March 6, 2016
The 2016 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships will be held Friday and Saturday at the Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham, Ala. We’re previewing the mid-d and distance events (800, mile, 3000, 5000 and distance medley relay) one by one. Below, you’ll find our analysis of the women’s 3000 and 5000.
TV/Streaming: The meet will be streamed live on ESPN3.com.
Discuss the meet on our messageboard: Unofficial NCAA prediction and discussion thread
Women’s 5000 (Friday 9:25 p.m. ET)
|Molly Seidel||JR||Notre Dame||15:19.64||15:19.64||NCAA XC champ is undefeated in ’16; also in 3k|
|Allie Ostrander||FR||Boise State||15:21.85||15:21.85||True frosh has carried over strong XC campaign (2nd NCAAs) to the track; also in 3k|
|Anna Rohrer||FR||Notre Dame||15:32.03||15:32.03||6th at NCAA XC, 2nd behind Seidel in ACC 3k/5k; also in 3k|
|Erin Finn||SO||Michigan||15:37.31||15:26.08||Only loss this year came to Seidel at ND on Feb. 6; also in 3k|
|Chelsea Blaase||SR||Tennessee||15:43.81||15:43.81||SEC 3k/5k champ was 4th last year|
|Erika Kemp||SO||NC State||15:45.46||15:45.46||3rd in ACC 5k; also in 3k|
|Liv Westphal||SR||Boston College||15:45.48||15:28.71||3rd in ACC 3k|
|Sarah Collins||JR||Providence||15:45.58||15:31.03||Ran 15:45 on Dec. 6 but results have been underwhelming since|
|Tessa Barrett||FR||Penn State||15:46.08||15:46.08||’13 Foot Locker champ starting to harness potential|
|Courtney Smith||SO||Harvard||15:46.44||15:46.44||3rd in the Heps 3000 two weeks ago.|
|Ednah Kurgat||SO||Liberty||15:47.89||15:47.89||Big South mile and 3000 champ.|
|Christina Melian||JR||Stony Brook||15:48.77||15:48.13||Only 143rd in NCAA xc.|
|Waverly Neer||SR||Oregon||15:48.93||15:37.85||Former Columbia runner was 23rd at NCAA xc.|
|Tori Gerlach||SR||Penn State||15:50.49||15:50.49||Runner-up to Erin Finn at Big 10s in 3 and 5k, beating Barrett in both races.|
|Molly Grabill||SR||Oregon||15:52.94||15:47.69||Nearly killed in 2012 car accident, was 33rd at NCAA xc.|
|Hannah Everson||SR||Air Force||15:53.64||15:53.64||22nd at NCAA xc in fall.|
With apologies to the rest of the runners entered in this weekend’s races, the 3k and 5k and NCAAs appear to be two-woman races between the nation’s top two cross country runners last fall: freshman sensation Allie Ostrander of Boise State and NCAA XC champ Molly Seidel of Notre Dame. They’re ranked 1-2 in both the 3k (where no one else has broken 9:00) and the 5k (where no one else has broken 15:30). And here’s a stat for you:
Losses in NCAA competition since October 1, 2015
Ostrander: 1 (to Seidel at NCAA XC)
Seidel: 1 (to Ostrander at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational)
Seidel and Ostrander’s dominance is most apparent in the 5,000, which is the first of the two events. Seidel’s 15:19 solo effort at ACCs puts her #5 on the all-time NCAA indoor list; Ostrander’s 15:21 at the UW Invitational on January 29 is good for #7. No one else has come within 10 seconds of the duo this season, with Seidel’s ND teammate Anna Rohrer the next closest at 15:32. Considering that Seidel and Ostrander will both be fresh for the 5,000, and that neither is afraid to run from the front, they should have no problem separating from the field. The result should be a terrific duel between the NCAA’s top two distance runners.
So who wins? It’s hard to find flaws with either of them based on this season. Neither has lost a collegiate race, and their times across both the 3k and 5k are very similar. Heck, they’re even pretty similar in the DMR: both split 4:40 for their teams (Seidel at the Alex Wilson Invite, Ostrander at the Mountain West Champs, though Ostrander did it at altitude in Albuquerque.
