Sean: Woah. In 90+ degree heat, this race went out fast!It was 3:03 at the bell, these ladies ran one hell of a race. We all should have known Johnson had the ability to beat Hull, but it was just incredible to see that race. Jessica Harris and Whitni Orton deserve credit for making sure people ran that fast. Johnson is NCAA #7 All-Time I believe with that 4:05.98 which is just incredible and Hull moves to NCAA # 9. Those are #2 and #4 respectively if you count only in-season times. Imagine if this race had been in 70 degree temperatures.
Sam: WOW…what a race. Johnson ran a great tactile race. Surprise to see Hull look so tight that last 150 meters. Does anyone know if it was windy? I will say that I figured OK State would do well given they train in similar heat all the time.
Maura: You have to give credit to Jessica Harris for pushing the pace with 800 meters remaining. That move really set up how the rest of the race would play out for Hull and Johnson.
Maura: What do you think of the Indoor Mile champion, Julia Rizk, fading to 12th? She seemed to not have much confidence heading into this final as she was never in the mix upfront.
Sam: Personally, I’m not surprised. I originally predicted she either wouldn’t make finals or wouldn’t make NCAA's (don’t remember which), but I think her winning indoors was a combination of her being fit and the field not being terribly strong. Plus, indoors can have weird tactics that may or may not impact top athletes more than others.
Sean: I have to think that the heat and pace really hurt her and a number of other athletes too. So many people had to run hard in the prelims that I expected a few to struggle today anyway. Then with such a quick pace, it’s tough to be too disappointed in anyone who didn’t have it today.
Sam: Do you guys think that Hull is regretting not running the 5000 as well?
Maura: I don’t think she will regret not running the 5k. She has shown remarkable closing speed this season in the 1500. Hull looked comfortable until the final 150 meters, Johnson just had that extra gear and timed her final kick perfectly.
3000 Steeplechase Finals
Sean: We should never doubt Allie O. That’s all.
Sam: She’s still not going to win the 5000.
Sean: If you watched Ostrander’s interview, she makes it super clear that the heat really hurts. Probably the funniest quote I’ve ever seen after a race, but yes she’s going to really struggle to double back.
Maura: Prouse the runner-up again. She closed well after leading early in the race. I was hoping Erica Birk-Jarvis would’ve finished 2nd, but that fall on the water jump hurt her. I wonder if Birk-Jarvis will regret focusing on the steeple rather than the 5k.
Sam: In my opinion, Birk made the right choice. Had she not fallen, I think she would have been runner-up.
Sam: I think my livestream is behind because I watched you type that and then heard the quote about 30 seconds later… Also Ostrander, Cohen, and Prouse are all coming back for the 5000 I believe. Do any of them make the podium?
Sean: I really think no one is going to survive the double. You just can’t cool down and then warm-up easily enough especially since there’s still a trophy celebration.
Sean: I want to give huge props to Rebekah Topham of Wichita State. She was off the back by 15-20 meters in the first two laps and she managed to pull back four runners to get 8th. It’s awesome to see people run their own race and not be persuaded into trying to rush a game plan that won’t work for them.
Maura: Agreed about Topham. I didn’t think she would work her way up after that, but she is a patient runner. Topham redshirted last year to focus on improving in the steeplechase and it looks to have paid off for her.
Sam: Topham might have had the most impressive performance of anyone in the race. Ostrander ran great, but that was about what we expected.
Sean: I’d probably pick Hannah Steelman for the best race above projection in this one, but Topham and Prouse definitely deserve honorable mentions there. Wofford track and field is pretty much unheard of outside of Steelman so it’s awesome to see them get some success.
Sam: That’s one thing I enjoy about these conversations. Many of the athletes who don’t win tend to get overlooked and it’s great to mention their performances since they ran great races.
Maura: Let’s just take a look to next year real quick: Does Allie O. win a 4th steeple title?
Sam: I picked Cohen this year and was way off… so yes - Ostrander fourpeats.
Sprints Appreciation Section
Sean: 12.40!!! Janeek Brown runs what I think is a world lead. Clearly this track environment is wonderful for the sprints and it’s great to see that this stadium is allowing the times that we would expect in the sprints here. The rest of the times were smoking fast too as Brissett goes 12.52 for 2nd which is still an NCAA All-Time Top 10 performance.
Sam: On that note, I’m glad they finally moved the meet from Eugene. While the atmosphere and weather of Oregon is certainly much better for distance events, it isn’t usually ideal for sprinters. The meet in Austin has seen many times close or better than collegiate records which is incredible. Moreover, even when distance conditions are good, how often do you see an honest race at Nationals?
Maura: One thing that draws me to watching the sprinters is the way they appear to recover quickly from one race, where they run extremely fast times, and do it all over again.
Sean: Add another “Wow” to what is becoming a stellar NCAA Championships. Sha’Carri Richardson just absolutely crushed it. Absolutely amazing.
Maura: 10.75! How does someone even move their legs that fast? And Richardson is only a freshman. Just wait, she is coming back for the 200.
