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  • PREDICTIONS: 2024 Brooks PR Invitational

    Predictions & analysis by Donny Speas, additional edits & commentary via Garrett Zatlin The Brooks PR Invitational holds a unique place in the high school track and field world. It's not an outdoor national meet, though the fields are often just as good (if not better) than most events at the "official" national meets. While winning an event at Brooks PR is an absolutely incredible achievement and typically sets athletes up for a great career in the NCAA (some past winners include Stanford's Juliette Whittaker and Virginia's Nathan Mountain), the emphasis is always on the clock at this meet. Last year, we saw a pair of incredible meet records, one by Jane Hedengren in the girl's mile, running 4:35.69 and one by Simeon Birnbaum in the boy's two-mile, running 8:34.10. This year's fields look to be just as strong with amazing matchups spread across the board. Below are our picks for each of the distance events... Girl’s 800 Meters Ali Ince (Normal Community) - 2:02 Sadie Engelhardt (Ventura) - 2:02 Clare Stegall (Noblesville) - 2:05 Nicki Southerland (Delta) - 2:05 Olivia Cieslak (Haverford Township) - 2:05 Analysis: The showdown between Ali Ince and Sadie Engelhardt might be the best head-to-head matchup at this meet. Actually, scratch that, it IS the best head-to-head matchup at this meet. Ince is the three-time defending champion (yes you read that right) and is looking to pull off the four-peat while Engelhardt is dropping down in distance to test her wheels after breaking the national record in the mile, running 4:28 at the Hoka Festival of Miles. Expect this race to be a fast one. With the pedigrees of these top-two athletes, I don't see a world in which this race is won in a time slower than 2:03. One athlete to watch out for is Notre Dame commit Nicki Southerland who has only lost once during this outdoor track season (a 3200-meter race back in April). She is quietly building some lethal momentum. Boy’s 800 Meters Patrick Hilby (Aurora Catholic) - 1:48 Ethan Walther (Salesianum) - 1:48 Noah Nielson (American Fork) - 1:49 Tyler Matthews (Red Mountain) - 1:49 Cooper Lutkenhaus (Justin Northwest) - 1:49 Analysis: Wisconsin commit Patrick Hilby comes into this race as the presumptive favorite. During this academic year, he has won the New Balance indoor national title over 800 meters, won the largest regular-season invitational at Arcadia (over a handful of athletes in this field) and has only suffered one loss during this outdoor track season (an "off" distance 1600-meter race) where he still came home with a new 4:12 personal best. Two athletes who could play spoiler are Salesianum's Ethan Waltherm who just won the HOKA Festival of Miles title over 800 meters and has run 1:49-flat this spring, and Red Mountain's Tyler Mathews, who hasn't run anything insane over 800 meters this season, but has run 1:48 in the past and recently ran 4:08 for 1600 meters. Girl's Mile Charlotte Bell (Cuthbertson) - 4:36 Logan St. John Kletter (Mt. Lebanon) - 4:37 Alexa Dow (Francis Kelsey) - 4:38 Lily Alder (Timpview) - 4:39 Bethany Michalak (Air Academy) - 4:39 Analysis: While this race may be missing the two girls who recently broke the national record in this event, it still contains a good chunk of the nation's best athletes. One runner coming off a huge personal best is Cuthbertson's Charlotte Bell who ran 4:35 at the Hoka Festival of Miles a couple of weeks ago, giving her the fastest seed time in this event by two seconds. One under-the-radar athlete worth following is Canadian Alexa Dow who has run 4:18 for 1500 meters which, when using my personal conversion calculator, is more than fast enough to contend for a top-five finish over the slightly longer distance. Make sure to remember the name Alexa Dow as she is part of a stacked 2025 NC State recruiting class that could be (maybe should be?) contending for NCAA titles in the future. Boy's Mile Jojo Jourdon (Olympus) - 3:59 Owen Powell (Mercer Island) - 4:00 Evan Noonan (Dana Hills) - 4:01 Corbin Coombs (Organ Mountain) - 4:01 TJ Hansen (Freeland) - 4:03 Analysis: Simeon Birnbaum's meet record of 3:59.51 looks like it should be on high alert. Why do I say that, you may ask? Well, this is the only event at this meet with a pacer who is set to come through the halfway mark in 1:59. And on paper, this field is certainly deep enough that someone could pull off a sub-four-minute mark and reset the meet record. Jojo Jourdon has had a relatively quiet outdoor track season (at least when compared to his phenomenal indoor track season), but with a 3:59 personal best, he undoubtedly has the talent to take down the meet record and get another sub-four minute clocking under his belt. I'd also be remiss not to mention hometown favorite Owen Powell who has run 4:02 (mile) this spring and could certainly pull off the upset. Girl's Two-Mile Allie Zealand (Pacers Homeschool) - 9:44 Jane Hedengren (Timpview) - 9:44 Elizabeth Leachman (Boerne Champion) - 9:47 Isabel Allori (Liberty Common) - 9:47 Addison Ritzenhein (Niwot) - 9:49 Analysis: Wow, this field is absolutely loaded with talent. It's clear that for the second year in a row, Brooks has spared no expense in creating some amazing two-mile fields. I'll go ahead and say it now, I'm confident that Dalia Frias's meet record of 9:50.70 is going down. The headliner of this race is Liberty commit Allie Zealand who briefly held the national record in the mile with a time of 4:30.38...before Sadie Engelhardt broke it 20 minutes later. Zealand has already run 9:47 for 3200 meters this season and her recent mile performance gives me confidence that her fitness has jumped up a notch since then. Jane Hedengren is another athlete coming into this race with a lot of momentum, having recently run 9:52 (3200) to win the UHSAA 5A state 4600 feet of elevation. She also has experience at this meet, setting the meet record in the mile last June. Oh, and she's coming down from altitude which can never hurt. Two other athletes coming down from elevation are the Colorado duo of Isabel Allori and Addison Ritzenhein. Allori has run 9:48 for 3200 meters and won the always-stacked Arcadia Invitational earlier in the spring. Ritzenhein has run 9:52 this season and is the defending NXN champion. Finally, we come to Elizabeth Leachman, the Boerne Champion sophomore who set the high school 5000-meter record in a blazing time of 15:25. Admittedly, Leachman hasn't looked like the same untouchable athlete that she was during the indoor track season, but she still has had a great outdoor track campaign including a 3200/1600 double victory at the UIL 6A State Championships. All in all, this field is just so good and there are tons of athletes who I haven't mentioned that deserve some ink. But I've already made this section long enough as is, so make sure to tune-in on Wednesday afternoon to try and catch this race, it's sure to be a great one. Boy's Two-Mile Drew Griffith (Butler) - 8:34 Nathan Neil (Bozeman) - 8:36 Ryan Pajak (Ringgold) - 8:36 Grant Morgenfeld (Palo Alto) - 8:40 Josiah Tostenson (Crater - 8:40 Yet another loaded two-mile field with a title favorite coming off of a wicked fast mile time. In this case, the favorite is Notre Dame commit Drew Griffith who recently ran a 3:57 mile mark which was good for a three-second improvement on his personal best, giving me confidence that he can at least match his 8:34 PR for 3200 meters (if not improve upon it). One athlete who was there when Griffith ran his 3200-meter personal best and is gathering some strong momentum of his own is Nathan Neil of Bozeman. He just ran 4:01 (mile) at the Hoka Festival of Miles and ran 8:35 for 3200 meters back in April. Some quick-hit names worth keeping an eye on are Grant Morgenfled, (the California state meet runner-up over 3200 meters), Ryan Pajak, (2nd place finisher at the Foot Locker XC National Championships), Colin Eckerman (the Tennessee state champion over 3200 meters) and Josiah Tostenson (the fastest non-senior in the country over 3200 meters and 3k).

  • TSR's 2024 D1 Outdoor Top 25 Rankings (Men): Update #4 (FINAL)

