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  • First Thoughts (Part One): All-Time Steeple Marks From Doris Lemngole & Nathan Mountain, Three Collegians Run 4:07 (1500) & Rynard Swanepoel Runs an Outstanding 1:45 (800) PR

    Despite being one week removed from the madness seen at the Bryan Clay Invitational, this past Fright night left us with a handful of excellent performances to discuss. And while this weekend wasn't nearly as extensive in terms of top-tier results as we saw last weekend, there were still a plethora of great marks that require plenty of analysis. Oh, and don't forget, we'll have Part Two of our "First Thoughts" article coming tomorrow evening. So if you don't see a certain performance being discussed in this article, then just be sure to stay tuned for Sunday's analysis! Alright, let's cut the chit-chat and get right into today's article... UVA's Nathan Mountain Posts Huge 8:20 Steeplechase PR, Now Sits at NCAA #13 All-Time Coming into this season, Virginia standout Nathan Mountain was expected to be a top contender, and maybe even a national title threat, in the men's steeplechase. He did, after all, own an 8:32 PR, was the ACC champion in the event last spring and was a 4th place All-American at that same discipline a few weeks after that. And with a resume that held sneaky-good value and versatility, there were a lot of things to like about Nathan Mountain. However, seeing the Virginia star post an outstanding 8:20 (steeple) personal best on Friday night (at the Virginia Challenge) was not something that we were expecting. In a race that was won by pro runner Matthew Wilkinson in 8:18, Mountain took advantage of the top-flight field and willed himself to a 12-second personal best, rewriting our expectations for this Cavalier veteran in the process. With Abdelhakim Abouzouhir and Victor Kibiego each running 8:25 in the steeplechase last week, and effectively establishing themselves as the national title favorites, Mountain needed a performance like this to join that conversation. Sure enough, an all-time steeple mark of 8:20 does exactly that. Now, instead of being viewed as a heavy All-American favorite, Mountain has shown us that his ceiling extends just as high, and maybe even higher, than his fellow NCAA title contenders. Not only that, but his versatility between the 1500 meters (holding a 3:39 PR) and the 5k (holding a 13:32 PR) gives him a skillset that is undoubtedly more well-rounded than what Abouzhouhir and Kibiego have shown. In theory, that kind of talent should allow him to thrive on championship stages that are more nuanced and tactically involved. The next-best collegians in this race were Iowa State's Gable Sieperda and Georgetown's Parker Stokes, both of whom ran excellent times of 8:26. This performance answers a lot of questions that we had about Sieperda after last weekend's race at the Bryan Clay Invite. The Cyclone veteran was ultra aggressive in that race last weekend against a field that was flat-out better than him. He still hung on to run 8:34, but it was clear from his approach that he was aiming for something much faster and that he thought he was at least fit enough to run under 8:30. Well, sure enough, that was what we saw from him on Friday night. An 8:26 (steeple) PR changes the complexion of Sieperda's resume from "likely national qualifier" to "realistic All-American contender." Admittedly, we still need to see more from Sieperda when it comes to racing at this level. Make no mistake, he's been great in the early-going of this spring campaign, but his latest 8:26 PR is a clear outlier on a resume that, in his defense, is still fairly strong. Crossing the line next to Sieperda was Hoya veteran Parker Stokes, a guy who was battling for NCAA gold all the way back in the spring of 2022. During that year's outdoor national meet, the Georgetown star posted a huge 8:18 steeplechase PR and earned bronze to cap his sophomore campaign. Since then, Stokes has been unable to match the caliber of his incredible steeplechase PR, even failing to make the steeplechase finals at last year's outdoor national meet. However, Stokes has looked subtly strong over the last year or so. He recorded new personal bests of 2:19 (1k) and 3:57 (mile) this past winter and Friday was the fastest steeplechase time that he has posted since he ran that 8:18 personal best. All signs are pointing to Stokes being closer to peak form than not. And if this Georgetown star can replicate the postseason peak that he exhibited back in 2022, then maybe, just maybe, he can be part of the national title discussion. The last attached collegian to run under 8:40 in this field was Virginia veteran Yasin Sado who posted a strong mark of 8:34. That time is less than one second off of his PR. And given how much better he looked this past winter compared to prior seasons, there is nothing flukey about his latest effort. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me at all if Sado dipped under 8:30 before June. Harvard's Maia Ramsden, South Carolina's Judy Kosgei & Virginia Tech's Lindsey Butler All Post 4:07 (1500) Marks at Wake Forest Invitational One of the main events to watch on Friday night was the top section of the women's 1500 meters at the Wake Forest Invitational. In a field that featured a handful of Puma pros and top collegians, it was Harvard's Maia Ramsden who was arguably the headline entrant. No, Ramsden wouldn't win this race (that honor went to Puma pro Dorcus Ewoi), but the two-time NCAA champion did post a strong 4:07 mark to emerge as the top collegian. And frankly, that kind of result is very much on par with what we expected. As long as Ramsden got a quick time under her legs, that was all that mattered. The postseason, even beyond the NCAA Outdoor Championships, is undoubtedly the bigger area of emphasis for this Kiwi ace. However, the more notable development was seeing South Carolina's Judy Kosgei and Virginia Tech's Lindsey Butler each run 4:07 for 1500 meters as well! That is a pair of huge performances that comfortably surpassed our expectations. When it comes to Butler, her 4:31 mile PR from the winter of 2023 suggested that she could have run under 4:10. However, running that far under the 4:10 (1500) barrier leaves us with a question that I didn't think we would need to ask this spring: Could Lindsey Butler eschew the 800 meters and pursue the metric mile on the national stage? Yes, Butler is the 2022 indoor national champion over 800 meters and yes, she was just an All-American over that distance this past winter. But this is also someone who contested the mile at the 2023 indoor national meet. And frankly, Butler was a whole lot closer to the women's 1500-meter national title favorite on Friday night (Maia Ramsden) than she has been to Michaela Rose and Juliette Whittaker over the half-mile distance. Not only that, but the women's 1500 meters is usually more tactical on the national stage than the 800 meters is. In theory, that makes Butler that even more dangerous given her proven turnover and speed. Even so, Butler has built her reputation over the half-mile distance and it is clearly the event that she is more experienced and comfortable in. She'll likely stay with her marquee race, but I wouldn't be surprised if she moved up in distance for late May and early June. And then there's Judy Kosgei, the South Carolina freshman who was actually one step ahead of Butler in that same race on Friday night. This past fall, Kosgei put the NCAA on notice with excellent efforts on the grass. She was a top finisher and a multi-time winner at a handful of meets. The Gamecock talent even finished 19th at the NCAA XC Championships! That's why, given her clear aerobic-centric lean, we were surprised to see her focus on the middle distance events during the winter months. Make no mistake, Kosgei still ran very well over the 800-meter and mile distances on the indoor oval, posting times of 2:04 and 4:34, respectively. Even so, it felt like the longer distances would be her forte and that she could have even more of an impact in an event like the 5000 meters (although her two lone 3k efforts weren't quite as exciting). But after recently running an outstanding 2:01 (800) PR at the Florida Relays and now boasting a massive 4:07 (1500) PR, we have begun to see the same middle distance potential that South Carolina's coaching staff very clearly saw in Kosgei when they recruited her. It's important to remember that Kosgei is still a freshman and is in her first year in the NCAA. Inexperience and the ongoing refinement of race tactics will need to be a point of emphasis once we get closer to championship season. Of course, as we saw in the fall, Kosgei has proven that she can find success on the biggest stages. And while the track is usually more tactical than the grass, owning a 4:07 PR for 1500 meters could give her enough fitness to simply will her way into the national meet -- and maybe even the 1500-meter finals. NC State's Sam Bush was also in this race, posting a solid 4:10 mark for 1500 meters. It will be interesting to see which event she contests in the postseason, although history suggests that it will be the 5000 meters. Also, great running from Princeton's Mena Scatchard, Columbia's Nicole Vanasse and Toledo's Laura Nicholson. Each of those women ran 4:11 personal bests. Look out for Scatchard who has run PRs of 2:43 (1k), 2:04 (800) and 4:11 (1500) in three of her last four meets (earning three wins in five individual races along the way). North Carolina's Makayla Paige Continues Breakout Season With 2:00.97 (800) PR I'll fully admit, when UNC middle distance runner Makayla Paige ran 2:01.92 for 800 meters at the Duke Invite last week, I wondered how much that time really meant for her future. On paper, that was a substantial PR. Prior to that race, Paige's personal best in the event was 2:03.92 -- it was her only time ever breaking 2:04. Naturally, I questioned if Paige's 2:01 effort was a borderline fluke. But on Friday night, Paige silenced any doubts that I may have had about her. The North Carolina standout popped a massive 2:00.97 personal best for 800 meters. In turn, she finished as the top collegian, was the runner-up finisher and took down top names such as Harvard's Sophia Gorriaran and Georgetown's Melissa Riggins (each of whom ran 2:01) in the process. With each passing week, the women's 800 meters becomes increasingly more top-heavy -- and Paige is only contributing to that trend. She has proven that her recent glimpses of nationally competitive talent are legit and despite making a big jump, she continues to improve. That's really hard to do! Keep an eye on Paige moving forward. The ACC Championships will likely be a good indicator of where she sits in the All-American conversation. As for Gorriaran and Riggins, they both ran 2:01 in the same race. And truthfully, there isn't much to say. Both of these women had already proven that they were capable of running times like this, leaving our impression of them largely unchanged as we inch closer to the second-half of the season. Also, great run for South Carolina's Sylvia Chelangat. She ran 2:02 (800) which more or less matched her personal best. The postseason hasn't always been kind to her, but at least her fitness is in a good enough spot to advance to Eugene when the East Regional Championships roll around. Columbia's Phoebe Anderson (15:29.02) Earns Narrow 5k Win Over Georgetown's Chloe Scrimgeour (15:29.87) Going into this weekend, I suggested that Georgetown's Chloe Scrimgeour and NC State's Grace Hartman were the two collegiate favorites in the women's 5k at the Wake Forest Invitational. And in my mind, I feel like that pre-race narrative was justified. Scrimgeour has been excellent over the longer distances this year and was fresh off of a pair of 7th place All-American finishes at the indoor national meet. Hartman, meanwhile, had earned 8th place All-American honors at the indoor national meet in the 5k and was coming off of a very strong 10k victory at the Raleigh Relays in a time of 32:28. However, I also made sure to say the following about Columbia's Phoebe Anderson... "Lost in the crowded mass of star names is Columbia's Phoebe Anderson, one of the NCAA's more underrated distance runners...at least in the eyes of The Stride Report. After a great cross country season, the Lion veteran continued to thrive on the indoor oval. She ran 15:33 for 5000 meters to gain a conversion of 15:26 which eventually put her on the national stage. While her competition will be tough, I wouldn't be totally shocked if Anderson ended up defeating all of the women who we just spoke about." And sure enough, that's what we saw on Friday night. You could argue that this was the best race of Phoebe Anderson's career -- and that's saying something considering that she was 29th at the NCAA XC Championships. Running a 15:29 (5k) PR to defeat top-tier talents such as Chloe Scrimgeour, Grace Hartman, a doubling-back Maia Ramsden, Amaris Tyynismaa and Emily Covert is huge. Friday's race felt like it was the first time that Anderson has truly gotten over the proverbial hump of being a national-caliber threat in fields like this. She's been nationally competitive for a while now, but her fitness has seemingly reached a point where she's firmly in the same tier as many of the women who she just beat. As for Scrimgeour, it wasn't a win and it wasn't a PR, but this was still a solid result for her. I don't think our opinion of her changed in any dramatic way. If anything, this was a really nice performance that she can build off of as she prepares for May and June. Amaris Tyynismaa was the 3rd-place finisher in this race, an encouraging development after a challenging last few months of returning to top form. Sure, a 15:40 (5k) PR isn't going to alter the NCAA landscape, but it is a great step in the right direction for someone who was an All-American in this event last year. She is beginning to gather more and more momentum, making her someone who you may want to avoid in the postseason. Alabama's Doris Lemngole Runs NCAA #2 All-Time Steeple Mark of 9:22 in Convincing Win Over Olivia Markezich The women's steeplechase at the Wake Forest Invitational seemed to be the marquee event of the entire meet. That was because two NCAA superstars, Doris Lemngole and Olivia Markezich, were going to go head-to-head over the barriers and water pits. In an ideal race, the final times had the potential to be historically fast. Sure enough, "historically fast" turned out to be the best way to describe this race, although that only applied to one runner -- Doris Lemngole. Without a live stream, it's hard to know exactly how this race unfolded. However, what we do know is that Doris Lemngole showed us that she is more than just a great 5k and cross country runner. The Alabama rookie posted a massive steeplechase time of 9:22 on Friday night. That mark now sits at NCAA #2 all-time (in-season) behind only Courtney Wayment's 9:16 record from 2022. Olivia Markezich, meanwhile, didn't have her best race. According to the splits, the Notre Dame veteran and defending NCAA steeplechase champion didn't necessarily fade from the initial pace, but rather, wasn't able to match the barrage of 72, 73 and 74-second laps that Lemngole had thrown down. Alright, so...what does this all mean? Well, for Lemngole, it may be time to start viewing her in a similar light as Maia Ramsden, Michaela Rose and, of course, Olivia Markezich (Parker Valby is in her own tier). Lemngole now owns an NCAA #2 all-time mark which is also something that Ramsden, Rose and Markezich also say. The catch? Lemngole also ran the NCAA #2 all-time indoor 5k mark of 15:04 this past winter. In other words, in just her first year in the NCAA, this Alabama superstar has put herself in elite territory as far as her times are concerned. And while she is still chasing her first national title, you could argue that she has the most natural distance running talent in the NCAA outside of Parker Valby. And of course, it's safe to say that she is now the NCAA steeplechase title favorite. But just because Markezich settled for a (truthfully large) loss, we still shouldn't dismiss this Fighting Irish veteran from the national title conversation. She's run 9:17 in this event before and she's run times on the indoor oval which suggests that she can run WAY faster than her latest 9:35 effort would lead you to believe. Make no mistake, she's going to have her work cut out for her when she see's Lemngole on the national stage, but Markezich is also someone who peaked beautifully for the postseason last spring. Wake Forest's Rynard Swanepoel Has Race of His Life, Runs 1:45 (800) PR to Earn Statement Win Was I high on Rynard Swanepoel coming into this weekend? Yes. Was I under the impression that he could potentially run a new PR? Yes. Did I think he could have won this 800-meter race on Friday night? Yes, but I didn't think he was all that close to being favored (and at the time, he wasn't). But did I see this Wake Forest veteran skipping the 1:46 (800) range altogether and running a 1:45 personal best in what was undoubtedly the biggest win of his college career? Nope, I gotta admit, I definitely did not see that coming. Throughout the last year, there have been plenty of signs that Swanepoel has been due for a new 800-meter personal best. Last spring, he ran 1:47 not once, not twice, but THREE times. And just last weekend at the Duke Invitational, this Wake Forest standout produced a strong 3:41 personal best over 1500 meters -- a three-second PR. If the Demon Deacon runner had posted a 1:46 mark on Friday night, then I wouldn't have been shocked by any means. But a 1:45 personal best is a leap to an entirely new level of fitness that, frankly, we just haven't seen from him before. And maybe more importantly, Swanepoel took home the win over Atlanta Track Club pro Lucian Fiore (who was victorious at the Raleigh Relays) and Indiana's Camden Marshall who ran 1:46 and was the pre-race collegiate favorite. The good news moving forward is that we at least know that Swanepoel has enough raw talent to get out of the East region and maybe put himself in the 800-meter finals at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Of course, actually executing on that potential, employing proper tactics and replicating his ultra-fast PR when it's needed will be the biggest determinants in how far he goes in the postseason. As for Camden Marshall, it's hard to be critical of his 1:46 mark. That's a new 800-meter and the third-straight race this season where I had a positive takeaway from his efforts. Actually getting to the national meet has been a challenge at times for this Indiana veteran, but his recent consistency has been encouraging to say the least. It should also be noted that Alabama's Oussama El Bouchayby ran 1:46 (800) in this race! That's a major development considering that the Crimson Tide middle distance runner was a Division Two juggernaut last year and owns a 1:45 personal best. In fact, there was one point in time where we questioned if El Bouchayby was the best 800-meter runner in the NCAA regardless of division! But after a quiet and unexciting indoor track season, the transfer from Angelo State is seemingly returning to form. If that's the case (and it seemingly is), then he'll have a month and a half to return to his peak level of fitness, an ideal timeline considering that the NCAA Outdoor Championships kick-off at the beginning of June. Anass Essayi & Nick Plant Each Run 3:38 (1500) to Emerge as Top Collegians at Wake Forest Invitational I'll admit, I thought this race was going to be a bit faster than what we saw. Sure, Nike's Josh Thompson was still plenty fast with his winning time of 3:37 and 3:38 is no slouch of a mark for any collegian. But I did think that 3:35 or 3:36 was in play given the talent in this field. Regardless, whether the time was 3:36 or 3:39, I don't think I have much to say about South Carolina's Anass Essayi and Virginia Tech's Nick Plant. Both men ran 3:38 for the metric mile on Friday night and we're more than capable of running these kinds of times coming into this race. And frankly, this 1500-meter performance was likely an attempt for Nick Plant to work on his strength before dropping down to his ideal distance, the 800 meters, where he was an All-American last winter. Iona's Damien Dilcher was the next-best collegian with a mark of 3:39. And while he's not necessarily a national-caliber standout like Essayi and Plant are, this Gael veteran has still been quietly great this year. He was 28th at the Nuttycombe Invite this past fall, ran three PRs in three different events this past winter and just posted an excellent personal best. Tyler Wirth is a Pennsylvania native who I have followed since he was in high school. He's an aggressive and ambitious middle distance talent who is surprisingly versatile and an absolute pain to shake in races (which is a massive compliment). Sure enough, the Cincinnati veteran came up big once again, running 3:39 for 1500 meters on Friday night. He continues to build strong momentum after posting a 3:57 mile PR in the winter and a 13:49 (5k) PR at the Raleigh Relays a few weeks back. First Thoughts (Part Two) Coming Tomorrow!

