The Group Chat: Gauging D3 Elites (Part One)

Discussion by Brett Haffner & Hannah Thorn

Parley Hannan continued her reign of excellence over Division Three this past weekend with an astounding 16:05 over 5000 meters at Boston University, obliterating the D3 record in the process. What does this performance say about her dominance going into championship season?

Brett: I’d go so far as to say that she’s the most dominant runner for her respective division. Nobody in Division One or Two has taken hold of their division like Hannan has, this dominance is incredible. In our last update, she was leading the mile, 3k, and 5k - that hasn’t changed since then. What has changed is extending her 5k lead by 42 seconds over the next fastest woman in Division Three. Now, she is also part of the fastest DMR in D3 with her fellow Ithaca teammates (which she also did at Boston University this past weekend).

Hannah: No one doubted that Hannan was going to be good coming into this indoor season after she won the cross country national title, but I don’t think anyone saw this type of dominance coming. The last athlete I can remember being this dominant in Division Three was Wadeline Jonathas when she won the 60 meter dash, the 200 meters, the 400 meters, and the long jump at the indoor national meet in 2018. The hardest question isn’t will she win another national title, but which event will she win it in.

Hannan is currently the national leader in the mile, 3k, 5k and DMR in Division Three. This brings up an interesting question: Could she run three events at Nationals?

Brett: In Division Three, the 3k prelims, mile prelims, 5k final and DMR final all happen on the same day, which makes it very tough to complete some distance doubles/triples. As I said last time, I think Hannan’s incredible talent will propel her to a strong 3k/5k double at Nationals.

Now, after Hannan showed her dominance to a whole new level with her record-breaking 5k, along with Ithaca’s impressive DMR, I think that my previous opinion could be furthered just a little bit. It might be a really hot take, but I think that she could potentially triple at Nationals with a DMR added on. Even so, in whatever combination of events she decides to do, it would shock me to see her lose an individual event at Nationals.

Hannah: Let’s just say it is insane that we are even talking about her running three events at Nationals. Most athletes struggle to double, so adding in a third event would be risky, but Hannan could do it. It would be extremely difficult for her to run the 3000 meter prelims and mile prelims as they are separated by only 50 minutes. I would say she could run the 3000 meters, 5000 meters and DMR. She would need the 5000 meters to get out slow and just out-kick the field to save as much energy as possible for the mile leg of the DMR. It would be such a tough route to go down, but it would be so much fun for the fans to watch, so I am all for it.

Aside from Parley Hannan, there is another name who has taken the D3 middle distance world by storm: Sydney Packard. The senior from WPI ran 2:06.54 in the 800 meters at Boston University this past weekend. Is she the new favorite to win the 800 at Nationals?

Brett: As Michael pointed out in the BU Valentine Preview, Packard was seeded at 2:06 when her previous PR was 2:08. Her and her coaches must have known she was ready to go, and she proved herself in a huge way this weekend. She now holds a 4.6 second lead over everyone else in Division Three. I think she’s the clear favorite thus far.

In addition, she also was listed as running the DMR with her fellow Worcester Polytechnic Institute teammates, taking a close 4th behind Ithaca, MIT and Williams. Could we see a potential 800/DMR double from Packard at Nationals? I’d say the odds are likely.

Hannah: Packard missed the Division Three record set by former Ohio Northern and current NYNJ Track Club runner Emily Richards by .01 seconds. That gap of 4.6 seconds is a huge lead, especially in an event as short as the 800 meters, so I would have to say that she is definitely the favorite to win. However, the 800 is often an unpredictable event as you have to get through prelims and Packard will most likely be running a leg of the DMR. So while she is a huge favorite, you never know what will happen.

Other than superstars Hannan and Packard, who are some of the other contenders who could perform well at the National Championships?

Brett: On the middle distance side, there are two women that I’d like to highlight: Alexis Gray of Wittenberg and Evie Bultemyer of Trine.

Gray currently ranks 2nd in the 800 meters with a 2:12.68 and she’s won every individual race she’s competed in so far in the track season, ranging from the 400 meters to the 800 meters. If she can keep that up, her pure middle distance talent may really help propel her to her first National Championship, as well as a low-end All-American finish, too.

After her 8th place finish at the NCAA XC Championships, Bultemeyer has been on a tear around the oval thus far. However, instead of the distance events, she has developed into a legitimate threat in both the 800 meters and the mile, ranking at NCAA #3 in the 800 (2:11.96) and NCAA #2 in the mile (4:53). If Parley Hannan elects to not run the mile at the national meet, Bultemyer could prove to be one of the title favorites. It wouldn’t surprise me to see her potentially go for an 800/mile double at the national meet.

Hannah: Felicia Koerner from Johns Hopkins is back. The senior ran a Division Three #2 time in the 3000 meters this past weekend at the BU David Hemery Valentine Invitational. Koerner ran 9:43.29 which ranks only behind Hannan. With Hannan possibly focusing on other events, Koerner could be the favorite when scratches are released.

One interesting note about Koerner’s 9:43 is that it is actually well off of her PR of 9:24. That PR was run at this same meet in 2017 and she then went on to place 2nd at the national meet that year. She did not run track and field or cross country in 2019, so this is her first competitive season in over a year. If Koerner continues to gain fitness and sharpen her racing skills, then she'll be a legitimate contender at the national meet.

Last question because we miss cross country. Who is translating their success from this past cross country season to the indoor oval the best?

Brett: Genny Corcoran competed very strongly against Parley Hannan this past fall and she is continuing that hot streak this winter. She ran a 16:47 5k at Boston University this past weekend, which puts her as NCAA #2 on the D3 leaderboard. She’s also ranked at NCAA #5 in the 3000 meters, throwing down a 9:49 earlier this month.

If there’s anyone who has a shot to trounce Parley Hannan this season, my odds would lean strongly towards Corcoran.

Hannah: This is a little debatable, but I would say Clara Mayfield from Carleton. The freshmen finished “only” 30th at the cross country national meet this fall, but she has been so impressive this indoor season. She ranks at NCAA #7 with a 9:55 in the 3000 meters and NCAA #10 with a 17:22 in the 5000 meters. She is the top ranked freshman in the 3k meters and is 0.12 seconds away from that same honor in the 5k. There is a chance she becomes a double All-American in her first indoor national meet.