    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. REMINDER: These rankings are meant to be an aggregate of an athlete's overall season. These rankings are NOT based solely on one race/meet. 25. Damien Dilcher, Senior, Iona (Unranked) Damien Dilcher was having a good outdoor track season, maybe even really good. But saying that the Iona runner was going to be an All-American at the national meet felt a bit unrealistic back in March. The Gael veteran had a mile PR of "only" 3:59 (and still does) and began his spring campaign with a 3:41 (1500) effort to place 11th at the Raleigh Relays. But towards the second-half of the season, Dilcher began to pick up some outstanding momentum. The Iona ace ran 3:39 for 1500 meters at the Wake Forest Invite, ran 3:38 at the East Regional Championships to qualify for the national meet and stunned many with a huge 5th place All-American finish in his season finale! Did Dilcher have the same raw fitness that other men in the top-five had? No, not quite. However, his fitness did reach a high enough level that he was able to be nationally competitive and the development of his finishing kick did him wonders. He should be incredibly proud of how he took advantage of every in-race opportunity that he could. 24. Yusuf Bizimana, Junior, Texas (-14 / 10) I have to admit, we're a bit torn on Yusuf Bizimana. By no means did he have a poor season -- he was great -- but it did feel like he had more to offer in terms of talent and potential. In total, Bizimana ran 1:46 for 800 meters five different times this season, the most recent coming at the outdoor national meet where he placed 6th in the finals. However, you could argue his most impressive race this season came at the BIG 12 Championships where he ran 1:46-low to fend off great efforts by Darius Kipyego and Sebastian Fernandez. But in a year where you need to run at least 1:45 (800) to match many of the best names in the nation, we never quite saw that upside from Bizimana. Even so, he was a super solid and steady name who seemingly had a high floor. And considering that he didn't even make it out of the 800-meter prelims at the indoor national meet, that's a very big compliment. 23. Ernest Cheruiyot, Freshman, Texas Tech (Unranked) The NCAA was first introduced to Ernest Cheruiyot during the winter months. However, the Texas Tech product didn't truly make himself a nationally recognized name until he got to the Bryan Clay Invite and toed the line for the 10k. There, Cheruiyot chose to be an aggressive font-runner while being shadowed by North Carolina standout, Alex Phillip. And despite a few minor tactical miscues, Cheruiyot more than held his own, running a fantastic time of 27:52 (10k) for runner-up. The Red Raider rookie would eventually advance to the national meet where a very favorable race scenario allowed him to rely more on his pure fitness rather than his championship acumen. That ultimately led to the freshman running 28:10 (10k) for a 4th place All-American finish. With a sub-28:00 effort over 10,000 meters and a top-half All-American honor, it's very hard to say that there are 25 men between the middle and long distances who were better than Ernest Cheruiyot this spring. Being able to execute in more tactical settings will certainly be a point of emphasis moving forward as his BIG 12 Championship showing suggests that he needs work in that area. But given the race scenarios that were presented to him over the last few three months, Cheruiyot made sure to put his fitness on full display. 22. Liam Murphy, Junior, Villanova (-9 / 13) Yes, we are well aware that Liam Murphy placed 11th overall in the 1500-meter finals at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. And yes, we are also aware that there were multiple All-Americans who we chose not to rank in front of Murphy despite his finish. However, when you look at Murphy's entire body of work this spring, it's hard to make the argument that some of the men who beat him on the national stage were better overall. The Villanova star ran a fantastic time of 3:36 for 1500 meters at the Bryan Clay Invite, ran under 3:40 (1500) three separate times after that and then threw down a pair of vicious kicks to win two Penn Relays wheels in impressive fashion. There is no denying that Murphy will need to become a bit more reliable on the national stage for his senior year. Even so, he was one of the most complete and all-around best milers (in terms of how he can beat you) in the NCAA this spring. 21. Sean Dolan, Senior, Villanova (-5 / 16) A 5th place finish in the 800-meter finals at the NCAA Outdoor Championships is probably not what Sean Dolan was looking for this past weekend. Of course, let's not act like that is a poor performance -- he still ran very well! Dolan's final 800-meter race for Villanova resulted in him posting the second 1:45 mark of his season (and his career). That result effectively validated the breakthrough 1:45 performance that he had at the BIG East Championships. Overall, there isn't much to say about Dolan who raced sparingly during the regular season. He was as solid and as reliable as ever and clearly saved his best races for the postseason. The Villanova product will be missed by TSR as an often reliable name to choose in our national meet All-American predictions. 20. Denis Kipngetich, Freshman, Oklahoma State (Unranked) The freshman from Oklahoma State only raced four times this spring, toeing the line for three 10k races and one 5k race. Admittedly, the three efforts that he strung together leading up to the national meet weren't all that exciting, although they certainly didn't hurt his resume, either. But on the national stage, the Oklahoma State freshman got to show just how dangerous can be when he can rely on fitness rather than tactics on the national stage. With an aggressive pace being set in the men's 10k, that seemingly benefitted Kipngetich who was running near the front of the pack for much of the race. Sure enough, the Cowboy rookie dropped a 28:10 PR for 10,000 meters to secure bronze. There truthfully isn't much to say about Kipngetich who was simply really fit this year. He found himself in a very favorable race scenario on the national stage and he didn't let the moment get to him despite being a freshman. Sure, we still need to learn more about Kipngetich in terms of his racing tendencies, but knowing that he can deliver top-tier results on a massively important stage is something that even established veterans can't always say that they've done. 19. Gable Sieperda, Senior, Iowa State (Unranked) I will fully admit, I was not very high on Gable Sieperda going into the national meet. Yes, he had run 8:26 in the steeplechase at the Virginia Challenge, but other efforts left me a bit cautious about his potential to be an All-American. Sieperda showed throughout the spring months that he was an aggressive front-runner. And while that approach often gave him a time and/or finish that was nationally competitive, it did seem to take away from his ceiling. Thankfully, Sieperda recognized that at the perfect time as he was arguably the most conservative and patient runner in the steeplechase finals at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. That turned out to be a brilliant decision as a fantastic last lap gave the Iowa State senior a (small) PR of 8:25 and a praise-worthy bronze medal. If this is the last season that we'll see of Gable Sieperda in a Cyclone singlet (TFRRS says he has one season of cross country left), then it's important that we give him our kudos while we can. This guy has been a steady and patient veteran who has provided so much value to an Iowa State team that has often surpassed expectations, specifically on the grass. And while others have gotten the shine, Sieperda seemingly hasn't. Thankfully, he'll go into the summer months with some well-deserved hardware. 18. Tarees Rhoden, Senior, Clemson (+7 / 25) Few men showed greater growth in their tactics and championship racing acumen than Clemson veteran Tarees Rhoden. After establishing a reputation of being a hyper-competitive front-runner in recent years, the Tiger veteran showed more restraint over the last month in terms of how he approached his races. Make no mistake, Rhoden still chose to be the aggressor on a handful of occasions this season. The difference, however, is that he knew when to flip on his final gear. In other words, Rhoden sustained his front-running style while simultaneously developing greater reliability in his finish -- and that's really hard to do. Rhoden threw down his third 1:45 (800) effort of the season on Friday evening to place 4th overall in the 800-meter finals. It was the perfect cap to a spring campaign that truly held no flaws. An ACC title, greater reliability and improved fitness are all good reasons to move Rhoden into our top-20. 17. Abdelhakim Abouzouhir, Senior, Eastern Kentucky (-2 / 15) There was no denying that Adelhakim Abouzouhir was one of the three main national title favorites in the steeplechase this year (along with Victor Kibiego and Nathan Mountain). However, at the national meet, the Eastern Kentucky star just simply didn't look like himself, failing to respond to certain moves as effectively as he did throughout the spring months. And yet, despite that, Abouzouhir still salvaged a more-than-respectable 4th place finish in the steeplechase finals on Friday evening. Even if you were expecting more from the EKU ace, it's vitally important that we don't forgot how good Abouzouhir was over the last few months. A win at the Stanford Invite over a strong field was followed-up by an outstanding 8:25 steeplechase effort at the Bryan Clay Invite where he also emerged as the top collegian (finishing with the leaders). With an 8:27 mark this past weekend, Abouzouhir's overall resume is the perfect example of what seasonal consistency should look like. That reliability was enough for us to keep him within our top-20. 16. Nathan Green, Rs. Sophomore, Washington (-7 / 9) Placing 10th in the 1500-meter finals at the NCAA Outdoor Championships isn't what you would expect from the defending national champion in this specific event. Even so, we struggle to say that a guy who ran 3:34 for 1500 meters this season wasn't one of the 20-best distance runners in the NCAA. Truthfully, Green's overall spring campaign outside of that all-time metric mile effort at the Bryan Clay Invite was fairly unexciting. And if someone wanted to push him back a bit more. in our rankings because of that, we wouldn't argue (too much). Even so, when you have an all-time performance as good as Green's, it's hard to justify ranking him much lower than this. 15. Finley McLear, Junior, Iowa State (Unranked) Yet again, Finley McLear's positioning brilliance was on full display this past weekend...even if he didn't win gold. The Iowa State talent has a knack for always putting himself in the right place at the right time, at least on the stages that matter the most. A 3rd place finish in the 800-meter finals at the outdoor national meet was huge for a guy who also earned bronze in that same event at the indoor national meet. We had mentioned once or twice this season that McLear had the potential to peak perfectly for the postseason -- and he seemingly did. He finally dipped back under 1:46 (800) on Friday, marking the third time in his career under that barrier while simultaneously signaling that he is at (or near) his best-ever form. If McLear has an extra year of eligibility that he can use -- and he seemingly does -- then there's reason to believe that he could be a true national title contender next year. The eye test tells us that he is one of the most complete half-milers in the NCAA. 14. Victor Kiprop, Senior, Alabama (Unranked) Prior to the national meet starting, both myself and my fellow Blue Oval Podcast co-host, Ben Weisel, explained how Habtom Samuel was virtually untouchable over 10,000 meters. However, we also both agreed that if anyone was going to give the Lobo freshman a run for his money, it was going to be Alabama veteran Victor Kiprop. For the most part, Kiprop had a strong regular season, running times of 13:24 (5k) and 28:07 (10k). Those were great marks, but for someone who holds a 10k PR of 27:57 from last spring, it was hard for this Crimson Tide ace to separate himself from a handful of talented names this season. But Kiprop was still one of the most complete long distance runners that Thursday's 10k field had. He was highly experienced, had further developed an understanding of championship racing and held a skillset that was going to benefit the aerobic strength that he has so often put on display. And sure enough, Kiprop walked away from the national meet with silver, the best national meet finish of his career. 13. Joe Waskom, Senior, Washington (Unranked) Alright, here is where things get interesting. Let's be blunt: The Joe Waskom who we saw this season (and in the latter-half of the winter months) was not the same Joe Waskom who we saw in the spring of 2022 and throughout 2023. His kick was lacking for most of this year and his fitness was simply not strong enough to match men who were throwing down blistering times. Waskom struggled quite a bit at the Bryan Clay Invite and settled for a shoulder-shrugging 3rd place finish over 1500 meters at the Payton Jordan Invite. He did no crack 3:40 in either of those races. The Husky star later faded to 4th place at the PAC-12 Championships (although he did win the steeple title) before eventually qualifying for the national meet. But on the national stage, Waskom's peak was incredible. He ran 3:37 in the 1500-meter prelims, his fastest time of the season, and then down an incredible kick to win the national title in 3:39. No matter which way you slice it, Waskom's second national title was an upset win -- he simply did not have a resume that was worthy of a ranking. That, of course, is what makes his performance so phenomenal. Even in a season where nothing was going his way, he still came out on top. So how do we balance the two very different extremes of his overall season? Truthfully, we don't know if there's a good answer to that, but a TSR #13 ranking seems like a good middle ground for Waskom. 12. Nathan Mountain, Junior, Virginia (-1 / 11) Not winning gold in the men's steeplechase at the NCAA Outdoor Championships is a bit tough to see for Nathan Mountain. The Virginia veteran was outstanding this spring, running times of 13:32 (5k) and 8:20 (steeple). He was somewhat clearly the most complete steeplechase talent in the NCAA this spring as far as skillsets are concerned and his resume was littered with accolades. But in the final moments of the steeplechase finals this past weekend, Mountain just didn't have a response for Parker Stokes who pulled away to win NCAA gold. Of course, an iffy final water jump didn't help the Virginia star, either. Regardless, Mountain had an overall great season and he was favored to win every steeplechase race that he was entered in (at least among collegians). We struggled to drop him anymore than a singular spot. 11. Parker Stokes, Senior, Georgetown (Unranked) Most of us at The Stride Report weren't prepared to call Parker Stokes a national title favorite in the steeplechase going into the national meet. Even so, this was a guy who held far greater leg speed than every other steeplechaser in the NCAA (with the possible exception of Estanis Ruiz) and his 8:18 PR from 2022 led us to believe that the top form of Stokes was just as good as the top form of anyone else in the steeplechase. No, Stokes never returned to his PR (or got all that close to it), but he peaked perfectly. An 8:24 mark to win the steeplechase national title was outstanding, especially with a kick that Nathan Mountain simply couldn't match. Stokes simply looked more sure of himself than we've seen from him as of late and his middle distance speed from the winter months clearly came in handy. There is certainly an argument to be had that a few men, including Nathan Mountain, were better than Stokes this spring. Even so, an 8:26 regular season effort over the barriers and water pits gave his resume enough overall value (when paired with his national title) to sit in the top-half of our rankings. 10. Brian Musau, Freshman, Oklahoma State (+7 / 17) Sure, Brian Musau may have "only" finished 4th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships over 5000 meters, but it's important that we put that performance (and his season) in perspective. Musau may have "only" placed 4th, but he was racing in a historically top-heavy field headlined by guys like Parker Wolfe, Nico Young and Ky Robinson. Not only that, but Musau was only a freshman this year and was still able to defeat Habtom Samuel TWICE over 5000 meters. The first time came at the Bryan Clay Invite en route to a 13:13 PR while the second time came at the NCAA Championships (when Samuel was on the double). We'll admit, Musau's struggles over 1500 meters at the BIG 12 Championships weren't exactly encouraging. Even so, in the moments that mattered the most, you would have never guessed that this Oklahoma State star was only a rookie. 9. Sam Whitmarsh, Junior, Texas A&M (-2 / 7) Well, it wasn't the gold medal result that some of us thought we would see out of him, but that's hardly the end of the world for Sam Whitmarsh. The Texas A&M star was brilliant this spring with a huge 1:44 (800) PR at the beginning of the season and a convincing 1:45 effort to win the half-mile title at the SEC Championships. In fact, you could maybe argue that his overall body of work this season was better than what Cohen put together. But regardless of whether or not Whitmarsh won gold, we have to say that this spring was a grand success for the Aggie star who at one point had a heart condition which made it unclear what his future in running looked like. The fact that he is now an NCAA silver medalist makes his last few months of running a great story to look back on. 8. Colin Sahlman, Sophomore, Northern Arizona (-4 / 4) I imagine that a 4th place finish in the 1500-meter finals of the national meet isn't quite what Colin Sahlman wanted after the incredible season that he had. Even so, it's hard to say that the NAU sophomore wasn't a top-10 name, nationally, this spring. Running a jaw-dropping time of 3:33-high for 1500 meters to win the Bryan Clay Invite was beyond fantastic, as was his follow-up effort of 3:34 a few weeks later. Pair that with a monster 1:45 (800) win over indoor half-mile national champion Rivaldo Marshall and you have a regular season resume that is arguably just as good as anyone in the country. A 4th place finish in a super tactical setting shouldn't take away from someone who was among the most fit individuals that the NCAA had to offer this spring. For that reason, we kept him in our top-10. 7. Shane Cohen, Senior, Virginia (Unranked) Wow...what an incredible end to his collegiate career. Shane Cohen was a consistent and promising Division Two talent over 800 meters last year, earning backend All-American honors at that distance. However, to suggest that Cohen would even make the D1 national meet, much less earn All-American and much much less win a national title, was a stretch. But throughout the spring months, Cohen built up some of the best momentum that I can't ever remember seeing. This season, the Virginia graduate student went from 1:49 to 1:47 to 1:47 (prelims) to 1:46 to 1:49 (prelims) to 1:45 to 1:46 (prelims) to 1:44-high en route to a monster upset 800-meter national title win over Sam Whitmarsh. I can't remember the last time someone peaked so effectively as Cohen did, at least not when you think about initial expectations. To be blunt, this former Tampa runner had no business winning NCAA gold before this season began. Now, he has developed enough fitness and an insane kick to be considered one of the most lethal half-milers in the country. 6. Ky Robinson, Rs. Junior, Stanford (0 / 6) Gosh, it's so hard to rank Ky Robinson. The overall season of this Stanford star was admittedly a bit more quiet compared to prior regular season campaigns that we have seen from him before. A 13:35/28:15 (5k/10k) double at the Stanford Invite was great, but that was clearly done with the purpose of regional qualification and not much else. A few speed-based effort before winning 5k and 10k gold at the PAC-12 Championships set Robinson up to earn bronze over 5000 meters at the national meet before Young and Wolfe. Despite a good, but comparatively quieter, outdoor track season, Robinson was still very clearly part of the same tier that Nico Young and Parker Wolfe resided in. He was in arguably the most top-heavy distance field of the national meet and still stayed competitive enough to earn bronze. No one is going to look at Robinson and suggest that he was anything other than a top-10 guy in the country. Where within that top-10 you put him is up to you, but we think he did enough to deserve this spot. 5. Adam Spencer, Junior, Wisconsin (-2 / 3) A 3rd place in the 1500-meter finals at the NCAA Outdoor Championships doesn't match the gold medal potential that Spencer very clearly holds. Even so, Spencer had a truly excellent season. His 1500-meter performances may not seem amazing on TFRRS, but we can't forget that the Wisconsin ace ran 3:37 at the Australian Championships to win the metric mile title over some outstanding names! Pairing that win with a 1:46 (800) effort for the BIG 10 crown (against more established half-milers) gives Spencer a resume that is plenty complete and chock-full of value. For that reason, we opted to keep him in our top-five. 4. Elliott Cook, Rs. Junior, Oregon (+18 / 22) After the top-three in our rankings, things drop off a bit. With so many major upsets happening at the outdoor national meet and superstars struggling in their season finale, it felt like numerous men were qualified enough for this position -- and Elliott Cook was one of those men. In retrospect, the Oregon star was a good bit underrated after our last rankings update. Cook had run 3:38 for 1500 meters and had won double gold at the PAC-12 Championships over 800 meters and 1500 meters, taking down Washington's "Big Three" in the process. Then, after qualifying for the national meet and running 3:37 in the 1500-meter prelims, Cook snagged silver at the NCAA Championships, barely losing to Joe Waskom. Overall, Cook had a brilliant season. He ran 3:37 and 3:38 for 1500 meters, won two conference titles, defeated some outstanding names and peaked perfectly for the postseason. When you really think about it, he didn't seem to have a single flaw on his resume this spring. 3. Habtom Samuel, Freshman, New Mexico (+2 / 5) Winning the 10k national title is one thing and winning that title in a time of 28:07 is another. However, to fall during that national title bout (late in the race) and still come out on top is brilliant. The aerobic capacity of this New Mexico freshman was flat-out excellent this season and the 10k was clearly where he thrived. Despite his racing style also benefitting a large handful of other men over 10,000 meters at the national meet, that didn't matter as Samuel was flat-out better than everyone else by a decent margin. Yes, he did take a (very narrow) loss to Brian Musau over 5000 meters at the Bryan Clay Invite back in April, but if that's his "worst" race of the season, then that's a good problem to have. 2. Parker Wolfe, Junior, North Carolina (0 / 2) 1. Nico Young, Junior, Northern Arizona (0 / 1) This is a controversial ranking, but one that we could not possibly avoid. At the NCAA Outdoor Championships, Nico Young and Parker Wolfe battled for the men's 5000-meter national title. And yet, despite Young being the clear favorite, it was Wolfe who came out on top with gold. Most people would say that Wolfe deserves to be listed at TSR #1 after the monumental win he just had. And frankly, we wouldn't disagree with anyone who suggests that. However, Young ran the NCAA 10k record of 26:52 earlier this year before dropping a monster 1500-meter time of 3:34 to pair with marks of 1:47 (800) and 13:36 (5k), the latter time coming on the double. Make no mistake, Wolfe still had a fantastic season of his own with a 3:36 (1500) effort to pair with a great 13:19 (5k) mark. Even so, Young posted two top-three all-time performances and barely took silver. In our eyes, his overall body of work this season justifies the idea that he was still the best overall distance runner in the NCAA this spring. But like we said, we would more than understand if you disagree. ADDED Damien Dilcher (Iona) Denis Kipngetich (Oklahoma State) Gable Sieperda (Iowa State) Finley McLear (Iowa State) Victor Kiprop (Alabama) Joe Waskom (Washington) Parker Stokes (Georgetown) KICKED OFF James Corrigan (BYU) Gary Martin (Virginia) Rivaldo Marshall (Iowa) Parvej Khan (Florida) Ethan Strand (North Carolina) Anass Essayi (South Carolina) Luke Houser (Washington) Fouad Messaoudi (Oklahoma State) JUST MISSED (in no particular order) James Corrigan (BYU) Gary Martin (Virginia) Rivaldo Marshall (Iowa) Parvej Khan (Florida) Ethan Strand (North Carolina) Luke Houser (Washington) Fouad Messaoudi (Oklahoma State) Kimar Farquharson (Texas A&M) Nick Plant (Virginia Tech) Camden Marshall (Indiana) Rynard Swanepoel (Wake Forest) Oussama El Bouchayby (Alabama) Darius Kipyego (Iowa State) Caden Norris (Texas A&M) Handal Roban (Penn State) Wes Porter (Virginia) Ezekiel Rop (Iowa State) Alex Phillip (North Carolina) CJ Singleton (Notre Dame) Estanis Ruiz (Portland) Yasin Sado (Virginia) Rob McManus (Montana State) Graham Blanks (Harvard) HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no particular order) Rheinhardt Harrison (Oregon) Alex Stitt (Oklahoma State) Peter Smith (Iowa State) Isaac Basten (Drake) Damian Hackett (Cornell) Toby Gillen (Ole Miss) Jesse Hamlin (Butler) Cael Grotenhuis (Northern Arizona) Jackson Sharp (Wisconsin) Chandler Gibbens (Kansas) Ian Kibiwot (Louisville) Sanele Masondo (Iowa State) Patrick Kiprop (Arkansas) Alex Maier (Oklahoma State) Alexander Korczynski (Northeastern) Logan Measner (Wisconsin) Jackson Shorten (Princeton) Levi Taylor (Montana State) Brett Gardner (NC State) Evan Jenkins (Washington) Wil Smith (Gonzaga) Abel Teffra (Georgetown) Victor Shitsama (Oklahoma State) Kirami Yego (Arkansas) Aaron Las Heras (Northern Arizona) Notes - N/A

  • TSR's 2024 D1 Outdoor Top 25 Rankings (Women): Update #4 (FINAL)