  • Fly Eagles Fly: An Inside Look at the Men of UW-La Crosse & the Foundation of a Division Three Powerhouse

    Written by Conor Daly, additional commentary and edits via Garrett Zatlin This piece is not a story about underdogs. It is not a story of David vs Goliath and it is not a story about a little-known team that has suddenly and unexpectedly risen to national prominence. In fact, this feature is not so much a narrative-driven story, but rather a multifaceted study of a Division Three track and field and cross country stalwart. More specifically, we're talking about the men from UW-La Crosse, a program that even before this past winter had already won the 2023 NCAA Indoor Championships as a team. But over the last year, despite a pair of admirable, yet frustrating, runner-up team finishes on the national stage (including a one-point loss in the fall), the Eagles have somehow evolved into an even stronger roster. In fact, one may even call them a "powerhouse." That's because, during just this past indoor track season alone, the Wisconsin-based Eagles saw 10 men run under 4:10 for the mile, five men run 8:10 or faster for the 3k and four men run under 14:10 for the 5k (on banked tracks or via converted equivalents). That combined level of depth and talent at the Division Three level is simply unparalleled. * * * Let's rewind almost an entire year ago to the spring of 2023 when the UW-La Crosse men traveled to the NCAA D3 Outdoor Championships. There, the Eagles hoped to repeat as national champions after doing so the previous season at the indoor national meet. In fact, through 90% of the meet, UWL remained in striking distance of doing exactly that. With focal superstar Ethan Gregg acting a key contender over 5000 meters and a 4x400-meter relay squad that had yet to run, the Eagles sat 15.5 points away from gold. A pair of big-time performances were needed, but another national title was plenty realistic. However, as Gregg entered the track for that said 5k race, the unthinkable happened. Taking a step before the gun, one of the few legitimate challengers to John Carroll's Alex Phillip that year was immediately disqualified by the officials for a false start. The controversial DQ led to Gregg losing his opportunity to race, and more importantly to him, to score points for his team. Gregg was heartbroken to say the least and the challenges that he faced for weeks following his truly upsetting moment, in his own words, impacted him emotionally. It also didn’t help, either, that the following day, Gregg drove 14 hours to Boulder, Colorado to begin his summer job and base training for cross country. And yet, despite the emotional toll, one of Gregg's coaches, Nathan Petesch, had a slightly different takeaway from that incident. "I didn't want to say this to Ethan at the time, but if you know anything about how those stories go...in my mind, the cross country season was a done deal. There was just absolutely no way anyone in the country was going to beat him [at the NCAA XC Championships.]" Spoiler: He was right. * * * Grant Matthai is one of the nation's more promising distance running underclassmen at the Division Three level. Despite his youth, the rising Eagle talent has earned two top-70 finishes at the NCAA XC Championships. He has also produced head-turning personal bests of 8:10 (3k) and 14:03 (5k), the former mark earning a conversion of 8:05. But more importantly, Matthai was a two-time All-American at the indoor national meet this past winter, placing 8th over 3000 meters and 5th over 5000 meters. And it was that set of results that have truly cemented the Wauwatosa native as one of the future faces of this already-established distance running power. Of course, Grant Matthai isn't the only nationally competitive name behind Ethan Gregg on UWL's roster. In fact, he's not the only nationally competitive name in his own family -- his brother Aidan Matthai placed 8th over 5000 meters at the indoor national meet this past winter to earn an All-American honor of his own. And Aidan's times? Well, they're plenty strong as well, boasting marks of 14:05 (5k) and 30:30 (10k), the latter of which came at the Bryan Clay Invitational last weekend. But the Matthai twins, who have documented their adventures and recent rise on their YouTube page, are only two of numerous top-tier names on the Eagles' roster. In fact, in many cases, the accolades of their fellow teammates are arguably just as good. Cael Shoemann is only a sophomore, but has run 1:49 for 800 meters and just won a national title in that event last month. And then there's Adam Loesner, a third-year talent who just ran 8:44 in the steeplechase and was excellent throughout most of the winter months. Jayden Zywicki is a dynamic 4:07 miler who was an All-American in that event this past winter. His fellow teammate, Aidan Manning, also advanced to the mile finals at the NCAA Indoor Championships, placing 9th overall. Michael Madoch and Parker Heinz are also sub-4:10 milers and that's before you factor-in flat-track conversions. And Isaac Wegner? While not as much of a track-oriented runner, he has been a legitimate star on the grass over the last few years, earning two top-20 All-American finishes at the NCAA XC Championships. But maybe the most fascinating aspect about that collection of middle and long distance standouts is over half of those listed men are considered to be underclassmen (per TFRRS). In other words, the Eagles' recent success hasn't been concentrated to a select few seniors -- they have a lasting foundation for year's to come. “They breathed some fresh air into the program," says Ethan Gregg about the current sophomore class. "They have a lot of talent and great work ethic.” And naturally, given those who came before them, there are lofty standards to uphold. Not just for the established veterans, but for the rising youngsters as well. "There's pressure and expectation to be one of the best teams [in Division Three], but it's something that we know that we can live up to and exceed," Grant Mattahi explained in a conversation with The Stride Report. "By the end of our freshman year, I began to realize how good we could be." Of course, the weight of balancing expectations with emotions isn't necessarily an easy thing to do. That's especially true in a program as acclaimed UW-La Crosse. And luckily for the Eagles, that’s where Coach Phil Whitesitt comes in. In addition to crafting the strength and lifting regimen for the team, Whitesitt recently went back to school to pursue a Master’s degree in applied sports psychology -- all for the sole purpose of supporting UW-La Crosse’s athletes. “He brings more than a strength and conditioning aspect," Ethan Gregg told The Stride Report. "It’s multidimensional.” On race weeks, time is spent in an imagery session in which Whitesitt guides the athletes in what can best be described as visualization and acclimation practices. On non-race weeks, the athletes undergo a "mental strength session," as they call it. And among other exercises, Whitesitt's techniques operate with the aim of separating the athletes’ personal identity from their athletic identity. And if all of this sounds familiar, it's because this isn't the first top-ranked collegiate cross country program to employ similar methodology and techniques. * * * As we reflect on the 2023 cross country season, UW-La Crosse's lone all-out race before championship season arrived came at Lehigh's Paul Short Run. But why trek halfway across the nation? Why not find a more D3-centric field, maybe D3 Pre-Nationals, that would more closely mimic the competition that they would see on the national stage? The answer was simple: To find the best competition that they could. "We needed a meet that would provide us with the level of competition that a smaller D3 meet wouldn't be able to provide us in the area." Coach Derek Stanley explained to The Stride Report. "We basically needed to run against D1 competition...It provided us what we were looking for out of that scenario” Sure enough, the men of UWL certainly found the competition that they were searching for. Entering the 400-person field made up of predominately Division One competition was plenty for them to get ready for the Division Three national meet field of under 300 men. And the end result? Excellent. The Eagles would finish ahead of a respectable D1 distance program in Boston University and were a singular place behind Power Five program, Penn State, as well as Navy (the two teams had tied for the spot ahead of UWL). After gaining some serious momentum at the WIAC XC Championships and the North Regional XC Championships, the UW-La Crosse men entered the national meet as the title favorites. Planning to be aggressive before the 5k mark, the Eagles certainly accomplished that goal. At the 5k mark, and still at the 6k split, the Eagles were scoring just outside of 100 points, sitting with a comfortable lead by over 50 points. Yet, that early-race aggression, in the words of Coach Derek Stanley, turned out to be a "miscalculated energy expenditure," as the team's top-five proceeded to falter in the final stages of the race. And when all was said and done, the 2023 Division Three cross country national title had slipped out of their hands. The Eagles had fallen into 2nd place yet again, this time by one lone point. “We had the ability to do something special," Coach Nathan Petesch explained. "We didn't do what was really possible on that day with that exceptional group of guys.” * * * Amidst the disappointment of the single-point loss of a cross country team title, Ethan Gregg did take home individual gold, avenging back-to-back losses to WIAC rival and fellow D3 superstar, Christian Patzka, in their previous two meets. But more importantly, Gregg avenged his devastating disqualification from the 2023 outdoor national meet and validated Coach Petesch's "done deal" theory from six months prior. Gregg, a three-time national champion, has become a household name known for his aggressive Conner Mantz-like front-running tactics. With high school personal bests of 4:41 (1600) and 9:45 (3200), Gregg has made immense improvements, now boasting marks of 13:52 (indoor 5k) and 28:40 (10k), both of which sit in the top-three of the D3 all-time list. That 10k PR, coming from last year, would have placed Gregg at NCAA #40 in the 2023 Division One ranks going into the regional meet. And with his credentials, he could have used his fifth year of eligibility just about anywhere in the NCAA. But what did he do instead? He decided to return to UW-La Crosse. “I took a step back and realized I didn’t need that validation of knowing I’m that good of a runner to just go to that next Division," Gregg explained. “I just knew the way that Coach Nate Petesch and Coach Derek Stanley were developing me…I didn’t really see [myself] slowing down [at La Crosse].” But while Gregg’s performances made an immense difference on the program, the reach of his influence extends beyond the results seen on paper. In fact, Gregg is one of two fifth-year distance stars who have helped guide the team through the dark times of the COVID pandemic. The other veteran leader? Isaac Wegner. “I can only hope that the guys on the team will carry the torch half as well as they did,” said Coach Derek Stanley. "Gregg and Wegner have put the program on their shoulders and got it to this place," Coach Nathan Petesch added. "That kind of leadership, it’s taxing, but it’s a privilege to pay that tax.” And it was that same leadership that was put to the test last month at the 2024 NCAA Indoor Championships. Bringing what can best be described as a small army of men to the “Big Dance,” the UWL men were once again considered the favorites for the national title. It was an all-too familiar position which held a clear eeriness following the Eagles' last two national meet appearances. * * * After a good, but not great, set of performances on day one, the consensus among the Eagle men at last month's indoor national meet was that the group felt down -- they had seemingly left a few points on the table. And the following day? Well, that day held plenty of emotion...to put it lightly. First, sophomore standout Cael Schoemann brought home a key win over 800 meters thanks to a dive across at the line for a thrilling photo finish. But while the initial elation felt like a major spark in the moment, the shadow of UWL's national meet woes continued to linger. That's because Schoemann was disqualified shortly thereafter, seemingly for an interference with UW-Eau Claire's Sam Verkerke which was more specifically described as “intentionally veer[ing] out" of his lane. And as a result, just like they experienced with Ethan Gregg in the spring of 2023, the Eagles no longer had 10 possible points that they were projected to earn. Thankfully, after a brief, but perceptually long, 30 to 40-minute period of uncertainty, Schoemann was ultimately reinstated and granted the national title. And it was that roller coaster moment that seemingly felt like an acute microcosm of UW-La Crosse's national meet campaigns over the past year. There was, of course, a catch. The UWL men who were entered in the 3000 meters didn't know that Schoemann had been reinstated when they toed the line. And with their 4x400-meter relay yet to race, the Eagles' contingent of men toed the line with a boosted level of urgency. “That was an opportunity for [our] guys to step up." Coach Nathan Petesch told TSR. "And if you don’t want to be that guy, then you probably shouldn't be at that meet.” He continued: “If we have almost 30 guys at a meet and we can’t deal with some adversity, well then we don’t deserve to win that national title.” The Eagles only secured two scoring positions in the top-eight of that 3k national meet final. However, it was those two finishes -- Ethan Gregg securing gold and Grant Matthai scoring one point in 8th place -- that ultimately cemented the Eagles as NCAA team champions. And maybe more importantly, that snapshot of All-American honors felt like an emblematic passing of the torch from the Eagles' juggernaut veteran to their rising underclassman star. * * * As the high of a team national title victory and the jubilation of recent results begin to erode, Grant Matthai has challenged himself to "get off of [his] high horse” and focus on his future goals for this outdoor track season. He does, after all, need to prepare for an era that will soon no longer feature Ethan Gregg. But when it comes longevity and the foundation for consistent year-over-year success, Gregg and the rest of his fellow Eagle teammates hardly seem worried. And why would they be? They do, after all, boast one of the best collections of young distance runners that Division Three has to offer. "When you have that much belief in each other it’s kinda hard for me to imagine failing," Gregg told The Stride Report. "People think there’s a La Crosse secret and the corny thing is that there is a La Crosse secret -- it’s us. The secret sauce is our history and our culture.” And if the "secret sauce" of UW-La Crosse's program is their history and culture, then the chefs are most certainly coaches Derek Stanley and Nathan Petesch. "Input creates output," said Petesch. "We put intention into who it is we are and who we will be...the chase is fun." Worded differently, Stanley would convey a similar message, "We want to create an experience that is wholesome, one that is nurturing, and that they feel like they are being provided an opportunity to be as successful as they possibly can through our running program, but more-so involving their academic journey." When asked about future goals beyond the outdoor track season, Stanley had two answers. The first was that he wanted to elevate their women's team to a tier where they were a perennial top-10 program. And his second goal? “We still haven't checked that box in cross country."

  • 2024 Wake Forest Invite Preview & Predictions: Graham Blanks Returns to Battle Parker Wolfe, Kelsey Chmiel to Make Season Debut & Olivia Markezich vs Doris Lemngole in Steeplechase

