Husky Classic: John Cusick
Millrose + BU Invite: Sam Ivanecky
Iowa State Classic + Music City Challenge: Garrett Zatlin
Music City Challenge
The Michigan women have been known for their depth, but Hannah Meier just gave them some firepower. The Wolverine senior posted a winning time of 4:34, dominating the fielding to earn the #10 spot in the NCAA rankings. Meier has posted a series of impressive results so far this season and I like her consistency heading into championship races.
Gabby Crank of Texas paced the collegiate field as she took 3rd overall with a time of 2:05.17. She ran a personal best in the realm of 2:04 just a couple weeks ago. A few spots behind her was Oregon’s Susan Ejore who finished 6th in a time of 2:05.71. The Oregon Duck is coming off of her personal best in the mile and is a second off of her personal best at 800 (outdoors, 2:04) in her first time at the discipline this winter. She currently sits at #11 on the NCAA list. Three spots behind her was her freshman teammate Taylor Chiotti in a time of 2:08.40. It’s a two second PR from Chiotti.
Boise State’s Alexis Fuller was the first collegian across the line on the weekend. She ran 4:36.83 to edge out Washington’s Allie Schadler who was right behind her in 4:37.12. It’s Fuller’s second PR in as many weeks and it bodes well for Boise State’s likely DMR title aspirations in March. Ostrander is an elite name, but Fuller has proven that she can make some noise as well.
We had seven of the fastest 3000 meters times this year all come from the same heat. It began with Jessica Hull of Oregon who had the fastest time in the country for a few hours at 8:53.91. She edged out Allie Ostrander by two seconds who ran 8:55.26 (NCAA #4). It's hard to comprehend just how fast those times are in a weekend where we saw so many mind-blowng performances.
Nicole Hutchison of Villanova was the 3rd finisher just four-tenths of a second behind Ostrander at 8:55.68 (NCAA #5). Arkansas’s freshman Lauren Gregory ran 8:55.97 (NCAA #6) for 4th place with teammate Taylor Wener running one second behind her in 8:56.97 (NCAA #7). Hutchinson has clearly taken that next step up in her fitness while the Arkansas women continue their tradition of powerhouse individuals.
New Mexico's Ednah Kurgat was the last athlete under the 9:00 barrier as she ran 8:59.78 (NCAA #8) for 6th place in the meet. Washington's Katie Rainsberger was 7th and ran 9:02.84 (NCAA #11).
Tabor Scholl (Colorado, 9:07.07, NCAA # 16), Hannah Nuttal (New Mexico, 9:07.64, NCAA #18), Kaitlyn Benner (Colorado, 9:08.30, NCAA #19) and Adva Cohen (New Mexico, 9:08.40, NCAA #20) all added their names to the list inside the top 20 as well.
This felt like a national race and it could have easily been a preview of what we see come March.
Six athletes broke into the top 20 from this meet beginning with Fiona O’Keeffe of Stanford finishing 2nd overall in the meet. She ran 15:35.77 (NCAA #13) to hold off Colorado’s Makena Morley who was two seconds behind in 15:37.23 (NCAA #14).
Isobel Batt-Doyle from Washington was three seconds behind Morley at 15:40.53 (NCAA #15) while Stanford’s Abbie McNulty ran 15:42.13 (NCAA #16).
Emily Venters of Boise State (15:45.09) and Caroline Alcorta of Villanova (15:45.64) sit 19th and 20th respectively on the NCAA list after their performances on the weekend.
There has never been a 5k field as fast as this. The current top 16 cut-off time right now is 15:42 and I'm not sure it has ever been that fast. Welcome to the greatest era in women's distance running...
Iowa State Classic
Virginia Tech's Rachel Pocratsky held up her end of the bargain as the favorite. She took home the win in 2:05.20 to defeat a respectable group of ladies behind her. Indiana's Kelsey Harris continues to impress with another strong performance of 2:05.46 for 2nd place.