    Written by Maura Beattie & Finn Birnie, additional edits & commentary by Garrett Zatlin 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. REMINDER: These rankings are meant to be an aggregate of an athlete's overall season. These rankings are NOT based solely on one race/meet. 25. Billah Jepkirui, Sophomore, Oklahoma State (-14 / 11) For reasons still unknown to us, Oklahoma State star Billah Jepkirui didn’t toe the line for the women's 1500 meters at the outdoor national meet. The Cowgirl standout was a top-three contender this spring given her runner-up finish in the mile at the previous NCAA Indoor Championships and because of her stellar 4:08 (1500) PR from earlier this spring. It’s hard to drop Jepkirui back in our rankings given how strong she was throughout most of this season. However, without a race this past weekend on the biggest stage in collegiate track and field, we just can’t justify keeping her in the top-20. Thankfully, the 4:08 (1500) PR that the Oklahoma State runner ran earlier this spring is her saving grace for a top-25 spot. 24. Chloe Foerster, Sophomore, Washington (-11 / 13) Even though Washington’s Chloe Foerster failed to qualify for the 1500-meter finals at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, we can’t look past what the sophomore has done this spring. There was no “sophomore slump” for the Husky talent as Foerster ran a head-turning 4:07 (1500) PR and won her first, and only, PAC-12 title over 1500 meters before the conference dissolves. She ran with far greater conviction, showcased solid finishing speed and simply seemed more comfortable than she did during the winter months. Despite not making it out of the national meet prelims (again), the Washington runner has gained valuable experience this spring season and she put forth performances that made us at TSR believe that she hasn’t even reached her ceiling yet. Foerster’s foot-speed in the middle distance events will pay off next season as she looks to redeem herself as a junior on the national stage. 23. Elise Thorner, Senior, Florida (-5 / 18) A 6th place finish in the steeplechase finals at the NCAA Outdoor Championships was solid, but it was likely two or three places out from where Elise Thorner had the ability to finish. Regardless, Thorner did enough this spring and this past weekend to end her season inside of our top-25 rankings. The Florida star ran 9:28 over the barriers and water pits at the Bryan Clay Invite to pair with a new 1500-meter PR of 4:14 as well. Thorner was steady and reliable throughout most of the season and you could argue that her All-American effort was the "worst" performance that she had this spring relative to expectations (which sounds silly because that's still an excellent result). That's a good problem to have and a major reason why we're keeping her in our rankings at TSR #23. 22. Shannon Flockhart, Junior, Providence (Unranked) Gosh, it's been hard to dislike Shannon Flockhart this spring as she was flat-out excellent over the last few months. A 1500-meter win over teammate Kimberley May at the Raleigh Relays was a quietly huge result and her runner-up finish behind Melissa Riggins at the BIG East Championships is more understandable given how strong the Hoya star has looked. But what really impressed us about Flockhart was her consistency in the postseason. In her last three metric mile efforts, the Friar star ran times of 4:08, 4:05.99 and 4:09. She continued to display a great understanding of tactical execution and her kick was as strong as ever. Sure, Flockhart didn't quite have the fitness to hang with Kimberley May on a handful of occasions, but that hasn't mattered. It has become impossible to talk about May and not mention her teammate who is simply one of the more complete and experienced milers in the country. 21. Chloe Scrimgeour, Junior, Georgetown (-1 / 20) Despite having only tried her hand in the 10k just twice (including the East Regional Championships) prior to the national event, Georgetown’s Chloe Scrimgeour needed no time to acclimate as she left Hayward Field with another All-American honor. The Hoya’s 5th-place finish didn't really come as a shock, especially considering that she had run 15:29 over the 5k distance this spring and has a notoriously strong pedigree over the grass. With that being said, it was extremely impressive to see her thrive with such little experience in the event. Unfortunately, her hopes of doubling up on honors this weekend fell short as the Hoya had to step off the track early in the 5k. But after her exceptional performance over the 25-lap distance just two days prior, we can hardly fault her championship showing. 20. Flomena Asekol, Senior, Florida (Unranked) There have often been moments of inconsistency for Flomena Asekol in the postseason throughout her career -- some results are great while others leave you wanting more. Thankfully, the recent consistency that we saw from Asekol during this spring championship season has been wildly encouraging, especially after placing 5th in the 1500-meter finals on Saturday. Between the East Regional Championships and the NCAA Championships, Asekol never ran slower than 4:08 in her last four attempts. Not only that, but she peaked perfectly by running 4:06 in the finals to earn an All-American honor! When you tack on the fact that Asekol also completed two 5k races between those two meets, you begin to appreciate just how great she was during the months of May and June. Her subtly excellent range -- posting new PRs of 2:02 (800) and 15:43 (5k) -- was hard to ignore as well. 19. Janette Schraft, Senior, Iowa State (Unranked) If you had asked us at the beginning of the season if we thought Janette Schraft was going to be an All-American in the steeplechase at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, we probably would’ve said no given the perceived depth in the event. And if we did think she'd be an All-American, then we would have likely said that she was going to earn a backend honor. However, the Iowa State senior proved us wrong by earning a monster 3rd place finish in the finals this past weekend with a stellar time of 9:34, a huge PR! When Schraft opened her steeplechase season in 9:48 at the Stanford Invite, she was already well ahead of where she finished the 2023 outdoor track season in her marquee event. At the NCAA Outdoor Championships, Schraft was already in a good place when she qualified for the finals after falling short during the past two seasons. The senior athlete held her own in a deep NCAA field and sat middle of the pack before making her move over the last two laps. Schraft passed California Baptist veteran Greta Karinauskaite thanks to a 71-second last lap and that shot the Iowa State star up to 3rd place. This was a breakout season for the Iowa State steeplechase veteran. She looked incredibly poised and calm at the Stanford Invite en route to a dominant win and it made us wonder how higher her ceiling could go. Thankfully, she not only sustained that composure in the postseason, but she further built upon her fitness. 18. Juliet Cherubet, Freshman, Texas Tech (+4 / 22) Winning the BIG 12 title over 1500 meters against a fantastic field in a time of 4:09 gave Juliet Cherubet the momentum she needed to be a problem for her competitors in the postseason. And sure enough, she advanced to the national stage in both the 1500 meters and the 5000 meters. Sure, Cherubet didn't get out of the prelims of the metric mile, but she did match her 5k PR of 15:25 to earn a great 6th place All-American finish. Being a freshman from overseas can be extremely challenging no matter how talented someone is. But instead of being overwhelmed in the postseason, Cherubet thrived. She leaned on her raw fitness (which is likely why she thrived in a fast-paced 5k) and proved to be incredibly valuable across the board. There's an argument to be had that this Red Raider rookie should be ranked even higher and frankly, we wouldn't offer too much push back on that. 17. Klaudia Kazimierska, Sophomore, Oregon (Unranked) Oregon’s Klaudia Kazimierska rejoins our rankings after what has been a whirlwind of a season. The Duck sophomore kicked off her spring campaign in style with a very strong 4:08 (1500) performance at the Bryan Clay Invite. However, underwhelming runs over both the 800 meters and the 1500 meters at the PAC-12 Championship left us wondering what version of the Duck we would see on the national stage. On the opening afternoon in Oregon, Kazimierska blazed through the prelims, recording a blistering new 1500-meter PR of 4:06 in the process. With the famous “Hayward Magic” on her side, Kazimierska conjured up yet another superb performance to produce a bronze medal in front of a packed home crowd just two days later. For the most part, this was a very solid season for the Polish middle distance ace. Kazimierska's efforts in the postseason highlighted just how good she can be when she's at her best and why she is so dangerous on the national stage. Running a new PR of 4:06 (after sitting at 4:07 for years) shows us that she has not hit her ceiling yet either, and that's huge for an Oregon program that will lean on her for the next two years. 16. Margot Appleton, Junior, Virginia (+5 / 21) At this past weekend's NCAA Championships, Virginia’s Margot Appleton opted to contest what many would consider to be her secondary event, the 5000 meters. The decision not to compete in the 1500 meters, an event that had earned her a medal the year prior, came as a bit of a surprise. Of course, it was hard to argue with her choice considering that she had just run 15:18 (5k) earlier in the spring. Ultimately, Appleton’s decision to step up to the 5k paid off brilliantly as she crossed the line in a fantastic 4th place, just six seconds adrift of her PR. Appleton has shown just how versatile she can be and this performance was a fantastic way to close out a season that had already seen great success. She continues to the best version of herself on championship stages and her understanding of when to make moves (and when not to) has made her one of the most reliable postseason names across multiple distances. 15. Sanu Jallow, Sophomore, Arkansas (0 / 15) After a breakout indoor track season, Sanu Jallow stunned the country with a monster 1:59 (800) PR at the SEC Championships, falling just short of gold to LSU ace Michaela Rose. That was a fantastic performance, but could the Arkansas sophomore replicate that result or at least further cement her place among the very best half-milers? That was not at all a given, but the Razorback underclassman came through in the postseason. She got out of a difficult 800-meter prelim heat and put herself at/near the front of the 800-meter finals. Jallow was eventually caught by the pack, but a 6th place All-American finish in her first national meet final is applause-worthy. Jallow still has some work to do when It comes to tactics and championship execution. That, however, is something that she'll have plenty of time to work on over the next two years. What we do know is that she has enough raw fitness to match many (although maybe not all) of the best 800-meter runners that the NCAA has to offer. 14. Hayley Kitching, Sophomore, Penn State (0 / 14) Consistency has been Hayley Kitching's not-so-secret weapon this season. The Penn State sophomore has run under 2:02 over 800 meters five times this season, including her blazing 2:00 clocking at the Australian Championships earlier this spring. That consistency paid dividends at the NCAA Championships as the Nittany Lion added another All-American honor to her collection, finishing in 5th place just 0.02 seconds behind reigning champion Michaela Rose. Kitching has continually showcased her reliability and her performance in Eugene, Oregon, validated her 4th place finish at the national indoor meet. With two more years of eligibility and plenty of experience now under her belt, we wouldn't be surprised if the very best is yet to come for the Aussie talent. 13. Bailey Hertenstein, Rs. Senior, Colorado (Unranked) That was a heck of a 5k race for Colorado’s Bailey Hertenstein at the outdoor national meet! After a modest 15:42 (5k) effort in late March, Hertenstein found her groove by mid-April when she ran a pleasantly surprising then-PR of 15:18 (5k). The Colorado senior nearly matched her 1500-meter PR following that race, setting her up nicely for the postseason. On her home track, Hertenstein took on the 5k/10k double at the PAC-12 Championships and came out on top in both events, the 10k being her event debut. Choosing the go all-in on the 5k for the outdoor national meet surprised us, but that move paid off big time for Hertenstein as she finished 3rd place with a shiny PR of 15:10 (5k) and had her best showing at an NCAA Championship. We saw during the winter of 2022 how lethal Hertenstein can be when she's firing on all cylinders. However, we weren't sure if we would see that same version of her again during her time in college. Thankfully, Hertenstein gave us the best version of herself by running multiple monster 5k times while taking advantage of the fast paced race scenario on the national stage. 12. Gabija Galvydyte, Senior, Oklahoma State (0 / 12) Holding her TSR #12 spot in our rankings is Oklahoma State’s Gabija Galvydyte following her stellar 3rd place finish over 800 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. The veteran had loads of experience under her belt upon entering the outdoor national meet final and that veteran reliability was evident this past weekend. Galvydyte, who was the outdoor national meet runner-up over 800 meters in 2023, had been sneaky-good yet again this spring. The Cowgirl recorded a total of five 2:01 (800) performances (or better) out of a total of six races. That consistency was likely going to pay off down the road and it did as Galvydyte picked up a 2:00.11 (800) PR en route to her bronze medal at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Coach Dave Smith's middle distance ace is someone who thrives all season long and peaks at the right time, proving why she’s one of the best in the game. While she never quite made the right move to win gold, her growing status as a legitimate national title threat this spring was impossible to ignore. 11. Roisin Willis, Sophomore, Stanford (Unranked) Trying to figure out where to rank Roisin Willis has been a tricky task. The Stanford sophomore had a somewhat quiet lead up to the postseason, but began to build some serious momentum as the national meet approached. Willis won the PAC-12 title and the East regional meet title over 800 meters and collected a total of four races (including prelims) where she ran 2:01 or faster. She looked far more sure of herself this spring compared to her last two seasons on the track and clearly peaked perfectly for the national meet. In the end, that led to her placing runner-up behind teammate Juliette Whittaker with an 800-meter time of 2:00-low. There wasn't anything on Willis' resume this season that hurt her stock, although her times never reached the point where she was cracking two-minute barrier like a few other 800-meter runners were. Regardless, her tactical execution was brilliant and it feels like the sophomore middle distance talent is back in (or at least near) top form once again. 10. Melissa Riggins, Junior, Georgetown (-2 / 8) Melissa Riggins' ascent to the top of the NCAA has shared many parallels with Providence’s Kimberley May. Both were exceptional during cross country and they both thrived on the indoor oval with Riggins earning a 4th place finish in the mile at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Then, when it came to the outdoor track season, both women honed their skills prior to the “Big Dance.” In Riggins' case, she flexed her frightfully strong turnover with a 2:01 clocking over 800 meters, and in her premier event, she produced a slew of marks just above and below the 4:08 mark (including a very narrow top collegiate honor at the Bryan Clay Invite). When it came to the national meet, the Hoya junior put that newfound speed to good use, flying around the final bend to go from 9th place to 4th place, earning herself yet another All-American finish. Riggins has looked better than ever. She established consistency at the very peak of her fitness (which is very hard to do) and there have been subtle scenarios where her range has helped her in a variety of race scenarios. Could her rising speed and consistency be enough to crack the top-three over the mile/metric mile distances on the national stage come next year? 9. Taylor Roe, Senior, Oklahoma State (+1 / 10) Oklahoma State standout Taylor Roe capped off her phenomenal collegiate career in style by adding two more All-American honors to her enormous collection at this past weekend's NCAA Championship. Over 10,000 meters, Roe opted to be the aggressor. Rather than let her fate be dictated by Parker Valby as it had been at the indoor national meet, she chose to take control, a move that (mostly) worked in her favor as she came away with a bronze medal and a new PR of 32:17. Two days later, on some very tired legs, Roe returned to the track and battled her way to a 6th place finish over 5000 meters with a seasonal best time of 15:26. With 10 All-American honors and a national title to her name, Roe closes out her collegiate career as one of the best in what has been a star-studded era in women's distance running. This weekend's efforts may just have been some of the best we have ever seen from her. 8. Michaela Rose, Junior, LSU (-4 / 4) Unfortunately for LSU’s Michaela Rose, it just wasn't to be at this past weekend's NCAA Outdoor Championships. The Tiger ace entered the national meet as the national title favorite, but ultimately had to settle for 4th place. Rose had looked supreme all season long, producing numerous sub-2:00 performances prior to the finals, two of which were under 1:59. However, in the national meet final, Rose spent much of the first lap in lane two jostling for position, something that seemingly sapped her energy, leading to her struggling to fight off the star-studded field over the final 100 meters. We'll admit, we're not quite sure why Rose opted to be a bit more conservative with her approach on Saturday. Her front-running style had mostly worked out for her and when she tried to take over with a lap to go this past weekend, she struggled to get separation as everyone else began to turn on their late-race gears as well. But while Rose didn’t come out on top at the NCAA Championships, we can’t overlook what the LSU star has done this season. Not only did she run absurdly fast times, but she did so on a consistent basis which is why we feel she should still feature in our top-10. As far as raw/pure talent is concerned, she is arguably just as good as Ramsden and Lemngole in her respective event speciality. 7. Juliette Whittaker, Sophomore, Stanford (+2 / 9) When it matters most, Stanford sophomore Juliette Whittaker delivers! Last spring, Whittaker put all her eggs into one basket, just going for the 1500 meters in the postseason. The catch? She didn't even make it out of the West regional meet. But this time, the sophomore, who won the 2024 indoor national meet 800-meter title, broke the tape by taking down a loaded 800-meter field at the outdoor national meet this past weekend. In that 800-meter final at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, the Cardinal standout was sitting in 4th place heading into the last lap. But thanks to a 61-second split, Whittaker was able to take down pre-race favorite Michaela Rose (again) and dip under 2:00 for the second time in her collegiate career (not including conversions). Despite being a sophomore, Whittaker has raced like an expert-level veteran. She knew exactly how to utilize both her speed and her strength, showcasing remarkable tactical execution that many long-time accomplished NCAA stars have not been able to replicate. 6. Olivia Markezich, Senior, Notre Dame (0 / 6) Honestly, there was nothing wrong with Olivia Markezich’s steeplechase performance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Yes, the Notre Dame senior didn’t repeat as the national champion, but she did run the NCAA #3 all-time mark in the steeplechase with her 9:17 PR. At the national meet, Markezich ran on the ran the heels of Alabama's Doris Lemngole for much of the race at the outdoor national meet and heading into the last lap, was still in contention for the win. However, a gap started to form near the end and Markezich had to settle for a 2nd place finish, two seconds outside of the win. The Notre Dame veteran and multi-time All-American was a mainstay in our rankings this season. Between her steeplechase performance, proven consistency and 15:23 (5k) PR, she’s staying put in our top-10. Not winning a title because the other woman in the field broke the collegiate record while you still ran a historically elite mark should not result in a penalty, at least not in our rankings. 5. Kimberley May, Junior, Providence (+2 / 7) Providence’s Kimberley May hasn’t put a foot wrong all season and her silver medal at the NCAA Championships over 1500 meters was a fantastic way to round out what has been a superb academic year as a whole for the Friar. Heading into the national meet, May lowered every single PR she had to her name. A 2:03 (800) mark was a great display of speed while her 15:26 (5k) flexed some seriously impressive strength. In her premier event (the 1500 meters), she produced two 4:07 clockings. The Friar stud headed to Hayward Field with a spring in her step and while Harvard’s Maia Ramsden showed she was the class of the field, May proved to be her closest rival, expertly navigating the field to take herself from 8th place to 2nd place over the final lap. May has proven this spring that she is one of the most well-rounded athletes in the nation. That versatility, paired with her exceptional championship prowess and understanding of in-race execution, is why she deservedly finds herself at TSR #5. 4. Hilda Olemomoi, Junior, Alabama (+1 / 5) Consistency has always been one of Hilda Olemomoi’s strongest suits. The Alabama ace has proven to be one of the most reliable postseason competitors in the country and this season was no different. As expected, Olemomoi opted to contest the distance double at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon. On the opening night, she hung tough, latching herself to Florida’s Parker Valby until the last mile. Her valiant effort was rewarded with a silver medal and a hard-fought PR of 31:51, just five seconds adrift of Valby over the 25-lap distance. Two days later in the 5000 meters, it was much of the same story as the Kenya native stuck to the Gator like glue all the way until four laps to go. Despite an ever-increasing gap between her and gold, the Crimson Tide star remained strong to hold off a fast-closing Bailey Hertenstein to secure yet another hard-fought silver. While she may still be chasing that first elusive title, the Alabama junior adds her 8th and 9th All-American honors to her collection, cementing herself as one of the most consistent women in the nation on the national stage. With Vably set to depart from the collegiate scene, is Olemomoi’s time for a national title looming? It sure seems like it... 3. Maia Ramsden, Junior, Harvard (-1 / 2) It feels weird dropping the 1500-meter national champion in our rankings this week, but someone has to be TSR #3. Maia Ramsden proved why she’s the best 1500-meter runner/miler in the NCAA after winning her third-straight title on the oval this past weekend. Ramsden’s been superb this spring, dropping her 1500-meter PR down to 4:02. That mark moved the Harvard veteran up to the NCAA #2 all-time mark (D1) over that distance following Colorado’s Jenny Simpson’s sub-4:00 record. All season long, we saw the Crimson star consistently win or finish amongst the top contenders. She went undefeated amongst collegiate competition over 1500 meters after winning this past weekend’s NCAA Outdoor Championship title. Ramsden faced a tough field headlined by Kimberley May (Providence), Melissa Riggins (Georgetown) and Flomena Asekol (Florida), but the Harvard champion came out on top by throwing in a surge after the halfway mark. You could argue that only Parker Valby has much control over her fitness as Ramsden does. The Harvard star can switch on different gears at will and she knows exactly how to execute. In a race that often features plenty of volatility, the Harvard star became an expert on how implementing her tactics and there wasn't much that her competition could do about it. 2. Doris Lemngole, Freshman, Alabama (+1 / 3) Alabama’s Doris Lemngole hasn’t had a bad race since she began her collegiate career in the fall. After already earning three All-American honors, it was only a matter of time before the freshman star won an NCAA title. Sure enough, Lemgole did just that at the NCAA Outdoor Championships when she took down reigning NCAA steeplechase champion Olivia Markezich for the second time this season. The Crimson Tide steeplechase ace ran 9:15 to win by a clear two seconds at the outdoor national meet. That time was not only a new PR from where she began the season at, but it also broke the NCAA steeplechase record that was set in 2022. This is just the beginning for Lemngole. The consistency and confidence that she’s displayed in her rookie season are unmatched. She is willing to be aggressive in many of her races and despite her youth, that hasn't really come back to hurt her at all this year. With some of the best raw fitness in the country, it's scary to think that this is only the beginning for the Crimson Tide superstar. 1. Parker Valby, Junior, Florida (0 / 1) It comes as no surprise that Parker Valby put herself at the top of our TSR rankings. Valby had some fun in the 10k, smiling, laughing and waving her way through the 25 laps before kicking into high gear and outdistancing runner-up Hilda Olememoi by five seconds. Her 31:46 (10k) was obviously well off the Florida star’s 30:50 PR, but give Valby a break, she had the 5k two nights later! The 5k saw Valby lead all of 400 meters and once she took the lead, that was it. Valby made her move with about 1600 meters to go and by the time the Florida champion crossed the line, she was 18 seconds ahead of the field. Parker Valby is going to go down in history as one of the greatest ever after winning six consecutive NCAA titles between cross country and track while breaking multiple titles. We aren’t going to forget the records she’s set, the racing style she’s employed and the training she’s thrived off of. ADDED Klaudia Kazimierska (Oregon) Flomena Asekol (Florida) Janette Schraft (Iowa State) Bailey Hertenstein (Colorado) Roisin Willis (Stanford) Shannon Flockhart (Providence) KICKED OFF Sadie Sargent (BYU) Gladys Chepngetich (Clemson) Judy Kosgei (South Carolina) Maddy Elmore (Oregon) Riley Chamberlain (BYU) Silan Ayyildiz (Oregon) JUST MISSED (in no particular order) Sadie Sargent (BYU) Gladys Chepngetich (Clemson) Judy Kosgei (South Carolina) Maddy Elmore (Oregon) Riley Chamberlain (BYU) Silan Ayyildiz (Oregon) Greta Karinauskaite (California Baptist) Lindsey Butler (Virginia Tech) Grace Hartman (NC State) Sydney Thorvaldson (Arkansas) Molly Born (Oklahoma State) Sophia Gorriaran (Harvard) Kelly-Ann Beckford (Houston) Laura Taborda (Arkansas) Olivia Howell (Texas) Phoebe Anderson (Columbia) Sophie Novak (Notre Dame) Lorena Rangel Batres (LSU) Paityn Noe (Arkansas) Florence Caron (Penn State) Jenna Hutchins (BYU) Ella Baran (Colorado) Aniya Mosley (Ohio State) HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no particular order) Amy Bunnage (Stanford) Wilma Nielsen (Washington) Julia Nielsen (Bradley) Victoria Bossong (Harvard) Taylor Lovell (BYU) Maggi Congdon (Northern Arizona) Sam Bush (NC State) Makayla Paige (North Carolina) Emma Tavella (Boston College) Suus Altorf (Florida State) Teagan Schein-Becker (Rider) Annika Reiss (Northern Arizona) Josefine Eriksen (Utah) Amaris Tyynismaa (NC State) Chloe Thomas (UConn) Andrea Markezich (Notre Dame) Gracelyn Larkin (Northern Arizona) Sylvia Chelangat (South Carolina) Gracie Morris (TCU) Mena Scatchard (Princeton) Kate Jendrezak (UCLA) Lauren Tolbert (Duke) Sophia Kennedy (Stanford) Notes N/A