    One of the more underappreciated outdoor track meets of the year is the Wake Forest Invitational. It's a meet that has quietly collected a large handful of the best distance talents on the east coast in recent years -- and that may be underselling it. Admittedly, The Stride Report received these heat sheets very late. As such, this meet preview won't be nearly as extensive as what we had for the Bryan Clay Invitational. Even so, we made sure to dive into all of the key headlines that you need to look out for. Also, you can find our predictions by clicking here! Melissa Riggins & Sophia Gorriaran to Battle Southern Middle Distance Talents Over 800 Meters The women's invitational section of the 800 meters looks awesome as a handful of top names are scattered throughout the entries. However, Georgetown's Melissa Riggins and Harvard's Sophia Gorriaran seem to be the clear favorites as far as collegians go. Riggins looks excellent right now. She was a top-half All-American in the mile at the NCAA Indoor Championships last month and just ran 4:07 for 1500 meters at the Bryan Clay Invitational to emerge as the top collegian. And let's not forget, she initially started her collegiate career as an 800-meter, running 2:03 last spring and running 2:03 at the BIG East Indoor Championships this past winter to win the conference title. With newfound aerobic strength and tons of momentum, Riggins is primed to run something exceptionally fast. And frankly, I don't see too many scenarios where she's not the top collegian. Sophia Gorriaran, however, is not going to make life easy for the Hoya standout. The Harvard rookie has been good this year, maybe even really good. And even though she has yet to match her 800-meter PR of 2:00.58, Gorriaran has still proven to be a consistently competitive name with a high floor. And given how well the Harvard women have been running in the middle distance events as of late, it feels like this Crimson freshman is due for a big result of her own. Two names who you need to keep an eye on are Star Price and Makayla Paige, a pair of rising middle distance standouts from the ACC who are trending in a positive direction. The former ran 2:02 for 800 meters this past winter and finished a narrow 3rd place at the ACC Championships. The latter name, meanwhile, just ran a huge 2:01.92 (800) PR last weekend at the Duke Invite. If this ACC duo can continue to build upon their recent successes, then it isn't unrealistic for both of these women to run in the 2:01 range on Friday. And if they do, then they would validate their upwards-trending resumes. Can Any Collegians Take Down Indiana's Camden Marshall Over 800 Meters? By comparison, the men's 800-meter field at the Wake Forest Invitational isn't quite as stacked as the women's field. However, Indiana's Camden Marshall is seemingly primed for a big-time performance. After all, he holds a 1:46 PR, recently posted a 1:47 effort at the Bryan Clay Invite and had a really strong win over 800 meters at the BIG 10 Indoor Championships this past winter. That being said, Rynard Swanepoel of Wake Forest was sneaky-good throughout last spring, running 1:47 for 800 meters multiple times, even posting his PR at this meet. And after seeing him produce a 3:41 PR for 1500 meters, all signs are pointing to the Demon Deacon veteran having one of his better performance. The same can be said for Andrew Regnier of North Carolina. His 800-meter PR sits at 1:47, but that was from his high school days. Thankfully, the Tar Heel rookie showed us that he can still produce times close to that mark, running 1:48.33 for 800 meters this past winter on the indoor oval. If he can replicate his 1:47 form, then he'll be a challenging name to take down. And how about Reed Cherry? The Northeastern middle distance talent has been an underrated name for a while, but this is his first season of racing since February of 2023. He recently posted a 1:51.98 (800) mark en route to a comfortable win, but for the most part, he's a major question mark given his recent lack of results. Simply put, if either of those men can catch Marshall on an "off" day, then there's a chance that one of those three men could be the top collegian. Anass Essayi Returns to Action via 1500 Meters Following a disappointing end to his indoor track season, this South Carolina star is set to return to the outdoor oval this weekend for his second race of the season (he ran 1:47 for 800 meters recently). And when he does, he'll toe the line for the 1500 meters, an event in which he owns a 3:32 PR in (from last summer). After running 3:50 in the mile last year and then 3:51 in the mile this past winter, it truthfully wouldn't be a shock if Anass Essayi scared the collegiate 1500-meter record of 3:33.74 come Friday night. This is someone who thrives in time trial settings and his personal bests suggest that he'll be close to Eliud Kipsang's mark if the race plays out in his favor. However, for as much as I like this field, I don't see many men pushing Essayi to that extent. He'll still run an excellent time, but this may not be the race for an NCAA record. Behind Essayi is a slew of men who could finish in any order. The most reliable of them all is Nick Foster. The Michigan veteran has been so solid during the regular season and he often comes up big in high-profile non-championship races like this. And given how consistent he has been with his times this year, Foster feels like a safe pick in our predictions. Nick Plant may be viewed as an 800-meter runner, but he is much better in the mile and 1500-meter distances than some may think. The Virginia Tech sophomore was arguably the best 1200-meter leg of any DMR lineup this past winter and he was an All-American over 800 meters in March, showcasing impressive poise despite his youth. Plant does hold personal bests of 3:59 (mile) and 3:41 (1500), but that latter time came at the Colonial Relays (en route to a win) in what seemed to be a pretty obvious rust-buster. He is undoubtedly capable of more. The only questions is...how much more? Foster Malleck (Boston U.) and Tyler Wirth (Cincinnati) are two key names who I feel are fairly underrated. Both men went under four minutes in the mile multiple this past winter. The former has run 3:55 and the latter has run 3:57. With recent personal bests on their resume, it wouldn't be surprising if both of these guys dipped under 3:40 (1500) this weekend. Maia Ramsden Headlines 1500-Meter Field Loaded With Talented Pro Runners & All-Americans When TSR writes these previews and says that someone is a "favorite," we usually mean that the athlete is the collegiate favorite. That, however, is not the case here as Harvard superstar Maia Ramsden could very much be considered the overall favorite to win this race despite the pros who are entered in this field. At this point, we don't really need to explain why Ramsden is such a heavy favorite to win. She's a 4:24 miler with international championship experience who has shown elite tactics and a variety of gear changes that very, very few women can match. Alright, now let's talk about everyone else... Virginia Tech's Lindsey Butler and NC State's Sam Bush are two key names to watch as they'll likely be battling to be the second-best collegian in the field. Most people may view Butler as primarily an 800-meter runner. And for the most part, that would be an accurate assessment. However, let's not forget that the Hokie veteran ran 4:31 in the mile last year and advanced to the finals in that event at the 2023 NCAA Indoor Championships. Butler hasn't given us any reason to doubt her fitness as of late. In fact, she's arguably in better shape now than she was in the winter of 2023. And after thriving in a very fast 2023 Boston U. race which yielded her 4:31 PR, it's easy to think that Butler could run a comparable time on Friday. As for Bush, her slow rise throughout the winter months after rebounding from a fall injury led to her running a fantastic 15:32 (5k) personal best which later earned a 15:25 conversion. Tack on a 4:35 mile PR and you get someone who, in theory, should be reaching her peak fitness at this exact time. Admittedly, consistency is something that Bush is still working to reestablish. Throughout this academic year, certain performances of hers have been different from others. However, a big race in this field could begin to turn the tables and give the NC State veteran even more momentum going into the NCAA Outdoor Championships than she had for the indoor national meet. Other women such as Judy Kosgei (South Carolina) and Taryn Parks (North Carolina) are more than capable of being competitive with Butler and Bush. Each of those women own 4:34 mile PRs and are fairly dynamic, Kosgei especially. The biggest question, however, is if those women can replicate a similar 1500-meter time in this field. Graham Blanks Set to Return, Will Battle Parker Wolfe & Deep Field Over 5000 Meters Rejoice! Graham Blanks has returned! The Harvard distance star and reigning 2023 cross country national champion is seemingly set to return from his four-month hiatus. After running a then-NCAA record of 13:03 (5k) at Boston U. in early December, Blanks was rumored to have sustained an injury, leaving him sidelined for the rest for the winter months. Of course, in an Olympic year, it's the outdoor oval that matters the most. However, Blanks is going to have his work cut out for him. The Crimson star will be going head-to-head against Parker Wolfe who has been the second-best distance runner in the NCAA behind only Nico Young. And after seeing him post a 3:36 (1500) PR the other week, there aren't any signs that Wolfe's momentum is slowing down. On paper, this is a fantastic matchup, but in most nuanced discussions, the Tar Heel superstar would be (and likely is) favored to be the top collegian. Blanks likely wouldn't be entered in this race if he wasn't healthy and fit, but given Wolfe's recent success and lack of rust, he will have the edge. There are a large handful of other talented men in this field who could be in store for a big PR if they're willing to hang with what may be a fast pace. One of those men is David Mullarkey, the Florida State star who was excellent in the fall and was just as good in the winter. The 7:42 (3k) talent has traditionally leaned towards the 5k as his primary distance. And after running 13:28 (5k) on the indoor oval a few months ago, this Seminole star gives us very little to dislike about him. Tennessee's Yaseen Abdalla has been a challenging name to figure out. There is no denying that he's talented -- he did, after all, run 7:42 (3k) in each of his last two winter seasons -- but consistency has alluded him at times. Thankfully, his floor for lesser performances has raised considerably since last year. And based on his cross country success (minus the national meet), he is long overdue to crack the 13:40 (5k) barrier again. And how about Ethan Strand? The North Carolina runner just threw down an electric 1500-meter time of 3:35 last week and clearly looked like a more poised ace this past winter. Admittedly, the 5000 meters is a move up in distance for this Tar Heel star, but his raw talent alone should will him to be a sub-13:30 (5k) at the very least. Speaking of milers who are moving up to the 5k, Rocky Hansen has returned! Well, he actually returned this past winter, running two 3k races in February and leaving the ACC Indoor Championships with a 7:56 (3k) personal best. The Wake Forest star captured the attention of almost every cross country fan this past fall after securing outstanding top-10 finishes at two major invitationals despite only being a true freshman. However, a late-season injury kept Hansen out of the national meet as well as most of the ensuing indoor track season. It's hard to know what we should expect from Hansen on Friday. He built his reputation on the track in high school, mainly as a miler, but his recent cross country success suggests that he could be a 5k standout. Of course, with just four total races on his collegiate resume, predicting what he'll do tomorrow night feels like a shot in the dark. Other men such as Acer Iverson (Harvard), Nickolas Scudder (Charlotte), Jack Jennings (Tulane), Dylan Schubert (Furman) and a few others could also thrive in a race that may end up as a pure test of one's aerobic strength. Does the Women's 5000-Meter Field Have a Singular Collegiate Favorite? To answer the headline's question, no, I don't think so. Of course, just because I don't think there is a singular collegiate favorite in this field doesn't mean that I think the field is bad. In fact, I think quite the opposite -- this field is stacked. Toeing the line for the women's 5k on Friday night will be Georgetown's Chloe Scrimgeour, Georgetown's Melissa Riggins, NC State's Grace Hartman, NC State's Amaris Tyynismaa, Columbia's Phoebe Anderson and Harvard's Maia Ramsden. NC State's Sam Bush is also in this field, although per one coach, she is expected to be the pacer on Friday night after she contests the 1500 meters. The two "safest" picks you could make are probably Scrimgeour and Hartman. The former was a double 7th place All-American at the indoor national meet last month. The latter, meanwhile, was also an All-American in this event last month and recently secured a huge 32:28 (10k) win at the Raleigh Relays a few weeks back. In my eyes, Scrimgeour is more established and more proven while Hartman has all of the upside and momentum in the world. Who you pick to be the top collegiate finisher in this race is likely based on which of those two resumes you prefer the most. Maia Ramsden is a legitimate threat to Scrimgeour and Hartman. However, I wouldn't be totally surprised if she doubled back from the 1500 meters. And if she only intends to toe the line for one race, then Ramsden is likely doing the 1500 meters rather than the 5k. Melissa Riggins has proven to be a far better long distance runner this year than we expected her to be. However, her entry in the women's 800 meters a few hours beforehand creates an interesting Friday night of potential races for her. Amaris Tyynismaa is exceptionally talented and is slowly beginning to gain momentum once again. I don't necessarily see her matching her 15:30 (5k) PR tomorrow night, but it's important to remember that, at one point, she was one of the best 5k runners that the NCAA had last spring. Lost in the crowded mass of star names is Columbia's Phoebe Anderson, one of the NCAA's more underrated distance runners...at least in the eyes of The Stride Report. After a great cross country season, the Lion veteran continued to thrive on the indoor oval. She ran 15:33 for 5000 meters to gain a conversion of 15:26 which eventually put her on the national stage. While her competition will be tough, I wouldn't be totally shocked if Anderson ended up defeating all of the women who we just spoke about. NC State Veteran Kelsey Chmiel Set to Return After Nearly Six-Month Long Hiatus, Will Contest 10k The women's 10k field at the Wake Forest Invitational admittedly feels fairly light in comparison to a few others. However, it is worth noting that NC State's Kelsey Chmiel is in the entries! For those of you who may have forgot, the Wolfpack veteran was thriving this past fall before a season-ending injury took her out of the regional and national meets. But now, after many months of waiting, NC State's aerobic-centric star has returned and is seeming going to contest her ideal event (the 10k). I have no idea what to expect from Chmiel this weekend. Her competition is simply not as good as her and one of the better runners in this field, Mackenna Curtis-Collins, is apparently set to be the pacer (per one coach attending the meet). Your guess is as good as mine in terms of what we think she could produce, but I highly doubt that Coach Laurie Henes would field her veteran standout if she wasn't fit and wasn't able to be competitive. Who Will Come Out on Top in Men's Steeplechase? I'd be lying if I said that this men's steeplechase field was particularly loaded with stars -- because it's not. Even so, the top section does feature a small handful of names who could find themselves on the national stage in June. Duke's Michael Keehan, NC State's Brett Gardner and Eastern Kentucky's Pedro Garcia- Palencia, Virginia Tech's Declan Rymer and Alabama's Allan Kiplagat are the key athletes who we'll be monitoring. Keehan was great for the Penn men last spring before transferring to Duke as a graduate student. The steeplechase veteran ran a PR of 8:36 in the event and also posted a 3:59 mile PR on the outdoor oval. However, he was unable to make it out of the East regional meet. Gardner is a very good steeplechaser and, when he's at his best, could be the top collegian in this field. The NC State veteran has run 8:37 over the barriers and water pits and has been very steady over the last year or two. With a mostly-solid 8:42 steeplechase effort at the Raleigh Relays a few weeks ago, this Wolfpack runner should be able to dip under the 8:40 barrier come Friday. With an 8:40 steeplechase PR, Garcia-Palencia is roughly in the same tier as Keehan and Gardner. However, given his lack of exciting performances over the last year, it's tough to gauge expectations for this 2023 outdoor national meet qualifier. As for Rymer, there are a lot of subtle marks on his resume which suggest that he could be in store for a strong PR. Since the beginning of February, the Virginia Tech runner has posted new personal bests in the mile, 3k and 5k. So when you consider that the steeplechase is his best event, it's not unrealistic to say that he'll scare the 8:40 barrier. However, arguably the most interesting runner in this field is freshman Allan Kiplagat from Alabama. If his name sounds familiar, that's because we reported on his addition to Alabama's roster this past winter. He enters the NCAA with an 8:41 PR. While it's hard to know what kind of impact international athletes with limited results like him will have, the Crimson Tide have a proven track record of consistently landing legitimate high-impact contributors from overseas. And if I was a betting man, I'd say that Kiplagat will be exctly that. Who You Got? Markezich vs Lemngole in Women's Steeple Despite everything that we just discussed, this could very easily be the best race of the meet. In fact, this could be the best race of the entire weekend! That's because Notre Dame juggernaut and steeplechase superstar Olivia Markezich will be toeing the line against Alabama's new aerobic-centric star, Doris Lemngole. And in theory, a battle between these two ladies could lead to fireworks and historically fast results. Those who read TSR consistently are plenty familiar with Markezich's resume. She ran 9:25 in the steeplechase last spring to win the NCAA title in that event. She later went to the USA Championships where she placed 4th in a blistering PR of 9:17. And since then, this Fighting Irish standout has been on absolute fire. Lemngole, meanwhile, has been just as good as Markezich, although her success has come over the longer distances. But more importantly, the Crimson Tide rookie boasts a very strong 9:35 PR over the barriers and water pits from her time in Kenya. Oh, and by the way: That time was run at over 5000 feet of altitude. This race seems like it could be incredibly fast, especially with someone like Lemngole in the field. Markezich will enter as the favorite, but that is simply because we know that she's an elite NCAA steeple talent and she's proven it before. Lemngole, meanwhile, feels like much more of an x-factor by comparison. As for everyone else, the South Carolina women seemingly have a new distance runner weapon on their roster: Teresa Cherotich. The Gamecock talent from overseas holds decent personal bests, but a 9:55 (steeple) mark stands out. That 9:55 PR did come all the way back in 2022, but given that she's run a handful of personal bests this year, it seems safe to say that she could be due for a new PR. PREDICTIONS: 2024 Wake Forest Invite (collegians only) *Denotes that a collegian is also entered in another individual event. However, an athlete will not be denoted with an asterisk if TSR knows that the athlete is entered in a certain event for pacing duties. In these predictions, TSR is assuming that each runner is contesting an event fresh (i.e. not doubling back). Women’s 800 Meters Melissa Riggins (Georgetown)* - 2:00 Sophia Gorriaran (Harvard) - 2:01 Star Price (Virginia Tech) - 2:02 Makayla Paige (North Carolina)* - 2:02 Sylvia Chelangat (South Carolina) - 2:03 Men’s 800 Meters Camden Marshall (Indiana) - 1:47 Rynard Swanepoel (Wake Forest) - 1:47 Andrew Regnier (North Carolina) - 1:48 Kerem Ayhan (Northeastern) - 1:48 (H2) Jack Balick (Wake Forest) - 1:48 (H2) Women’s 1500 Meters Maia Ramsden (Harvard)* - 4:06 Lindsey Butler (Virginia Tech) - 4:10 Sam Bush (NC State) - 4:10 Judy Kosgei (South Carolina) - 4:11 Taryn Parks (North Carolina) - 4:12 Men’s 1500 Meters Anass Essayi (South Carolina) - 3:35 Nick Foster (Michigan) - 3:38 Nick Plant (Virginia Tech) - 3:38 Foster Malleck (Boston U.) - 3:39 Tyler Wirth (Cincinnati) - 3:39 Women’s 5000 Meters Chloe Scrimgeour (Georgetown) - 15:19 Grace Hartman (NC State) - 15:23 Phoebe Anderson (Columbia) - 15:31 Maia Ramsden (Harvard) - 15:35 Amaris Tyynismaa (NC State) - 15:39 Men’s 5000 Meters Parker Wolfe (North Carolina) - 13:10 Graham Blanks (Harvard) - 13:14 David Mullarkey (Florida State) - 13:22 Ethan Strand (North Carolina) - 13:29 Jack Jennings (Tulane) - 13:34 Women’s 10,000 Meters Kelsey Chmiel (NC State) - 32:55 Alexa Westley (Wisconsin) - 33:17 Kelsey Swenson (Georgetown) - 33:24 Mercy Kinyanjui (Toledo) - 33:25 Carly Wilkes (Furman)* - 33:31 Men’s 10,000 Meters No Entrants Women’s 3000-Meter Steeplechase Olivia Markezich (Notre Dame) - 9:22 Doris Lemngole (Alabama) - 9:24 Teresa Cherotich (South Carolina) - 9:46 Angelina Napoleon (NC State) - 10:01 Kayla Gholar (Tennessee) - 10:06 Men’s 3000-Meter Steeplechase Brett Gardner (NC State) - 8:36 Allan Kiplagat (Alabama) - 8:39 Michael Keehan (Duke) - 8:40 Declan Rymer (Virginia Tech) - 8:41 Pedro Garcia-Palencia (Eastern Kentucky) - 8:46

