NCAA XC national champion Parley Hannan currently holds the top time in Division Three in the mile, 3000 meters, and 5000 meters. Which event lead is the most impressive? Which event do you think she should focus on at the National Championships?
Hannah: I think the most impressive event lead is the mile. She ran a 4:54 at the Ithaca College Tri-Meet. The next fastest time is a 4:57. I think this is the most impressive because most people did not expect her to be a miler. After such a strong cross country season, it was expected that Hannan would be a national contender in events like the 3000 meters and the 5000 meters, but the mile was a little bit more unexpected.
I think she should focus on the 3000 meters and 5000 meters at the national meet. This 4:54 shows that she could win these races if they went out fast or if she had to sit-and-kick. The mile just seems to be unpredictable and I think she should focus on the longer distances.
Brett: I agree with Hannah, her mile was very impressive. While I think that she would gravitate more towards the longer distance events, her range has been quite impressive this early on in the season. Even if others surpass her on the leaderboard over the coming weeks, Hannan has the ability to really shine in either the mile, 3k, or 5k. I do think its most likely that’ll we see her attempt the 5k/3k double at Indoor Nationals.
What is the most impressive result that you've seen so far this season?
Hannah: There are not a lot of surprising results that come from the women’s side. A lot of the top times come from women who were expected to have good seasons or who have been to the national meet before. I think one of the most impressive results is from Eva Borton from Williams who ran a 17:31 in the 5000 meters at the Conference College Cup Invite. It is the #7 fastest 5000 meter time in D3 right now, but it’s impressive because Borton is just a freshman. She was 22nd at the cross country national meet this past fall, so we knew she was good, but a 17:31 in January is definitely faster than what I expected. It looks like she has a very bright future...
Brett: I’ve got to go with Sean Lonergan from St. Olaf. He threw down a 4:13 mile at the Minnesota Open, which puts him at the top of the D3 leaderboard. He took 6th at Indoor Nationals in the mile last year, as well as 5th at Outdoor Nationals in the 1500 meters, so I’m not too surprised by this mark, but it is quite impressive for this early in the season. He should be a prime contender in the mile as he looks to improve upon last year’s finish.
Showing their impressive depth from cross country, the North Central men have five men in the top 10 in the 5000 meters and have multiple other runners in the top 20 in other distance events. In a similar vein, the Johns Hopkins women have four women in the top 12 in the mile, five in the top 17 in the 3000 meters, and six in the top 22 in the 5000 meters. How many runners will each team qualify to the national meet in the distance events?
Hannah: I think that the North Central men will qualify five men, but some men will likely double up on events. Guys like Gabriel Pommier and Matt Osmulski have the best chance of being All-Americans, but I'm not sure I see the Cardinals having a national title winner this winter.
For Johns Hopkins, I think they will qualify six women, but have multiple athletes double at the national meet. Sam Levy and Rebecca Grusby are currently set to qualify for more than one event and I would not be surprised if more follow suit. I believe they have a better chance of having more All-Americans than North Central. I predict that they will walk away with four top 8 finishes, including one in the DMR.
Brett: For the Cardinals, I think we’ll see the trio of Pommier, Osmulski, and Nick Licari qualify in the 5k. Those three ran a terrific 5k at their home track together just a few weeks ago, and they could utilize those team dynamics on the national stage. It wouldn’t even surprise me to see Pommier dabble in the mile or 3k, seeing as though he qualified in the mile last year.
I think those three guys have good chances of earning All-American finishes in whatever they qualify in. North Central has also put together an All-American DMR the last couple of years, so it would not surprise me to see them pull that off once again.
As for Johns Hopkins, they have a slew of women who have run great times already this season, and have more chances to improve upon that. Sam Levy, Rebecca Grusby, and Felicia Koener have run impressive marks in the 5k while Levy, Grusby, Koener, Ariel Keklak, and Ella Baran have held their own in the 3k. All of those aforementioned names (sans Grusby) have also posted very solid mile performances. There is potential for all five of those previously mentioned Blue Jays to qualify for the national meet.
In terms of what events they would run, it’s a total tossup. All of those women have strong range from the mile up to the 5k, and running as a team in multiple events could be extremely dangerous for the rest of their D3 counterparts.
What have been some of the most exciting races of this indoor track season?
Hannah: This past weekend, we saw Tyler Nault from UW-LaCrosse and Matthew Wilkinson from Carleton duel it out at the Stout Open in the 3000 meters. Wilkinson walked away with a time of 8:18 while Nault ran only one second behind in a time of 8:19. Those are the #2 and #3 fastest times in D3 currently.
For women, they do not have one particular race that stands out like the men. However, I think Felicia Koerner’s 17:34 in the 5000 meters at the George Mason Patriot Games is exciting because the perennial national qualifier did not run this past cross country season. The senior from Johns Hopkins currently holds the #9 fastest time in D3, and while that might not be mind-blowing, Koerner still has the national meet experience that very few have. She can add yet another All-American possibility to Johns Hopkins' already very deep team.
Brett: The men’s 800 meters at the Wheaton Invitational out in Massachusetts was quite the competitive affair. Five of the top nine times in D3 were run at this meet, led by George Papoulis’ 1:53.60. He was followed by Benjamin Steeves (1:54.49), Josiah Davis (1:54.69), Matt D’Anieri (1:54.80), and Nick Delaney (1:55.46). For an early season meet, this was a pretty competitive and deep field.
Many fast times, for both the men and women, come from meets that were held in December after the cross country season. Which event will see the most shakeup before the national meet?
Hannah: For men, I think the 800 meter will see some major shakeups before Nationals. Three of the top four times are from meets held on December 7th. With a lot of the women’s 800 meters standings changing this past week, I think it’s only time until the men’s rankings follow suit.
On the women’s side, the 5000 meters is filled with times from December. Four of the top five times and (many other marks in the top 25) come from December meets. It makes sense because at the time, a lot of these women were coming off of successful cross country seasons and were looking to utilize their fitness. I am hoping that a few more fast 5000 meter performances are produced before Nationals next month.
Brett: There’s a part of me that wants to say every distance event, mainly because there are still plenty more weeks to come in the season. Of course, if I had to choose just one, then I think both the men and women will see a lot of shake up in the 5000 meters over the next few weeks. There are many athletes who have found major success in cross country who haven't attempted the 5k quite yet, and many meets in January don’t have a lot of fast 5k’s set up. As we roll into February, we should see some quick 5000 meter times piling onto the D3 leaderboard.