  • First Thoughts: Parker Valby & Doris Lemngole Break NCAA Records, Maia Ramsden & Juliette Whittaker Defend Their Middle Distance Titles

    If Friday's men's finals at the 2024 NCAA Outdoor Championships were marked by surprise, Saturday's through line was constancy. Florida's Parker Valby and Harvard's Maia Ramsden defended their titles, as expected, in the 1500 meters and the 5k, respectively. Juliette Whittaker did the same, albeit as an underdog, over 800 meters. Of course, there was one exception to that status quo as freshman Doris Lemngole set a collegiate record. However, even she was a favorite entering Saturday. Let's examine each of the four distance finals from the last day of this year's outdoor national meet. Parker Valby Breaks Her Own NCAA 5k Record to Win Her Third Consecutive 5k National Title and Sixth National Title in a Row In a race that she all but acknowledged was her last, Parker Valby went out with a bang, breaking her own NCAA record over 5000 meters and becoming the first Division One woman to win five national titles in the distance events throughout one academic year. In contrast to how her 10k victory played out two days prior, Valby quickly shot to the front of the 5k field just shy of one lap into the race. It was evident early on that she was gunning for something even greater than another national title. Something that we did see carry over from the 10k was Valby's SEC counterpart, Hilda Olemomoi of Alabama, positioning herself just behind Valby once she made her move. The field split in half beyond them, with a gap behind the top 12 emerging before anyone finished the first mile. Before they reached the halfway point, Valby and Olemomoi had created some space between them and the rest of the field, and Texas Tech freshman Juliet Cherubet had even more space between herself and the women outside of the top three at that point. Valby crossed 3000 meters in just under nine minutes and she began to pull away from even her fellow southern superstar, gapping Olemomoi with just under a mile remaining. She ultimately went on to win going away as she improved marginally upon her 14:52 (5k) PR and NCAA record while nearly obtaining the 14:52.00 Olympic standard. While the second half of the 5k consisted of the camera tracking Valby far ahead of the rest of the field, the race behind her heated up significantly with battles throughout. Olemomoi managed to hold off Colorado veteran Bailey Hertenstein for a second silver medal on the week. Although, that result said more about Hertenstein than it did about Olemomoi. There were fair questions about the Buffalo's decision to focus solely on the 5000 meters this week, but she mostly rendered them moot with a bronze medal and a sizeable 15:10 PR. It's highly unlikely that she would have finished any higher over 10,000 meters while facing the same tandem of Valby and Olemomoi. Hertenstein was one of 10 women in the top half of the race who ran 5k PRs on Saturday. Outside of Olemomoi, the only woman in that range who didn't run a lifetime best was 4th-place finisher Margot Appleton. Instead, the Cavalier star relied on her 1500-meter speed to catapult herself to a top-half All-American result ahead of the rest of the chase pack. Cherubet finished just behind her, followed by Oklahoma State's Taylor Roe, Ella Baran of Colorado and BYU senior Sadie Sargeant. It's only right to start our analysis with Valby, who nabbed her third consecutive 5000-meter title dating back to last June and her sixth national title (in six tries) in that span. The Gator megastar has won NCAA gold over 3k, 5k, 6k and 10k in the past 12 months. Photo via Andrew LeMay After back-to-back silver medals behind fellow NCAA distance legend Katelyn Tuohy in the spring and fall of 2023, Valby finally earned a national title of her own a year ago and never looked back, topping Tuohy twice in the fall before the Wolfpack megastar joined the pro ranks. With one fewer All-American honor than Tuohy's 10, but two more national titles than her four, Valby has achieved a career's worth of success mostly in a 12-month span. While those two individuals will be forever intertwined, Valby further cemented a legacy all her own with her efforts this spring. While you could say the same about her 10k record or her first 5k record this spring, this 5k national title could go down as Valby's defining effort of the season given the way she took charge and bent the race and the field to her will. Meanwhile, even as Olemomoi is still searching for an elusive first NCAA title, she's becoming one of the most reliable postseason performers over the distance events in recent memory. The Kenya native was a nine-time All-American over the past two academic years after transferring from the JUCO level, finishing no lower than 6th place in any NCAA Championship race. If Valby is indeed departing the collegiate scene, Olemomoi's moment in the sun seems near. Hertenstein's and Appleton's decisions to put all of their focus toward what appeared to be a secondary event for both of them appear to have paid off in the form of top-half All-American results. It was also encouraging to see Cherubet be rewarded for putting herself toward the front of the field as it began to break apart. While she was passed by Appleton, the Red Raider rookie was doubling back from the 1500-meter prelims (where she ran 4:09) and finished ahead of several others in a tight 5k finish. That included BIG 12 foe Taylor Roe, someone with far more experience. Roe herself was among a contingent of seniors with superb finishes at this outdoor national meet. The Cowgirl star has more All-American finishes (10) than any current women's distance star at the NCAA D1 level and delivered one of her better career efforts this week with a bronze medal and PR over 10,000 meters and a seasonal best and 6th-place finish in this race. Hertenstein wasn't the only Colorado harrier to land in the top eight because she was joined by classmate Ella Baran in the latter's first individual All-American effort on the track since transferring to the Division One level. That's a nice individual result to see for someone who was a star at the Division Three level and has been more of a high-level lineup piece for one of the more renowned D1 programs. The same can be said for sixth-year BYU senior Sadie Sargeant who nearly nabbed her first All-American finish over 3000 meters at the 2024 indoor national meet and finally did so on Saturday by placing 8th over 5000 meters. A PR and a close finish ahead of NAU's senior contingent (Annika Reiss and Gracelyn Larkin) had to feel great in the final race of Sargeant's collegiate career. Keep an eye on first-year Stanford talent Sophia Kennedy, who posted a 15:33 PR and a top-half finish in this field. Chloe Thomas of UConn is another breakout talent who ran a PR to narrowly finish in the top half of the field (counting entries who scratched). While we mentioned a couple of women's decisions to go all-in on this event looking prudent, Oregon sophomore Silan Ayyildiz, who has found more success in the 1500/mile, didn't enjoy the same fortune on her home track despite racing toward the front early on in Saturday's 5k. Doris Lemngole Breaks the NCAA Steeplechase Record on the Way to Her First NCAA Title, Seven Others Run PRs Among the women's distance events, Doris Lemngole was the only first-time champion crowned at the 2024 outdoor national meet. What's more, the Alabama ace just won her first NCAA gold as a true freshman. Hers wasn't an upset victory, however, given that all five of our TSR writers who made predictions chose Lemngole to win the 3000-meter steeplechase title. Photo via Andrew LeMay Last year's steeplechase silver medalist, Greta Karinauskaite, took the lead after a lap and all of the top contenders moved to the front early on and gradually separated themselves. For the first half of the race, Lemngole was content to let others lead. However, she moved into the top position after clearing a water jump with a few laps remaining. Within 30 seconds of that development, she and reigning champion Olivia Markezich had created a small gap between themselves and Karinauskaite, who likewise had a couple of steps on Florida veteran Elise Thorner and the chase pack. Markezich made a move to squeeze ahead just before the straightaway going into the final lap, but Lemngole countered it and moved back in front by the bell. She created a small gap on the penultimate curve and sat almost 10 meters ahead of the defending champion for much of the final lap. We had seen this duo go to battle earlier in the season at Wake Forest where Lemngole ran away from Markezich and first gave shades of Alabama's 2013 triumph over Notre Dame in the final college football national championship game of the BCS era. While Markezich was likely waiting for any slip-up from her rookie rival while trying to prevent one of her own with an increase in pace, it never came. Instead, Lemngole broke the NCAA 3000-meter steeplechase record and the NCAA Championships record (that Courtney Wayment set in 2022) with a PR of 9:15. Markezich set a small PR of her own (9:17), as did bronze medalist Janette Schraft 17 seconds later. The Cyclone senior charged past Karinauskaite in the final stretch, and Arkansas senior Laura Taborda nearly nipped the CBU star as well in a tight finish. In total, eight of the 12 individuals in Saturday's steeplechase final ran PRs. They have a few women to thank for that, including Lemngole, Markezich, Karinauskaite and themselves. Many expected a 3k steeplechase title for Lemngole after she ran away from Markezich en route to a 9:22 then-PR mark at Wake Forest earlier this season. With that in mind, it's commendable that the Fighting Irish ace was able to defend her 2023 national title so closely through the final lap. Markezich closed out the final two years of an esteemed college career with two top-eight finishes on the grass, two silver medals over 3000 meters, and a silver and a gold in the steeplechase. Few women have offered that level of reliability and three-season value. We then come to another fifth-year athlete in Janette Schraft. Her trajectory feels eerily similar to her Cyclone peer on the men's side, Gable Sieperda, who also outkicked his coverage a bit en route to a bronze medal over the barriers and water pits this weekend. Schraft moved to the front of the chase pack by the bell and was able to edge past Karinauskaite by virtue of having the fastest final lap outside of Lemngole and Markezich. She's now a first-time All-American and achieved that honor in convincing fashion. It felt like Karinauskaite (4th) and Thorner (6th) were hampered a bit by their early ambition. The former (2nd in the steeplechase in 2023) led early and bridged the gap between the top two and the rest of the field for much of the race, while the latter (5th in 2023) often led the chase pack. With sub-9:30 PRs, both women clearly had the fitness to match their placements from a year ago. But it appears that a combination of their early exertion and the heat took a toll. Regardless, it's hard to be upset with a third consecutive All-American finish in this event for Thorner or back-to-back top-half All-American placements from Karinauskaite. Taborda, on her third school and competing at her first outdoor national meet since 2022, put a bow on a banner year. The Razorback from Portugal ran a PR in the prelims on Thursday and then shattered that mark with a 9:35 effort in Saturday's final. The 25-year-old's experience and poise paid off as she peaked for the postseason as well as anyone in the field. Sophie Novak was among the initial leaders of the race alongside her teammate, Olivia Markezich, before Karinauskaite took over. It looked like the Notre Dame junior may be falling back after that, but she was simply holding onto a torrid pace. A 9:40 PR helped her come through with a comfortable All-American finish in her first individual appearance at a national meet. While her efforts may be overshadowed by Lemngole's, Northern Arizona freshman Karrie Baloga deserves major praise for the confidence that she raced with during her first NCAA Championships appearance on the track. Baloga came into the spring with a clear focus, contesting the steeplechase often this season, and proceeded to comfortably qualify for the outdoor national meet with a 10:00 PR in this event. She then shattered that with a 9:49 effort in the prelims on Thursday and earned a top-eight finish with ease after another PR (9:42 this time) in the final. It's a similar story for BYU sophomore Taylor Lovell, who didn't land among the top eight during her first NCAA Championships appearance but placed 9th with a strong 9:48 PR. Longtime Liberty talent Calli Doan landed one second and one spot behind her with a PR of her own. Stanford Sophomores Juliette Whittaker and Roisin Willis go 1-2 in Half-Mile Final as Michaela Rose Drops to 4th Place In a clip aired on the ESPN broadcast minutes before this race, the defending 800-meter champion from the 2023 outdoor national meet, Michaela Rose, noted the "exciting and historic" nature of the race to come, saying "Whenever you make it to nationals, you have a shot at winning it, but more so this year because we have three NCAA champions coming into the 800 event." She was, of course, talking about herself and two Stanford sophomores, Juliette Whittaker and Roisin Willis, who had won the past two indoor national titles over this distance. Rose, known as a notorious pace-pusher for good reason given her anaerobic prowess, was unable to get to the front of the race right away. She had to maneuver out to the edge of lanes 3 and 4 ahead of the second curve and worked to the outside of lane 2 to position herself at the front alongside SEC counterpart Sanu Jallow entering the bell lap. Rose put herself firmly in the lead upon reaching the final backstretch, while Whittaker also edged past Jallow with 300 meters remaining. Even though Rose would have been expected to hold her position at that point, the race remained up in the air with 200 meters to go. Oklahoma State's Gabija Galvydyte, the 2023 outdoor half-mile silver medalist, began lurking entering the final curve and edged closer to the front, but so too did Whittaker, who placed herself on Rose's outside shoulder upon reaching the last straightaway. Rose didn't relent easily or immediately, but Whittaker powered past her with over 50 meters to go and Galvydyte overtook Rose as well. At the same time, Willis (who was in 6th place with just over 100 meters remaining) glided past the rest of the field from lane 3 and out-leaned her Cowgirl counterpart for national runner-up status behind her teammate/classmate. What followed behind them was a photo finish between three women -- Rose, Penn State's Hayley Kitching and Jallow -- with Ohio State sophomore Aniya Mosley placing 7th. Another sophomore, Duke's Lauren Tolbert, nabbed the final All-American spot. Let's first discuss Rose, who won this event at the 2023 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Whether you considered Rose, Whittaker (the 2024 indoor half-mile champ), or both to be the defending half-mile champion is semantics. Rose was the predicted champion for all five of our D1 writers. She is, after all, the only woman in this field who has run under 1:59 for the half-mile and had not lost an 800-meter race this season (finals or prelims). But it appeared that all of that shuffling for position in the first lap zapped Rose of the strength requisite to hold off a field that she acknowledged was star-studded. As for Whittaker, she topped Rose for the second consecutive national meet this year, dipping under 2:00 on both occasions, and has now earned silver or better in all three of her half-mile races at NCAA Championship meets. Photo via Andrew LeMay The level of turnover that Whittaker displayed at multiple points over the final lap was unrivaled, and it feels as if she should be considered the favorite in this event if she and Rose both return to the collegiate ranks in 2024-25. Shifting our focus to Whittaker's Cardinal running mate, this is the sharpest Willis has performed and the fastest she has run since winning the indoor half-mile title in 2023. One could argue that she had the best race in this field relative to expectations considering that all five of our writers projected Whittaker to finish 2nd and the highest Willis was predicted to finish was in 5th place by myself and Garrett (although all five of us thought Willis would be an All-American). What a reemergence onto the national scene Willis has made after failing to reach the half-mile finals at the NCAA Indoor Championships just a few months ago. A bronze medal feels right in line with what was expected of Galvydyte, who was projected to finish 3rd or 4th by each of our writers. Yet as we've belabored countless times, just because a result isn't surprising doesn't mean that it's not impressive. If Whittaker and Willis look set to be contending for national titles for the next couple of years (assuming they don't turn pro before then), fellow sophomore Hayley Kitching should be primed to join them atop the NCAA half-mile scene. She has nabbed top-five 800-meter results at both NCAA Championship meets in 2024, foreshadowing each with a pair of BIG 10 half-mile titles. While it looked like she was in line for a higher finish during multiple points in Saturday's final, Jallow should go home pleased with a 6th-place finish. That serves as the capper for a breakout season in which she broke 2:00 at the SEC Outdoor Championships and was aggressive in seeking out prime positioning in both the prelims and the finals in Eugene. Much of the same can be said for Ohio State's Mosley and Duke's Tolbert, two more sophomores who seemingly peaked perfectly for the postseason, advanced through the prelims and earned top-eight finishes in their first NCAA Championship finals appearances. Sophia Gorriaran, who led for a good chunk of the first lap, was the lone freshman in this race and showed her youth as she faded to last place. Nonetheless, the Harvard star in waiting gained valuable experience in what was already her second national meet appearance. One other note: the top three finishers in Saturday's final all raced in the same preliminary heat on Thursday. Maia Ramsden Defends Her 1500-Meter Title in Dominant and Fast Fashion as Kimberley May Earns Silver and Klaudia Kazimierska Takes Bronze on Her Home Track I think you could have told any loyal TSR reader that Maia Ramsden would comfortably win the metric mile title on Saturday, and they wouldn't have been fazed. However, the manner in which she won the race still made a predictable outcome feel entertaining. As Lindsey Butler led the field through the first 300 meters, Ramsden positioned herself off the Hokie's hip in the proverbial passenger seat and stayed there with little movement throughout the rest of the field entering the final half-mile. The field started to reorganize itself from there, as Ramsden expectedly moved into the lead and Florida's Flomena Asekol moved up with her. NC State veteran Samantha Bush made a move to follow that long-striding top-three of Ramsden, Asekol and Butler ahead of the final 600 meters. Still, Ramsden's lead only grew as the group reached the bell. Photo via Andrew LeMay The pack (most notably Hayward's own Klaudia Kazimierska) began to swallow up Asekol, who paid a small price for following Ramsden's assertive move with half of the race still ahead of her. While Kazimierska made the first aggressive move on the final lap, it was Providence ace Kimberley May who emerged as the best of the rest after passing her Duck counterpart with 100 meters to go. Asekol, who may have been expecting more when she positioned herself behind Ramsden with two laps remaining, fought and held onto 5th place after being overtaken in the final lap. That marked the Gator's best 1500-meter performance at the outdoor national meet in three career tries. However, she was bumped from the top-half All-American ranks by Georgetown's Melissa Riggins, who entered the final 200 meters hovering between 8th and 9th place. Riggins used every bit of the final half-lap to secure her finish and went from the bottom third of the field to the top third in a matter of 30 seconds as she strode past Asekol with roughly 15 meters remaining. May's Friar teammate, Shannon Flockhart, showed her experience and savvy as she replicated the 6th-place 1500-meter effort that she produced at the 2023 outdoor national meet. Butler, the early race aggressor, ended up placing 7th for her best NCAA Championships finish in any event over 800 meters. Texas veteran Olivia Howell nabbed the final All-American spot. The 2023 indoor mile champion produced the same metric mile placement as she did at last year's NCAA Outdoor Championships. This felt like Howell's best result of the year given that it was her first time racing at a national meet since transferring to UT-Austin, and she peaked quite well with a 4:09 PR at the BIG 12 Championships that she nearly bested on the national stage. As for the other four women in this field, Northern Arizona's Maggi Congdon wrapped a very successful spring with a near top-eight placement. Bush (10th) and Rider's Teagan Schein-Becker (11th) were in the mix throughout the race, sitting in 3rd and 4th, respectively, entering the final lap, and it's possible that they expended too much energy trying to put and keep themselves in an optimal position. Washington's Sophie O'Sullivan placed 12th and was never quite at her best (as someone capable of a 4:02 metric mile PR) this year despite advancing through the West Regional Championships and the NCAA Outdoor Championships prelims. Ramsden exhibited excellent control over her fitness and had the patience to let the race develop slowly in a way that played to her strengths. She has now won the past three metric mile or mile finals at the NCAA Championships. Even though her 4:06 (1500) winning time this spring was slower than her prelim mark, Ramsden came within a second of the NCAA Championship record. That was in spite of a modest start before she closed in 2:05 over the final half-mile. On the heels of nabbing her first All-American honor with a bronze medal in the 2024 mile final, May has seemingly announced herself as the closest resemblance of a rival for Ramsden, her Northeast contemporary. May entered the bell lap around 8th place but seemingly came out of nowhere, shadowing Kazimierska as she moved up ahead of the final curve and ultimately ousting her. It's a similar story for her BIG EAST peer, Melissa Riggins, whose ascension through Saturday's field we already touched on. She has placed 4th (mile) at both the indoor national meet and the outdoor national meet this year despite never having cracked All-American status before 2024. As for Kazimierska, a sophomore, she has now nabbed top-eight finishes in all of her NCAA Championships appearances between either the mile or the metric mile. The Polish Duck is four for four and just saved her best postseason finish to date for a meet held on her team's home track. It also feels worth noting that Saturday's final played out quite similarly to Thursday's preliminaries in which Butler and Asekol were caught by Flockhart and Kazimierska in the first heat and Ramsden and May went 1-2 in the second heat.