  • TSR's 2024 D3 Outdoor Top 20 Rankings (Men): Update #2

    Written by Conor Daly, Kevin Fischer & Gavin Struve Additional edits & commentary by Garrett Zatlin & Gavin Struve Click here to see our Just Missed and Honorable Mention names. Listed eligibility takes redshirts and Covid-related extensions into consideration. TFRRS is used as a general, but not strict, guide when determining eligibility. 20. Jonathan Zavala, Junior, Brockport State (-5 / 15) Jonathan Zavala has had a very similar past month-and-a-half to the runner ranked one spot ahead of him. That's to say he earned a bronze medal at the indoor national meet, ran a personal best in his tertiary event (the 5k) and produced a modest time in his first 1500-meter race of the season. The latter mark was a 3:56 which put Zavala behind Colin McLaughlin and thus incentivized us to move him behind his Carnegie Mellon counterpart. Zavala seemingly just got overwhelmed in a field with a number of Division One runners. He has competed on the national stage as an individual multiple times now, so we wouldn't go as far as to say he needs to validate his mile breakout from the past winter. 19. Colin McLaughlin, Junior, Carnegie Mellon (-2 / 17) It may be the case that Colin McLaughlin's optimal racing distance only exists on the indoor oval after we saw him produce a breakout bronze medal performance in the 3000 meters at the indoor national meet last month. We're still waiting for McLaughlin to carry over that fitness to the outdoor oval, but we expect he's still in line to improve upon his 12th-place result in the 1500 meters from the 2023 NCAA Outdoor Championships. He has raced the metric mile distance twice already this spring, improving his seasonal best to 3:51 this past weekend as he also ran a 1:54 (800) PR. That's enough to stay in our rankings for this update, but McLaughlin's true proving ground likely comes later next month. 18. Colin Kirkpatrick, Junior, Pomona-Pitzer (0 / 18) On the heels of his first All-American finish on the indoor oval, Colin Kirkpatrick has had a unique start to the outdoor track season. He hasn't had an optimal start in his primary event, the 3000-meter steeplechase, but it hasn't been that concerning, either. Kirkpatrick opened with a solid 9:00 steeplechase at Stanford, recorded a "DNF" at his home meet a week later (he may have been pacing) and finished nearly 10 seconds off of his personal best (while getting outshone by a couple of other D3 men) with a still-respectable 8:53 effort at the Bryan Clay Invitational. However, any real consternation about Kirkpatrick's level of fitness should be dispelled by a strong 3:47 (1500) effort that he produced in a double this past weekend. This Sagehen star is still very much in the mix in a stacked D3 steeplechase picture. 17. Cory Kennedy, Senior, RPI (-7 / 10) The first two races of Cory Kennedy's outdoor track season were underwhelming at surface level, sure, but understandable all the same. After a well-deserved month off following the indoor national meet, Kennedy appears to be gradually ramping up in distance with each successive race this spring. The Engineer ace began April with a 1:57 (800) PR and then ran a 3:59 metric mile mark at Bucknell which landed him behind two of the men ranked immediately below him. The difference is that the 1500 meters is hardly Kennedy's best event even if his 3:52 PR is considerably faster than what he just produced. Kennedy's racing trend suggests that he is seemingly set to move up to his ideal event (the 5000 meters) next. We think this is a large enough drop as we wait for a result more reflective of his talent level. 16. James Settles, Senior, Colorado College (-8 / 8) While the past two months have brought a handful of PRs for James Settles, they haven't necessarily improved his sky-high stock following a 4th-place result at the 2023 cross country national meet. Settles did not run a true winter campaign, racing on the indoor oval just once before rattling off a handful of personal bests in the 5k (14:07), the 800 meters, the 1500 meters and most recently the 10k (29:46). His latest race was another 5000-meter effort at the Bryan Clay Invitational where he ran a solid 14:11 mark that left us wanting a bit more. Even so, Settles is still very much a national threat considering he earned a top-half All-American finish in the 5000 meters last spring by running 14:12. 15. Gunner Schlender, Junior, UW-Whitewater (-6 / 9) After finishing higher in the 3000 meters (4th) than he did in the 5k (7th) at the 2024 indoor national meet, it feels fair to say that Gunner Schlender's speed is perhaps better than it's ever been. That's why it makes sense that the reigning 10k bronze medalist was a ways off of his personal best in his optimal event last weekend. The Warhawk stud ultimately ran 29:54, nearly a minute slower than his personal best, at the Bryan Clay Invitational. But after the winter he enjoyed, and a strong 3:53/14:10 (1500/5k) double at the Washington U. Distance Carnival two weeks ago, Schlender likely isn't all too far from his peak form. 14. Enrique Salazar, Senior, Manchester (Unranked) One of the biggest risers in this edition of our outdoor track rankings, Enrique Salazar seems to be putting together a strong encore in his final collegiate campaign. He found similar success earlier this academic year, finishing as a top-half All-American in the fall and competing in two different events at the indoor national meet while coming close to All-American finishes in both. After an encouraging 29:22 (10k) effort to start the spring, Salazar rode a strong Bryan Clay heat to a 13:54 (5k) personal best. He seems primed for another double at the outdoor national meet next month where he should nab another All-American finish after finishing 4th over 10,000 meters last spring. Salazar is starting to feel like one of the more reliable commodities among long distance stars. 13. Noah Jorgenson, Junior, Central College (+3 / 16) Noah Jorgenson is the kind of talent who left us wanting for a bit more after a 4th place mile finish at the 2024 indoor national meet. With that being said, this middle distance specialist looks to be in fantastic form right now after a 1:50 (800) and 3:49 (1500) weekend double at the Bryan Clay Invitational. While neither of those marks were personal bests, they’re both only tenths of a second from it. In the 1500 meters, Jorgenson finished less than a second behind the reigning mile silver medalist. There are only so many ways to say that Jorgenson is "right there." His times and race placements are both among the best in the business, and he's surely one of the prominent middle distance names right now. 12. Max Svienty, Senior, North Central (+8 / 20) Following a 3rd place finish at the 2023 cross country national meet, it was a bit of a letdown to see Max Svienty miss out on the indoor national meet altogether. Yet, if Svienty’s early-season outdoor track races have indicated anything, it’s that he is back to his prior cross country form. A 13:57 (5k) effort at UW-Platteville is a huge mark, just topping his previous personal best. It’s his second time venturing under 14 minutes, proving that he’s a name we can consistently count on in time trial-style races. With many of the usual stars in the 5k and the 10k not performing up to their potential so far during this outdoor track season, Svienty’s 13:57 (5k) and 29:06 (10k) times make us view him as an All-American favorite in both events. 11. Spencer Moon, Senior, Simpson (IA) (Unranked) Dropping the NCAA #3 all-time mark in the 5k will certainly earn you a spot in our rankings. With a 13:51 (5k) performance at UW-Platteville, this Simpson (IA) veteran was the top Division Three finisher in a field that was loaded with some of the best names in the country. Spencer Moon’s fitness is as good as anyone’s over 5k and 10k. If he is able to finally run close to his full potential at the outdoor national meet, then he, like Svienty, will be a double All-American. 10. Adam Loenser, Junior, UW-La Crosse (Unranked) It’s not very often that we see an already established national-level talent produce a PR in their first steeplechase race of the season. However, Adam Loenser did just that, and then some, at the Bryan Clay Invitational. Previously holding a very strong steeplechase personal best of 8:50, Loenser took a whopping six seconds off of that mark to finish less than a second behind the national title favorite, Christian Patzka, at the same meet. An 8:44 effort is simply a monumental mark to be run at any point, but especially this early in the season. Like anyone else who has had a breakout performance, we want to see Loenser replicate that feat (or at least come close to it) before we truly declare him as a challenger to Collet and Patzka for steeplechase gold. But if we had to guess, he'll be able to do so. After all, Loenser also holds a new 5k personal best of 14:06 which is leaps and bounds above where he was last year when he was already a steeplechase All-American. 9. Chasen Hunt, Sophomore, Lynchburg (+2 / 11) If you want to talk about range, look no further. We spent the last rankings update discussing Chasen Hunt's 14:03 (5k) mark at the Raleigh Relays. This time around, we are talking about his strong 800/mile double at the Dennis Craddock Coaches Classic. Hunt first went toe-to-toe with star teammate Sam Llaneza, ultimately settling for a runner-up finish en route to a 4:08 mile. The following day, the sophomore added the cherry on top with a very quick 1:51 (800) effort. Ideally a 3k runner, Hunt has already thrown down in the 5k and has the potential to do the same in the 1500 meters. Based on what he’s done this season, that’s almost sure to happen when he gets the chance. He's undoubtedly due up to improve upon his 3:50 personal best which he ran as a true freshman last year. 8. Eric Anderson, Junior, UC Santa Cruz (+4 / 12) We effectively called Eric Anderson a late bloomer after he rallied to a surprising runner-up mile finish at the indoor national meet. Well, as it turns out, Anderson is still blooming after running a pair of personal bests at the Bryan Clay Invitational. The Banana Slug star first ran 1:50 for 800 meters, but more impressively, won his highly competitive heat. That’s a great sign when it comes to evaluating his tactical awareness, especially when you consider that we haven’t seen him compete at the national level often. Anderson then returned to the track the next day to drop a very solid 3:48 (1500) mark, finishing 4th place in his heat. Now, with impressive new PRs in both middle distance events, Anderson is entering the prime time of the outdoor track season with clear momentum. 7. Sam Verkerke, Junior, UW-Eau Claire (0 / 7) Has not competed since our last rankings update. 6. Cael Schoemann, Sophomore, UW-La Crosse (-2 / 4) Opening his season with a 3:53 (1500) PR, Cael Schoemann showed a little bit better range than we’ve seen from him in the past. He followed that performance with a 1:50 half-mile outing at the Bryan Clay Invitational. Schoemann has run faster than that latter mark, but it was a solid season debut in his primary event. It will be difficult to defend his indoor 800-meter crown, especially if Bennett Booth-Genthe joins him in that event on the national stage, but Schoemann is still very much in the mix among the best of the best. 5. Sam Llaneza, Junior, Lynchburg (+1 / 6) A 14:25 effort over 5000 meters at Colonial Relays was a really nice performance for Sam Llaneza. It showed that he still has some of the aerobic strength from his near cross country All-American miss this past fall. Then, this past weekend, Llaneza won an incredibly competitive 800-meter race at the Dennis Craddock Coaches Invitational with a personal best mark of 1:49.13 (0.25 seconds faster than his previous PR from last year’s outdoor national meet prelim). Add in his 3:46 metric mile effort from a few weeks ago, and it looks like he is virtually a lock for a double All-American finish. It's been great to see that Llaneza is already in postseason form in April. 4. Christopher Collet, Senior, Wartburg (+1 / 5) We often talk about the outdoor track season being Collet’s best because of the inclusion of the steeplechase, but sometimes he puts down a performance that reminds you how great he is without barriers as well. His 13:55 (5k) PR at UW-Platteville did just that this past weekend. And his metric mile win at his home meet over Noah Jorgenson was a pretty nice performance as well. Collet’s form these last two weeks has been great, and it seems to indicate that his 9:00 season-opening mark in the steeplechase is due to be blown out of the water soon. 3. Ethan Gregg, Senior, UW-La Crosse (0 / 3) Has not competed since our last rankings update. 2. Christian Patzka, Junior, UW-Whitewater (-1 / 1) Taking our TSR #1 ranking away from Christian Patzka was an incredibly tough decision, especially since he has been quite solid recently. After winning the 1500 meters at his home meet, albeit in a somewhat pedestrian time, he put together an 8:43 steeplechase effort at the Bryan Clay Invitational. That was just one second shy of his personal best which was set in a national meet final, so Patzka is ahead of where he was in the event at this time last year. Ultimately, we were just too impressed with Booth-Genthe to not move him up...but that doesn’t mean that we don’t still view Patzka very highly. 1. Bennett Booth-Genthe, Junior, Pomona-Pitzer (+1 / 2) A 1:48.08 (800) mark at the Bryan Clay Invitational improves upon Bennett Booth-Genthe’s personal best by a quarter of a second and brings him within arms reach of the 1:47 territory. When you consider that he has a mile PR of 4:00 and that he has a national title in that event from the indoor track season, the gap between him and the next-best middle distance runners starts to look more like a chasm. In previous national meets, Booth-Genthe has only contested one of the mile/1500-meter or half-mile. But if he were to ever decide to double, this would be the season for it. It will take a special effort to knock him off in either event. ADDED Adam Loenser (UW-La Crosse) Spencer Moon (Simpson (IA)) Enrique Salazar (Manchester) KICKED OFF Vince Simonetti (RPI) Grant Matthai (UW-La Crosse) Frank Csorba (Lynchburg) JUST MISSED (in no particular order) Vince Simonetti (RPI) Grant Matthai (UW-La Crosse) Frank Csorba (Lynchburg) Isaac vanWestrienen (Cornell College) Caleb Correia (John Carroll) Lance Sobaski (Wartburg) Ethan Domitrovich (John Carroll) Nate Lentz (Williams) Simon Heys (Wilmington (OH)) Jayden Zywicki (UW-La Crosse) Aidan Matthai (UW-La Crosse) Will Kelly (St. Olaf) Sam Acquaviva (MIT) Ryan Harvey (Loras) Braden Nicholson (North Central) John Lucey (Williams) Trevor Richwine (Dickinson) Braedon Gilles (UW-Stevens Point) Tyler Schermerhorn (Wartburg) Michael Olson (Plymouth State) Derek Fearon (Pomona-Pitzer) Jake Shumaker (Millikin) Charles Namiot (Williams) Dawit Dean (Emory) Spencer Watry (Emory) HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no particular order) TJ Carleo (Brandeis) Ryan Hagan (SUNY Geneseo) Ivan Appleton (Tufts) Joe Franke (Loras) Reza Eshghi (Haverford) Ned Farrington (Bates) Henry Hardart (MIT) Emmanuel Leblond (Johns Hopkins) Lowell Hensgen (MIT) Will Goddard (Bowdoin) Parker Heintz (UW-La Crosse) Adam Sylvia (Central College) Andrew McGovern (Carnegie Mellon) Elijah Meder (Hope) Kyle Miller (Buena Vista) Calvin Boone (St. Scholastica) Chase Upmann (Carthage) Ziyad Hassan (MIT) Oscar Roering (Pomona-Pitzer) Will Houser (Washington U.) Connor Riss (North Central) Lucas Florsheim (Pomona-Pitzer) Cameron Hatler (Pomona-Pitzer) Adam Sage (Claremont-Mudd-Scripps) Michael Madoch (UW-La Crosse) Mason Shea (UW-Eau Claire) Aidan Manning (UW-La Crosse) Peter Weiss (George Fox) Steven Potter (UW-Oshkosh) Sean Hendricks (Rochester) Notes - N/A

