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Let's Switch Things Up: TSR's 2024 NAIA Outdoor Track Top 50 Rankings (First Edition)


Rankings crafted via Marissa Kuik, Nolan Ryan & Garrett Zatlin


NOTE: The below text can also be found on our NAIA Top 50 Rankings page. TSR did update the order of our women's rankings post-publication after it was found that our initial publication of the women's rankings was not the most recently updated file. Luckily, the differences between the two files should be considered minor.


Alright...let's try something new.

NAIA is The Stride Report's latest area of coverage that we have expanded into. And naturally, with the introduction of an entirely new demographic, we're still trying to learn what types of content our NAIA readers want...and don't want.

During the winter months, we published four different editions of our NAIA top-20 middle and long distance rankings for the indoor track season. And while we did see some positive metrics, it also felt like we were playing things a little too safe in terms of how creative and ambitious we could be with our content.

So for the spring months, we're gonna change things up.

Instead of doing top-20 or top-25 rankings like we do with our D1, D2 and D3 teams, we're going to list our top-50 men and women for the 2024 NAIA outdoor track season.

There is, of course, a catch.

These rankings will simply be lists -- we won't have any analysis.

Some of our readers may like that (more names get more attention) while other readers may not be thrilled (top names receive less written analysis throughout a season).

But think of this project as an experiment for this season. If our readers respond well to these rankings, then we'll employ a similar approach in the future. If they don't like this style of rankings, then we'll revert to our written analysis that has made us so successful over the years.

Of course, with a list this large and no analysis to offer any detail, there are certainly going to be more questions about how we came to the conclusion of placing certain athletes at certain positions in our rankings. For that reason, we crafted a "FAQ" section below...

Q: "What criteria does TSR utilize to craft and update their NAIA top-50 outdoor track rankings?"

A: For the most part, we utilize almost every piece of information that we have on a runner, although certain aspects hold more weight than others. Past national meet success, nationally competitive personal bests, consistency, range/versatility, event saturation, experience and more are all taken into consideration in our rankings.

It should also be noted that at least two people review and tweak our men's NAIA rankings and our women's NAIA rankings for each update. However, that means that our TSR contributors who rank the women may more heavily emphasize certain criteria that our men's rankings may not reflect.

Q: "I just beat Runner X in a certain race this past weekend. Why am I still ranked behind them in TSR's latest rankings update?"

A: This could be for a handful of reasons. Does Runner have faster overall personal bests than you? Have they been better in the postseason than you? How far behind Runner X were you in our prior set of rankings? Would this result be considered a poor race for Runner X? What event were you two racing in?

In addition to the various criteria that we answered for the prior question, it's important to know that these rankings are not based on how a singular weekend unfolded. Instead, these rankings are aggregates of someone's entire outdoor track season. One race is not going to make or break where someone is listed in our rankings.

Q: "How does TSR balance performances from the indoor track season (more recent, but different season) and performances from last spring (not as recent, but more relevant)?"

A: This is a good question that doesn't have a precise answer. That's because it largely depends on the athlete.

If an athlete is a steeplechase or 10k specialist, and have proven exactly that in the past, then they could easily crack the top-10 of our rankings after not even sniffing the top-20 portion of our rankings during the winter.

At the same time, momentum matters. It's not like someone who was a star during the winter months would suddenly step onto the outdoor track and lose all of the value that they built up on the indoor oval -- that wouldn't make any sense.

Q: "Will TSR be updating these rankings throughout the season?"

A: Yes! We'll have at least three updates this spring (including this one) and potentially four in total. So if you didn't see yourself listed in these rankings this week, don't fret! You can still climb into our top-50 later this spring.

Q: "I know that Runner X still has eligibility and I know for a fact that they should be listed in these rankings. Why does TSR not have them in their top-50?"

A: There are always a handful of names each and every season who opt to redshirt and preserve their eligibility. In this case, TSR likely has good reason to believe that Runner X will be redshirting.

We also look at certain team's rosters, specifically on TFRRS, to see if an athlete is still shown on their team page for the current season in question. If not, then we will almost certainly omit them from our top-50 list.

And finally, if we calculate that an athlete has used all of their eligibility for a certain season -- or prior eligibility shown on TFRRS suggests that Runner X concluded their eligibility the year before -- then TSR will usually omit those athletes from our rankings.


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