Updated: Mar 13, 2019
More impressive season: Hull or Monson?
Sean: I have to go with Monson. I’m not sure I want to compare Hull and Monson’s performances generally, but I think Monson’s season was more impressive because it was less expected. Hull is expected to be #1 while Monson was still in the contenders group. 8:45.97 is really fast too...
Michael: I agree that Monson had the more impressive season. Her win in the 3k at Millrose was dominant and she followed that up with great performances at BIG 10’s and NCAA's. There’s no doubt Hull was impressive this season, but before this year, Monson wasn’t a contender. That sets her apart from Hull, who already had a national title.
Sam: I am also on the Monson bandwagon. Both had incredible seasons, but I think we knew Hull could be good on the track whereas Monson was a bit of a wild card. She had been to NCAA's before, but never had much of a presence until this year. This season she proved her cross country performances were no fluke and that’s why I would give her the edge over Hull.
Ben: Where do expectations come into this question? Monson certainly exceeded expectations while Hull ran as expected. I think Hull had the better season, but Monson certainly raised her stock the most this season.
Garrett: Wow, really? I get that Monson had that monster 3k at Millrose, but Hull never lost this season. She dominated every distance with relative ease. Even when the pace was fast, she was still throwing down incredible finishing kicks. Her range, consistency, tactics...everything was flawless.
Sean: Ben, my definition of impressive here is which season left the greatest impression on me. Since Monson’s expectations were lower, I would say their seasons were equal, but Monson’s left a greater impression on me.
Ben: I completely agree with that using biggest impression as the definition. I wasn’t sure how real Monson was after cross, but she proved me very wrong this year.
Sam: That’s a good point Garrett. I think like Sean and Ben said, Monson was more surprising and impressionable whereas we all expected Hull to be really good. It will be interesting to compare come outdoors now that we’ve seen them both on grass and the track...
Who are you looking forward to seeing outdoors that we didn’t see much of during indoors?
Garrett: Dani Jones is the clear answer, right? At least on the women’s side. She redshirted the 2018 outdoor track season as well as this past indoor season and should contend for the national title in the 1500...alongside Jessica Hull.
Sean: Freezing my butt of outside during the first meets while hurdlers try not to pull a hamstring in 30 degree weather. Oh, that doesn’t count, does it?
Garrett: If that’s what makes you happy Sean, then we can’t get in the way of that!
Sean: It does not make me happy. In fact it makes my hamstrings cry. For a real answer, I’m excited for more championship racing. NCAA Regionals are a fascinating experience and there’s just so many more opportunities for strategic races with conferences, Regionals and NCAA's. Indoor has a bunch of strategy too with all the weird distances that are run at conference meets (I’m looking at you BIG 12 with the 600 yard), but outdoor just has a different feel.
Michael: This may be too obvious, but I’m pumped to watch the steeplechase this year. It should be relatively wide open on both sides and we rarely see a disappointing race at Nationals. Aside from that, I’m just excited to see more major meets around the country. Meets like Payton Jordan and the Drake Relays bring in athletes from all over the NCAA, and indoors we really only see these huge meets at UW and BU. I enjoy the environment of these huge meets and some of the crazy results that they yield.
Ben: On the men’s side, I’m excited to see Brodey Hasty run more. I think he is capable of throwing down a good 5k, but his best event will most likely be the 10k where he could make some noise. Honestly, I’m excited to see everyone at NAU run more in outdoors. For the women, I look forward to seeing Sean’s draft pick Stanford freshman Caitlin Collier run outdoors and become one of the favorites in the 800.
Sam: My initial answer was Dani Jones, but since Garrett already covered that, it should be fun to see how well Katrina Robinson of Arkansas does in her track debut. She was one of the biggest surprises of the cross country season and it was disappointing (especially for my fantasy team) that she didn’t run indoors. I imagine she will run the 1500 and maybe an occasional 5000...right?
Garrett: As for the men, I’m with Michael on this one and am choosing the steeplechase. I think the Syracuse duo of Tooker and Affolder are going to be extremely fun to watch. They could challenge Obsa Ali for the national title and potentially go 1-2 if everything clicks.
Sean: I forgot about the steeple, but that’s a great point on the Syracuse duo and the steeplechase in general. For individuals, add Christina Aragon to the list.
Grade the men’s national meet in terms of overall performances and general entertainment.