  • TSR's 2024 D3 Outdoor Top 20 Rankings (Women): Update #2

    Written by Conor Daly, Kevin Fischer & Gavin Struve Additional edits & commentary by Garrett Zatlin & Gavin Struve Click here to see our Just Missed and Honorable Mention names. Listed eligibility takes redshirts and Covid-related extensions into consideration. TFRRS is used as a general, but not strict, guide when determining eligibility. 20. Lexi Brown, Senior, Wartburg (-2 / 18) Has not competed since our last rankings update. 19. Haley Schoenegge, Freshman, Vassar (Unranked) Throughout the indoor track season, we were talking about the great success that Haley Schoenegge found in the mile. But this time, we’re blown away by her performance in another race: the 5000 meters. At the Bucknell Bison Outdoor Classic, Schoenegge ran a fantastic 5k to emerge as the top Division Three finisher in an astonishing time of 16:32. From her winter campaign, we knew that the Vassar freshman would be a prominent name in the mile (or metric equivalent), but there had been nothing up to this point that would suggest she was capable of this kind of performance in an event that truthfully is more challenging for freshmen to adjust to. However, this effort now gives Schoenegge some fantastic proven range when coupled with her 4:37 metric mile performance from earlier spring. It was just one of those races that took her to another tier. 18. Genna Girard, Senior, Williams (-4 / 14) Has not competed since our last rankings update. 17. Kayla Werner, Sophomore, Lynchburg (Unranked) This 3000-meter indoor national meet qualifier didn’t look the least bit fazed by her first 5k on the track, excelling in the event with a 16:34 mark at the Colonial Relays. That’s a performance that we knew was possible based on Kayler Werner's cross country season which culminated in All-American honors. Of course, it’s nice to see that projected upside become reality. Tack on a pair of strong recent performances of 4:53 (mile) and 4:32 (1500) that make Werner’s resume all the more convincing, especially in the early stages of the outdoor track season. All signs indicate that Werner is due for an outdoor track season that tops her winter campaign. 16. Deyanneira Colon Maldonado, Junior, Aurora (Unranked) If we were to tell you that Deyanneira Colon Maldonado has run 16:34 (5k) and 4:32 (1500), then you would probably shrug your shoulders and think "Yeah, that’s about right for a woman ranked in this range." But what if we told you that the Aurora ace ran that 1500-meter time less than 24 hours after that 5k performance? If we had to guess, you would probably be pleasantly surprised just as all of us at TSR certainly were. Not only are these marks very good on their own, but they show Colon Maldonado’s excellent ability to double. Aside from the indoor national meet, she has proven time and time again that running two races on the same day or during back-to-back days is no problem for her. That series of results has to improve her stock and we feel increasingly confident she that can earn double All-American honors come late May. 15. Dale Leonard, Freshman, Ramapo (-2 / 13) The highest-finishing true freshman among the distance events at the indoor national meet has had a solid start to her outdoor track campaign. Already this month, Dale Leonard ran a personal best 2:13 (800) before running a solid 4:34 (1500) mark and matching her newly minted half-mile personal best the next day. While none of those times by themselves are incredible, Leonard’s consistency certainly has been, particularly for a rookie. Sure, she’ll have to run faster to make it to the outdoor national meet, but after a 4th-place mile finish at the 2024 indoor national meet, we think we’ll see her earn a return to that stage in the coming weeks. 14. Julia Howarth, Junior, MIT (Unranked) There may not be an athlete in Division Three who improved their stock as much as Julia Howarth did this past weekend. At the Raleigh Relays in late March, Howarth ran a very solid personal best of 2:11 (800). However, that was just the tip of the iceberg as two weeks later, she ran an eyebrow-raising time of 2:08.08. I’m not sure we have the words to express how drastic that improvement is. This MIT star went under 2:10 (800) for the first time in a huge way -- with a three-second personal best. Howarth has been a national qualifier in the half-mile twice, but in a landscape where the event has been dominated by Emma Kelley, she just made a huge case for herself to be the second-best D3 woman in the country at that distance. This ranking could prove to be modest if Howarth continues to perform at this level and backs up that performance. Even so, we need to see a few more outings to be convinced. 13. Shaelyn Hostager, Junior, Wartburg (+2 / 15) After running a major personal best over 10,000 meters to open the spring season, Shaelyn Hostager moved to the 5k at UW-Platteville and found just as much success. Her 16:32 mark to finish in 2nd place in a loaded field (only behind teammate Aubrie Fisher) was a statement performance that (unsurprisingly) places her firmly in the All-American favorite category. Hostager was already in that category for the 10k (and was an All-American over 5000 meters this past winter), but it is certainly a nice development to see her defeat fellow top-20 names in a distance half as long as her optimal event. 12. Ellie Rising, Junior, George Fox (-1 / 11) Has not competed since our last rankings update. 11. Caroline McMartin, Senior, Central College (-1 / 10) The double that Caroline McMartin put together at the Bryan Clay Invitational was really solid if not mind-blowing. She fell just short of a steeplechase PR with a 10:30 mark, but a season debut that currently ranks among the top-three in the country is nothing to scoff at. It was also nice to see McMartin come back with a 4:31 (1500) PR at the same meet. Her converted 4:49 mile effort from the winter months suggests that she is capable of going slightly faster, but again, this isn’t a performance that we can criticize much. 10. Allison Sibold, Junior, St. Lawrence (-2 / 8) The 2024 mile runner-up is having some trouble replicating her emergent success early-on in this outdoor track season. After notching a comfortable 800-meter win against lesser competition to open the season, Allison Sibold had a tough go of things at Bucknell the following weekend, running "only" 4:49/2:25 in a 1500/800-meter double. Just a month ago, we saw what Sibold is capable of at her best, so we certainly aren’t counting her out yet. We would also be interested to see how she'd fare over 5000 meters given her 3k success this winter and her cross country All-American finish last fall. 9. Natalie Bitetti, Senior, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (0 / 9) Despite a rough outing over 5000 meters at the Bryan Clay Invitational, Natalie Bitetti’s stock is still quite high. It's clear her fitness is in a much better place than her recent 17:06 (5k) result indicated, especially when reviewing her 4:26 (1500) and 2:14 (800) double at the Pomona-Pitzer Invite just a little over a week ago. Both of those latter two marks were personal bests and that metric mile effort sits at NCAA #3 this season. One underwhelming mark isn’t enough to drop Bitetti in our rankings, especially when she has looked so strong in what we'd argue is her primary event. 8. Hope Murphy, Junior, Baldwin Wallace (-1 / 7) Hope Murphy continues to contest practically every event imaginable. After opening her season with some longer races, she flexed her speed with a 400-meter/200-meter double, running 58.52 and 26.89, respectively. Then at Bucknell, she put together a 4:29/2:10 double in the 1500 meters and the half-mile, marks that are knocking on the door of her personal bests and will grant her safe passage to the outdoor national meet barring something completely unprecedented. Being a part of the exclusive sub-27-second (200) club and the sub-37:00 (10k) club is something that, in theory, should help Murphy thrive in any race situation. 7. Evelyn Battleson-Gunkel, Junior, U. of Chicago (-1 / 6) Evelyn Battleson-Gunkel has hardly had the strongest past two weeks of any woman in the top-half of our rankings. She ran 4:35 (1500 meters) to finish 7th in a race that she could have won at the Chicagoland Championships. The Maroon star then ran 16:33 (5k) while falling to a pair of Wisconsin runners and another duo of Wartburg women. The latter result was better than the former and it indicates that Battleson-Gunkel is not far from her best form. If anything, she's getting her less optimal performances out of the way before the more critical weeks of the season. After shifting her focus from the mile to the 3k and the 5k this past winter, and then running a 10k PR (in an impressive win) to open her outdoor track campaign, it seems likely that she will focus more on the 5k and 10k this spring. 6. Megan Johnson, Junior, Central College (+6 / 12) After having one of the best first halves of April of any D3 woman, Megan Johnson is deservedly the biggest riser in this edition of our rankings. This Central College ace started her season with a 10k PR in late March and then dropped way down in distance for a 1500-meter win (and PR) over fellow stars like teammates Caroline McMartin and Peyton Steffen as well as Wartburg's Aubrie Fisher and Ellie Meyer, the latter two of whom were competing on their home track. Johnson then ran even faster over that distance, setting a new metric mile PR of 4:31 at the Bryan Clay Invitational. However, her most significant result this month was a 10:19 steeplechase PR while winning her heat against a large Division One contingent. That mark puts her comfortably at NCAA #1 this season. Johnson now looks primed to become much more than the backend steeplechase All-American that she was last spring. In fact, she could legitimately challenge for the national title if she continues to progress at this rate. 5. Grace Richardson, Senior, NYU (0 / 5) Add Grace Richardson to the list of athletes who have run multiple PRs throughout this still-young outdoor track season. The difference between her and most (and a similarity between her and Megan Johnson) is that she achieved her new set of personal bests between the 1500 meters and the 10k! Marks of 34:06 (10k) and 4:26 (1500) run two weeks apart at Raleigh Relays and Princeton's Larry Ellis Invitational, respectively, put her at NCAA #2 and NCAA #4 this season. The fact that Richardson thrived in two different deep and competitive fields bodes well for her postseason prognosis as we near the season's midway point. 4. Aubrie Fisher, Senior, Wartburg (0 / 4) Aubrie Fisher has recently crossed paths with several of the women ranked directly below her in our top-20. She sits just behind Megan Johnson at NCAA #2 in the steeplechase after winning her season opener, then also finished runner-up behind Johnson over 1500 meters at the Wartburg Outdoor Select meet before toppling Battleson-Gunkel and Shaelyn Hostager over 5000 meters this past weekend. The latter two marks -- 4:35 (1500) and 16:28 (5k) -- were both PRs for Fisher. This reigning steeplechase national champion may be wise to attempt the 5k/steeplechase double on the national stage for the second year in a row given how sharp Johnson also appears to be over the barriers and water pits this spring. Their first meeting in that event could come with an American Rivers Conference title on the line. 3. Grace Hadley, Senior, WPI (0 / 3) It speaks to Grace Hadley's scorched-Earth start to 2024 that we questioned whether she had any chance at upwards mobility in this week's rankings. Alas, Emma Kelley and Fiona Smith appear to be all but immovable fixtures atop our rankings. But this past weekend, Hadley joined them in holding an NCAA #1 mark this season. Hadley, who has also run nationally competitive PRs in the 800 meters and the 10k in recent weeks (quite the dichotomy), just produced an eyebrow-raising time of 4:17 (1500) that sits as D3's fastest mark this season by five seconds. The WPI veteran has emerged as the clear metric mile title favorite after winning gold in the mile at the 2024 indoor national meet. But after tripling on the national stage last month, we anticipate that Hadley may contest an additional event in late May. She was an All-American in the 5000 meters last spring, so we're excited to see what she could achieve over that distance this spring. 2. Emma Kelley, Junior, Washington U. (0 / 2) The past fortnight brought more personal bests for Emma Kelley in her final Division Three campaign before transferring to the University of Wisconsin. They weren't in her primary distance, the half-mile, but rather the metric mile (4:22), the 400 meters (54.18) and the 200 meters (24.72). Those results have her at NCAA #2, NCAA #1 and NCAA #11, respectively, this spring in addition to her NCAA #1 mark for 800 meters. As a publication that focuses on the distance events (800 meters and up), usually when we talk about range, it's from those distances up. But Kelley has a singular speed-based skillset that is so lethal and so unique to our rankings that it allows her to easily handle anything thrown her way. 1. Fiona Smith, Junior, St. Benedict (0 / 1) There are a strange amount of athletes who have run both the half-mile and the 10,000 meters early this season, and you can count Fiona Smith among them. That she ran PRs in both (2:16 and 32:57) speaks to her control over her fitness and a desire to improve upon it. Sandwiched in between those results was a pair of wins over 1500 meters. Smith now sits at NCAA #1 in the 10k this season by over a minute and NCAA #5 in the metric mile. Given that she has won titles in her past three races on the national stage and has been no worse than a top-half All-American at every national meet since the spring of 2021, Smith feels like she still holds the most value atop these rankings even for as good as the women in and around her orbit have been. ADDED Julia Howarth (MIT) Deyanneira Colon Maldonado (Aurora) Kayla Werner (Lynchburg) Haley Schoenegge (Vassar) KICKED OFF Lexi Fernandez (MIT) Penelope Greene (SUNY Geneseo) Maddie Kelly (U. of Chicago) Alessia Sarussi (Washington U.) JUST MISSED (in no particular order) Lexi Fernandez (MIT) Penelope Greene (SUNY Geneseo) Maddie Kelly (U. of Chicago) Alessia Sarussi (Washington U.) Cyna Madigan (UW-Oshkosh) Tanise Thornton-Fillyaw (Goucher) Maddie Hannan (UW-La Crosse) Audrey Maclean (Middlebury) Libby Ranocha (Emory) Danielle Schultz (Washington U.) Brigid Hanley (Emory) Sara Stephenson (Johns Hopkins) Riley Buese (Lewis & Clark) Paige Phillips (Coast Guard) Rachel Hirschkind (SUNY Geneseo) Amelia Lehman (UW-Oshkosh) Elisabeth Camic (U. of Chicago) Rachel Krouse (UW-Stevens Point) Faith Duncan (Wilmington (OH)) Megan Bell (Rochester) Kayla Kass (Stockton) Ellie Meyer (Wartburg) Laura Zimmer (Claremont-Mudd-Scripps) HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no particular order) Kate Sanderson (MIT) Caitlin Jorgensen (U. of Chicago) Helen Cross (Carleton) Lucy Gagnon (Williams) Annessa Ihde (Bethel (Minn.)) Julia Schor (Amherst) Mckayla Felton (UW-Stout) Annie Huang (Johns Hopkins) Rebecca Markham (Hope) Peyton Steffen (Central College) Estelle Snider (U. of Chicago) Kate Cochran (NYU) Lara Kallem (Simpson (IA)) Helena Teixeira-Dasilva (Washington U.) Mary Blanchard (Carleton) Hannah Preisser (Carleton) Sophie Tedesco (U. of Chicago) Kendall Accetta (Colorado College) Elle Marsyla (Claremont-Mudd-Scripps) Annika Carlson (Chapman) Ella Whinney (Wellesley) Alexandra Blake (Washington U.) Pria Parker (Smith) Riley Capuano (Claremont-Mudd-Scripps) Jules Bleskoski (RPI) Notes - N/A

  • BREAKING: Top Transfer Prospect Alexandra Carlson Commits to Northern Arizona

    Earlier today, Northern Arizona announced that Rutgers' Alexandra Carlson has committed to joining the Lumberjacks, presumably starting next fall, as a transfer. According to TFRRS, the Scarlet Knight star is expected to hold one full year of eligibility across all three seasons of competition (at the conclusion of her current spring campaign). The soon-to-be former Rutgers distance talent has produced excellent personal bests of 2:42 (1k), 4:31 (mile), 8:56 (3k) and, more recently, 15:53 (5k) during her time in New Brunswick, New Jersey. It should also be noted that Carlson finished 10th at the 2023 Mid-Atlantic Regional XC Championships. Landing someone of Carlson's caliber is significant for an NAU program that will soon be without a small handful of key names from last year's cross country squad. According to TFRRS, top All-American standouts such as Gracelyn Larkin and Annika Reiss are expected to be out of cross country eligibility this coming fall. While the Lumberjacks did add excellent names such as Alyson Churchill and Karrie Baloga from the transfer portal this past winter, high-octane reinforcements were still going to be welcomed in Flagstaff, Arizona. Admittedly, the bulk of Carlson's best performances have come on the track. She qualified for the 2023 NCAA Indoor Championships in both the mile and the 3000 meters and took down a very good field to win the 2024 BIG 10 mile title this past winter. Even so, it's the caliber of her 4:31 (mile) and 8:56 (3k) personal bests which suggest that this incoming transfer has far greater potential on the grass than what she has shown us so far. That theory may have gained even more steam recently after Carlson ran 15:53 in her first collegiate 5k race on the track since the spring of 2022. Carlson isn't expected to be the make-or-break piece that the Northern Arizona women will rely on come the fall of 2024. She could, however, end up being a key backend runner who offers valuable depth or, on a good day, quickly closes out the top-five scoring for the Lumberjacks. But more importantly, Carlson's prowess on the track seemingly mimics the skillsets seen by current NAU standouts such as Maggi Congdon and Annika Reiss. Those women are mile-centric runners who are plenty effective over 3000 meters (or some other longer distance races, including cross country) as well. After a challenging stretch of races throughout last spring, Carlson appears to be rounding back into form. She's not yet in peak shape, but she's certainly approaching that stage. And it's that remaining upside that could make her such a valuable transfer prospect, especially for an NAU program that has done wonders with developing their athletes.

  • Blue Oval Podcast: The Transcendent Greatness of Parker Valby & Colin Sahlman Enters NCAA Title Contention

    Podcast production via Wyatt Barnsley Another week, another incredible Parker Valby performance. This week, the guys are back on the pod after an incredible weekend of racing to break down results from the Bryan Clay Invitational (and Duke Invite), including outstanding efforts from Alex Phillip, Gracie Hyde, Michaela Rose, Wes Ferguson, Colin Sahlman and many more. Be sure to listen, subscribe and review! (1:54) Parker Valby Destroys NCAA 10k Record (8:04) Colin Sahlman Wins Men’s 1500m in Blistering 3:33.96 (20:03) Ethan Strand and Parker Wolfe Go 1-2 at Duke Invite in 1500m (21:05) Melissa Riggins and Chloe Foerster run 4:07 PRs (24:11) Hilda Olemomoi Runs 15:06 For NCAA #2 Outdoor 5k Time (29:13) Brian Musau Narrowly Defeats Habtom Samuel for 5k Win (30:37) Abdelhakim Abouzouhir & Victor Kibiego Run 8:25 (Steeple) PRs (35:25) Where Would Gracie Hyde Rank Amongst D1 Runners? (39:38) Is Greta Karinauskaitė Still an NCAA Title Contender? (42:00) Alex Phillip Runs 27:51 (10k) PR (44:48) Michaela Rose Becomes Second Collegiate Woman to Break 1:59 (800) (46:36) Is Wes Ferguson the Best 800m Runner in the NCAA? You can listen to that episode (and others) on our PODCASTS page! You can also find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Soundcloud. If you like it, be sure to leave us a rating and a review! Note: If you're having issues loading the episode on the site via mobile, try refreshing the episode page. We will look into this issue for future episodes.

