Notre Dame has an extremely deep men's field (10 of the top 25, led by #10 BYU), but the best race of the weekend is Saturday in Seattle, where half of the men's top 10 (#2 NAU, #5 Portland, #6 Stanford, #7 Indiana, #9 Villanova) will square off. The women's races aren't as strong, but #3 Oregon vs. #4 Stanford at Washington should be compelling,
with a potential debut from Stanford's Aisling Cuffe. In other action, the #6 FSU women trek up to Paul Short to face #5 Georgetown while the #1 Colorado men race at the Rocky Mountain Shootout.
*Aisling Cuffe Out For Most (Or All) XC Season With A Stress Fracture According to this blog post by one of the Stanford men.
The top returner is Emma Bates but she will be challenged by Aisling Cuffe, Kate Avery and Shelby Houlihan up front. Can Cuffe break the Foot Locker curse? Can a freshman (Elise Cranny or Sarah Baxter) crack the top five for the first time since 2009? We sort through a wide-open women's field as just 6 of the top 16 from NCAAs last year are back in 2014.
Last year was an aberration as neither Stanford nor Oregon cracked the top 10 at NCAAs. That won't be the case this year as both teams are much better. The nation's #1 recruit, 4:10 1500 woman Elise Cranny, is headed to Stanford and the #2, 2-time NXN champ Sarah Baxter, to Oregon. Plus a look at the increasing importance of the transfer market to building an xc power.
Huddle, the American Record holder, is running great in 2014, but the next few spots are up for grabs. Shannon Rowbury is the best bet for second, but there are plenty of women who will challenge her, such as Katie Mackey, Laura Thweatt, Chelsea Reilly and the collegiate big three of Marielle Hall, Aisling Cuffe and Abbey D'Agostino. Has US women's 5000 running ever been this deep?
It came down to Hall, D'Agostino and Stanford's Aisling Cuffe, but in the end it was Hall who broke away with a 30.4 last 200 to win her first NCAA title. The UT senior has dropped more than a minute off her 5,000 PR in the last year. Pretty damn impressive.
On The Boards: Marielle Hall pulls a shocker, takes down Abbey D in 5k – Wins in 15:35.11!!
Senior Abbey D is the heavy favorite for NCAA title #8 in the 5,000, but who will win the wide-open 10k? Does super frosh Erin Finn have a chance? Or will veterans Emma Bates, Elinor Kirk or 2012 champ Juliet Bottorff come through?
Our crack stats team gives you the lowdown on Stanford's fast times. How do Ben True and Hassan Mead compare to Adam Goucher and Galen Rupp? Will there be a slew of sub 13:00 Americans in 2014? Plus, some fast times from Aisling Cuffe and teen star Elise Cranny. The performance of the week was Molly Huddle's 30:47 10k. And some props for Brannon Kidder.
The women's 5,000 at the 2014 Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational was won by the Netherlands' Sifan Hassan (formerly of Ethiopia) in a world-leading time of 14:59.23. Sweden's Meraf Bahta (formerly of Eritrea) was second in a national record of 14:59.49. Leading the Americans was Brooks Beasts' Katie Mackey in 15:04.74, just beating out Boulder Track Club's Laura Thweatt (15:04.98). GB 20-year-old Emelia Gorecka was 5th in 15:07.45 as Stanford's Aisling Cuffe set a new school record and put herself 3rd on the all-time NCAA list with a 15:11.13.