  • First Thoughts: Parker Wolfe, Joe Waskom, Parker Stokes & Shane Cohen Headline as Upset National Champions

    The theme throughout the distance races during the third day of competition, and first day of finals, at the 2024 NCAA Outdoor Championships was redemption. It was an upset-filled Friday in which the old brigade reminded the next generation of stars that they'd have to wait just a bit longer for their moment. The one distance event winner who didn't entirely fit that trend was a junior superstar who's long been waiting in the wings for his title-winning ascension and had to buck the biggest distance favorite to do so. There's no time to waste in analyzing this NCAA Outdoor Championships Friday. Let's dive in. Parker Wolfe Outlasts Two-Time National Champions Nico Young and Ky Robinson Over 5000 Meters to Earn His First NCAA Gold Nico Young was undoubtedly the biggest favorite in Friday's distance events. So even though the 5k was contested last, it feels as if we should discuss it and all of its exposition first. After all, this was a race stocked with several NCAA champions, and it was fittingly the most tactical affair of the day. Two days after winning the 10k national title, New Mexico rookie Habtom Samuel took on the initial leading duties in the 5000-meter final. David Mullarkey of Florida State led much of the race's middle portion, as some of the expected contenders -- Jackson Sharp, Ky Robinson and Young -- positioned themselves among the leaders with about a mile to go. The race really began with 1000 meters left, as NAU's Brodey Hasty pushed to the front, and athletes ran up to six wide across the track entering the penultimate lap. Reigning cross country national champion Graham Blanks then made a significant move to untuck himself from the pack and take the lead with a half-mile to go. The race's top contenders seemingly reached a shared understanding and separated themselves from there, with Young, Robinson, Parker Wolfe (North Carolina) and Oklahoma State freshman Brian Musau matching Blanks' move. Young surged ahead with 300 meters remaining as Blanks began to fade. From there, Wolfe, who followed Young alongside Robinson, swung by him to grasp the lead with 100 meters left and held off his superstar peers. The Stride Report has documented Wolfe's status as one of the best NCAA distance runners who had yet to win a national title, so this Tar Heel's triumph feels especially well deserved. A runner-up result for Young, despite being heavily favored, feels far less disappointing than it may have been had he not earned his first (and second) individual national titles between the 3k and the 5k at the 2024 indoor national meet. Aside from the fact that he finally broke through this past winter, Young felt like more of a favorite than ever before because he had developed and displayed elite speed this spring. PRs of 1:47 (800) and 3:34 (1500) suggested that he was as well-prepared as anyone in the field for a fast finish, and we knew that this NCAA 5k record-holder and sub-13:00 man had the best raw fitness of any distance runner in the country. Nonetheless, Wolfe seemed more willing to bide his time throughout the race than Young, who was rightfully eager to display his fitness and confidence by responding to multiple moves. In Formula 1 racing, there's often an advantage gained by whoever brakes last. Compared to the cross country champion and the indoor 5k champion, it was Wolfe who surged last. And it appears to have made all the difference. Photo via Andrew LeMay Robinson, the champion over both 5000 meters and 10,000 meters at the 2023 outdoor national meet, somewhat curiously opted to focus solely on defending his title in the former. As such, one could argue that he didn't optimize his point-scoring value, but it's hard to argue with a 12th All-American honor and a bronze medal (the same placement he earned over 5k at the 2024 indoor national meet and at the 2023 NCAA XC Championships) that came with a finish a half-second behind the winner. How about OSU's Musau mixing it up with the aforementioned heavy hitters as a rookie? He joined the pack that separated itself late in the race and managed to finish ahead of Blanks for his third All-American finish in as many seasons. We got an idea of his potential after a victory over Habtom Samuel in which he ran the NCAA #1 mark this season (13:13). Now, Musau's ceiling has only risen. It was refreshing to see Blanks re-establish himself among the NCAA's best. He gave himself a fighting chance at winning this race, but a four-month injury absence to begin 2024 left the 13:03 (5k) man short of his peak fitness and without an adequate ramp-up period. Samuel doubled back from his 10k gold for a commendable 6th-place effort, while Toby Gillen (Ole Miss) and Jesse Hamlin (Butler) won the kicker's battle for 7th and 8th place, respectively. Both have been mainstays toward the top of the distance scene but weren't favored to finish as highly as they did. He may have come up just shy of a top-eight finish, but Cael Grotenhuis of Northern Arizona improved his stock as much as almost anyone this week by placing 9th in the 5k and 14th in the 10k. Behind him, it was surprising to see Wisconsin veteran Jackson Sharp finishing anywhere shy of a top-half All-American finish. Even so, if a 10th-place effort is an "off" day for him, that only illustrates his rock-solid floor. Elsewhere, Tennessee's Yaseen Abdalla (11th) neared his first track All-American finish as he predictably finished toward the middle of the field, and you could argue that the two men who finished immediately behind him -- Wil Smith (Gonzaga) and Said Mechaal (Iowa State) exceeded expectations as well. Joe Waskom Wins His Second National Title in 1500-Meter Shocker, Further Stamps Washington as Mile U, as Elliott Cook Earns Silver, Adam Spencer Nabs Bronze This may be recency bias seeping in, but it's hard to remember a more compelling 1500-meter final in recent years. This race had everything from a reasonable pace (a winning time of 3:39) to numerous lead changes, an exceedingly close finish and an upset champion earning further validation. Photo via Andrew LeMay While Washington has now won every national title between the mile and the 1500 meters since the spring of 2022 (that's five in a row!), three of our five writers who made predictions chose Wisconsin's Adams Spencer to win gold. After all, he held the fastest metric mile PR in the field (3:31). And Spencer certainly factored into this race, going out into lane three to put himself up front alongside Northern Arizona sophomore Colin Sahlman after the first 300 meters. That made sense, given those two men were the two biggest favorites outside of the Huskies (and arguably the two biggest favorites overall). That early maneuver to step into lane three foreshadowed what was to come in a way, as athletes were at times running four wide both heading into the penultimate lap and entering the final lap. Back-to-back NCAA mile champion Luke Houser took over with roughly 800 meters to go, and some of the fastest men in the field, Sahlman and Anass Essayi, challenged him for the lead entering the straightaway heading into the bell lap. At the same time, Joe Waskom surged forth alongside Essayi while Houser, his Washington teammate, dropped back into the pack. As the men settled into more of a single-file line entering the backstretch, it was Sahlman who led the way. And for several moments, it appeared that the Lumberjack underclassman who fell just shy of the NCAA 1500-meter record earlier this season was set to earn his first individual national title. Ultimately, we didn't see a new champion crowned. Instead, what unfolded was even more surprising. Sahlman looked primed to hold off both Spencer and Oregon's Elliott Cook, both of whom surged past Essayi coming off the final curve and had joined Sahlman as mainstays toward the front of the field throughout the race. Meanwhile, Waskom bided his time, kept himself in position toward the front of the race and found another gear with 100 meters to go as he closed the final 400 meters in 52.6 seconds and edged out Cook, his Pacific Northwest contemporary who was competing in his home stadium. Truthfully, it's difficult to be upset with how any of the top finishers in this field raced. It also feels like this title was even more surprising than Waskom's NCAA gold medal over this distance in 2022. After all, none of our writers predicted him to finish as an All-American this season, let alone a national champion! Despite holding a PR of 3:34 (1500) from last summer, Waskom hadn't run within three seconds of that mark this season and placed 4th over the same distance at the PAC-12 Championships less than a month ago. He was a backend mile All-American at the 2024 NCAA Indoor Championships. None of that suggested he was a favorite to win this race. Waskom's triumph in what was the final race of his NCAA career, and the fact that his two 1500-meter gold medals are sandwiched around a silver medal in 2023, means it's probably time to start talking about him as one of the best collegiate milers of this generation. His postseason track record (specifically on the outdoor oval) is inarguable, and he simply knows when to make moves and position himself in championship settings. As for national runner-up (by just under a tenth of a second) Elliott Cook, his performance was almost as much of a pleasant surprise as Waskom's. That's hardly to say it felt like a fluke; Cook won his prelim heat in a (3:37) PR and topped Washington's elite contingent for the PAC-12 1500-meter and 800-meter titles a few weeks ago. He actually closed faster than Waskom on Friday after entering the bell lap in 8th place. After sitting out last spring and this past winter, Cook has reintroduced himself as one of the nation's top middle distance talents. Spencer, the bronze medalist, may feel a bit disappointed after earning the same placement in this distance last spring and taking silver in the mile at the 2024 indoor national meet. He shouldn't. The Aussie Badger was in position to win the race and didn't have the same kick that Waskom did or the rail position Cook held. Spencer is likely now on to the Olympics this summer and feels due for NCAA gold should he choose to return to Madison for his senior year in 2024-25. As for Sahlman, finishing 4th was probably on the lower end of his realistic outcomes, but he may well have had more bite to his final kick had he been less eager to stay up front and fight others' moves throughout the race. Hindsight is 20-20, though, and I liked this Lumberjack's decision to be an aggressor given that he was one of the favorites in the field. Major props to Damien Dilcher (Iona) and Wes Porter (Virginia) for finishing 5th and 6th, respectively. Both NCAA veterans have been nationally competitive names in recent years but just earned their first All-American finishes in their first individual appearances at a national meet. Iowa State's Ezekiel Rop was in top-eight position throughout the race and replicated his 7th place finish from the 2023 outdoor national meet. His transformation into one of the NCAA's better milers has been equally enjoyable and surprising to watch. Not many would have expected that 5-6-7 trio to finish ahead of Ethan Strand, Nathan Green (whose kicks didn't look as potent as usual), Liam Murphy (who was never in a great position after the early stages of the race) or Houser (who appeared to expend too much energy early on). Meanwhile, Essayi held on for the final All-American spot. While he has finished in the top-eight of NCAA finals more often than not, it's hard not to feel like the 3:32 (1500) man has a higher ceiling than this and could stand to benefit from waiting until later in a championship race to utilize his kick. Parker Stokes Overtakes Nathan Mountain for 3000-Meter Steeplechase Win and His First National Title With the top three finishers from this race at last year's outdoor national meet all absent (including the reigning bronze medalist, Victor Kibiego, who stepped off the track in the prelims on Wednesday) this race and the title that came with it was ripe for the taking. Eastern Kentucky's Abdelhakim Abouzouhir, among the favorites in this race, led early and often. Virginia's Nathan Mountain, the other primary favorite in the field in Kibiego's absence, moved into 2nd place shortly before the midway point. His teammate, Yasin Sado, momentarily sat beside him on the outside of lane 1 but fell in a water pit as Mountain took the lead. As he was in his preliminary heat, Notre Dame sophomore CJ Singleton was aggressive in the middle portions of the race. The same can be said for Georgetown senior Parker Stokes, who moved into second place, flanking Mountain, by the bell lap. It turned out Stokes was advancing through the race perfectly, as he challenged his East Coast adversary over the final lap, overtaking him with exactly 100 meters to go and pulling away after the final hurdle. Stokes had the look of a future national champion early in his NCAA career, earning bronze and legitimately challenging for the title in a historically fast NCAA Championships steeplechase final in 2022. Since then, however, he failed to make the steeplechase finals at the 2023 outdoor national meet and struggled relative to expectations at the past two NCAA XC Championship meets. Photo via Andrew LeMay Stokes looked like his best self on Friday, as he was always near the front of the race, managed to stay out of trouble in an unpredictable event and posted an impressive 8:24 finishing time that was a seasonal best and topped last year's winning time from BYU ace Kenneth Rooks. Mountain was the NCAA leader in the 3000-meter steeplechase this spring and the most complete individual in the event. He let others lead the race early on and seemed poised throughout. However, a stumble after the final water pit may have inhibited his finish as Stokes ultimately ran around and by him. The UVA ace was the top returner from last year's final to this year's and, after another top-half All-American finish, should again hold that status as a senior next year. Gable Sieparda, who displayed a penchant for aggressive frontrunning this season, followed the same strategy he employed in the prelims on Wednesday, sticking in the middle of the field and kicking down stars late for an optimal finish. The senior Cyclone positioned himself well and moved from 5th to 3rd immediately after the final barrier. After a couple of close calls on the grass, Sieperda just earned his first All-American honor, and he did so comfortably with an 8:25 personal best. Abouzouhir may not be thrilled with his 4th-place finish, but it's an improvement upon his 6th-place All-American run in this event last year and capped a largely successful season. It's hard to argue with the frontrunning strategy he employed early, either, as he hasn't displayed the leg speed that some of his peers have. Singleton's confident racing was rewarded with a 5th-place finish and a PR. He has multiple years of eligibility remaining to work on the finishing speed that his 4:04 high school mile PR suggests he has. In a similar vein to Stokes, 6th-place finisher Estanis Ruiz was channeling his 2022 form. Before transferring to Portland, the current junior ran his steeplechase PR at the 2022 NCAA Outdoor Championships and finished top-10 in the final. Two years later and with no national meet appearances in between, Ruiz is a first-time All-American with a new 8:28 PR. His emphasis on speedwork, as evidenced by a recent 1:47 (800) PR, has clearly paid off. How about Yasin Sado rebounding from a fall to earn his first All-American finish? That late-race recovery took some real gumption for the Cavalier ace. He ran a PR en route to a win at the East Regional Championships and ran steadily (despite his fall) in both the prelim and the final. It was a similar story for 8th-place finisher Alexander Korczynski of Northeastern, who fell during the prelim and narrowly earned the final qualifying spot. The NCAA mainstay in this event was undeterred, sticking firmly in this field and running to a PR and his first All-American finish. James Corrigan, a backend All-American pick for all five of our D1 writers, fell back from the pack after being in the mix early but nearly rebounded for an All-American finish as he placed 9th. Fellow sophomore Jackson Shorten followed closely behind him with an 8:29 PR and appears to also be following a star trajectory. Shane Cohen Emerges as 800-Meter Champion, Outsprints Sam Whitmarsh After Mad Last-Lap Dash After the metric mile and the steeplechase produced surprise winners, the half-mile continued that trend with perhaps an even more unlikely winner. Shane Cohen, who entered the race as just a one-time All-American at the Division Two level, emerged from the wreckage of a chaotic final and dipped under 1:45 (800) for the first time to win NCAA gold in what may be the fifth-year senior's final collegiate race (during what was his first NCAA Championships final as a D1 athlete). Photo via Andrew LeMay It's difficult to overstate how unlikely Cohen winning a national title felt two years ago, two days ago and even as he entered the late portions of Friday's race. After recently ditching his frontrunning style for a more conservative approach during his ACC half-mile title run and the NCAA prelim, Tarees Rhoden eschewed that trend and led the race through 200 meters after the field had emerged from the staggered start Yusuf Bizimana, a Texas title hopeful and winner of the third preliminary heat, settled in just behind him with Texas A&M pace-pusher Kimar Farquharson and Hokie underclassman Nicholas Plant jostling for 3rd place entering the bell lap. Title favorite and 1:44 man Sam Whitmarsh, Farquharson's Aggie teammate, sat a stride behind them with several notorious kickers on his heels. The field reached the final 200 meters still in a tightly bunched amoeba. Whitmarsh momentarily looked poised to surge forward on the curve, but Iowa State tactician Finley McLear effectively blocked him in during a chaotic race to the straightaway in which Shane Cohen flexed out to lane 3 and Camden Marshall fell. Meanwhile, Rhoden appeared poised to hold onto his lead before Whitmarsh squeezed through a pair of bodies in lane 1 and overtook him. At the same time, Cohen pushed past the entirety of the field from lane 3 and held off a man standing over half a foot taller than him. The former University of Tampa harrier found/created space for himself during the race's critical moments and accelerated faster than anyone else down the final straightaway. Whitmarsh, who was the lone NCAA athlete to run 1:44 (800) this season before Friday's race, rightfully appeared quite pleased with a silver medal in what was his first NCAA Championships final. The long-strider had to contend with inopportune late-race positioning. But if you're familiar with the adversity that Whitmarsh had to overcome to reach this point after early flashes of stardom, then you know that a few obstacles weren't going to keep him from the front of the race. Rhoden somewhat predictably lost ground late but still posted a PR by one-hundredth of a second en route to his third All-American finish over this distance between the past two academic years. McLear, who fits into the trend of well-tenured distance (or middle distance) runners who experienced a late-career renaissance at this meet, matched the bronze medal that he grabbed in this event at the 2024 indoor national meet and ran a new 1:45 PR. Albeit now three years removed from the first two, McLear now owns four top-half All-American performances over 800 meters and has further cemented his status as one of the most reliable championship finals performers among men who've yet to win an NCAA title. As we saw when he made up four places over the final 200 meters and edged out Rhoden for 3rd place, McLear is adept at responding to any move thrown at him while doling out his own. As for 5th-place finisher Sean Dolan, there's not much to analyze. The 2024 indoor 800-meter national runner-up is a known commodity and produced an even and measured effort after almost surprisingly missing the final. Bizimana's performance was a bit more curious, as he occupied 2nd place for much of the race but faded toward the very end. The Longhorn senior has been chasing another NCAA gold medal (often as a favorite) since emerging as somewhat of a surprise national champion in the winter of 2023. If we had to guess, the six-time All-American over-exerted himself in trying to stay toward the front of the field. Farquharson was aggressive, and even if he lost places over the final lap, it's hard to be upset with a 7th-place finish in his first individual NCAA Championships appearance. Plant raced with similar urgency and now has two top-eight half-mile efforts between the NCAA Indoor Championships and the NCAA Outdoor Championships this year. Garrett has brought up Marshall's postseason misfortunes multiple times, and the three-time Big Ten half-mile champion appeared primed to earn his first All-American finish until he hit the track's urethane surface after seemingly getting his legs tangled up with either Cohen's or Plant's with just over 100 meters to go. Fortunately for Marshall, he has another year of eligibility remaining, so a return to an NCAA Championships half-mile final feels likely.