  • TSR's 2024 D2 Outdoor Top 25 Rankings (Men): Update #2

    Written by Ian Dickenson & Gavin Struve Additional edits & commentary by Garrett Zatlin & Gavin Struve Click here to see our Just Missed and Honorable Mention names. Listed eligibility takes redshirts and Covid-related extensions into consideration. TFRRS is used as a general, but not strict, guide when determining eligibility. Don't see a top name? Click here, they may be listed as a redshirt this season. 25. Felix Perrier, Junior, Azusa Pacific (Unranked) It’s difficult to parse out what all of the outstanding performances from Bryan Clay mean, but we can be sure that Felix Perrier has just confirmed that he has a national-level quality of talent after running 13:48 for 5000 meters. Perrier was great in his 8:50 steeplechase effort at the Stanford Invitational a few weeks back, but it wasn’t anything exceptionally new from the man who ran 8:54 last year and placed 9th at the outdoor national meet in that event. This performance, however, is clearly a sizable step forward. Perhaps it was the combination of the home track and the unrivaled atmosphere of Bryan Clay, but we have never seen this kind of non-obstacle fitness from Perrier before and it’s incredibly encouraging. With a stacked steeplechase field this spring, it would be easy to overlook the Azusa Pacific junior, but this performance suggests that would be a serious mistake. 24. Dayton Brown, Senior, Adams State (Unranked) Oftentimes, we laud runners for displaying consistency and reliability on the track. That, however, is not quite the case for Dayton Brown who has shown to be something of a wild card. Even so, we’ve seen him be one of the top distance runners in the nation on his best days and the 10k race at Bryan Clay was one of those days. Running 28:35, Brown put himself at NCAA #2 and all but guaranteed a spot at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Momentum is in Dayton Brown’s favor at the moment and he'll be eager to hold onto it longer than he has in the past. 23. Drew Dailey, Senior, Shippensburg (Unranked) In a Division Two middle distance scene that has been dominated by the likes of Wes Ferguson, Harry Ross-Hughes, David Cardenas and (last year) Oussama El Bouchayby, it may have been easy for Drew Dailey to fall off of your radar. However, this established and highly talented 800-meter veteran has seemingly returned to a level of racing that is more on par with his All-American potential that he has flashed throughout his career (but has yet to deliver on). The Shippensburg standout ran 1:49 for 800 meters to open up his outdoor track season and recently posted a very quick 1:48 mark at Bucknell this past weekend. In fact, at that meet, he was less than half a second off of Harry Ross-Hughes. He also two defeated two accomplished Penn State runners in the process. Dailey looks like he has returned to the peak levels of his fitness. And if that's the case, then he should be a very challenging athlete to race against in the men's 800 meters on the national stage. 22. Prince Mcabelo, Junior, West Texas A&M (-3 / 19) It could be slightly puzzling to see a recent 4th-place finisher at the indoor national meet down at TSR #22, but we can’t help but be a little underwhelmed with Prince Mcabelo’s efforts at Bryan Clay. A 1:51 (800) effort is solid, but not truly reflective of Mcabelo's talent, especially considering he finished in 6th place and was way off of the win in his heat. If it was just this one slightly poor race, we would be less inclined to drop the West Texas A&M star, but after also running 1:51 for 800 meters at the Texas Relays, it seems he’s just not in his best form at the moment. We do know that Mcabelo can peak very well at the right time and he's not too far from his prime fitness. But for now, he takes a small drop to accommodate the success of others. 21. George Couttie, Freshman, Charleston (WV) (+3 / 24) Has not competed since our last rankings update. 20. Maxime Touron, Sophomore, NW Missouri (+5 / 25) What Maxime Touron showed more than anything else over the last weekend was unseen strength. He ran a commendable, but not earth-shattering, 1:50.04 mark for 800 meters on Friday. He then came back on Saturday to run a personal best of 3:47 in the 1500 meters. While that was roughly in line with his mile PR that he ran during the winter, the ability to run those times back-to-back is what really impressed us. By comparison, that Bryan Clay performance dwarfs the double that he ran at the indoor national meet when he went 4:05 (mile) and 1:53 (800) and continues to confirm that this NW Missouri sophomore is a top-level middle distance runner. 19. Titouan Le Grix, Junior, Wingate (+3 / 22) Last weekend was another confirmation of Titouan Le Grix’s excellent range. On the west coast, the Wingate standout ran 3:47 (1500) at the Bryan Clay Invitational to post a big PR. Granted, he did run 4:06 (mile) this past winter, and that's roughly the equivalent, but it’s still a positive performance. And don't forget, he ran a 13:49 (5k) PR at the Raleigh Relays two weeks back. Those two races complement each other quite well and they continue Le Grix’s 2024 hot streak. After his best-ever season on the indoor track, the Wingate junior is setting himself up for another career campaign and we are especially interested to see where he fits in the landscape of this outdoor track season given his newfound strength combined with the foot speed that he continues to show in the metric mile. 18. Sam Wilhelm, Junior, Alabama-Huntsville (Unranked) This past indoor track season marked the first time that Sam Wilhelm competed at the NCAA Indoor Championships. And now, by running 28:43 in the 10k at the Bryan Clay Invitational to complement his 13:48 (5k) from the Raleigh Relays, Wilhelm has seemingly solidified his spot for the outdoor national meet, which will also be his first appearance. The Alabama-Huntsville junior has had a massive rise this year. Don’t count him out as a real podium threat in either long distance event at the national meet. His raw fitness seemingly allows him to thrive in fast-paced environments and he only seems to be getting better. That, on paper, is a recipe for a few potential upsets later this season. 17. James Dunne, Junior, Adams State (-1 / 16) Has not competed since our last rankings update. 16. Albert Hesse, Sophomore, Western Colorado (-2 / 14) Has not competed since our last rankings update. 15. Jagger Zlotoff, Rs. Sophomore, UC-Colorado Springs (0 / 15) Jagger Zlotoff is a runner who can reliably run eight to 10 different races in a season and still be in the mix when it matters the most. And with that information in the back of your mind, his 3:45 mark over 1500 meters at the Bryan Clay Invitational was very exciting. That's nearly a two-second PR which is hard to come by for someone who’s been so solid for so long. Zlotoff is fresh off of his best finish at any national meet, but it seems that there’s still more room for him to grow. For someone who loves to peak late, this is a fantastic place to be so early in the season. 14. Tyler Nord, Sophomore, Western Colorado (+3 / 17) In the night of PRs that the Bryan Clay Invitational was, Tyler Nord came out with a substantial 17-second 5k personal best of 13:46. Despite having competed in six national meet races as just an underclassman, he hadn’t shown truly elite fitness in any of the long distance events on the track until now. We’ve seen a lot of runners round-out their skillset, but this is maybe the most impactful display of improved range yet. We already know Nord has the turnover to race tactically, but adding this kind of time to his resume theoretically makes him more dangerous than he’s ever been. 13. Matthew Storer, Rs. Sophomore, Colorado Christian (-1 / 12) We thought that Matthew Storer would start to truly show his long distance chops on the outdoor oval and it looks like that seems to be the case. He just set another PR (that makes it three in a row) this past weekend, this time in the 5k with a 13:47 effort at the Bryan Clay Invitational. While the excellent talent at the top of this list will certainly make it difficult for Storer to capture his first national title (or deserved recognition), it should speak to his ability that it still feels like a real possibility. He is only getting better with each passing race and he has seemingly improved his understanding of competitive racing as far as nuance and tactics are concerned. 12. Ricardo Barbosa, Junior, Wingate (-4 / 8) It's rare that an athlete moves down in our rankings while simultaneously improving their stock. But that's seemingly what happened for Ricardo Barbosa after this weekend. The recent JUCO transfer took to the Bryan Clay Invitational and ran a personal best time of 8:40 in the 3000-meter steeplechase. He was also second-best on his own team (more on that shortly) and saw multiple other high-octane Division Two stars have successful weekends in his primary event. Barbosa is the only D2 steeplechaser to twice run 8:42 or faster this season, but he might not even favored to earn a top-three finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in his first NCAA outdoor track season. Of course, he could prove us wrong with how quickly he's assimilated to this level. 11. Soheil Boufrizi, Junior, Wingate (+10 / 21) The primary reason for Ricardo Barbosa's slight demotion is the success of his teammate, Soheil Boufrizi. As such, Boufrizi is the biggest winner/riser in this week's rankings update. In short, we felt Barbosa couldn't reside above Boufrizi after losing to him head-to-head. Plus, even in this golden age of the men's steeplechase at the D2 level, four of those event specialists in our top-10 felt like too many. All of that brings us to our actual analysis of Boufrizi who was the top D2 steeplechase finisher at Bryan Clay by a somewhat comfortable margin as he shattered his previous personal best with an 8:37 clocking. That time put him ahead of Barbosa, Caleb Futter and D3 superstar, Christian Patzka. Boufrizi's result at the Bryan Clay Invitational would be a nationally competitive, All-American-caliber mark on the Division One scene (or at least close to it). And more importantly, it suddenly thrusts him into the national title conversation at the D2 level. Already a two-time "Most Improved" nominee in our End of Season Awards this academic year, Boufrizi is in line to produce something even more impressive than his 10th-place finish at the 2023 NCAA XC Championships and 5th-place 3k result from the indoor national meet. 10. Jan Lukas Becker, Senior, Mississippi College (+1 / 11) The past couple of weeks proved to be a nice open to Jan Lukas Becker's final collegiate outdoor track campaign. A strong start was especially important after a less-than-ideal finish to his indoor track season. Becker began the month of April with a 13:50 (5k) effort in a runner-up finish against Division One competitors. He then took to his optimal distance, the 10,000 meters, where he ran 28:40 at the Bryan Clay Invitational. That was his fastest time in over two years dating back to when he ran 28:27 at Raleigh Relays. He has competition in the 10k (see a few names below), but Becker is still a grizzled veteran and the defending champion in an event that's more open than most others on the distance spectrum. 9. Juan Diego Castro, Junior, Azusa Pacific (0 / 9) Has not competed since our last rankings update. 8. Harry Ross-Hughes, Sophomore, Lake Erie (+2 / 10) Harry Ross-Hughes is in an enviable position. No, he's admittedly not a strong national title contender or favorite like many of his top-10 contemporaries. However, he's a heavy favorite for runner-up honors over 800 meters in late May, especially now that indoor national meet silver medalist David Cardenas isn't racing. And this sophomore could be primed to become the D2 half-mile national title favorite once all-time star Wes Ferguson graduates later this spring. The personal best mark that Ross-Hughes ran this month actually came in the 1500 meters (4:01), but he also had a strong showing in his primary distance. Instead of taking to the Bryan Clay Invite like many other distance stars, the Lake Erie sophomore competed at the also-competitive Bucknell Bison Classic and finished runner-up in 1:48.62 (800) against a field of D1 and D2 talents. When it comes to middle distance talents in Division Two, he's one of the more complete athletes who you are going to find. 7. William Amponsah, Junior, West Texas A&M (+6 / 13) If not for a record-breaking effort detailed later in this article, William Amponsah may have a claim to the most impressive weekend effort of all of the men in these rankings. The NCAA rookie emerged as one of the top collegians over 10,000 meters at the Bryan Clay Invitational. Amponsah toppled individual D1 stars from distance-centric programs like Alex Maier (Oklahoma State), Aaron Las Heras (Northern Arizona) and Devin Hart (Oregon) among others as he placed 4th overall. Perhaps most important of all, his 28:00 mark put him 40 seconds ahead of reigning D2 10k national champion, Jan Lukas Becker, and 35 seconds ahead of Adams State's Dayton Brown. While one could argue it'd be wise to take the field over any one individual, Amponsah has to be the new 10k national title favorite...right? 6. Reece Smith, Senior, NW Missouri (-1 / 5) Reece Smith hardly produced the nation's fastest steeplechase time this past weekend. Even so, it's hard to find too many flaws with his 8:47 effort over the barriers and water pits en route to a victory in his first race since last May. Smith sat out the first two-thirds of this academic year and finally made his outdoor track debut well into the month of April. Now, he'll be hard-pressed to win a third-consecutive NCAA title in the 3000-meter steeplechase. That said, it's hard to argue with Smith's pedigree and he gave us no reason to move him too far from the top of our rankings. 5. Caleb Futter, Senior, Grand Valley State (-1 / 4) An 8:42 steeplechase effort at the Bryan Clay Invite this past weekend was just off of Caleb Futter's personal best and a few seconds behind the above-listed Wingate star duo. Even so, Futter's elite range, finishing speed and history of success in that event keeps him in our top-five overall and as a national title contender over the barriers and water pits. With that being said, we're beginning to wonder if the steeplechase is really Futter's optimal event or if he should perhaps focus on the metric mile at the outdoor national meet. After all, he won the mile national title at the NCAA Indoor Championships last month. Plus, Miguel Coca is not racing on the outdoor oval this season, so Futter (a 3:58 miler with 1:50 half-mile chops) would arguably be the favorite in that event. 4. Hamza Chahid, Sophomore, Wingate (-2 / 2) It was a mixed weekend for Hamza Chahid at the Bryan Clay Invitational. He ran a solid 5000-meter mark of 13:40 which wasn't all too far from his personal best. And yet, that mark put him a ways back of the D2 all-time record that was produced at the same meet. A year ago this time, Chahid may have been the first name to come to mind if you told purveyors of the Division Two scene that the outdoor 5k record would be broken. Instead, the man who achieved it ran 24 seconds faster than the Wingate ace in the same venue (different heat) and surpassed him in these rankings. If Chahid was disappointed with his 13:40 mark, then he certainly salvaged the weekend in part with a 3:44 personal best over 1500 meters. That effort proves that he still has some of the better outright speed among 5k contenders (he was the indoor national champion in the 5k last month, after all). It also showed us that it probably makes sense for him to contest the 1500/5k double on the national stage again despite recording a "DNF" in the latter event when doing so last year. 3. Simon Kelati, Rs. Junior, Western Colorado (0 / 3) Aside from our TSR #1 name, Simon Kelati is the only individual among our top-eight to have his ranking unchanged. That's a good thing as the Western Colorado ace ran a 5k PR of 13:34 this past weekend, taking down Chahid in the process. Kelati also ran a solid 1500-meter mark of 3:48 for good measure. Last year, the Western Colorado juggernaut ran a 1500-meter PR (3:46) during his 1500/5k double at Bryan Clay before contesting the same double at the indoor national meet. Given the superstar rise that he's experienced this academic year (up to and including a huge 3k national title), this past weekend was an auspicious sign for Kelati. 2. Romain Legendre, Junior, Adams State (+4 / 6) Despite holding two NCAA records (both over the 5k distance) from the past several months, Romain Legendre is a more unknown quantity than some of his peers among this prestigious range of our rankings. But after a colossal 13:16 (5k) personal best and yet another NCAA D2 record (same distance, different season), we had little choice but to move the Frenchman up in our rankings. That's especially true given how wide open (but still replete with talent) the 5k picture appears to be after Legendre ran significantly faster than national champions like Kelati and Chahid in both the 5000 meters and the metric mile (where he ran a PR of 3:41) at Bryan Clay. 1. Wes Ferguson, Rs. Senior, Nebraska-Kearney (0 / 1) Even with a handful of impressive results from his star contemporaries, Wes Ferguson remained unchallenged for his long-held TSR #1 perch. And there's frankly not much more to say beyond that. The Loper megastar was the top collegian (including D1 runners) over 800 meters at Bryan Clay as he posted a 1:45 mark en route to an overall runner-up finish among a slew of pros and D1 talents alike. With his greatest threat to another national title being the underclassman sitting at TSR #8, Ferguson is in the midst of an incredible encore season. ADDED Sam Wilhelm (Alabama-Huntsville) Dayton Brown (Adams State) Felix Perrier (Azusa Pacific) Drew Dailey (Shippensburg) KICKED OFF Josh Pierantoni (Colorado Christian) Jared Gregoire (MSU-Moorhead) David Cardenas (Adams State) Kaleb Tipton (CSU-Pueblo) JUST MISSED (in no particular order) Josh Pierantoni (Colorado Christian) Kaleb Tipton (CSU-Pueblo) Jared Gregoire (MSU-Moorhead) Ryan Hartman (Augustana (SD)) Harry Louradour (West Texas A&M) Duncan Fuehne (Colorado Mines) Dominic Suliman (Saginaw Valley State) Awet Beraki (Adams State) Mason Strader (Pittsburg State) Josphat Meli (Harding) Daylen Madison (Ashland) Scott Spaanstra (Grand Valley State) Paul Knight (Colorado Mines) Angel Luera (Dallas Baptist) Dillan Haviland (Northwood) Kevin McDermott (Western Washington) Alberto Campa (Colorado Mines) Braxton Bruer (MSU-Moorhead) Aziz Mohamed (West Texas A&M) Tanner Chada (Grand Valley State) Benjamin Sumner (Azusa Pacific) Logan Bocovich (Colorado Mines) HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no particular order) Jacob Hatcher (Lee (Tenn.)) Jeret Gillingham (Western Washington) Koby Fraaza (Grand Valley State) Louis Moreau (West Texas A&M) Dawson Gunn (Colorado Mines) Cas Kopmels (Wingate) Daniel Appleford (Colorado Mines) Ramen Felumlee (Cedarville) Warren Thiel (Charleston (WV)) Brock Drengenberg (Colorado Mines) John O'Malley (Colorado Mines) Nicolas Melendres (Azusa Pacific) Ethan Lang (Fort Hays State) Zach Van Brocklin (Nebraska-Kearney) Lewis Cotterill (Tiffin) Noah Bernarding (California (PA)) Patrick Lyell (Grand Valley State) Jordan Foster (Findlay) Enrico Oddone (West Texas A&M) Aris Houston (Cal Poly Humboldt) Trever Medina (Fort Hays State) Titus Lagat (Lee (Tenn.)) Shannon Turner (Cal St. Los Angeles) Drew Weber (Western Washington) Jakob Rettschlag (Wingate) Trent Cochran (Colorado Christian) Alexander Vance (Colorado Christian) Elliot Dotson (Anderson (SC)) Noah Fisher (Findlay) Scott Nutter (Wingate) Nick Melanese (San Marcos) JP Rutledge (Colorado Mines) Ero Doce (Stanislaus State) Mitchel Dunham (Walsh) Evan Horgan (Lewis) Cortland Ross (Illinois-Springfield) Cole Nash (Alaska Anchorage) Kidus Begashaw (Adams State) Emil Bezecny (Adams State) Lars Laros (Wingate) Grant Bradley (Fort Hays State) Andrew Kaye (Colorado Mines) Colton Thress (Ashland) Nixon Korir (Azusa Pacific) Peter Kipkemboi (East Central) Aspel Kiprob (East Central) Notes - Miguel Coca (Adams State) recently ran unattached at New Mexico Spring Invite. And with him not listed on Adams State roster for this spring, we are under the impression that he will not be racing as a collegian this season. It's the same case for his teammate David Cardenas who was in the top-10 of our rankings. - Reece Sharman-Newell (CSU-Pueblo) and Loïc Scomparin (Colorado Mines) are both listed as redshirt/unattached athletes on TFRRS. As such, they're not featured in our rankings, but would otherwise have strong cases for top-10 placements.

