily Venters, Alexis Fuller, and Clare O’Brien established themselves as solid middle sticks with breakout potential and are national class harriers. More importantly, Maxine Paholek and Kyra Lopez were a strong 5/6 duo at 10th and 12th, respectively. Something always goes awry at Nationals, but with a lineup that is six runners deep, Boise State has more security than most other programs.

Ivy League

Big Win for Andrea Masterson

The Yale Senior entered the race this weekend as the top returner, as Princeton’s Gabrielle Forrest did not run, and exited with her first conference title. While her time of 20:43 does not look all that impressive compared to some Power Five conference races, the Ivy League raced on Saturday in what was a rainy and muddy affair as the remnants of Hurricane Willa arrived on the east coast. Masterson should take lots of confidence from this win, especially in a Northeast region that is relatively open in the individual race. Overall, a really great race from Masterson.

Columbia defends; establishes Northeast Region dominance

In what was a basically a Northeast Region preview meet (minus Syracuse), the Ivy League delivered a team battle between Columbia, Dartmouth, Yale, Harvard, Brown, and Mid-Atlantic team Princeton. The only ranked team in the field (Columbia) secured a significant win with 52 points. Heading into the meet, Columbia had shown great pack running and the Lions delivered that again on Saturday.

Erin Gregoire and Libby Kokes also established themselves in the individual race, in what became the difference maker for the NYC squad. Columbia may be the slight favorite over Syracuse in two weeks, but they definitely opened a gap on the rest of the Ivy League contenders.

That said, 2nd through 6th place was only separated by 22 points, with Dartmouth, Princeton and Yale finishing within eight points, at 86-90-94. Both Dartmouth and Yale should also take confidence from this meet moving forward. Yale’s #4 and #5 of Megan McCormick and Sevanne Ghazarian both had off days. Had they placed 23rd and 24th behind Columbia’s fifth runner, they would have put Yale in a convincing 2nd. Should they run that way at regionals, the Bulldogs could score an upset.

The Dartmouth Big Green earned a 2nd place with their strong pack and a top five spread of 9 seconds. If Dartmouth could’ve moved that pack up 5 to 10 seconds this weekend, the title might had gone to the ladies from Hanover. Should they improve as a group, this team could also earn a trip to Madison.

Princeton’s 3rd place finish was definitely a great race as well, but with regional powerhouses Penn State and Villanova headline the Mid-Atlantic in two weeks, this race does not instill as much confidence for the Tigers. However, reemergence of 2017 Ivy League champion Gabrielle Forrest and a better run from Gillian Wagner, could definitely put the Tigers in contention.