  • First Thoughts: Parker Valby Makes Elite 10k Performance Look Easy While Shannon Flockhart & Maia Ramsden Headline Fast 1500m Prelims

    Day two of the NCAA Outdoor Championships is a wrap, leaving us with a large handful of women’s headlines to discuss. Let’s not waste any time with an introductory paragraph and instead jump into the analysis. Oh, and if you haven’t already, be sure to read up on our day one men’s “First Thoughts” analysis by clicking here! Parker Valby Makes Elite 10k Run Look Easy, Runs Meet Record of 31:46 While Hilda Olemomoi Runs 31:51 For Silver Was there ever even a doubt? The women's 10k at the NCAA Outdoor Championships on Thursday night was a race headlined by Parker Valby. The Florida phenom had run 30:50 (10k) earlier this season over the same distance and had gone under 15 minutes for 5000 meters more than once during this academic year. To say that she was the national title favorite would be a significant understatement. We could talk about all of the nuances of the race, the lead changes, etc. But none of that felt as important as how Parker Valby looked throughout her 10k race. It's one thing to win NCAA gold and run 31:46, one of the faster 10k times in collegiate history. But to look as strong and as carefree as Valby did was hard to believe...despite seeing it with my own eyes. Between waving to the crowd/her coaches and simply smiling her way through a race that should have been a physical and emotional exhauster for anyone truly shows you how much better Valby is compared to the collegiate realm. There is simply no one on her level. And that's why Alabama's Hilda Olemomoi deserves a ton of credit. The Crimson Tide star hung tough with the top pack for quite some time. In fact, she didn't truly begin to fade from Valby until there was roughly a mile to go. To still hang tough and grab silver just five seconds behind an all-time superstar is wildly impressive. But maybe more importantly, this performance felt like a clear indication that Olemomoi can win an individual national title one day and be more than just a great time trial specialist/All-American lock. We then come to Oklahoma State veteran Taylor Roe who wrapped up her career with a bronze medal and a 10k time of 32:17. Teammate Molly Born posted a strong 4th place finish in 32:27. Roe opted to be the aggressor early on in this race -- and I actually liked that move. After sitting behind Valby at the indoor national meet over 5000 meters, the Cowgirl runner took a different approach, choosing to dictate how this race unfolded. Sure, it didn't end with a gold medal, but I can at least appreciate that Roe gave it a shot. When we look back at this star-studded era of women's NCAA distance running, I hope that Taylor Roe is remembered for her impact. She has been such a key name who has been a consistently excellent All-American despite an "off" season in the spring of 2023. And thankfully, her 3000-meter national title from the winter of 2022 gives her resume an edge that many long-time veterans of her caliber can't always boast. It's a similar story for Molly Born. While she hasn't had a resume as decorated as her teammates, the fact that this Oklahoma State star rallied back from significant injuries to become one of the best aerobic-centric talents in the NCAA has been inspiring. When we recall this era, we'll be sure to say, "And you know who else was really good? Molly Born." As for the rest of the All-Americans -- Georgetown's Chloe Scrimgeour (5th), BYU's Jenna Hutchins (6th), Arkansas' Sydney Thorvaldson (7th) and NC State's Grace Hartman (8th) -- it's hard to be too surprised by those results. Scrimgeour has been a reliable All-American standout over the last year while both Hartman and Thorvaldson have begun to develop similar reputations. But seeing Jenna Hutchins earn her first individual All-American honor was huge. There has never been a question about how talented she is, but establishing consistency and showing up on the stages that truly matter the most have been tough for the still-young Cougar star. Thankfully, Hutchins proved on Thursday night that she belongs among the best women in the NCAA. And if you really think about it, this aggressively-paced race essentially turned into a time trial to test everyone's all-out fitness, something that was going to benefit Hutchins and every other eventual All-American in this field. The women who had proven to be the best 10k runners this season didn't have to worry about a lagging pace that would have allowed any underdogs in the field to truly threaten them -- and that's probably why this race seemed to be mostly chalk. Arkansas freshman Paityn Note deserves tons of kudos for a fantastic outdoor track season. She was brilliant over the 5k and the 10k distances and a 9th-place finish is an applause-worthy effort for the rookie. Sure, she didn't earn a top-eight All-American finish, but it's good to know that she found success on the national stage in a race that was only going to benefit the women who were the most fit. For the most part, there weren't a ton of surprises as to where certain women finished, although there were three major DNF results from a trio of women who I predicted to be All-Americans. I'm not quite sure what happened to Amaris Tyynismaa (NC State), Andrea Markezich (Notre Dame) and Lily Murphy (Penn), but not having them cross the line is tough to see. Each of those women were more than capable of being All-Americans on the right day and in theory, an honest pace should have played into their strengths/skillsets. Shannon Flockhart & Maia Ramsden Lead Fast 1500m Prelims, Billah Jepkirui Does Not Toe the Line Similar to the men's 1500-meter prelims, the first rounds of the women's metric mile seemingly lacked balance. In our eyes, the first heat featured noticeably more star power, especially when it came to proven All-Americans. And yet, despite that, many of the best women in the top heat were able to survive and advance to the finals. With Lindsey Bulter (Virginia Tech) and Flomena Asekol (Florida) opting to be the aggressors early on, the rest of the pack simply waited for their time to strike. And when they did, it was Oregon's Klaudia Kazimierska attacking the final moments of the race before Providence's Shannon Flockhart put together an incredibly smooth kick en route to a 4:05.99 (1500) PR and the heat win. Flockhart, Asekol and Kazimierska were joined by Washington's Sophie O'Sullivan and Georgetown's Melissa Riggins as the automatic qualifiers to the finals. Butler and Texas ace Olivia Howell would both get into the finals on time. It makes sense that the two-time qualifiers of the 1500-meter prelims came out of this heat. This was a very quick race which had someone pushing the pace throughout most of it. And when you look at the women who didn't advance to the finals, it's hard to be stunned. Texas Tech's Juliet Cherubet is still young and inexperienced, BYU's Riley Chamberlain has not been able to relocate her momentum from the winter months and the rest of the women in this heat simply weren't as good as those who did advance. The second heat, however, was far less eventful. Providence's Kimberley May and Harvard's Maia Ramsden were the main leaders throughout this race, sitting on each other's shoulders for most of the time. But right behind that group was Rider's Teagan Schein-Becker, Northern Arizona's Maggi Congdon and NC State's Sam Bush who very calmly put themselves into the finals. In a field that featured arguably the two best metric milers in the NCAA this spring, Schein-Becker, Congdon and Bush showed remarkable poise. They didn't try to make any unnecessary moves and in the end, that composure led to both Bush and Congdon recording blistering new PRs of 4:07 (1500) each! Watch out for Bush who has put together yet another momentum-boosting performance. As for those who missed the finals, it was hard to see Washington's Chloe Foerster not advance. She was having a really solid season and simply looked better than she did during the winter months despite recording a 4:28 mile PR on the indoor oval. But we can largely chalk up Thursday to a simple "off" day for Foerster who was out of the mix fairly early on. She just didn't look like herself. South Carolina's Judy Kosgei is the other notable omission from the finals. She's another example of why championship experience and an understanding of tactics are arguably just as important as raw fitness. The Gamecock runner had been excellent this year, especially during the spring months. However, when the top pack began to make their moves, Kosgei was at the tail-end of that pack and simply couldn't stick with them. She was effectively lost in "no man's land," causing her to fade before being caught by TCU's Gracie Morris. However, despite everything that we just discussed, the biggest development from this race came from a woman who didn't even toe the line. I am, of course, talking about Oklahoma State's Billah Jepkirui. The Cowgirl veteran has been beyond fantastic this year, running jaw-dropping PRs, taking down top names, showing an improved understanding of championship tactics and further flexing her range. Her spring season wasn't quite as exciting compared to her winter campaign, but this was still someone who ran 4:08 (1500) earlier this spring and could have finished as high as 2nd place in the 1500-meter finals. Why was Jpekirui not on the line? Truthfully, I have no idea (maybe it was for an injury?), but simply not having her for that second heat was huge for Schein-Becker who would have been out of the finals had she placed one spot worse in her heat. Seven of Top-Nine Finals Qualifiers Go Sub-2:01 (800), Lauren Tolbert Advances Out of Prelims While Bossong, Paige, Beckford & Chepngetich Do Not Advance For the most part, I don't think anyone was too stunned by the women who advanced to the finals of the 800 meters...well, except for two. This has been a huge breakout season for Ohio State's Aniya Mosley. The Buckeye middle distance talent has been on fire since running 4:12 for 1500 meters at the Penn Relays and has since thrived over 800 meters to eventually make it to the national meet. However, despite her momentum, expecting Mosley to advance to the finals of the NCAA Championships would have been a stretch. Yes, she did just match her 800-meter PR of 2:01 in the prelims on Thursday, but Mosley had never run faster than 2:04 over the half-mile distance prior to the regional meet! The other "surprise" name is Duke's Lauren Tolbert who has continued to have tremendous growth in the middle distances. In fact, she was someone who I even mentioned in our latest Blue Oval Podcast episode as someone who could be a "sleeper" pick to make it out of the prelims. And sure enough, with a 2:01 mark in the first heat, Tolbert was able to get the edge on North Carolina's Makayla Paige and Clemson's Gladys Chepngetich. In retrospect, that result makes sense given that Tolbert has excellent 400-meter speed, boasting a 52-second PR en route to the ACC title a few weeks ago. With the best turnover in that heat (which was also the slowest section), it's no surprise that the speed of the Blue Devil talent gave her a better finish than more established athletes. I think you could also make the argument that Harvard's Sophia Gorriaran was an underdog to make the finals, especially after struggling at the Ivy League Championships, taking 2nd place in an upset loss. But Gorriaran looked awesome on Thursday. The freshman's late-race strength allowed her to overtake fellow teammate Victoria Bossong as well as Houston's Kelly-Ann Beckford en route to an excellent time of 2:00.87, the fastest 800-meter time of her still-young collegiate career (but not quite a PR). That was only good enough for 3rd place in her heat, but the time comfortably gave her a bid to the finals. let's talk about some of the misses. Harvard's Victoria Bossong not making the finals would have been a surprise back in March and early April given how well she had been running. However, since then, the rest of the nation had caught up to the breakout talent in terms of time and fitness. That's not necessarily to say that Bossong had been running poorly (although her East regional meet performance wasn't great), but her advancing to the finals was going to be a close one -- and it was. Kelly-Ann Beckford, the middle distance star from Houston, also didn't make it to the finals. I thought that was a bit surprising as I figured that the aggressive front-runner would do well in a heat featuring another front-runner (Michaela Rose). But with Arkansas' Sanu Jallow not losing form and running a great time of 2:00, as well as Gorriaran putting together a great second-half of her race, Beckford seemed a bit tired after trying to fend off her competition at the front of the field. And then there is Gladys Chepngetich, the Clemson ace who looked like she could do no wrong this spring. After running 2:00 (800) and then 1:59 (800) at the East regional meet, Chepngetich seemed like a very favorite to be an All-American. However, in a tricky first heat that was, a) slower than expected and, b) headlined by a huge race from Lauren Tolbert, the Tiger talent was unable to fend off her competition and faded to a narrow 4th place. Out of the four women who I just highlighted, Chepngetich seems like the best name who didn't advance, but Beckford is arguably the most important. She is not afraid to be ultra-aggressive (as we saw at the BIG 12 Championships) and having someone who could be just as much of a front-runner as Rose could (in theory) create chaos in the finals. As for everyone else, there isn't much to discuss, although the top women look as good as ever as seven women ran under 2:01 (800). Make no mistake, Rose is still the favorite and I would still pick her over the entire field as far as odds are concerned. Even so, there are an awful lot of contenders who could cause some challenges late in the finals. Women's Steeplechase Prelims Go Chalk as Nearly All Top Favorites Advance to Finals I'm not sure where to start with the women's steeplechase...mainly because I don't know if there's a whole lot to discuss. For the most part, the women's steeplechase prelims gave us very few surprises -- almost none at all! Nearly all of the top favorites advanced to the finals and the times weren't insanely fast. Sure, you could make the argument that certain women like Oregon's Katie Clute, NC State's Angelina Napoloen, West Virginia's Mikenna Vanderheyden, South Carolina's Teresa Cherotich, Western Michigan's Kayla Scheira, Penn's Olivia Morganti and Colorado State's Yasmin Austridge were names who could have realistically made the finals. In fact, I would go as far as to say that Morganti was favored to do so. And yet, when you look at all of the names who did advance to the finals, it feels like everyone who advanced mostly had spring seasons that have been flat-out better than those who didn't make It out of the prelims (again, Morganti maybe being the only exception). Keep an eye on Karrie Baloga (Northern Arizona) and Laura Taborda (Arkansas). The former is a true freshman who is becoming increasingly more comfortable with the steeplechase while the latter is an experienced veteran who just ran a PR. If Baloga continues to ride this streak of youth-based upside, then she could be a massive problem for her opponents in the finals. Similarly, Taborda has already been one of the more reliable steeplechaser veterans in the NCAA. With a recent personal best under her belt, the chances of the Arkansas talent becoming an All-American have seemingly risen in my eyes.