Marleena Eubanks of Kanas had a nice race, running 2:06.01 for 3rd. Iowa State's Erinn Stenman-Fahey and Oklahoma State's Kaylee Dodd rounded out the top five with times of 2:06.20 and 2:06.55, respectively.
It was a tactical battle in this one as BYU's Whittni Orton took home the win in a time of 4:39.19. Teammate Anna Camp was runner-up in a time of 4:41.01. Indiana's Haley Harris rounded out the top three in 4:41.50.
Erica Birk may be the closest thing to Superwoman that there is. After giving birth to her son Jack in January of 2018, the BYU superstar has somehow come back to be one of the top distance runners in the NCAA. Just this past weekend, she ran 9:00 to win the ISU Classic and continue her tear as one of the best that the country has to offer.
Behind Birk was Sharon Lokedi who was supposed to race at the Millrose Games before a cancelled flight changed her plans. The Kansas veteran finished 2nd in a time of 9:06. That time currently ranks at #15 in the NCAA. Will that time be fast enough to qualify for Nationals in the 3000 come season end? We'll have to wait and see.
Iowa State freshman Cailie Logue rounded out the top three with a time of 9:10. For someone so young, she has a lot of promise and a bright future with the Cyclones.
Wisconsin's Amy Davis went to work this past weekend, running an impressive 15:47 to take home the win. Unfortunately for her, that time won't be enough to qualify for Nationals. Still, it's a strong result and something she can use as momentum heading into championship season.
Indiana's Margaret Allen was runner-up in a time of 15:49. She quietly climbed her way up to the top of the pack throughout the race and was rewarded with a nice time and a strong finish.
Minnesota's Megan Hasz rounded out the top three with a time of 15:51.
The women’s Wanamaker Mile was one of the marquee events of the evening. Danae Rivers of Penn State came across the line in 4:29.47 for a new NCAA leading time, a whole two seconds faster than anyone else in the country. Rivers has had a phenomenal season thus far, setting a collegiate record of 2:38 for 1000 meters while ranking at #3 in the NCAA for 800 meters (in 2:02.94).
With this performance, it is likely Rivers will opt to run the mile at NCAA's. There is no real chance of her doing both the 800 and mile given both events have prelims and finals which would mean running four races over two days. Given she currently has a substantial lead in the mile and has great closing speed, it seems the mile would be the clear choice come March.
Karisa Nelson of Samford was the other collegiate in the mile, but her race did not go as well. She was still with the pack through halfway, but had fallen off with 600 meters to go and would ultimately finish last in 4:44. Nelson is currently ranked #11 in the NCAA for the mile and #10 over 800 meters.
While only two of the main events at Millrose featured collegiate women, both races produced NCAA leading times. Roughly 24 hours after Jessica Hull of Oregon ran an NCAA leading time of 8:53 for 3000 meters, Alicia Monson of Wisconsin absolutely demolished that mark by running 8:45 for the win at Millrose. That time currently sits at #3 All-Time behind only Jenny Simpson’s (Colorado ‘09) 8:42 and Karissa Schweizer’s (Missouri ‘18) 8:41. Schweizer’s time was run at this same meet a year ago.
Monson’s race was impressive for a number of reasons besides just the sheer time. Despite competing in a field full of professionals, she ran within herself the entire race and did not appear phased when moves were made by Aisha Praught-Leer and Rachel Schneider. With 600 meters to go the race, she had closed the gap while Jessica O’Connell with Emma Coburn trailed a few seconds back. Monson waited until the bell lap and surged into the lead with around 100 meters left. She would hold on to take the victory.
The race was a 29 second personal best for Monson who had a previous personal best of 9:14 from last year's BIG 10 Championship meet. This performance makes her the clear front-runner for the NCAA meet in a couple weeks where she will likely come in with a PR substantially faster than anyone else in the field.
Weini Kelati of New Mexico was the only other collegiate in the race and the sophomore ran the #3 time in the NCAA this season of 8:53, only a few hundredths behind Hull. Kelati’s 6th place performance yesterday also broke her own Eritrean National Record of 9:03 set at NCAA's last year.
