The performances lists for the men's and women's National Championships have been unveiled (which you can find on our ENTRIES page by clicking here) and there is plenty to talk about. Below, we break down some of the more interesting scratches (or non-scratches) that are on the list of declarations...
Nuguse, Davis scratch the mile to...be fresh for the DMR? Ryan and Ritz have their prayers answered
After watching Yared Nuguse cruise to an ACC mile title in a time of 3:57, it seemed like a no-brainer that he would run the mile/DMR double at Nationals. However, that doesn't appear to be the case as Nuguse has scratched from the event. After finishing runner-up last year in the distance medley, the Notre Dame men must feel exceptionally confident that they can contend for a national title if everyone is fresh. And honestly, they should feel confident. They did, after all, run the second fastest DMR ever just two weeks ago.
It is a similar scenario for Illinois' Jonathan Davis who is scratching the mile for the DMR. After an ugly mile prelim at the BIG 10 Championships where he failed to make the finals, the Fighting Illini' may feel like they can be serious All-American contenders with Davis completely fresh on the anchor.
Outside of those two, the rest of the scratches are relatively unsurprising. James West and Joe Klecker both scratched out of this event, leaving Stanovsek and Haney in qualifying position. Rogers, Grijalva, Teare, and Ostberg also opted out of the mile (which we anticipated), leaving Washington State's Paul Ryan and Columbia's Sam Ritz to round out the top 16 in the field.
If you're not already doing the math, it took eight scratches for Sam Ritz to qualify for Nationals.
Hoare and Mau to attempt mile/3k double, a DMR attempt remains unclear
The somewhat ridiculous, but realistic theory of both Hoare and Mau attempting the mile/3k/DMR triple is still alive, although we recently suggested in our Scratch Tracker projections that Hoare (along with McDonald) will scratch from the DMR. We will find out if that is the case 10 days from now.
Regardless, Hoare and Mau running both of their open events indicates that the Badgers and Hoosiers are looking to score as many team points as possible at the National Championships. If Hoare and/or Mau end up scratching the DMR, then they will be just as fresh as the rest of the men in the mile finals.
Festus Lagat scratches 800
I didn't expect anyone to scratch out of the 800, but Iowa State had different plans. The Cyclones must feel relatively confident about their chances in the DMR after deciding that Festus Lagat would be better off if he scratched from his open event. In return, Penn State's Domenic Perretta will qualify for the second national meet of his career.
No one scratches out of the top 16 in the 3k or 5k
With no scratches in the 3000, we are set to witness what might possibly be the most loaded 3k field in recent history. McDonald, Fisher, Kemboi, Klecker, and Hoare have all produced times under the 7:50 barrier and could realistically walk away with the national title.
As for the 5000, our crazy idea of BYU scratching two men (who were already qualified in the 3000) in order to get Linkletter into the national meet never came to fruition. It was a novel idea, but it required far too much to sacrifice.
Outside of the names we already mentioned, here are some of the top runners on our radar who we expected to qualify for Nationals when the season began, but did not...
- Avery Bartlett (Georgia Tech)
- John Lewis (Clemson)
- Aidan Tooker (Syracuse)
- Cameron Griffith (Arkansas) (but will run the DMR)
- Isai Rodriguez (Oklahoma State)
- Peter Seufer (Virginia Tech)
- Rory Linkletter (BYU)
- Nahom Solomon (Georgia Tech)
Rivers and Pocratsky opt out of mile for the 800
We preached a common message about the women's 800 and mile fields throughout the entire second half of the season. The 800 lacked the depth that the mile has, but it may have more firepower. Well, after the top three women in the mile ended up scratching, that certainly seems to be the case. The Power Five titans of Rivers and Pocratsky will attempt to knock down Norfolk State's Martha Bissah and Monmouth's Allie Wilson at Nationals in a little under two weeks. This could be a race that results in a near (or new) collegiate record.
Jessica Hull drops mile in favor of 3k
It felt like a near impossible task to figure out which event (if any) Hull was going to scratch from. Scratching the DMR significantly lowered Oregon's chances of earning a top All-American finish and likely led to lesser team points. Scratching the 3k forced her to race the mile prelim only a couple hours before the DMR. Scratching the mile took her out of the event that would end up being the most wide-open for an individual national title.
In other words, there was no perfect choice for Hull. Still, having the luxury to choose between three events is nice to have.
11 of the top 30 women scratch the mile
We have already spoken about the top names who aren't running the mile at Nationals, but what about everyone else? Five of the top 10 women in this event (six of the top 16) are racing something other than the mile at Nationals. It wasn't until the #25 seed (Sarah Feeny, Utah) that the NCAA selection committee was able to completely fill the field.
We also saw Whittni Orton (BYU), Taryn Rawlings (Portland), Alexis Fuller (Boise State), Makenzie Andrews (Akron), and Annie Fuller (Michigan State) all qualify thanks to scratches.
Gregory and Rainsberger to attempt mile/3k double
Arkansas' Lauren Gregory and Washington's Katie Rainsberger will be the only women to attempt the mile/3k double. Other top names in the NCAA like Hull, Hutchinson, Kelati, and Birk all had the chance to attempt the difficult double, but chose the 3k instead, an event that they were all clearly better off racing.
Although Rainsberger hasn't been exceptionally better in one race over the other, it feels like Gregory was clearly the better 3k runner with a season best of 8:55 (compared to her 4:32.92 mile). Of course, with so many top names scratching out of the mile, the Arkansas freshman has suddenly stumbled into the #3 seed for Nationals and has a legitimate chance of winning the national title.
As for Rainsberger, her double signifies more than just two races. With teammate Allie Schadler listed as a scratch deep into the performance list for the mile, it seems relatively safe to say that the Huskies are preparing for a relay without Rainsberger. Instead, we could see some combination of Schadler and Burdon racing in the distance medley on Friday night.
Ostrander & Lokedi in the 5k likely means no DMR
Ostrander's 3k/DMR experiment from last year's indoor national meet seems to be over. The Boise State superstar has decided to attempt the 5k/3k double instead, meaning that a DMR appearance is extremely improbable. Not only that, but it seems like other Bronco teammates such as Alexis Fuller and Kristie Schoffield are putting an emphasis on individual events as well. In this situation, it is possible that we will see some combination of Clare O'Brien and Emily Venters on the Boise State relay.
The same goes for Sharon Lokedi who did not scratch out of the 5k. As a result, she will likely not race the DMR unless the Kansas coaching staff believes that they have nothing to lose. She was unable to qualify in the 3k, so Lokedi will have nothing else to race after her 5k. Who knows? Maybe she does attempt two races within a 40 minute span...