  • First Thoughts: Habtom Samuel Wins 10k Title Despite Fall & Headline Names Fade in Prelims

    The first day of four at the NCAA Outdoor Championships is now complete! And with that, we have a whole lot to talk about. For this article, I was supposed to have my laptop at full battery and have all of the time in the world to write. However, given that I am in France for a wedding and that my laptop has decided to die on me, I am now forced to write this article with my phone. Yes, my phone. For that reason, this article may be a touch shorter than what you are used to seeing. No worries though, I intend to have a full laptop with me later this week (as will our editor Gavin Struve who will also be writing a bit this weekend). Alright, let’s dive in… Habtom Samuel Wins Men’s 10k Title in 280:07 Despite Late-Race Fall Going into the national meet, I had said that Habtom Samuel was the overwhelming national title favorite in the men’s 10k. And for the most part, I like to think that most people agreed with me. Sure enough, on Wednesday evening, we saw this race unfold in a fairly predictable manner. Habtom Samuel went straight to the front and opted to be the earlier aggressor. However, at a later point, he fell back to the middle of the pack while a handful of other men, mainly Arkansas’ Kirmai Yego, opted to take over the lead duties. Of course, Samuel would eventually rally back and put himself in the lead group. However, what happened with approximately two laps to go created some unexpected chaos in a race that would’ve been otherwise extremely unsurprising. As Habtom Samuel sat behind Patrick Kiprop of Arkansas, Kiprop took a fall after seemingly mixing up his back leg with Alex Phillip. Not only did Kiprop and Philip go down, but Samuel also took a hard fall on top of those two men. Yet, despite the fall, Samuel quickly jumped back to his feet and within the matter of 200 meters had caught back up to the lead group. Kiprop also rebounded fairly well, although Philip was not as fortunate. Despite the late-race madness and a more-than-reasonable excuse for potentially not winning l the title, Samuel was able to find a kick over the last 200 meters. There, he surpassed Oklahoma State’s Dennis Kipngetich and Texas Tech’s Ernest Cheruiyot. And despite Alabama’s Victor Kiprop giving Chase, it was Samuel who was simply strong enough to fend off his competition and cross the finish line in a time of 28:07. As I reflect on how this race unfolded, I have to think that the aggressive and honest pace that we saw was extremely crucial for what happened in those final moments. If this race was more of a sit-and-kick scenario and other men in this field had fresher legs, then does Samuel still have enough pop or strength in his legs after that fall to run away from the leaders in the final 200 meters? I don’t know the answer to that, especially since many of these competitors aren’t exactly speed demons themselves from a turnover perspective. But in the grand scheme of things, this late race chaos was simply another way to show how much of a national title favorite Samuel was. His aerobic strength is far superior compared to everyone else in this field and despite the fall, he was still able to win gold. While I would like to offer some deeper analysis on his performance, I don’t know what more I could really say. This guy was flat-out better than everybody in the country over 10,000 meters this season outside of Nico Young and that is hardly a hot take. When you take a look at the rest of the results, this race turned out to be pretty chalk. That’s probably because this race became more a test of one’s fitness rather than their championship tactical acumen. Alabama’s Victor Kiprop got 2nd place overall and seemed to be the only challenger to Samuel in the last 200 meters as the duo caught the leaders. This is arguably the best-ever overall result that we’ve seen from Kiprop — and that is saying a lot considering how talented he has already proven to be. Although, in a field full of younger athletes and others with not-so-great tactical awareness, it only made sense that Kiprop found the success that he did. When you look down the rest of the All-American honors, you’ll find that many of these men are true aerobic powerhouses who usually thrive in aggressive all-out settings. From 3rd place to 8th place, the finishers were (in order), Oklahoma State’s Dennis Kipngetich, Texas Tech’s Ernest Cheruiyot, Kansas’ Chandler Gibbons, Louisville’s Ian Kibiwot, Iowa state’s Sanele Masondo and Arkansas’ Patrick Kiprop. If you are a deep reader of The Stride Report or are highly invested in studying these races, then you’ll know that the six men who I just listed above are not necessarily known for being tactical masterminds. They are, however, some of the most naturally gifted long-distance athletes that the NCAA currently has. That’s why an honest pace on Wednesday night benefited those same men as five of the top-eight finishers all ran PRs. In fact, Alex Phillip could have very easily been an All-American had he not fallen. He was in position to deliver on that expectation before taking a tumble and he did, after all, have the second-fastest 10k seasonal best of anyone in this field. One name who deserves some credit, but may not get it from the general public, is Notre Dame’s Tyler Berg. Despite being a significant underdog for an All-American honor, the Fighting Irish graduate student put himself at or near the lead for a heavy portion of this race. And although he did falter (partially due to having to dance around fallen runners), he still hung on to place 13th overall and earn a new personal best of 28:23 (10k). For the most part, there weren’t too many surprises. If you look at the final results, then you’ll see that many of the top seeds in this field delivered on expectations (with the exception of Adisu Guadia) and the lower-half seeds didn’t really stand out in any major way, although Cael Grotenhuis of Northern Arizona more than held his own for 14th place. Gary Martin, Parvej Khan & Isaac Basten Fail to Advance Out of 1500-Meter Prelims We said in our national meet preview (on the Blue Oval Podcast) that the men’s 1500-meter prelims could see a handful of top names fail to make the finals. And sure enough, that’s exactly what happened. Let’s begin our analysis with the first heat of the men 1500 meters. That heat featured a small contingent of top names such as Villanova’s Liam Murphy, Virginia’s Gary Martin, Florida’s Parvej Khan, South Carolina’s Anass Essayi and North Carolina’s Ethan Strand. The catch? That wasn’t even considered to be the “crazy” prelim heat. Cornell’s Damian Hackett (a personal favorite of mine) and Virginia’s Gary Martin opted to take the lead in the early portions of their 1500-meter prelim. However, that decision would come back to bite both men with the former fading hard halfway through while the latter didn’t have enough turnover to stay with the top finishers over the final hundred meters. Not seeing Gary Martin in the finals is a bit of a bummer. This is someone who arguably has the best range in the entire NCAA. He is also more than capable of being an All-American over the metric mile distance. He did, after all, run 3:37 for 1500 meters at the Brian Clay Invite earlier this spring. I was admittedly a little surprised that Martin opted to be part of the lead group so early-on in his prelim heat. With a 1:47 PR over 800 meters, I would’ve thought it was a safer move for Martin to be more conservative with his racing style. Even so, he was talented enough to advance to the finals regardless of his race tactics, something that makes his omission a bit of a surprise. And then we come to Parvej Khan, the rookie from Florida who has been known as one of the most electric finishers in the NCAA this year over 1500 meters. The Gator freshman put himself towards the back of the pack for the first-half of this race, smartly moving up as the prelim unfolded. However, Khan was at times blocked from making key progress as certain men continued to get in his way (intentionally or not). By the time that the final 100 meters came, Khan was simply too far out and had done a bit too much work trying to fight his way back towards the leaders. And in the end, he did not advance to the finals. I have to admit, I think this result for Khan is more bad luck than it is bad racing. If I was someone who had a kick like his, then I would have been much more conservative with my approach as well. After all, that kind of racing style has benefitted Khan throughout the last year. Not only that, but I also think Khan had the right intention to make the moves and surges when he did. The only issue is that he was occasionally interrupted every time he tried to do so -- or he tried to reposition himself at inopportune times. Sure, that may not have happened often, but only one or two times can completely dictate how someone’s race unfolds over the final few moments. Also, shout out to Virginia’s Wes Porter and Iona‘s Damien Dilcher, specifically the latter name. Both men showcased great patience, underrated poise and a subtly strong understanding of tactical execution. Both of those men are advancing to the finals and Dilcher can take a lot of pride in knowing that his hard surge to hold off Khan ultimately paid off. We then come to the second heat. And oh boy was this one a doozy. Believe it or not, the actual race of this heat wasn’t all that exciting. For the most part, the top men put themselves near the front-half of this race while the more underrated names opted to put themselves near the back. Northern Arizona sophomore Colin Sahlman did start his race near the back, but he slowly moved himself towards the front and ended the race as one of the top finishers. Isaac Basten, however, has often been viewed as one of the better tactical runners in the NCAA. At one point, I thought he was the absolute best. However, after sitting in the middle of this field for pretty much the entire race, Basten was unable to implement his patented last lap kick. When he surged, so did everyone else, leaving the Bulldog veteran unable to match his competitors and properly utilize his momentum. And once he reached the final hundred meters, you could tell that one of the NCAA’s top All-American favorites was not going to extend his season to Friday. Could Basten have put himself closer to the leaders and not let the pack get in front of him as easily as they did? Sure, that’s probably true, but that’s also easier said than done. Not only that, but this was a much quicker prelim than usual. Seeing Oregon’s Elliott Cook (and SIX others) drop a 3:37 mark for 1500 meters was very impressive as well as pretty rare for the national meet prelims. I would like to tell you that we learned something new from the top names in each of the prelim heats, but I’m not sure that we did. That said, Elliott Cook looks incredibly sharp right now and his poise looks like that of a standout veteran — which he is. Insanely Deep 800m Field Leaves Top Stars Out of Finals There admittedly isn’t a whole lot to talk about in the men’s 800-meter prelims compared to the men’s 10,000 meters or the men’s 1500 meters. I do, however, think we have to give major kudos to men such as Virginia’s Shane Cohen, Texas A&M‘s Kimar Farquharson and Indiana’s Camden Marshall. It was more than reasonable to think that each of those three men could’ve qualified for the finals, but they were still underdogs to do so (well, maybe not Cohen). Cohen continues to impress. His momentum throughout this spring season has been super encouraging to see. He was in last place going into the final hundred meters, but then threw down an excellent kick in the prelims to win his heat in a time of 1:46-low (800). I’m not saying that he’s going to win a national title, but I’m at the point where thinking Cohen could place 3rd or 4th during tomorrow’s final doesn’t feel completely unrealistic. I can’t help but be happy for Camden Marshall. This guy has gotten so unlucky as an individual in the postseason, missing out on national meet qualifying in a handful of instances. But now, he’s only one non-last place race away from being an All-American. Remember, in a field of nine men, Marshall just needs to finish among the top-eight. Of course, with such a loaded field, comes the natural omissions of top stars from the finals as far as talent and accomplishments are concerned. Alabama’s Oussama El Bouchayby, Penn State’s Handal Roban, Iowa State’s Darius Kipyego, Wake Forest’s Rynard Swanpoel and Iowa’s Rivaldo Marshall all ended their seasons early after not being able to make it out of the prelims. If you had told me before the national meet that all five of those men would not make the finals, I’m not sure I would’ve believed you. Two or three names I would’ve believed. But five? That seemed unlikely, especially given the postseason excellence that we’ve seen from Roban and Marshall in the past. Other than that, that’s all I have for this section. Let’s jump down to our final section of discussion for today… Victor Kibiego Pulls Out During Steeplechase Prelims, Headlines Early Exits of All-American Favorites Let’s first address the very first portion of the above headline: Texas A&M’s Victor Kibiego pulled out of his steeplechase prelim heat. Early-on in the second heat of the men’s steeplechase, Kibiego jumped over a hurdle and seemingly landed a little bit awkwardly. It wasn’t something that you would’ve noticed in the moment, but when he pulled off the track before the water barrier, it seemed fair to suggest that, obivously, something wasn’t quite right. Not having Kibiego for the finals is a brutal blow for steeplechase fans around the country. The now-former UTEP runner was the top returner from last year‘s steeplechase final at the outdoor national meet. He has proven to be terrific with his last-lap closing speed and his raw fitness is among the best in the NCAA. On paper, he was very much viewed as one of the three national title favorites in this field. Not having Kibiego for tomorrow’s final is a big deal for two men: Virginia’s Nathan Mountain and Eastern Kentucky’s Abdelhakim Abouzouhir. Those two will be fighting for gold and will not have to worry about a late-race close from one of the top men in the country. Of course, Kibiego wasn’t the only glaring omission from the steeplechase finals. Oklahoma State’s Victor Shitsama, Montana State’s Rob McManus and NC State’s Brett Gardner all missed out on making the finals. In fact, Shitsama unfortunately took a hard fall on one of the barriers, but still rallied to run 8:35. He was only two spots out from making the finals which is actually a pretty impressive overall effort all things considered. For McManus, it’s hard not to be disappointed. I viewed him as a fringe national title contender going into this weekend. If one of the “big three” (Mountain, Abouzouhir and Kibiego) did not win NCAA gold, then Rob McManus was probably the first name who I would’ve chosen to win. He has been overall excellent throughout the entirety of this season, he has great experience and he has been generally pretty consistent. It’s a somewhat similar story for Gardner who has never looked as good as he did this spring. Seeing him make it to the national meet was great, but I did feel that he had All-American potential within him. The Wolfpack veteran has exhibited subtly great poise and holds a fairly strong understanding of what his competition can and cannot do. In theory, that would’ve benefited him greatly in the finals where all he had to do was beat four men en route to All-American honors. Let’s go back to Abdelhakim Abouzouhir. In his heat, the Eastern Kentucky star opted to be the aggressor and made the field chase him. That is a fairly common racing approach for the colonel distance standout, but the rest of the chase pack wasn’t far off from eventually catching him when they did cross the line. Conversely, Nathan Mountain opted to be a bit more conservative in the same heat. Instead of chasing his fellow national title contender, Mountain opted to hang back with the chase pack. He still got through to the finals without too much of an issue, but there was a large pack of men around him and the UVA star didn’t necessarily get the separation that I think both we and him were probably expecting. This leads me to pose the following question: Which of those race approaches will work best in the finals? I guess we’re about to find out…

  • Three Sentences Or Less: 2024 D1 NCAA Outdoor Championship Men's 5000-Meter Preview

