Alexis Fuller of Boise State led all collegiate finishers with a 2:06.40 which slates her at an NCAA #12 placing. This is a PR for Fuller who has focused on the mile and 5k in the past, but is dropping down in distance to the benefit of the Boise State DMR. Gabby Crank of Texas was the only other college athlete under 2:07 with her 2:06.72, but has a personal best from last weekend of 2:04.50. In total, 31 athletes (including pros and unattached) broke the 2:12 barrier.
Sinclaire Johnson of Oklahoma State might earn performer of the week honors based on her double in the DMR and mile. Johnson was the top collegiate finisher in 4:35.62 to narrowly beat out Boise State’s Allie Ostrander who finished in 4:35.79. The fact that Johnson was able to do this two days in a row means that Johnson is a legitimate national contender.
Moving into the season, there were certainly questions on Oklahoma State’s position after a disappointing end to XC season; that seems to have changed. There were no questions as to Allie O’s strength and this 4:35 is almost expected at this point. It’s nice to see Ostrander focus on the shorter events as her max speed will always be the biggest question with the Boise State star. Sinclaire and Ostrander are NCAA #8 and #9 so far in 2019.
Katie Rainsberger represented the home team well with her 4:36.76 to edge Portland’s Taryn Rawlings and BYU’s Erica Birk who also broke 4:37. Whittni Orton of BYU was next across the line with her 4:38.46. These four are currently NCAA #11 - #14 and will need to improve slightly to qualify for the NCAA meet.
This race was certainly a breakout performance for Orton and Birk in 2019 as both have been under the radar this season, especially with the high number of returning NCAA champions. Fiona O’Keeffe of Stanford was the last runner to break 4:40 with her 4:39.71. O’Keeffe skipped the DMR the weekend but this result shows that she could handle that role if Christina Aragon chooses another event.
Like in the 800, there was a ton of quality results as 32 total athletes broke 4:50.Washington’s duo of Allie Schadler and Lilli Burdon certainly deserve recognition for running 4:40 and 4:42 as does Dana Klein of San Francisco for running 4:42. Kristi Schoffield of Boise State stepped up to the mile this week to run 4:43.43, but will likely return to the 800 for most of the season since she qualified in that event during outdoors.
NCAA #1 mark time! Abbie McNulty appeared not to be too rattled by Stanford’s travel difficulties as she dropped a 9:05.66 to top the NCAA ranks. McNulty was absent from Stanford's XC season in 2018, but has returned for a number of quality races in 2019 and only adds to the Cardinal’s depth. The addition of McNulty into the NCAA picture might actually push Stanford into contention for the NCAA team title conversation after they narrowly missed the outdoors title in 2018.
Boise State’s depth is also incredibly strong and that showed with Emily Venters taking the 2nd place NCAA finish and overall NCAA #3 in 9:08.66. Clare O’Brien was the 4th collegiate athlete across the line in 9:11.48 for NCAA #5 as well. Predicting what Boise State is going to do later in the season is getting much more difficult as they continue to push up the rankings individually and in the DMR.
Washington’s Isobel Batt-Doyle finished in 9:09.30 to split the Boise State duo. She earned herself a NCAA #4 ranking in the process. BYU’s Olivia Hoj ran 9:11.75 to slip right behind O’Brien and earned an NCAA #6 position.
Of the times above, McNulty is probably the only one who could qualify with her mark from this weekend and that’s a little bit of a stretch. Regardless, all five of these results established this group as a quintet of possible spoilers for NCAA qualification and only bolsters the impressive depth of each school.
Caroline Kurgat of Alaska Anchorage absolutely crushed the NCAA DII record in this race to win in 15:28.46. Leading the DI marks was Angie Nickerson of Southern Utah who ran 16:12 (and doubled back in the 3k in 9:38) as she completed a good weekend of results.
Wow was this a race. Oklahoma State came out on top as Sinclaire Johnson unleashed an unbelievable anchor leg. In doing so, Johnson out-kicked Allie Ostrander and Erica Birk in what is certainly one of the most impressive results so far in 2019.
Oklahoma State’s team of Sughroue-Dixon-Dodd-Johnson blasted a 10:55.93 NCAA#1 which makes them the 10th fastest collegiate relay of all-time (if you includ oversized tracks). With Sughroue struggling a bit on the opening leg, this mean Oklahoma State could be making a challenge on the NCAA record books if she improves.
Boise State’s quartet of Fuller-Menegatti-Schoffield-Ostrander was close behind in 10:56.42 while BYU’s Orton-Ellsworth-Ellsworth-Birk grouping narrowly missed 2nd with a time of 10:56.51. Boise State and BYU are NCAA #2 and NCAA #3. These times are exceptional results for this early in the season and really challenge our ideas of where these athletes might end up at NCAA's. Members of all three of these teams should be considered as major contenders for an individual NCAA title. However, I can’t see any of the teams earning a DMR victory without their full squads from this weekend.