Garrett: Hoppel’s win was fun, but nothing in that 800 really shocked or wow’d me like it did last year. The mile was wildly entertaining, especially with Beamish and Comber finishing ahead of Hoare. The 5k was a bit predictable, but the 3k and DMR left us with two great kicks that left me on the edge of my seat. Not quite as fun as last year’s outdoor national meet, but it wasn’t bad by any means. Official grade: B-
Sam: To give it an A, McDonald would have needed to be upset in at least one race. That said, everything else was great from an entertainment aspect. From a personal standpoint, seeing my former youth track teammate Payton Otterdahl win both throws was crazy. Assuming we are accounting for all races, I was actually most excited to watch Grant Holloway in the hurdles. That guy brings an electric energy to the meet and seeing him win two titles was nuts. Official grade: A-
Michael: Pretty much every race gave us an exciting finish, whether that was Morgan McDonald pulling away for a dominant win in the 5k or Yared Nuguse beating Grant Fisher in the final steps of the DMR. Going beyond the distance side, Grant Holloway’s performances were incredible to watch. The energy he brings to races is unparalleled and seems to get everyone in the building hyped. Official grade: A-
Ben: I agree with Sam that McDonald losing to Fisher or Klecker would have spiced the meet up a bit more. The mile was awesome, and I loved seeing Hoppel win the 800. The DMR was fantastic, but the way McDonald pulled away from the field so easily in the 3k and 5k took away from the drama. In addition, we didn’t see blazing fast times which isn’t surprising in championship races, but it would have been nice to see. Official grade: B+
Sean: As much as I hate saying this, the NCAA meet did not bring us the story lines we expected with a number of letdowns. We expected some big results from Hoare, Dixon, and Mau to name a few and all three of those didn’t turnout super well. It was amazing to see upsets and surprises and have Heppenstall earn a seventh straight All-American result, but I don’t think we will look back and remember any of these races as all-time stories or races. Still a great meet, just misses on the legacy factor. Official grade: B-
Grade the women’s national meet in terms of overall performances and general entertainment.
Garrett: The 800 was so much fun to watch. I would have loved to see Akins come away with the win, but we still got a super tight finish. Rizk’s win was nice, but you have to ask yourself if there really was a national title favorite in that race. As for the rest of the races, they were a bit predictable. Monson winning the 5k and Hull throwing down two big kicks to take home two wins was fine, but anyone who follows the sport could have told you that those were realistic outcomes. Official grade: C
Sam: The women’s meet just did not feel as exciting to me. The lack of the biggest names in the mile kind of hurt that event and although Rizk had a great showing, it wasn’t quite the spectacle I was hoping for after last year’s duel between Purrier and Jones. Like Garrett said, the 800 was great and by far the race of the meet on the women’s side. The 3k and 5k were fairly predictable and the DMR could have been closer. It wasn’t a bad meet by any means, just not as exciting as the men’s. Official grade: C
Michael: Aside from the 800, the women’s side didn’t produce as many tight finishes as the men’s. While seeing people lean at the line to get a title isn’t the only thing that goes into a great meet, I just didn’t find myself on the edge of my seat quite as much as I had hoped. I had high expectations for this meet that weren’t quite met. That said, we still saw a bunch of women run fast times and cement themselves as some of the best in the NCAA. Official grade: B-
Ben: To echo what everyone else has said, the 800 was awesome with a crazy finish and some weird race tactics. The DMR was fun to watch just to see if Birk could take down Hull, but the rest wasn’t great. Everything else was fine, not good, not great, just fine. Official grade: B-
Sean: I don’t have much more to say on this, but I really don’t think this was any less interesting than the men’s. Okay, maybe just a little bit. Just remember, a NCAA Championship is worth the same no matter what grades we give it are. Official grade: C+
Bold predictions for outdoors?
Garrett: The Oregon men will send SEVEN different distance runners to the national meet. Coach Thomas is for real and so is that group of milers.
Sam: Joe Klecker wins an NCAA title. As for non-distance…Gant Holloway goes sub-13 in the 110m hurdles.
Sean: The Arkansas women will earn 30 points in the distance events. Adding a non-distance prediction as well, Mondo Duplantis vaults 6.10m.
Michael: Grant Fisher will run the 1500 at NCAA's for the first time in his career.
Ben: Ohh I like that one.
Garrett: As for the women, Dani Jones will move up in distance to the 5000 and/or Weini Kelati will drop down in distance to the 1500. One of those is bound to be right so don’t say I didn’t tell you!
Ben: Kyle Mau scores 16 points at Nationals.
Sean: Stanford earns four NCAA distance individual titles. Two women and two men. And one of those titles for the men won't go to Grant Fisher.
Garrett: These are awfully bold...but I am here for it.