    Click here to see start lists Editor's Note: Our TSR writers were asked to produce three sentences or less of analysis on every entrant in every distance event for every division. The below athletes are ordered to match the start list 1. Habtom Samuel (New Mexico) Habtom Samuel may be the only man in this field who can match Nico Young’s overall aerobic strength. The New Mexico standout has a menacing 26:53 (10k) PR to his name and his 13:13 (5k) personal best is no joke, either. If Samuel wants to have a chance at coming out on top, then he may actually have to be the aggressor from the gun. 2. Chandler Gibbens (Kansas) Like many athletes in this field, Chandler Gibbens will be doubling back from the 10,000 meters, an event where we feel he will have better fortunes. That being said, his 13:33 (5k) PR is still very respectable and at his best, he can be pushing for an All-American finish. However, with his consistency leaving much to be desired, we are left wondering which version of the Jayhawk ace we will see in Eugene, Oregon. 3. Wil Smith (Gonzaga) We will be completely honest: This wasn't the event that we expected to see Will Smith toe the line for at this year’s outdoor national meet, especially after he dropped a fantastic 28:04 mark over 10,000 meters earlier this year. However, after struggling over 25 laps at the West Regional Championships, the Gonzaga ace rebounded superbly to earn his spot on the line in the 5000 meters. Smith offers some serious strength and very underrated speed, a combination that should enable him to rewrite his 13:40 (5k) PR if the race goes out accordingly. 4. Alex Maier (Oklahoma State) Alex Maier’s ability to thrive on the national stage is second-to-none. The Cowboy veteran is a master at peaking for the postseason and if his indoor national meet results are any indication, then he can transform a solid season into an elite campaign in a matter of days. His knack for shining when the lights are brightest means that, much like in the 10k, we can't count him out of the All-American conversation. 5. Brian Musau (Oklahoma State) Oklahoma State newcomer Brian Musau has raced sparingly this spring, but that hardly matters when in the one regular season 5k race that he contested, he ran 13:13 and beat New Mexico superstar Habtom Samuel in the process. However, Musau showed us that he was human after an underwhelming 4th place finish at the BIG 12 Championships over 1500 meters. While his postseason may not have started in ideal fashion, the Cowboy's blend of strength and exceptional speed makes him a serious threat to those vying for a podium spot. 6. Jackson Sharp (Wisconsin) To put it simply, Jackson Sharp is a true racer. The Badger is a multiple-time All-American and has earned three bronze medals on the national stage (DMR, 3k and outdoor 5k). With a 13:17 (5k) personal best now added to his arsenal, could we see the Badger senior return to the podium once more in Eugene, Oregon? 7. Nico Young (Northern Arizona) In 2024, there hasn't been a single distance runner in the NCAA who has been better than Nico Young. The Northern Arizona standout has not only improved his already-elite aerobic strength with a jaw-dropping 26:52 (10k) PR, but he has also honed his speed by running absurdly fast over 800 meters (1:47) and 1500 meters (3:34). Young is looking better than ever and anything other than NCAA gold would be considered a major upset. 8. Ky Robinson (Stanford) In a surprise that shocked many, Stanford’s Ky Robinson opted to put all of his focus on the 5000 meters. The double-distance champion from last year’s outdoor national meet is one of a handful of athletes who can truly challenge Nico Young and even then, it's going to take a monumental effort if he hopes to regain his 5k crown from last year. Will the Cardinal star's decision to bet the house in this event pay off in grand fashion? 9. Cael Grotenhuis (Northern Arizona) After being the lowest-seeded 10k runner to qualify for the national meet, rising Lumberjack talent Cael Grotenhuis rallied back to also snag a national qualifying spot in the 5k. Grotenhuis has been terrific this postseason and while his experience on the national stage doesn't yet compare to that of some of his competitors, the junior can take great confidence in both his momentum and the fact that he has multiple teammates to key off of. 10. Dylan Schubert (Furman) Time and time again, Furman’s Dylan Schubert has proven himself to be a handful on the grass and this spring, he began to do the same on the track. The Paladin star dropped a very respectable 13:36 (5k) mark at the Wake Forest Invitational earlier this season and while that time may not jump off the page, he produced that mark en route to beating a host of athletes who also feature on this list. Schubert is a true competitor and someone who we can't help but think could be a dark horse contender for All-American honors. 11. Graham Blanks (Harvard) After an injury derailed his national meet hopes this past indoor track season, Harvard's Graham Blanks has made his return to running with varying success. He hasn’t reached the same heights that led to him posting a 13:03 (5k) PR on the indoor oval back in December, but considering the lengthy period that he was out for, Blanks has made a strong comeback. At the East Regional Championships, he showed us that he can still produce a strong close, but will he have the fitness to contend for an All-American accolade? 12. Brodey Hasty (Northern Arizona) Much like Schubert, the majority of Brodey Hasty’s success has come from the grass where he has been an integral piece in establishing Northern Arizona’s dynasty. However, this spring, we have seen encouraging improvement from him on the outdoor oval, including a new outdoor 5k PR of 13:39 and a new 1500-meter personal best. Hasty is renowned for his reliability on the national stage and if he can capitalize on his recent track form, then we could certainly see the Lumberjack feature in the top-half of the race. 13. Acer Iverson (Harvard) Harvard veteran Acer Iverson has looked a long way from his best this past year, but that didn't stop him from qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor Championships with a “big Q” at the East Regional Championships. The Crimson veteran has run 13:26 (5k) in the past and while his 13:48 mark from this spring hardly compares, his last two performances have been very encouraging, leaving us to wonder: Is the best yet to come for Iverson? 14. Rocky Hansen (Wake Forest) True freshman Rocky Hansen made waves after his spectacular start to the 2023 cross country season, but a season-ending injury halted his momentum until the spring. His return campaign has featured a respectable 13:44 mark for 5000 meters, a 6th place finish at the hotly-contested 1500-meter final at the ACC Championships and an eventual ticket to the NCAA Championships. Hansen is an electrifying talent, but with little championship experience and a lack of races to analyze, it's hard to pinpoint just how well the youngster will do. 15. David Mullarkey (Florida State) David Mullarkey has shown great versatility as a racer during his time in the NCAA. The Seminole senior has not only proven that he can run fast (13:28 for 5k), but he can also seemingly adapt to a variety of different race scenarios. A 4th-place finish at the ACC Championships over 5k was a very solid start to the postseason, but he will likely need to muster up more if he hopes to contend for an All-American honor in Eugene, Oregon. 16. Aidan Troutner (BYU) This is the second national meet on the track that BYU’s Aidan Troutner has qualified for this year, but his event selection is very different. The Cougar was great on the indoor oval and while he hasn't quite showcased the same fitness this spring, he still managed to punch his ticket to Hayward Field. In recent seasons, Troutner has proven to have decent turnover given his mile prowess, an attribute that he is going to have to use to his advantage this Friday. 17. Jesse Hamlin (Butler) Over the years, Jesse Hamlin has shown flashes of brilliance, but has never really been able to capitalize on that momentum…depending on how you view his backend 3k All-American honor from the winter of 2023. A big victory over Gary Martin over 5000 meters was a brilliant season opener which was then followed by a very impressive 13:27 (5k) mark out in California. The Bulldog senior offers proven turnover and if it's his day, then he could prove to be very dangerous. 18. Said Mechaal (Iowa State) Much like he did on the indoor oval, Said Mechaal started his season strongly with a 13:34 mark over 5000 meters, but he has since left us wanting more. A silver medal over 10,000 meters at the BIG 12 Championships was a positive step in the right direction, but his effort to double back over 5000 meters was a little underwhelming. The Spaniard has shown that his aerobic strength is exceedingly strong and the fact that he only has to contest one event is going to benefit him greatly. 19. Nickolas Scudder (Charlotte) Charlotte’s Nickolas Scudder has traditionally focused on the 10k when it comes to the postseason, but he returns to the national meet only having to contest half the number of laps. A proven aerobic stalwart, Scudder is no stranger to the front of races, often thriving as the aggressor. However, with a field as loaded as this, he may have to reevaluate his approach if he hopes for another top-half finish. 20. Parker Wolfe (North Carolina) If there is one athlete in this field who can go toe-to-toe with Nico Young, then it's North Carolina’s Parker Wolfe. The Tar Heel superstar is not afraid to make the first move, a tactic that has often gotten the better of his competitors within the final mile and one that put significant pressure on Young at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Fully expect to see Wolfe take the race by the scruff in the closing stages as he hopes to turn those indoor national meet silver medals into gold. 21. Marco Langon (Villanova) Don't let his lower seed fool you, Villanova’s Marco Langon is the real deal. The Wildcat runner has proven to be a fearless competitor and the owner of a menacing kick, a tool that he displayed in full force at the BIG East Championship as he came tearing past Butler's Jesse Hamlin to victory. While he may not have the national stage experience of his fellow competitors, Langon possesses all of the racing attributes to make a big splash in Eugene, Oregon. 22. Toby Gillen (Ole Miss) Toby Gillen was last spring's breakout star and for the most part, he has managed to maintain the same trajectory since he moved to Ole Miss. Gillen’s most valuable skill is his change of pace, something which has enabled him to seemingly come from nowhere over the final 200 meters. His trip to the national meet last spring didn't quite live up to expectations, but with some valuable experience earned, don't be surprised to see the Rebel improve upon his 14th place finish come Friday. 23. Yaseen Abdalla (Tennessee) With an abundance of talent and some excellent times to his name, Yaseen Abdalla has always been a contender to keep an eye on, although the postseason hasn’t always been as kind to him as one would hope. A blistering 7:42 (3k) mark that was posted in January shows us just how strong the Volunteer star can be on his best day. If Abdalla can produce improved championship poise and mesh that with his raw fitness, then he'll most certainly be an All-American contender on Friday night. 24. Nicholas Bendtsen (Princeton) This isn’t Nicholas Bendtsen’s first rodeo. The Princeton star returns to the national stage once again and while he may not have reached the same heights time-wise as he did a year prior, the Tiger ace has still impressed, racking up three Ivy League titles in 2024. Experience is going to be Bendtsen's biggest trump card this week as he hopes to better his 16th-place finish from last year’s outdoor national meet.

  • Three Sentences Or Less: 2024 D1 NCAA Outdoor Championship Women's 5000-Meter Preview

    Click here to see start lists Editor's Note: Our TSR writers were asked to produce three sentences or less of analysis on every entrant in every distance event for every division. The below athletes are ordered to match the start list Click here to see predictions! 1. Hilda Olemomoi (Alabama) There's a real possibility that it's going to take Alabama’s Hilda Olemomoi running a 5k PR, something faster than her current 15:06 personal best (or close to it), to take down SEC rival Parker Valby at this year's outdoor national meet. Olemomoi has the experience of racing on the national stage and has never finished outside of the top-five, making her one of the more reliable All-American favorites in this field. Reaching gold will be a reach, but there's a good argument to be made that she's favored for silver. 2. Parker Valby (Florida) As she doubles back from the 10k, will Parker Valby attempt to make this an aggressive battle to tire out others who are doubling back (to which there are many)? Or will the Gator star be more conservative through the first-half before throwing in a killer gear change? Whatever race tactic she may employ, it would take an all-time upset for Valby to walk away with anything other than gold. 3. Maia Ramsden (Harvard) The way to ensure that Harvard middle distance star Maia Ramsden earns a top-five finish in the 5k at the outdoor national meet will be for the race to turn to a kicker’s battle. The Crimson tars will be doubling back from the 1500-meter finals on the same day, a race where she is not only the reigning champion, but also a race where she’s run a stellar 4:02 PR. The range that Ramsden has displayed throughout her career is inspiring and her ability to double so effectively this seaosn should not be overlooked going into Saturday. 4. Chloe Scrimgeour (Georgetown) Since the cross country season, Chloe Scrimgeour has consistently delivered at the NCAA Championships and the upcoming outdoor national meet should be no different. The Georgetown star has been extremely reliable when it comes to battling for All-American finishes, thriving in paces that are a bit more aggressive, but can she make her way to the top-three with a 10k race already in her legs? 5. Samantha Bush (NC State) NC State’s Samantha Bush is as experienced as they get with eight All-American honors headlining her resume. The Wolfpack ace is an athlete who is seemingly peaking perfectly for the postseason after running a new 1500-meter PR of 4:09 and matching her 5k PR of 15:32 at the East Regional Championships. On paper, Bush can be an All-American in this event, but racing on tired legs adds a layer of uncertainty as to what we can expect from her this weekend. 6. Phoebe Anderson (Columbia) Columbia junior Phoebe Anderson will be making her outdoor national meet debut this spring in the 5k and with the way that she’s competed this academic year, Anderson could very realistically walk away as an All-American spot. The Lion standout athlete took down a very strong 5k field at Wake Forest back in April en route to a 15:29 PR. If Anderson repeats that performance, then she'll be able to take advantage of a field where many of these women are racing on tired legs. 7. Chloe Thomas (Connecticut) At the East Regional Championships, Connecticut’s Chloe Thomas nearly matched her 15:35 (5k) PR by running just two seconds slower to notch a qualifying mark for the outdoor national meet. The fast-rising Husky junior has seemingly found the "it" factor this spring and that could be enough to carry her to a top-10 finish in a deep field despite her relative inexperience. 8. Margot Appleton (Virginia) It’s a pleasant surprise to see Virginia’s Margot Appleton qualify for the national meet over 5000 meters after finishing 3rd for the 1500-meter distance at the 2023 outdoor national meet. When Appleton ran 15:18 (5k) earlier this year, she put herself in contention to vie for a top-five finish on the national stage against some of the heavy-hitters in the longer distances. What’s going to aid the Cavalier veteran in her pursuit for an All-American finish will be her remarkable 4:08 (1500) closing speed, especially with other top contenders racing on tired legs. 9. Grace Hartman (NC State) Sophomore Grace Hartman has been racing like a veteran and when she stands on the starting line for the 5k, we could be in for a treat from the NC State ace. Hartman has seen improvement across the board this year and even though she hasn’t matched her 15:28 (5k) PR on the outdoor oval this spring, the newfound 1500-meter speed and surprisingly great 10k strength makes this Wolfpack runner one of the more complete distance talents in this field. 10. Flomena Asekol (Florida) Speed and range are what headline the resume of Florida’s Flomena Asekol. The Gator distance ace is a stellar talent when it comes to all-out efforts, but with her 4:07 (1500) closing speed, Asekol is theoretically a threat for the top-10 if the 5k becomes a sit-and-kick ordeal. Of course, like many others who we have spoken about, we need to consider how much will be taken out of Asekol's legs from the earlier-contested 1500-meter prelims (and possibly finals) when she toes the line for the 5k. 11. Siona Chisholm (Notre Dame) It’s a little hard to gauge what we will see from Notre Dame’s Siona Chisholm as she has a history of posting multiple nationally competitive times, but not necessarily replicating that fitness each time she toes the line. Thankfully, the Fighting Irish junior is coming off of a strong 2nd-place finish at the ACC Championships, running a 15:32 (5k) PR in the process. Chisholm clearly has the talent to improve upon her seed time and position, but she is going to need her full potential to the stage that matters most. 12. Lily Murphy (Penn) Believe it or not, Penn’s Lily Murphy is the only woman in this field who has never toed the line for a national meet before across any season. The rising Quaker star began her spring season with a modest 16:10 (5k) effort and has since then dropped that PR down to 15:51. Momentum is on Murphy’s side at the moment, especially over 10,000 meters, but given her inexperience (and the fact that she'll be racing on tired legs), trying to secure an All-American honor in this event would mean that she has surpassed expectations. 13. Sophia Kennedy (Stanford) It has seemingly taken Stanford freshman Sophia Kennedy no time to acclimate to the collegiate scene. Kennedy has placed amongst the top-seven in each of the three 5k races that she has contested this spring and while this will no doubt be her toughest challenge yet, who’s to say that she doesn’t continue that trend at the NCAA Outdoor Championships? She lacks experience, but that hasn't seemingly been an issue for her throughout this year. 14. Bailey Hertenstein (Colorado) All-American star Bailey Hertenstein is firing on all cylinders at the right time in her final collegiate season. The Colorado Buffalo's 15:18 (5k) PR is one of the best times in the NCAA this spring and it sets her up well to go out with a bang at the outdoor national meet. If Hertenstein follows the likely-aggressive pace that Parker Valby and Hilda Olemomoi will inevitably set, then the redshirt senior's raw talent could reward her with her highest NCAA Championship finish to date. 15. Sadie Sargent (BYU) The rise of BYU’s Sadie Sargent hasn’t gone unnoticed this spring and now she’ll be a top contender for an All-American finish in the 5k at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. After focusing on the steeplechase in 2023, the Cougar veteran is finding her groove in the 5k this season after posting a massive 15:34 PR. Sargent is thriving this season and there’s no telling what she will accomplish in her last race in a Cougar uniform (assuming TFRRS is accurate). 16. Annika Reiss (Northern Arizona) When Annila Reiss ran 15:33 (5k) to finish 3rd place at the Payton Jordan Invite and take down a slew of top collegiate runners, we knew that the Northern Arizona veteran was going to have a memorable outdoor track season. This will be the Lumberjack’s outdoor national meet debut, but the established All-American shouldn’t be fazed. Coach Mike Smith has well-prepared Reiss to rely on her mix of speed and strength to lead her to a potential top-10 finish in the 5k. 17. Ella Baran (Colorado) Ella Baran is a solid middle-of-the-pack runner and we project her to continue that trend at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. The Colorado Buffalo, who will be contesting her fourth 5k race of the season, is projected to finish amongst the top-half of the field based on her previous national level experience, although it's unclear if her upside (which she has plenty of) will be capitalized on to put her in the All-American hunt. 18. Taylor Roe (Oklahoma State) During the 5k at the indoor national meet, Taylor Roe stuck on Parker Valby's heels for roughly half of the race, although Roe had to settle for runner-up honors after Valby threw in a large late surge. This time around at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, the Oklahoma State veteran will likely employ the same race tactic, although don't be surprised if Roe opts to make the first move this time around. 19. Amy Bunnage (Stanford) Will this be the weekend that Stanford’s Amy Bunnage puts everything together? The Cardinal freshman has one of the fastest 5k PRs in the field with her 15:11 mark, but we haven’t had the chance to see Bunnage at that level at an NCAA-sanctioned championship. Bunnage could finish in the top-four on her best day, but that upside hasn't necessarily been shown from her during these spring months. 20. Juliet Cherubet (Texas Tech) Juliet Cherubet has been on fire this postseason. Between her 4:09 (1500) and 15:25 (5k) efforts, this Texas Tech freshman is the real deal and has the potential to finish in the top-five in the 5k at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Inexperience at the national level may not faze Cherubet given how well she's been running, but doubling back from the 1500 meters isn't easy to do, especially for a freshman. 21. Maelle Porcher (Iowa State) Iowa State’s Maelle Porcher is entering the NCAA Outdoor Championships with no expectations placed upon her by The Stride Report. For the Cyclone runner, the 15:44 (5k) mark that she ran earlier this season puts her amongst the chase pack. Porcher’s “A" goal for the weekend should be to improve upon her 21st seed position, something she could do if she employs a more conservative approach while others in the field fall victim to what will likely be an aggressive early pace. 22. Gracelyn Larkin (Northern Arizona) Gracelyn Larkin is a true veteran of the NCAA Outdoor Championships. The Northern Arizona Lumberjack has a history of recording All-American honors across multiple seasons and with her 15:29 (5k) PR, a top-10 finish isn’t out of the question for Larkin. Don't be surprised if the distance veteran is a bit more aggressive in what is seemingly her last collegiate race. 23. Sydney Thorvaldson (Arkansas) Sydney Thorvaldson has developed into a savvy racer, putting together some fantastic individual efforts throughout this academic year. The Arkansas junior has fine-tuned her speed and increased her stamina, two skills that will set her up well for what’s expected to be a fast 5k at the outdoor national meet. Thorvaldson’s going to be doubling back from the 10k earlier in the meet, but that shouldn’t be a problem for the 15:25 (5k) ace who is fit enough to earn two All-American honors after this weekend. 24. Silan Ayyildiz (Oregon) By the skin of her teeth, Oregon’s Silan Ayyildiz qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships, a surprising development given how strong she has looked throughout most of this spring. The Duck distance stud opted to forgo the 1500 meters, a race that she has a 4:09 PR in, and she instead chose to put all of her eggs into the 5k basket. The 15:15 (5k) personal best that Ayyildiz recorded earlier this spring suggests that she can be a top-half All-American, but her limited experience in this event and not-so-great regional performance leaves us a little unsure as to what to expect from her.

  • Blue Oval Podcast: Can Anyone Stop Valby & Ramsden? Plus, Crazy Men’s 1500m Prelim Heats

    Podcast production via Wyatt Barnsley The NCAA Outdoor Championships are finally here and that means that the podcast is back with a fully-loaded preview! This week, Ben and Garrett analyze the fields for each distance event by giving their national title favorites, All-American sleeper picks and the athletes who they believe are the biggest wildcards. Be sure to listen, subscribe and review! (2:21) Women’s 800m Favorites (4:26) Women’s 800m Sleepers & Wildcards (9:47) Men’s 800m Favorites (11:47) Men’s 800m Sleepers (14:20) Men’s 800m Wildcards (16:29) Women’s 1500m Favorite & Top Contenders (20:13) Women’s 1500m Sleepers (21:57) Women’s 1500m Wildcards (23:57) Men’s 1500m Favorites (28:30) Men’s 1500m Sleepers & Wildcards (32:38) Women’s 5k Favorite & Top Contenders (34:15) Women’s 5k Sleepers & Wildcards (38:02) Men’s 5k Favorite & Top Contenders (40:26) Men’s 5k Sleepers (43:50) Women’s 10k Favorite & Top Contenders (45:10) Women’s 10k Sleepers (46:19) Women’s 10k Wildcards (49:00) Men’s 10k Favorite & Top Contenders (53:26) Men’s 10k Wildcards (55:13) Women’s Steeplechase Favorites (57:35) Women’s Steeplechase Sleepers & Wildcards (1:00:44) Men’s Steeplechase Favorites (1:02:14) Men’s Steeplechase Sleepers (1:04:03) Men’s Steeplechase Wildcards 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.

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