BU David Hemery Valentine Invitational
The BU Valentine Invitational was another star-studded meet that took place this weekend which saw four women move into NCAA qualifying position in the 800 and mile distances.
The biggest performance of the meet came from Monmouth senior Allie Wilson who ran 2:02.65 over 800 meters to move into the #2 NCAA position this season. This race was a huge breakthrough for Wilson who entered the meet with a lifetime best of 2:04.58 from outdoors in 2018.
This time all but guarantees her a trip to NCAA's this indoor season and will be her second trip to a national meet after qualifying in the same distance during outdoors last spring. Her time this weekend also broke her own school record of 2:05.14 which she set last weekend (also at Boston University).
McKenna Keegan of Villanova also smashed her own indoor personal best this weekend after running a time of 2:05.71, moving into #11 in the NCAA. This time makes her the 10th fastest woman in Villanova school history over the 800 distance and it broke her previous best by 1.55 seconds.
Keegan will likely be on the bubble of qualifying for the national meet with a slew of fast conference meets coming up in the next couple of weeks. If she can better her time, she will have a strong case for an NCAA qualifier which would be her second trip to a national meet after qualifying last spring in the 800 meters.
The Valentine Invitational also saw Millie Paladino of Providence and Mackenzie Andrews of Akron move into the #8 and #15 spots in the NCAA with mile times of 4:33 and 4:35, respectively.
Paladino ran her fastest mark of the season over the distance only two weeks after setting the school record for the 1000 meters with a time of 2:42. Currently ranked #8 in the country, Paladino has previously qualified for NCAA's twice indoors (Mile ‘17 / ‘18) and once outdoors (1500m ‘17). She owns a personal best of 4:31 for the event which is just short of the school record of 4:30 set by Olympian Kim Smith.
Unless anything less than chaos happens over the next two weeks, Paladino has likely secured her third trip to an NCAA indoor meet.
The same is not quite true for Mackenzie Andrews of Akron. This weekend was a huge race for Andrews who ran a five second personal best of 4:35.63 to move into #15 spot in the NCAA. The time also smashed her own school record of 4:40 which she had set earlier this season at the Hokie Invitational.
Right now Andrews sits in an interesting spot as her result is nowhere near safe of making NCAA's. However, the slowest time to get in last year after athletes higher on the list deferred to other events was 4:36.89 which ranked #19 in 2018. Similarly in 2017, the last time in was 4:37.92 which ranked #24 in the country.
Of the women ahead of Andrews, both Weini Kelati and Jessica Hull are less than guaranteed to race the mile. Kelati will likely run the 3k/5k double as she did last year given her aptitude for the longer distances. Hull is a bit of a mystery as she currently ranks #2 in both the mile and 3000 meters, but she was also #3 outdoors over 5000 meters in 2018. Oregon has a history of running a strong DMR at NCAA's and it seems likely that Hull will be a member of that team along with another individual event that isn’t the mile.
Right behind Andrews in the rankings are Alicia Monson, Allie Ostrander, and Katie Rainsberger - three women who will likely also defer to other distances. Despite a busy couple of weeks left before Nationals, Andrews should feel good about her chances of qualifying for her first NCAA meet.
Keeping with the topic of women on the qualifying bubble, Militsa Mircheva of Florida State ran the #17 time over 3000 meters this season of 9:07.33, only .26 seconds away from a qualifying mark. Unfortunately for Mircheva, the number of women who opt out of the 3000 meters tends to be lower than that of the mile. In 2018, the last time in was 9:05.81 which was #21 in the country. In 2017, the last time in was 9:07.22 which sat at #16. Given this, Mircheva will likely need to better her performance in the coming weeks if she hopes to qualify for NCAA's.
The 5000 at BU was relatively uneventful with Emeline Delanis of Boston College taking the overall win in 16:12. The time currently sits at #48 in the NCAA.