  • TSR's 2024 D2 Outdoor Top 25 Rankings (Women): Update #2

    Written by Garrett Zatlin & Marissa Kuik Additional edits & commentary by Garrett Zatlin & Gavin Struve Click here to see our Just Missed and Honorable Mention names. Listed eligibility takes redshirts and Covid-related extensions into consideration. TFRRS is used as a general, but not strict, guide when determining eligibility. Don't see a top name? Click here, they may be listed as a redshirt this season. 25. Jessica Simon, Senior, Adams State (0 / 25) Has not competed since our last rankings update. 24. Zoe Baker, Rs. Senior, Colorado Mines (Unranked) This established long distance veteran has looked great in the early goings of this 2024 outdoor track season. Zoe Baker started her spring campaign with a converted 4:27 mark over 1500 meters, but then made a huge statement with her 15:58 (5k) PR at the Bryan Clay Invitational this past weekend! Few women at the D2 level have as much experience as Baker has. And in terms of raw fitness, she is one of the more naturally talented 10k/5k specialists in this division. So in that case...why is she only ranked at TSR #24? The postseason will need to be a greater area of emphasis for Baker. She admittedly struggled at the indoor national meet this past winter. And in prior national meet appearances, she's been solid, but she has also been capable of more. Thankfully, the introduction of the 10k this season should bolster her resume once she attacks that distance. 23. Sarah Koomson, Freshman, West Texas A&M (-2 / 21) After an encouraging 16:22 (5k) performance at the Texas Relays a few weeks ago, Sarah Koomson ventured to the Bryan Clay Invitational. Once there, the West Texas A&M rookie posted solid times of 16:33 (5k) and 4:33 (1500). As a whole, Koomson's weekend could mostly be considered positive. Although, in terms of her full potential, its clear that this Buffalo rookie is capable of so much more. We imagine that Koomson will take some time off after a busy racing schedule and prepare to attack a 10k race which, in theory, could be her best distance. 22. Emily Schoellkopf, Junior, Adams State (-4 / 18) After posting a converted 10:30 steeplechase time in her season debut, Emily Schoellkopf would head to the Bryan Clay Invitational looking for a much faster time. That, however, didn't happen as the Adams State junior settled for a mark of 10:42 over the barriers and water pits. Of course, if you go back and watch the replay, you'll find that the Grizzly steeplechaser ran into some trouble on a water pit early in the race. With no room to hurdle the bar in front of her (she would have hit another runner who quickly cut into her space), Schoellkopf simply ran up to the bar and couldn't jump over it. And when you consider that she was already in the back of the pack, that lone instance ultimately halted any chance of a competitive time for Schoellkopf. There was some level of redemption for Schoellkopf who rebounded to run 16:30 (5k) in what turned out to be a very challenging weekend double. And although this past weekend didn't turn out in her favor, it's hard to look at a flukey isolated hiccup as a direct reflection of her talent and fitness. 21. Precious Robinson, Junior, Adams State (-1 / 20) There admittedly isn't much to discuss when it comes to Precious Robinson. And of course, as we have said multiple times, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. So far this spring, the Adams State talent has run a converted 4:29 mark for 1500 meters and is fresh off of a very solid 34:06 (10k) performance from this past weekend. But truthfully, those were very predictable times given what Robinson has previously shown us. For that reason, we didn't feel the need to dramatically alter her ranking during this update. 20. Vienna Lahner, Rs. Freshman, Adams State (+3 / 23) After a highly successful indoor track season where she earned All-American honors in the mile (and produced a 4:44 PR in that event), Vienna Lahner has returned to racing, looking just as good as she did in March. The redshirt freshman from Adams State was fantastic this past weekend at the Bryan Clay Invitational. The traditional miler did attack the 1500-meter distance and produced a very strong time of 4:22, but we also really liked that she ran 2:12 for 800 meters during that same weekend! That's an encouraging display of turnover that isn't going to blow you away, but is still useful in tactical scenarios if properly utilized. 19. Elizabeth Acheson, Rs. Junior, U-Mary (-2 / 17) Yes, Elizabeth Acheson may be falling back in our rankings by two spots, but that's not necessarily her fault -- other women simply required a boost that surpassed her in our top-25. The U-Mary middle distance star, who peaked beautifully at the NCAA D2 Indoor Championships, began her spring campaign with a pair of solid, but unexciting, 1500-meter and 800-meter efforts. However, Acheson took full advantage of the highly competitive fields at the Bryan Clay Invitational this past weekend. The U-Mary veteran, after many seasons of waiting, finally cracked the 2:08 mark to run a new 800-meter PR of 2:07 before posting a less surprising 1500-meter PR of 4:34. Running 2:07 (800) feels like a substantial turning point for Acheson. Her performance at the indoor national meet felt like it came a bit out of nowhere, but her latest run validates that silver-medal result. Now the question is...can she build on that over the next two months? 18. Marissa D'Atri, Senior, Chico State (Unranked) It's important to not overreact to early-season results. That's why we initially left Marissa D'Atri out of the first edition of our D2 outdoor track rankings despite her running 10:27 and then 10:14 in the steeplechase. But after going to the Bryan Clay Invitational and posting a fantastic steeple PR of 10:08, there is no denying that this Chico State veteran is deserving of a top-25 spot in our rankings. Her latest steeplechase time now sits at NCAA #17 all-time (D2) and positions her to be the silver medal favorite in this event at the national meet (because, ya know, Gracie Hyde). Admittedly, D'Atri did struggle at last year's outdoor national meet, something that is still fresh in our minds. Even so, if she continues to post performances like these leading up to late May, then we'll have no issues eventually moving her into our top-10. 17. Morgan Hykes, Junior, Adams State (+5 / 22) Wow, Morgan Hykes has been on absolute fire so far this spring. The Adams State veteran has been making statement after statement in each of her three meets this season. The Grizzly junior first ran an altitude converted time of 4:23 (1500) at New Mexico, later produced a converted 10:30 steeplechase effort at CSU-Pueblo and more recently posted an outstanding 10:20/16:26 (steeple/5k) weekend double at the Bryan Clay Invitational! In the early goings of the spring months, Hykes looks as good as she ever has. And while we haven't necessarily learned anything new about her, we can still acknowledge that her momentum is among the best in Division Two right now. 16. Leah Taylor, Sophomore, Western Colorado (0 / 16) After a rust-buster at CSU-Pueblo, Leah Taylor opted to do the always popular 5k/1500-meter weekend double at the Bryan Clay Invitational. There, she earned a very strong 5k PR of 16:17 before going on to run 4:29 for 1500 meters. Taylor was a mile and 3k runner throughout the winter months, although her raw talent and exceptional end to her cross country season suggested that she could be a great 5k competitor as well. It's been apparent for a few seasons that Taylor has a ton of talent, she just needed to refine it to be a nationally competitive name. Now, we're finally getting to see that talent permeate across events and bolster the value of her overall resume. 15. Aryelle Wright, Rs. Senior, Colorado Mines (-5 / 10) After a very strong start to her spring campaign (running 2:07 for 800 meters in Miami), Aryelle Wright took a step backwards at the Bryan Clay Invitational. There, she posted a 2:10 mark for the half-mile distance which wasn't all that close to what she's capable of producing. One "off" day shouldn't completely tank someone's ranking, but on a big stage with crowded competition, this was a great opportunity for Wright to further impose her talent against other women of a similar caliber. Of course, given her tendency to peak in the postseason, we wouldn't fret too much about this result. 14. Ana Tucker, Senior, Grand Valley State (-3 / 11) Has not competed since our last rankings update. 13. Tristian Spence, Rs. Freshman, Adams State (+6 / 19) Wow...Tristian Spence is the real deal. The redshirt freshman was excellent over 3000 meters and 5000 meters this past winter, running some outstanding times that validated her top-20 finish at the NCAA D2 XC Championships. And after this past weekend, you could argue that Spence is only getting better with no signs of slowing down. At the Bryan Clay Invitational, Spence dropped an incredible 5k time of 15:58! That kind of time is a huge performance that definitively puts her in a new tier of long distance contenders at the D2 level. Not only that, but she also ran 4:26 for 1500 meters during that same weekend. There are few types of runners more dangerous than an extremely talented underclassman who has tons of upside and all of the momentum in the world. And when we talk about Tristian Spence, that description seems to fit her quite well. 12. Natalie Graber, Junior, Grand Valley State (+1 / 13) Has not competed since our last rankings update. 11. Taryn Chapko, Junior, Grand Valley State (+4 / 15) "Consistency" is the first word to come to mind upon seeing Taryn Chapko’s name. She may not always run flashy marks that shoot her to the top of the NCAA leaderboard, but she is still incredibly reliable when it comes to posting quick times in both the 800 meters and the 1500 meters. Over the past two weekends, Chapko has gone 2:09/4:27 and 2:09/4:25 in the half-mile and metric mile, respectively, putting her in the mix in both events with marks that are a few seconds off of her PRs. But more importantly, we know that she’s especially reliable when it comes to racing on the national stage. Chapko feels like one of the most secure All-American locks between the men’s and women’s D2 distance events. The Laker veteran's combination of consistency and reliability makes her deserving of a rise into the top-half of our rankings. 10. Elena Carey, Junior, Adams State (-1 / 9) After two strong showings over 1500 meters, Elena Carey remains in the top-10 of our rankings and continues to set herself up for national-level success. Two weekends ago, Carey put forth a metric mile time of 4:23 which was altitude-converted to a head-turning mark of 4:17. She then went to the Bryan Clay Invitational and ran a time of 4:25 which was a ways off from her altitude-converted mark, but pretty close to her raw personal best. Some people may look at that 4:25 effort and not be all that impressed. Of course, it's important to remember that Carey is in her first year of NCAA racing. And with the NCAA #2 time over 1500 meters this spring, she looks to be carrying over the form that made her a bronze medalist in the mile last month. 9. Katie Heck (née Fankhouser), Senior, Fort Lewis (+5 / 14) With each weekend, Katie Heck seemingly gets closer and closer to the times that she ran last year en route to a national meet runner-up finish over 1500 meters. Although Heck has not run any personal bests in 2024 yet, she has put up some great marks, including a recent 2:09 effort over 800 meters and a 4:25 mark for 1500 meters. That latter result helped her edge out Elena Carey at the Bryan Clay Invite and was the impetus for her move into our top-10. Heck is at her best in high-stakes racing situations, so not seeing her name as high on the national leaderboards as some of the other women in our top-10 is no reason for concern. Her experience and tactical savvy make her an incredibly dangerous name as we get closer to the RMAC and national meet sendoffs. 8. Allison Beasley, Rs. Sophomore, Western Colorado (0 / 8) While the steeplechase is becoming more and more competitive with each passing season, Allison Beasley still presents herself as one of Division Two's most elite individuals in that event. And sure enough, she has proven it these past couple of weekends. The Western Colorado star posted a 10:32 mark at altitude during the Chuck Haering Invitational as she beat a couple of talented Adams State competitors before producing an unconverted 10:12 effort (a massive PR) at the Bryan Clay Invite. She also doubled back and ran 16:36 (5k) at the latter meet for good measure. Even with defending national champion Eleonora Curtabbi having graduated, this reigning steeplechase national meet runner-up will be hard-pressed to nab gold after Gracie Hyde's introduction to the D2 ranks. Even so, Beasley, who ran unattached during the winter months, looks improved and is ready as ever to compete well when it matters most. 7. Klaudia O'Malley, Senior, Grand Valley State (+5 / 12) The incredible double that Klaudia O’Malley put together this past weekend would likely be receiving a lot more well-deserved recognition if not for Gracie Hyde's record-breaking weekend double at the same meet. O’Malley kicked off her Bryan Clay Invite with a massive PR in the 5k, running a time of 15:51. That mark landed her the top spot on the national leaderboard this season and a faster mark than her RMAC counterparts at the same meet. Then, she doubled back to run 4:20 in the 1500 meters which was only one second off from her PR! The more encouraging element of O'Malley's weekend was not how fast she ran, but rather her ability to do so in back-to-back days. O’Malley has struggled in the past (relative to expectations) when running multiple events on the national stage. But after this weekend, we have a lot of faith that she could potentially find herself on the podium in both of those events come late May. 6. Alaysia Brooks, Junior, Ursuline (OH) (0 / 6) The start of the outdoor track season has been fairly quiet for the most recent 800-meter national champion. Alaysia Brooks opened up her season with a respectable 2:11 half-mile mark in a win and she also put down an impressive 56-second 400-meter time. While Brooks has run nowhere near the 800-meter time that she needs to in order to advance to the outdoor national meet, we fully expect her to turn it on towards the end of the season. Brooks did just that during the winter, running PR after PR in the last couple of weeks of her indoor track campaign before her convincing postseason victory. 5. Florance Uwajeneza, Senior, West Texas A&M (0 / 5) In some ways, Florance Uwajeneza’s 10,000-meter time of 32:52 at the Bryan Clay Invitational feels very expected. She did, after all, almost run the exact same time last year at the same meet. In other ways though, this year feels different, mainly because the 10k national title picture looks wide open. With Lindsay Cunningham potentially not competing this season (which is not confirmed) and Brianna Robles appearing to be focusing on the 5k (for now), Uwajeneza may be the fairly clear 10,000-meter national title favorite at this moment. That's particularly true after she won the most recent indoor 5k national title over Robles and others. At any rate, the thought of Uwajeneza winning a national title in either the 5k or the 10k this spring appears far more likely than the notion of her emerging with gold in March seemed. 4. Brianna Robles, Senior, Adams State (0 / 4) While she didn't run a new PR, Brianna Robles shined once again at the Bryan Clay Invite with one of the fastest 5k times in Division Two this season (15:53). That mark is very much on par with her past seasons and serves as further proof of her continued high-level reliability. Beyond the 5k this spring, Robles has run two 1500-meter races with both marks being quite strong for someone who's more inclined toward the longer distances. We will have to wait and see if Robles returns to the 10k this season, but it appears that she could be focusing on her turnover in hopes of winning a 5000-meter national title if the race turns tactical. Whatever she decides to race, Robles is a good name to bet on to finish in the top-three at the national meet for what would be the 11th time in her career. 3. Kaylee Beyer, Senior, Winona State (0 / 3) Similar to O'Malley, it feels like Kaylee Beyer's success in recent weeks has been overshadowed by Gracie Hyde reaching an even higher plane at the Bryan Clay Invite. Beyer opened her outdoor track campaign with a solid solo effort in the 5k, running 16:09. And at the Bryan Clay Invitational, she focused on her signature event, the 1500 meters, and ran another personal best (4:19). Just like the indoor track season, Beyer figures to have her hands full with Hyde over 1500 meters. But if Beyer chooses to move up in distance, she might be able to find herself in contention for a 5k national title based on her improved fitness throughout this academic year (starting in the fall) and the turnover that she possesses which will help her in any tactical race setting. 2. Stephanie Cotter, Senior, Adams State (0 / 2) It feels strange writing about Stephanie Cotter as our TSR #2 runner, but this Ireland native is an elite second banana for the Grizzlies after almost a year off from collegiate racing. Cotter's first race of the outdoor track season led to a respectable, but unexciting, 2:15 effort for 800 meters. However, at the Bryan Clay Invite, she dropped her half-mile time down to 2:08 while also running 4:27 over 1500 meters. That metric mile time will need to be faster to ensure a spot at the outdoor national meet, but we have no concerns about Cotter being ready for championship season. After all, Cotter has shown on numerous occasions in her career that as long as she gets into the national meet, her ability to execute on that stage will override everything else she did in the regular season. Cotter's speed appears to be ahead of her strength, and perhaps that's how she'll try to set herself apart. Or maybe she's even trying to break into a more open 800-meter scene? We're eager to see what the next few weeks have in store for the 2021 metric mile champion who's also the 2023 mile champion. 1. Gracie Hyde, Rs. Senior, Adams State (0 / 1) To be honest, Gracie Hyde setting two new NCAA records this past weekend was not too surprising. What was surprising, however, was how far under the previous records she went in both the 1500 meters and the 3000-meter steeplechase. On the first day of the Bryan Clay Invite, Hyde destroyed the previous D2 steeplechase record of 9:40, running a time of 9:28. And the next day, she broke the 1500-meter record from 2010 by a little over two seconds with a time of 4:08. Not only is Hyde by far the fastest woman in Division Two right now, but she would be ranked toward the top of our Division One rankings (from whence she came) as well. That, in turn makes her one of the most well-rounded and dynamic runners in all of NCAA. It’s Gracie Hyde’s world and we are just living in it. ADDED Zoe Baker (Colorado Mines) Marissa D'Atri (Chico State) KICKED OFF Lindsay Cunningham (Winona State) Kate Hedlund (UC-Colorado Springs) JUST MISSED (in no particular order) Lindsay Cunningham (Winona State) Kate Hedlund (UC-Colorado Springs) Anna Fauske (UC-Colorado Springs) Ila Davis (Western Washington) Kate Dawson (Pittsburg State) Megan Roxby (Simon Fraser) Kaylee Harp (NW Missouri) Marian Ledesma (Western Washington) Lauren Kiley (Grand Valley State) Molly Maksin (Colorado Mines) Ava O'Connor (Adams State) Riley McGrath (Colorado Mines) Katherine Marsh (Adelphi) Maggie McCleskey (Adams State) Mckenna Cavanaugh (Lee (Tenn.)) Margaux Basart (Colorado Mines) Peyton Weiss (Western Colorado) Holly Moser (Colorado Mines) Maria Mitchell (Grand Valley State) MaKenna Thurston (Minnesota State) Lieke Hoogsteen (Adams State) Jenna Ramsey-Rutledge (Colorado Mines) Reina Paredes (Adams State) Della Molina (Chico State) Kylie Anicic (Edinboro) Annika Esvelt (Seattle Pacific) HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no particular order) Kayce Rypma (Grand Valley State) Katharina Goetschl (Academy of Art) Ines Macadam (Tiffin) Najwa Chouati (Stanislaus State) Erin Dorn (Davenport) Taylor Stone (Flagler) Emma Kjellsen (Western Colorado) Luisarys Toledo (NW Missouri) Isabel Marsh (Adelphi) Shannon King (Colorado Christian) Elizabeth Wamsley (Hillsdale) Khot Juac (Sioux Falls) Caroline Fuehren (Lenoir-Rhyne) Isabel Perez-Zoghbi (Cal Poly Humboldt) Alexa Keiser (Saginaw Valley State) Kaela Dishion (Stanislaus State) Lina Hanich (Academy of Art) Abby VanderKooi (Grand Valley State) Elise Leveel (West Texas A&M) Lydia McGlocklin (NW Missouri) Bailey Blake (NW Missouri) Maggie Williams (Biola) Aria Hawkins (Lee (Tenn.)) Nicole Lawrence (Adams State) Margot Thomas (CSU-Pueblo) Ellie Frye (Dallas Baptist) Sophia Camacho (Azusa Pacific) Betty Bajika (West Texas A&M) Notes - Lindsay Cunningham has not raced since the weekend of February 10th and we are unsure of her status as she prepares to transfer to the University of Wisconsin next academic year. As such, we have removed her from our top-10 and our rankings at large.