Washington’s quartet also earned a likely NCAA qualifier (NCAA#5) with an 11:00.35 from Katie Rainsberger, Imani Apostol, Hannah Derby, and Lilli Burdon. Washington and the 2018 Oregon team have seemed to favor Burdon anchoring over Rainsberger; however, I would like Rainsberger to close out the race as she anchored the collegiate record race in 2017 which Burdon led off. Doubles and triples will certainly play a factor in the final decision, but Rainsberger deserves another shot on anchor.
Washington deserves an additional shout-out for placing a B team at 11:20 and a C team at 11:36. That’s exceptional depth for any program...
Penn State National
What a race it was at Penn State as collegiate record holder Danae Rivers returned to her home track after her blazing 1000 meter race two weeks ago. Rivers went head-to-head with Norfolk State’s Martha Bissah. The entire seeded section of that race went out in 60 seconds on a mission for the NCAA #1 mark. That quick early pace hurt sub-2:05 performers Kaya Knake and Nia Akins who really struggled in the final lap to place 9th (2:10.85) and 4th (2:08.14) for UMBC and Penn, respectively.
Bissah and Rivers however, were completely unphased and pushed strong until the finish. Rivers was able to break away from Bissah in the 3rd lap and maintained that gap in the final trip around the oval to become the first and only woman under the 2:03 barrier in the collegiate ranks this season at 2:02.94. Bissah maintained a solid race for herself in 2:04.27 and earned an NCAA #4 mark. Bissah’s outdoor PR is only 2:03.75 so this was an extremely good race for her and puts her in strong contention for a trip to Birmingham.
The best time in the 1000 came from the unseeded section from Hayley Johnson of West Virginia in 2:48.70. Lauren Trumble of Vermont won the invitational section in 2:50.32.
Josette Norris of Georgetown upset her teammates by taking the victory in 4:46.04.
High schooler Marlee Starliper schooled the collegiate field to become a US Top 10 All-Time performer at 3k, but behind her was a group of solid performances. Penn State claimed three sub-9:50 finishers led by top collegian Moria O’Shea in 9:33.
Danae Rivers began her campaign for NCAA qualifying this weekend with her anchor leg for the Penn State DMR. She, alongside teammates Marissa Sheva, Alexis Holmes, Victoria Tachinski, set the NCAA leading mark Friday night before being surpassed later in the weekend. Their time of 11:09.85 is good for NCAA #7, but will need to improve by at least five or six seconds to truly challenge for NCAA contention.
The seeded section of this race felt loaded with LSU’s Katy-Ann McDonald and Ersula Farrow, Gabrielle Wilkinson of Florida, and Jasmine Staebler of Iowa State, but the race was slightly underwhelming.
Ersula Farrow gapped the field almost immediately in the textbook LSU "lead-from-the-front" style we often saw from Natoya Goule in the past. That strategy worked out well for the Tiger, taking her 2nd victory in as many weeks with an NCAA #6 time of 2:05.45 while teammate McDonald took 2nd in the televised section in 2:07.41.
McDonald has run 2:03 outdoors before and should gain confidence based on placing more than time. Erinn Stenman-Fahey bested the rest of the field at 2:07.53 for Iowa State. Florida’s Wilkinson finished 4th in 2:07.85, Staebler of Iowa State earned 5th in 2:08.35, Arkansas’s Alexandra Byrnes placed 6th in 2:08.81 and Kaytlyn Larson of Oklahoma State rounded out the heat in 2:11.
But let’s talk about the unseeded section! Kansas State’s Kassidy Johnson surprised everyone to take the 2nd fastest time of the day in 2:06.92. This was a seven second improvement from the week before. I’m not sure what’s in the water in Manhattan, KS, but I want it. Johnson’s result has to put her in the conversation for best freshman in the nation.
Mississippi State’s Charlotte Cayton-Smith also beat out the entire seeded heat other than Farrow and Johnson. Cayton-Smith ran 2:07.17 and could be the next Mississippi State Bulldog to make a difference on the nation stage since Rhianwedd Price has graduated.
While the 800 may not have lived up to the hype, the mile most certainly did. Jessica Hull of Oregon ran an almost perfect even split to claim NCAA #1 4:31.03. Hull broke away from most of the field behind pacer Taylor Chiotti and never looked back. Hull did look to be straining for much of the race. The scary part for the rest of the NCAA is that if Hull can improve running more smoothly and efficiently, Hull could likely drop even more time. Her aerobic capacity is clearly still there, so any additional speed work will make a significant difference for the Oregon star.
