Unattached Aailyah Miller Leads 800 Meter Field
Baylor’s talented middle distance star will run unattached in the 800 meters in Ames, Iowa. Her seed time is 2:02.41, almost a full two seconds ahead of LSU’s Katy-Ann McDonald.
With 10 runners seeded to go 2:06.00 or under, this race is going to be fast and could shake up the National Championship qualifying picture. Miller will likely take control of the race, but McDonald, Kassidy Johnson, Mallory King, and Macy Heinz could use Miller’s pacing to pull them through to a time around 2:04.
McDonald ran 2:06 at the Razorback Invitational earlier this season, finishing ahead of Kassidy Johnson and Macy Heinz. Meanwhile, Iowa’s Mallory King won the 600 meters at the Meyo Invitational last weekend with a time of 1:29. Her fastest 800 time this year is 2:09, but based off her 600 meter performance, she should be able to match her seed time of 2:05.
These women could make some serious noise this weekend. Several of these women have just missed qualifying for the National Championships in years past and they without a doubt want to be on the starting line in March.
Aziza Ayoub, Joley Pinkston, and Tia Saunders could also put their names in the mix. Ayoub placed 4th in the invite section of the 800 meters at the Meyo Invitational last weekend with a time of 2:07 for a solid performance. The Ohio State junior does not have the fastest PR’s in the field, but she was the runner-up in the indoor 800 meters at the BIG 10 Championships last year and has had some promising performances as of late.
This certainly isn’t the strongest 800 meter field that we'll see this season, but it includes a lot of women fighting for a possible shot at Nationals or a PR. Aailyah Miller has nothing to lose and could make this race an interesting one.
Wake Forrest Duo Chases Qualifying Marks in the Mile
This field includes three women seeded at 4:36 and five other runners between 4:42 and 4:45. Similar to the 800 meters, this certainly isn’t the strongest field compared to other races happening around the country and none of the runners are currently in a position to qualify for Nationals. However, there is plenty of potential for breakout performances.
Professional runner and former Oklahoma State runner Molly Sughroue will be in the race and could offer vital pacing to the Wake Forrest duo of Johanna Schulz and Amy Harding-Delooze. They are both seeded to run 4:36 which would put them in the mix to qualify for Nationals this season. That, however, is still an aggressive goal.
Johanna Schulz’s fastest time this season is 4:49 and her PR is 4:43. Hardind-Delooze’s fastest time this season (and PR) is 4:43. It is unlikely that these women cut seven seconds off this weekend, but it is possible. They could certainly chase a PR and lead some of the other women in this field to run under 4:45.
Mahala Norris of the Air Force Academy ran 4:56 at the Colorado Invitational earlier this month. Racing at sea level should bring her under 4:50 (at least) and given this past cross country season, we know that she is capable of doing more.
Larkin Chapman of Iowa State ran her PR of 4:43 at the UW Invitational two weeks ago to place 10th in the event. She is trending in the right direction and will have the comfort of racing on her home track this weekend.
Lauren Berman of Virginia Tech also ran 4:43 earlier this season, as well as a 2:07 for 800 meters. Berman has the capability to out-kick the other front-runners in this field and could sprint away with the win if she's near the front towards the latter half of the race.
Hasz Headlines 3000 Meters, Sarah Edwards Moves Up
A handful of top-ranked 5k runners are moving down in distance this weekend while numerous milers have opted to move up. With national qualifying on the line, this race will surely be intense.
Bethany Hasz, Abby Nichols, and Rebecca Topham are all talented and experienced distance runners who will go head-to-head in what should be one of the more underrated battles of the weekend. Wichita State's Rebekah Topham is currently the only one with a qualifying national mark in the 3000 meters with a time of 9:16, although that will likely not be enough to keep her in qualifying position after this weekend.
Last weekend, Topham set a PR in the mile with a 4:45 to pair with her 16:33 5k from earlier in the season. The 3k distance seems to be her sweet spot given the balance of performances that we've seen from her this winter.
Minnesota's Bethany Hasz currently has the #4 fastest 5k time from her 15:25 in December and is essentially a lock to qualify for NCAA's in that event. Like Topham, the 3000 meters may be her ideal event this season given that she also ran 4:38 for the mile at the Meyo Invitational last week. She'll be the favorite to take home the win this weekend, but only if she dictates the pacing early on.
Then we have Abby Nichols of Ohio State who ran a PR in the mile of 4:41 last week at the Meyo Invitational. Earlier in the season, she ran 9:44 in the 3000 meters, but her recent performance suggests that she is in much better shape than that result shows. That, combined with her strong finishes during cross country, indicates that she can flirt with the 9:20 barrier.
Sarah Edwards of Virginia Tech has been outstanding so far this season in the middle distances. She has the NCAA #6 fastest mile time this season with a 4:36 from the Camel City Invitational (which was eventually converted to a 4:34). While most would think that she is simply a miler, her range is some of the best in the country. If she can keep Hasz in her sights, Edwards may have a chance to pull away at the tail-end of this race.
Missouri's Melissa Menghini ran 9:23 for 3000 meters at the Aggie Invitational in January. She also ran a 4:55 mile at the Razorback Invitational two weeks ago which makes it difficult to gauge her current level of fitness.
Teammate Sarah Chapman finished right behind Menghini at the Aggie Invitational and also ran 9:23. However, Chapman had an easier time handling the mile distance, running a PR of 4:42 in the mile last weekend at the Razorback Invitational.
Sub-16 5k Field
The Iowa State Classic is typically known for its ability to produce top-tier times in the 5000 meters and this year is no different. Five runners are seeded to run under 16 minutes this weekend with six more under 16:15.
Let's start with Dorcas Wasike of Louisville, a talented runner who placed 9th at Indoor Nationals last year. However, this has been a tough season for her as she has run 9:41 in the 3000 meters and 4:57 in the mile. Her PR is 15:25 and her seed time is 15:35, but her recent performances forces us to question where her fitness level is currently.
Iowa State's Cailie Logue is seeded at 15:40 and will be racing on her home track. Logue has the NCAA #9 fastest 5k time this season with her 15:50, but that will likely not be enough to keep her qualified for Nationals by the time March comes around.
She ran 4:48 in the mile and 9:18 in the 3k recently. It's clear that she does better as the distance grows and her progress in other events is nothing to ignore either.
Virginia Tech's Sara Freix has set three new personal bests in the past month and could better her 5k PR of 16:07 to make it four new PR's this season. She ran 2:49 in the 1000 meters at the Virginia Tech Invitational, 4:42 in the mile at the Hokie Invitational, and 9:11 in the 3k at the Camel City Invitational. We like to talk about how teammate Sarah Edwards has great range, but Freix is arguably just as good, if not better, when it comes to being an all-around elite.
Michigan freshman star Ericka VanderLende ran 9:20 in the 3000 meters at the Power Five Invitational and 4:49 at the Wolverine Invitational earlier this season, which are strong results, but not on the level of being a national qualifier.
However, her 25th place finish from the NCAA XC Championships this past fall certainly proves that she is capable of handling this kind of field and this kind of distance. It's also fair to suggest that the 5000 meters may be her ideal event.
Other notable names in this race include Maria Mettler (Air Force Academy), Winny Koskei (Wichita State), Annie Heffernan (Syracuse) and Ashley Tutt (Northern Illinois).