Race Results Weekly gives the blow-by-blow.
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Here is our event-by-event preview for the NCAA Division I Championships, which take place in Eugene, Ore. from June 5 -8.
800m: Final June 7
The favorite has to be LSU junior Natoya Goule. The reigning NCAA 800m indoor champion has a seed time of 2:01.04, more than two seconds faster than any other qualifier in the field [Note: Seed times are from the Eastern and Western Preliminary Meets]. A native of Jamaica, Goule also ran 2:00.76 early in the outdoor season at the LSU Alumni Gold Meet in April. If she is going to be challenged down the homestretch, it could be from Oregon’s Laura Roesler, who will be running in front of her hometown fans. Roesler was runner-up to Goule at the NCAA Indoor Championships, and has timed a season best of 2:01.75. Roesler’s raw speed was good enough to earn her a spot on Oregon’s National Champion 4x400m team both indoors this year and Outdoors in 2012. With the famed magic of Hayward Field, an upset is always possible.
Others to watch are Goule’s teammate at LSU, Charlene Lipsey; Georgia’s Megan Malasarte; and UC Davis’s Lauren Wallace. If one was to chose a darkhorse for a podium finish, go with Stanford freshman Amy Weissenbach (veteran to the big stage having finished fourth at the 2011 IAAF World Youth Championships in the discipline), or Illinois’s Samantha Murphy.
1500m: Final June 8
When one thinks of coach Dave Smith’s Oklahoma State middle distance team, many immediately call to mind German Fernandez, the 2009 1500m NCAA champion. Though Hernandez is largely regarded as Oklahoma State’s best product in recent years, Natalja Piliusina has to be thought of in the same category. Though she hasn’t earned any NCAA titles yet, the Lithuanian has consistently finished at the top of the NCAA rankings in both the 1500m and 800m. Heading into the NCAA Championships, Piliusina is the fastest at 1500m by nearly a second over Florida’s Cory McGee. The third time should be the charm for Piliusina, who has finished second at NCAA Championships twice before in 2011 outdoors and 2012 indoors (both at 800m). If it comes down to a tactical race, watch out for her 2:03.80 800m speed.
However, a trio from Florida could play spoiler to Piliusina. At the Stanford Payton Jordan Invitational, McGee, a junior, timed 4:10.55, her season and personal best. Also from the sunshine state are Florida State’s Amanda Winslow and Florida’s Agata Strausa, boasting season marks of 4:10.79 and 4:11.27.
As mentioned in the 800m, never disregard the magic of Oregon’s Hayward Field. Senior Anne Kesselring — the 800m NCAA Champion from 2011 outdoors — could play a factor. Also don’t forget Big East Conference winner Emily Lipari of Villanova.
5000m: Final June 7
The women’s 5000m should be one of the best races of the entire meet. Here you have NCAA Indoor 5000m champion Abbey D’Agostino of Dartmouth, Oregon darling Jordan Hasay running her final race at her home track, Pac-12 foe Megan Goethals, Providence tandem Emily Sisson and Laura Nagel, as well as Kenyans Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton (Wichita State) and Betsy Saina (Iowa State). The favorite has to be D’Agostino, who leads the NCAA rankings with her 15:11.35 performance at Mt. Sac in April. D’Agostino is not attempting a 5000m/10,000m double, meaning her main focus will be this race. The question is will she take the pace out fast from the gun or let the contest play into a tactical affair?
Ironically, all of Hasay’s eggs are in the 5000m as well. Having failed to qualify for the 10,000m, Hasay’s final race as a collegian will be on her home track, the same track in which she was ushered in as an Oregon Duck in 2008 when she finished tenth — still as a high schooler — in the Olympic Trials 1500m. As Letsrun.com wrote in their event preview, it would be a storybook ending worthy of a Walt Disney film if Hasay could take the 5000m title. Surely that would quiet all of her naysayers, walking off the Hayward Field track national champion to a standing ovation.
Aside from D’Agostino and Hasay, there is a deep list of athletes who could well finish in the top two. NCAA Division I Cross Country champion Saina and fourth place finisher Tuliamuk-Bolton has the credentials to rightfully do so. The one thing possibly holding them back is their entry in Wednesday’s 10,000m. Also entered in both events is Washington’s Goethals.
Ray Treacy always has his Providence Friars ready for the post-season; the veteran coach has Sisson and Nagel in the event, two athletes who have shown promise throughout their careers. Two others worth noting are Columbia’s Waverly Neer and Kentucky’s Chelsea Oswald.
10,000m: Final June 5
As mentioned in the 5000m capsule, Iowa State’s Betsy Saina (NCAA Cross Country Champion) and Wichita State’s Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton are two favorites that are entered in both the 5000m and 10,000m. Kentucky’s Chelsea Oswald and Washington’s Megan Goethals are also entered in both distance events.
One that we didn’t mention in the 5000m but must mention in the 10,000m is Arizona’s Jennifer Bergman, who has timed 33:04.58 this season. The senior could be the next one in Arizona’s long list of recent champions (think Stephen Sambu and Lawi Lalang) to top the podium. Like Lalang, she is coached by James Li.
Last year’s fourth place finisher Meaghan Nelson will return to try and better her finish from a year ago, as will Cornell’s Katie Kellner. In 2012, the Ivy Leaguer placed 21st nearly two minutes behind the winner. But this year, Kellner has been on a roll, winning the Eastern Regional on May 23 in 33:17.39.
Not to be forgotten are Risper Kimaiyo of UTEP and Boston University’s Katie Matthews, both of whom could finish on the podium if they have a good day.
3000m Steeplechase: Final June 8
Reigning champion Shalaya Kipp of Colorado is red-shirting this year, leaving teammate and fellow Olympian Emma Coburn the easy favorite. Coburn is perhaps the best NCAA steeplechaser since Jenny Simpson was at Colorado, running to a season best of 9:28.26 in April.
While Coburn should be the easy victor (after all, she has the fastest time in the NCAA by more than 20 seconds), look for a number of sub-10:00 athletes to battle it out for All-American honors. Florida State’s Colleen Quigley, Cornell’s Rachel Sorna, Weber State’s Amber Henry, Michigan State’s Leah O’Connor, UMKC’s Courtney Frerichs, and Nebraska’s Jessica Furlan have all run under 10:00 this season.
Two names that should be in the mix as well come from the Big East in Providence’s Shelby Greany and Syracuse’s Brianna Nerud.