Lauren Gregory of Arkansas was the first person to try to break away from the chase group at 800 and she succeeded. The Razorback reeled in Hull slowly over the final 400, but came up about two seconds short. Gregory still ran an NCAA #2 of 4:32.92.
Carina Viljoen, also of Arkansas, also closed hard in the final quarter to finish faster than anyone else in the field. Her final kick could prove important in a tactical race later in the season as she ran NCAA #5 at 4:33.88. Hull, Gregory, and Viljoen should all be considered locks in the NCAA qualifying picture based on 2018’s descending order list which saw 16th place at 4:36 and scratches down to 29th miler.
29th on that list? Susan Ejore. This year, the Oregon Duck will not have to wait for scratches (or at least not that many). Ejore took 4th in this race in 4:35.57 for NCAA #7, currently. Ejore did not have quite the kick of the Razorbacks who finished 2nd and 3rd, but Ejore should be very happy with a PR and confidence builder for both the mile and DMR moving forward.
This race marked the return of Taylor Werner. Werner had dealt with the side effects of a car accident for over a year and struggled some during the XC season because of it. Over the winter break, Werner appears to have had a procedure to eliminate much of the pain she had been dealing with, and finally earned a victory. Werner ran away from the field from the gun and beat the field by 17 seconds for 9:08.46 for NCAA #2. While that won’t be quite good enough for NCAA qualification later (most likely), Werner has returned to top contention in the NCAA. Arkansas teammate Maddy Reed had a breakout race for 4th in 9:27 as well.
Iowa State had a trio at 9:25, 9:26, and 9:27 led by freshman Callie Logue in 2nd overall. Amanda Vestri and Anne Frisbie followed their teammate for 3rd and 5th overall. Oregon’s Weronika Pyzik struggled much more than expected in 9:28.36 with Emma Benner of Purdue running 9:29 for 7th.
In the Florida vs. Oregon dual of a relay, Oregon looked to take the victory after holding a five second led after 1200. Jessica Hull led off with a solid 3:26 while Susan Ejore ran 2:05.13 on the 800 leg. Amanda Gehrich was chosen to anchor for Oregon, but could only split 4:48 for 1600. While Gehrich did improve with a 4:43 mile later in the weekend, this allowed Florida to take the victory behind a 4:42 from Jessica Pascoe on anchor. Gabrielle Wilkinson ra 2:06.92 for 800 for the Gators. Overall, Florida’s 11:15.59 was good for NCAA #9 and Oregon’s 11:17.54 earned them NCAA #11.
Dr. Sander Columbia Challenge
Allie Wilson of Monmouth ran her second 2:06 result in a row to win the meet at the Armory. She outraced Breanna Porter of BYU and Brittany Aveni of Duke who both ran in the mid 2:08's.
Three DI athletes ran the invitational mile, led by winner Nicole Hutchinson of Villanova. Hutchinson ran 4:38 two weekends ago and dropped five seconds off that to run 4:33.47 for the win and an NCAA #4 time. That time would have easily qualified for NCAA's in 2018.
Karisa Nelson of Samford finally appeared in the mile as well after sandwiching the event in previous weekends. Nelson’s 4:34.81 NCAA #6 is also almost guaranteed to earn her a spot in the mile at NCAA as she tries to defend her title from 2017. Both are almost certainly going to focus on the mile and should be considered favorites especially after beating a field of mainly pros.
Caroline Alcorta had a breakthrough race for 2019 to win by 10 seconds for an NCAA #8 mark. She was able to break away from Haley Herberg of Oklahoma and Grace Moore of Temple who ran 9:24 and 9:26 for 2nd and 3rd. Columbia’s
While most of the DMRs from this weekend came from UW, Villanova blew away the Dr. Sander field to break 11 minutes! The team of Rachel McArthur, Amari Onque-Shabazz, McKenna Keegan, and Nicole Hutchinson ran 10:59.98. We do not have splits at this point, but we would certainly love to see them. With Hutchinson running 4:33 in the open race, that anchor leg could have been sub 4:30, especially since there was no other teams within striking distance. McArthur surely would have had a better split than her mile race as well and that should be a confidence booster for her.
Monmouth led the rest of the group in a very respectable 11:15. Allie Wilson anchored for the NJ team and could be a surprise factor in the 800 or mile after her 2:06's in the past few weeks. Columbia took 3rd in their home invite with an 11:22 with Temple right behind at 11:23.
Indiana University Relays
Kelsey Harris probably deserves the title of most consistent early-season performer as she seems to set an NCAA Top 10 mark every weekend. This week was no different as the Hoosier ran an NCAA #8 800 time of 2:05.83. Harris is still two seconds off her PR and will need to find those seconds to make her early season dominance worth a trip to NCAA's. Mikayla Schneider of Notre Dame stuck close to the Indiana star with her 2:06.56 for NCAA #14.