Sam: And she threw her arms up the last 5-10 meters… Can we have NCAA's in warm weather every year? Or at least alternate between two places...
Sean: It’s tough to explain exactly how sprinters can 1) celebrate and still maintain their speed and 2) come back and run so quickly in a second event, but it’s all about race management. Sha’Carri can celebrate with her arms because she still actively applies force into the ground efficiently and in the correct positions. On the second, since 100's and 200's never force you to enter the aerobic energy system, as long as you can control your body heat throughout your warm-up/cool down and then work to eliminate the lactic acid from your legs, you’re in great shape to recover for a 2nd or 3rd race.
Sam: My comment on the arms was mainly to point out she might have been able to run a little faster...
Sean: Wadeline Jonathas has to be one of the best Division I/III stories of the year. Jonathas transferred to South Carolina last year after setting a number of sprint records at the Division III levels. For her to transfer into the SEC and make such an impact is a great reminder of the quality of NCAA athletics across all divisions, her talent, and the coaches at South Carolina
Sam: According to the internet, the wind at the stadium right now is 3 to 4 mph. Seems like fairly ideal conditions for multi-lap events.
Sean: Seeing Cockrell come back after what was certainly a lackluster hurdles race for her is awesome. Her form is very good as you could see with her ability to switch legs smoothly and not stutter. In the grand scheme of things, this race isn’t the most impressive result we’ve seen in comparison to some world leading performances from earlier, but she dominated the race.
Sam: Getting the win is going to be key in the team race as well. Arkansas has Taylor Werner and Devin Clark in the 5000. This could come down to the 4 x 4...
Sean: That was such a close race and very fast! Annelus got a huge lean at the tape to get the win. Richardson leaned just a little bit too early, but couldn’t keep the lean quite as forward. Plus a World Junior Record for Richardson?! That’s a great race.
Maura: A World Lead for Annelus and she picks up some crucial points for USC. This run came after she finished 7th in the 100m, quite the comeback.
Sean: And according to USTFCCCA, Janeek Brown runs the fastest 100 hurdles/200 single day double in the history of the world.
Sam: At this point, they have to start having NCAA's in hotter places… As a distance runner at heart, these sprints have been beyond exciting.
Maura: I think a fitting place could be Drake University (Des Moines, Iowa). At this time of year in the Midwest, it can be hot during the day and cools off nicely at night. Humidity could be an issue, but Austin has ridiculous humidity levels as well.
Sam: Fray. Is. Back.
Maura: Fray’s move to the right really kept Nia Akins from passing in the final 50 meters. Fray dictated that race from the beginning and she never looked stressed.
Sean: Yeah, as a Penn alum, that move out to the edge of lane two seems really close to impeding, but that’s still a huge race from Fray and Akins. Pretty incredible racing. PR's from Allie Wilson and Susan Ejore too which are easy to miss with the two breaking 2:02 up front.
Sam: When they hit 400 meters, Ejore looked really strong and I thought she was maybe going to pull out the win.
Maura: With just shy of 200 meters to go, Avi’ Tal Wilson-Perteete tried to make a pass on the inside, but Fray shut her down, which was smart. Wilson-Perteete still finished 3rd, but I think that if she had been on the outside, her pass may have been successful.
Sean: It’s tough not to root for Taylor Werner after hearing her story. She puts absolutely everything on the line for her team and you can just see the heart that she races with. Proud to see her get 2nd and score a total of 13 points for the Razorbacks over the championships.
Sam: Jones looked like she was cruising the entire time, even in that last 100 meters. Huge race by Werner. Not surprised with Kelati fading - the 10,000 can do some damage in the heat.
Maura: You really have to watch out for Jones and that kick. She had herself in good positioning that entire race, patiently waiting for when she wanted to make her move. Werner bounced back from the 10k well to really make Jones work in the final lap.
Sam: Jones made a key move to avoid being boxed in by Werner with right around a lap to go. Smart tactics by Werner, smart cover by Jones. Overall it was a great race and Werner arguably had the most impressive performance in the field given she way outperformed her projection and bounced back in the heat.
Sean: It’s tough to find fault in any of the race tactics from this one. Smith probably thought she could divide the field enough to earn herself a medal. It worked, but she just couldn’t hold off the field as they came back to her.
Maura: Besides Steelman finishing 8th, look at the other four women who ran the steeple: Prouse finished 15th, Ostrander 16th, and Cohen and Clark DNF. The 5k/10k double doesn’t seem as tough now...
Sean: Race of the day has to go to Hannah Steelman! Just like Maura said, everyone fell apart from the steeple but her. For Steelman to grab two First-Team All-American finishes is so impressive. When Allie Ostrander struggles to make the double, you know that it’s tough.
Maura: Esther Gitahi was a surprise finish in 3rd and walks away with a five second PR. Plus, you’ve got Josette Norris in 4th place. Two women who were not considered favorites, but both ended up beating Kelati.