  • First Thoughts (Part Two): Is Wes Ferguson the Best 800m Regardless of Division? Plus, Alex Phillip's Huge 10k Win, Michaela Rose's Incredible 1:58 (800) Mark & Gracie Hyde's Monster Steeple Effort

    Welcome back to Part Two of our "First Thoughts" analysis from this past weekend of action. If you haven't already, be sure to check out Part One by clicking here. You can also read up on our piece from Friday highlighting Parker Valby's recent NCAA 10k record by clicking here. With our 1500-meter and 5k analysis now out of the way, we finally get to address a handful of outstanding performances that may have fallen under the radar in the madness of the last few days. Let's dive into them, shall we? Nebraska-Kearney's Wes Ferguson Runs 1:45 (800) to Emerge as Top Collegian at Bryan Clay Invitational You're a consistent reader of The Stride Report, then there's a good chance that you have heard/read the name "Wes Ferguson" before this past weekend. And if you're a Division Two runner/fan, then you absolutely know who this is. The Division Two megastar has been beyond excellent over the last two to three years. He is, without question, the best middle or long distance talent in Division Two right now. And yes, I know, that's a pretty strong statement given that Adams State's Romain Legendre just smashed the former NCAA D2 5k record with a 13:16 personal best. Even so, Ferguson showed us last spring that he could be an elite-level talent at the NCAA D2 Outdoor Championships where he won the national title with a 1:45 (800) PR which was run at altitude. And if he wasn't questionably disqualified at the USA Outdoor Championships last summer, then the UNK star would have been racing in the 800-meter finals of that stage. On Friday, Ferguson validated last year's success by showing the country that he can run with almost anyone in any division. That's because the Loper standout started out his 800-meter race at Bryan Clay in the very back of the pack. In fact, he was in/near last place through the first lap and wasn't anywhere close to the leaders. Even with 200 meters go, Ferguson wasn't in the frame and when the field came off the curve, Ferguson was still at the back. But over the final 100 meters, this Division Two megastar picked off his fast-fading opponents. He was able to advance himself all the way to 2nd place and emerge as the top collegian in an excellent 800-meter time of 1:45. Villanova's Sean Dolan was the other collegian in this race and ran 1:47. There needs to be a serious conversation as to whether or not Wes Ferguson is the best men's 800-meter runner in the NCAA this year, regardless of division. Sure, Texas A&M's Sam Whitmarsh ran 1:44 (800) earlier this spring, but he hasn't been nearly as consistent throughout his career as Ferguson has. Texas' Yusuf Bizimana has a D1 national title at the half-mile distance and has run 1:45 (800) before, but Ferguson has shown on multiple occasions that he can run with (and defeat) pro-laden fields. Iowa's Rivaldo Marshall is continuing to validate himself as a top-tier name after winning the indoor national title in March, but Ferguson is far more established by comparison. However, what really separates Ferguson from everyone else is his tactics. He is incredibly smart when it comes positioning, surging and kicking. He has enough raw fitness to still throw down a big-time finish in a race that required him to run 1:45 (800) if he was going to be the top collegian. Admittedly, some of you could say, "Sure Garrett, but he gets to face lighter competition than some of these D1 guys do." And at a macro level, that would be. However, I would implore you to consider some of the half-mile stars who have recently come out of (or are in) Division Two. Remember, Ferguson had to deal with now-Alabama runner, Oussama El Bouchayby, for a year as well as CSU-Pueblo ace, Reece Sharman-Newell. Both of those men have run 1:45 for 800 meters. Simply put, his path to success has been no walk in the park. Now, in fairness to the other top-tier 800-meter runners, it's important to not let recency bias creep into our analysis which can often lead to some conviction-heavy statements and takes. However, after this past weekend, I think it's more than fair to at least ask if Ferguson is the top overall half-miler that the NCAA has. Surprisingly, no other attached collegian ran under 1:47 for 800 meters at the Bryan Clay Invitational. And funny enough, the only other collegian who did run under 1:47 (800) on Friday was D2 standout, Reece Sharman-Newell (CSU-Pueblo), who was racing unattached. If I'm a D2 fan, I am overjoyed with how the entirety of this past weekend unfolded. As for everyone else, Dolan ran 1:47 while Texas' Cole Lindhorst, Indiana's Camden Marshall and Oregon's Elliott Cook all produced similar 1:47 marks in the second invite section of the men's 800 meters. And while I'd like to offer some kind of new and original insight, I'm not sure that I have anything left to say. LSU's Michaela Rose Solos Incredible 1:58 (800) PR, Becomes Second Collegian to Ever Run Under 1:59 Let's be honest, you and I both knew exactly what was going to happen in this race before Rose and her follow competitors even toed the line. As soon as the gun went off in the women's 800-meter invite field at the Bryan Clay Invitational, LSU's Michaela Rose jolted to the front. And with 300 meters to go, the field wasn't anywhere remotely close to this middle distance phenom. Rose would eventually cross the finish line with a jaw-dropping mark of 1:58.37 for 800 meters. That time improved upon her prior NCAA #2 all-time mark (in-season) that she produced last spring. She also became the second collegian to ever run under 1:59 for the half-mile distance (in-season). When it comes to Rose's actual race, there is very little to discuss. We knew she was crazy fit, we knew she liked to be an aggressive front-runner and we knew that, based on her consistent 1:59 efforts, that she could run 1:58 for 800 meters on a good day. In fact, I even predicted it to happen...and I imagine plenty of others did, too. But with this performance comes an entirely new question: Can Michaela Rose potentially break Athing Mu's NCAA 800-meter record of 1:57.73? Prior to this past weekend, I would have said no. But when you run 1:58-low in the middle of April, you can't help but wonder if Rose has another 0.60+ seconds within her that she can drop. I still think it's more likely than not that Mu will keep her collegiate record by season's end. Even so, the fact that we're even considering that Mu's record could be broken over the next couple of months should tell you plenty about how incredible Rose has been. In the second invite section of the women's 800 meters, we saw Stanford's Juliette Whittaker and Oklahoma State's Gabija Galvydyte each post strong 2:01 times while Washington's Wilma Neilsen produced yet another 2:02 performance. Not only that, but Wilma Nielsen's sister, Julia Nielsen, won the third section of the women's 800 meters, also in a time of 2:02. Both Whittaker and Galvydyte ran very different races, but largely came out with the same result. And while neither woman necessarily looked incredible, they didn't have to, not in the middle of April. With strong 2:01 performances now on their seasonal resumes, they can prep and fine-tune their fitness over the next few months. Clemson's Gladys Chepngetich & Houston's Kelly-Ann Beckford Battle to Pair of 2:00 (800) Marks In a race headlined and led by former Arkansas' star Shafiqua Maloney, it was Clemson's Gladys Chepngetich and Houston's Kelly-Ann Beckford who benefitted the most. While Maloney went on to run 1:59 for 800 meters, it was Chepngetich who ran 2:00.53 while Beckford ran 2:00.70. Texas A&M's Bailey Goggans ran 2:02 in the same race. Truthfully, there isn't much analysis to offer on these women. After seeing what Chepngetich and Beckford did during the winter months, running 2:00 for 800 meters was more or less a given. In fact, Beckford had already run under 2:01 in this event at the BIG 12 Indoor Championships. Even so, what this race does tell us is that the top-end of the women's national 800-meter picture has never been this heavy. We just hit mid-April and we already have nine D1 collegians who have gone under 2:02 (800). In theory, that likely means that there's less room for error for the more established stars...right? North Carolina's Alex Phillip Earns Massive 10k Win in 27:51 as Texas Tech's Ernest Cheruiyot Runs 27:52 Wow...what a race. The men's 10k at the Bryan Clay Invitational turned out to be plenty entertaining as a handful of All-American standouts clashed en route to some very quick times. However, the race didn't really start to get interesting until two-ish miles to go when Texas Tech's Ernest Cheruiyot attempted to gain some separation from a pack that consisted of Oklahoma State's Alex Maier, North Carolina's Alex Phillip, West Texas A&M's William Amponsah and New Balance pro Charles Philibert-Thiboutot. Sure enough, Cheruiyot did exactly that, establishing a lead as large as 15 meters at one point. However, behind him was a pack led by Alex Phillip, the former D3 superstar who had joined the North Carolina men as a graduate transfer this past summer. And it was that same Tar Heel runner who led the pursuit of Cheruiyot over those final two miles. Slowly but surely, Phillip chipped away at Cheruiyot's lead while Alex Maier fell off pace. And with 1000 meters to go, both Phillip and Philibert-Thiboutot caught the Red Raider rookie. In fact, Phillip then took over the lead, cranking down the pace in an effort to shake the likely-tired freshman. But to Cheruiyot's credit, he not only hung tough, but he even tried to take the lead back with a lap to go. That, however, was a short-lived initiative as Phillip returned to the front and ended the race with a fantastic time of 27:51. Cheruiyot was just one second behind while Philibert-Thiboutot ran 27:54 and William Amponsah ran 28:00. Oklahoma State star Alex Maier faded back to 5th place in a time of 28:17. I can't say enough good things about Alex Phillip after seeing that race. There was so much poise and composure in every move he made. He knew exactly what his best racing attributes were and he utilized them perfectly. As a strength-based runner, Phillip clearly understood that it made more sense for him to truly kick with a lap to go rather than with 200 meters to go. And when Cheruiyot established a noticeable gap, the Tar Heel star didn't overreact. Instead, he patiently led the chase pack back to the leader and then made a pass that would usually take men in Cheruiyot's position out of contention. Coming into this weekend, the very broad question that we had for Phillip was, could he be an All-American come June? And after Thursday night's race, I think we very clearly learned that he can, in fact, be an All-American a few months from now. Of course, saying that someone "can be" an All-American doesn't necessarily equate to us saying that they "should" or "will" earn that exact honor. Even so, this was a fantastic race that forces us to reevaluate what kind of contender the Chapel Hill-based long distance star could be over the next few months. As for Cheruiyot, I gotta give him credit, he showed a lot of exciting long-term potential. Did he run the smartest race? No, he truthfully didn't, but that's actually what makes his performance that much more impressive. In my eyes, I thought Cheruiyot went too early in his attempt to gain separation. And when he put himself ahead of Phillip going into the last lap, I thought it would have made more sense to tail his UNC counterpart and try to respond to what Phillip was doing rather than assuming the lead duties with 400 meters remaining. And yet, despite all of that, Cheruiyot effectively responded to moves that would usually take top contenders out of the mix. He never truly faltered from the lead and was still in contention to win with 100 meters to go despite having to deal with a small barrage of lead changes. When you take all of that into consideration, I can't help but view Cheruiyot as someone with so much untapped potential and tons of upside. West Texas A&M's William Amponsah was outstanding with his 28:00 (10k) PR. In a year where the men's 10k at the D2 level seems somewhat light, this Buffalo star firmly placed himself back into the national title mix. And give that he was the D2 national champion in the fall, the idea that he could win gold in late May is plenty realistic. As for Alex Maier (Oklahoma State) and Aaron Las Heras (Northern Arizona), those two distance standouts ran 28:17 and 28:19, respectively. While those are certainly times that demand respect, we also expected both of these veterans to have a much greater presence in this field in the latter-half of the race. It would be wrong to dismiss Maier and Las Heras as top-tier names at the Division One level. Remember, both of these men were All-Americans a month ago. The former earned two of those honors at the indoor national meet and the latter ran some insanely fast times throughout the winter months. Abdelhakim Abouzouhir Runs 8:25 to Emerge as Top Collegiate Steeplechaser Over Victor Kibiego (8:25) Before we get into the race, I want to give a shoutout to Iowa State's Gable Sieperda. Without him being as aggressive as he was, this race wouldn't have been nearly as fast as it turned out to be. He deserves major kudos for giving us one of the fastest early-season steeplechase performances in recent memory. However, when Sieperda did fade, it was Eastern Kentucky's Abdelhakim Abouzouhir who took over alongside pro runners Benard Keter and John Gay. For the most part, the focal point of this race was those three men. And despite being a collegian with a noticeably slower PR than his pro counterparts, Abouzouhir kept things very competitive throughout the remainder of the race. In the end, that trio would cross the line somewhat together with Keter and Gay going 1-2 while Abouzouhir posted a fantastic steeplechase PR of 8:25. According to TFRRS, that was a 10-seconds personal best. Of course, when you look at the results, you'll find that there was a fourth name who also crossed the line with that aforementioned trio. That man was Victor Kibiego, the former UTEP steeplechase star who was the bronze medalist in this event at last year's NCAA Outdoor Championships. Kibiego has since transferred to Texas A&M (as of this past winter) and was considered to be the clear and obvious steeplechase national title favorite going into the spring months. However, an underwhelming indoor track season and a "just okay" steeplechase effort at the Stanford Invite (where he ran 8:45), left us wondering if this Aggie runner was still the gold medal threat that we thought he could be. Well, after seeing Kibiego throw down an outstanding last lap on Thursday, he was able to run a very competitive time and finish next to someone who we would very much consider to be a national title contender. More simply, this race was important for two reasons. The first is that Abouzouhir backed up his excellent steeplechase win at the Stanford Invite, further validating himself as a contender for NCAA gold come June. The second is that Victor Kibiego put together a performance that reassured us that he is, in fact, as good as we thought he'd be. I'd still like to see Kibiego run with the top pack rather than throw down a crazy last-lap kick, but Thursday's result is exactly what we were looking for. We then come to Rob McManus and Levi Taylor, a Montana State duo that continues to thrive when racing next to each other. After being competitive with Abouzouhir at the Stanford Invite a few weeks ago, the Bobcat duo improved their marks to 8:29 and 8:30, respectively, on Thursday night. That's a PR for the former and a very near PR for the latter. When we eventually reach the national stage, it's going to be very hard to leave these Montana State men out of our All-American predictions. Coach Lyle Weese has been brilliant when developing steeplechasers and he now has two guys who are very heavy All-American favorites. In fact, with the way that Rob McManus is running right now, you could argue that he's a legitimate factor in the national title conversation...even though it's still very early in the spring season. Regardless, I'm a big fan of what these two men are doing and after them, the number of reliable nationally competitive steeplechasers seemingly begins to dwindle (although not entirely). Other key results include Notre Dame's CJ Singleton running 8:33 while Iowa State's Gable Sieperda was rewarded for his front-running with an 8:34 PR. In total, 11 different collegians broke the 8:40 barrier in the steeplechase at Bryan Clay, a surprisingly impressive number for this time of the year. Gracie Hyde Shatters NCAA D2 Steeple Record in 9:28 to Emerge as Top Collegian Over Florida's Elise Thorner (9:28) We should start this question with a clarifying note. While the headline does read that Gracie Hyde emerged as the top collegian in this field, it was actually BYU's Lexy Halladay-Lowry who won the entire race in 9:26. However, because Halladay-Lowry is running unattached, it's Hyde who gets the "top collegian" nod. This was an interesting race that was very top-heavy with a handful of select stars. Initially, California Baptist's Greta Karinauskaite led the way, an unsurprising move given how aggressive she was with her front-running last year. But while the Lithuanian distance talent held her own, she was eventually overtaken by a small pack of women which included fellow NCAA standouts, Gracie Hyde (Adams State) and Elise Thorner (Florida). And when Halladay-Lowry pounced to the front and opened up the field even more, it was those two women who seemingly benefitted the most. In the end, Hyde would run a fantastic time of 9:28 in the steeplechase to easily shatter the former D2 record of 9:40. Thorner would also run 9:28, a new PR, after putting together an impressive last lap. Karinauskaite would finish as the third collegian and in 6th place overall in a time of 9:37. Let's talk about Gracie Hyde who is putting together the single-best year of performances that a D2 distance runner has ever had on the track -- and it's not close. In just this past weekend alone, the Adams State superstar ran two new NCAA D2 records -- 4:08 over 1500 meters and 9:28 in the steeplechase. In fact, she didn't just break those records, she shattered them. So far this year, Hyde has run 2:05 (800), 4:08 (1500), 4:30 (mile), 8:58 (3k) and 9:28 (steeple). It should also be noted that her 2:05 mark gets a conversion down to 2:04. In terms of value, Hyde's resume is absolutely insane and it would almost certainly be good enough for her to be ranked inside of our top-25 D1 rankings (although the exact spot would be debated). I don't really know what more we could possibly say about this Arkansas Razorback-turned-Grizzly distance talent. She is on a completely different tier compared to everyone else in D2. At the moment, there isn't anyone who can come remotely close to matching her accolades. As for Thorner, I loved that she thrived in this kind of race. There were a handful of women who could have legitimately attacked the front of this field in a variety of different ways. But Thorner kept herself out of trouble and then powered home over the last few laps to make up some ground and essentially cross the line next to Gracie Hyde (who she briefly passed at one or two points). For years now, Thorner has been one of the more reliable steeplechasers in the NCAA. She's been a two-time All-American in the event and she had run as fast as 9:32 during her time with New Mexico. However, her latest effort at the Bryan Clay Invite feels like a breakthrough to the next echelon of collegiate steeplechase stars. Sure, Thorner may not be in the national title tier yet, but I don't know how many D1 women other than Olivia Markezich, Greta Karinauskaite and maybe Ceili McCabe have the potential to match her this spring. As for Karinauskaite, it's hard to be concerned about a 9:37 steeplechase effort in the middle of April. If anything, that's a step in the right direction after a tough 5k showing at the Stanford Invite a few weeks ago. With a 9:26 steeplechase PR and a silver medal in this event from last year's NCAA Outdoor Championships, this Lancer veteran is still very much part of the national title discussion. Remember, Karinauskaite peaked beautifully at the tail-end of last spring. If she can do that again, then she'll very much be battling with Thorner and maybe even Markezich yet again. Quick Hits Big-time run for North Carolina's Makayla Paige who ran 2:01 (800) this past weekend. That's a substantial (and well-deserved) PR for someone who has been consistently solid over the last few seasons. LSU's Lorena Rangel Batres has been making nice improvements over the last few seasons and this past weekend, she was rewarded with a 4:11 (1500) PR. Arkansas' Sydney Thorvaldson (15:25) and Texas Tech's Juliet Cherubet (15:27) both posted sub-15:30 efforts for 5000 meters this past weekend. Those times will likely be overlooked, but those are very encouraging results for both women who could both be significant factors over 10,000 meters later this spring. BYU's Jenna Hutchins (32:52), West Texas A&M's Florance Uwajeneza (32:52) and Texas' Eva Jess (32:54) will unfortunately be overlooked for their 10k efforts given what Parker Valby did. Even so, those were strong marks that deserve a nod of respect. British Columbia's Kiana Gibson (9:51), BYU's Taylor Lovell (9:51), Boston College's Emma Tavella (9:53), Minnesota's Zoie Dundon (9:57), Kansas' Lona Latema (9:58) and Oregon's Katie Clute (9:59) all cracked 10 minutes in the women's steeplechase. And for the most part, I would imagine that all six of those ladies are very happy with their performances. Clemson's Tarees Rhoden threw down a 1:46-high mark for 800 meters this past weekend. That's not too surprising given what he's done previously, but it does show us that he's still in competitive form.

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