Haley Harris of Indiana made it another Hoosier victory as she raced to 4:43.44.
The race of 25 laps has begun once more. No one had entered the top 16 places since the early-season races at BU and JDL...until this race. Alicia Monson announced her return last week with a 4:38 mile, but moved into the top 16 in the 5k this week with a runaway 15:34. Monson moves into an NCAA #11 with a time that would have been NCAA #3 in 2018.
Monson should feel relatively secure with that time, but with such a competitive 5k field, there will surely be attempts to top that result throughout the year. Monson should feel comfortable, but be cognizant if the 5k is her race of choice.
Teammate Amy Davis was 2nd in 16:00 while Indiana's Margaret Allen was 3rd in 16:01. They both surely would have benefited from a larger field and more competition, but should also be happy with the possibility of challenging for an NCAA spot later in the season.
Texas Tech Classic
“Sammy Watkins takes her first win of the season at 800 meters!”
That’s how you would expect Watkins’ first 800 of the year to go.
Alyssa Brewer decided that was not the story of this race.
USC’s Brewer upset the Texas A&M star with a 2:06.48 time on the blazing fast Texas Tech track. Due to a slight altitude conversion, that moves Brewer to NCAA #10 at 2:06.12 and makes her the fastest freshman in the NCAA. Watkins did keep this race close as she ran a converted 2:06.52 for NCAA #13. This is not the sign you’re looking for though if you’re Watkins, especially with teammate Devin Dixon running a spectacular mark at this same meet.
USC’s Jemima Russell took 3rd in 2:08.04 with Aaliyah Miller of Baylor in 4th in 2:08.79.
Clemson Bob Pollack Invitational
Kamryn McIntosh returned to the 800 meters this past weekend, taking the top NCAA mark of her home invite in 2:08:07. McIntosh will certainly be looking for a massive improvement moving forward in order to qualify for NCAA's again in her sophomore season.
Morgan Ilse of North Carolina doubled at this meet, earning a victory at the mile in 4:40.10. Combined with a 2:09, this is an extremely impressive result for the Tar Heel.
Jodie Judd of Florida State placed 2nd exactly two seconds back with Logan Morris of Clemson one second back of Judd. Hannah Steelman of Wofford also ran 4:43 with Militsa Mircheva of Florida State right behind in 4:44. Steelman and Mircheva both set solid marks over 5k at the BU meet in early December.
While Ilse doubled in the mile/800, Militsa Mircheva and Jodie Judd went for the mile/3k double. Mircheva earned the victory in 9:22 over teammates Judd and Maddie Skyring who ran 9:26 and 9:27, respectively. Those three were crucial in Florida State’s XC South region title and are making huge strides on the track this winter.
Florida State took a 24-second victory to win in 11:30.15. Their team was Mooney-Harris-Judd-Skyring according to TFRRS. That would mean a Judd ran a full triple this weekend.
BU John Thomas Terrier Classic
Millie Paladino of Providence has run great results in all of her races this season and this was no exception. Paladino won in 2:42.13, but we are still waiting on Paladino to premier at the mile in 2019.
Shannon Murdock of New Hampshire took the outright win in the eight-lap affair. The New Hampshire junior ran 4:44.73 to best Rachel Bonner of Syracuse who ran 4:46.14.
Providence earned a 2nd victory behind Brianna Ilarda’s two second win in the 3k. Ilarda ran 9:12.58 for an NCAA #7 time in the 15 lap race. Syracuse’s Laura Dickinson was the second DI athlete in 9:29 while Kaley Richards of UMass Lowell was the 3rd in 9:38.
New Mexico Team Invitational
Weini Kelati returns! It’s been almost two months since Kelati ran an NCAA #5 All-Time 5k in Boston and this first race did not disappoint. Kelati went 4:39.43 at altitude to convert down to NCAA #3 4:33.34. Ednah Kurgat had a mile conversion around the same time last year in preparation for a 3k/5k double and Kelati may be under the same plan in 2019.
Adva Cohen was 2nd in 4:47.90 converting down to 4:41 while Hannah Nuttall ran 4:51 to convert down to 4:45.39.
HYP (Harvard - Yale - Princeton)
Kathryn Gillespie of Harvard out-sprinted Anna Jurew of Princeton and Jocelyn Chau of Yale to grab a victory in 2:47.40. Jurew ran 2:48.72 while Chau was 3rd in 2:48.93. Missing the top three by less than a tenth of a second was Madisn Offstein of Princeton in 2:49.02.
A trio of Toledo athletes took the top spots in the mile behind Athena Welsh and Janelle Noe who both ran 4:43.5x.