LRC prediction: It’s essentially a toss-up, but we’re backing Seidel. She’s tough, she knows how to win (two NCAA championships to Ostrander’s zero) and broke Ostrander the last time the two raced at NCAA XC, pulling away to win by five seconds. Watch out for the meet record (15:14.18 by Providence’s Kim Smith in 2004); it could go down if Ostrander and Seidel really decide to push each other (though with the 3k coming up on Saturday, they may not attack a fast pace from the gun).
As for who gets third, we think Finn is the best bet.
Women’s 3000 (Saturday 7:25 p.m. ET)
|Allie Ostrander||FR||Boise State||8:54.27||8:54.27||True frosh has carried over strong XC campaign (2nd NCAAs) to the track; also in 5k|
|Molly Seidel||JR||Notre Dame||8:57.13||8:57.13||NCAA XC champ is undefeated in ’16; also in 5k|
|Erin Finn||SO||Michigan||9:01.25||9:01.25||Only loss this year came to Seidel at ND on Feb. 6; also in 5k|
|Calli Thackery||JR||New Mexico||9:03.59||9:03.59||Brit was 15th at NCAA XC|
|Erin Teschuk||SR||North Dakota St.||9:04.13||9:04.13||7th last year; doubling back from mile|
|Erika Kemp||SO||NC State||9:06.07||9:06.07||3rd in ACC 5k; also in 5k|
|Angel Piccirillo||SR||Villanova||9:06.39||9:06.39||Doubling back from mile|
|Katrina Coogan||SR||Georgetown||9:07.44||9:01.16||Big East champ was 4th last year; probably doubling back from DMR|
|Regan Rome||SO||William & Mary||9:09.74||9:09.74|
|Aisling Cuffe||SR||Stanford||9:10.59||9:04.57||NCAA runner-up at 5k indoors/out in ’14 but has battled injuries lately|
|Anna Rohrer||FR||Notre Dame||9:11.14||9:11.14||6th at NCAA XC, 2nd behind Seidel in ACC 3k/5k; also in 5k|
The 3k is a more open affair than the 5k, but Ostrander and Seidel remain the favorites. Both women will be doubling back from the 5k*, but so will everyone else — of the top eight seeds in the 3k, four are also entered in the 5k (Ostrander, Seidel, Michigan’s Erin Finn and NC State’s Erika Kemp), two are entered in the mile (Villanova’s Angel Piccirillo and North Dakota State’s Erin Teschuk) and the other two will likely run in their school’s DMR on Friday (New Mexico’s Calli Thackery and Georgetown’s Katrina Coogan). Compared to Piccirillo and Teschuk, who would only have about two hours to recover from the mile final (should they make it) before running the 3k, Ostrander and Seidel should manage just fine coming back from the 5k.
*Seidel could conceivably run the DMR for Notre Dame as well on Friday night, but the 5k is at 8:25 CT on Friday and the DMR is at 9:00 CT, essentially making it an impossible double.
Ostrander has the faster time on paper (her 8:54 ranks #9 on the all-time NCAA list) but she was pushed all the way to the line in that race by Canadian Gabriela Stafford. Seidel’s 8:57, on the other hand, came in a race that she won by over four seconds. We like Seidel to win the 3k for the same reason we like her in the 5k, but it doesn’t make much sense to pick the 3k before we see how Friday’s events play out. If Ostrander wins the 5k handily, we’d obviously pick her to beat Seidel in the 3k (though as a true freshman, she may have a harder time doubling back than the older Seidel).
If Seidel and Ostrander kill each other on Friday night, that could leave the door open for another athlete to steal the title, though it will be tough as none of the top contenders will be fresh. If we were to pick one of those athletes to win, it would be Katrina Coogan. She was 4th in this race last year (top returner) and she has good speed, with a 4:33 mile pb. She laid down a solo 9:07 to win Big Easts, and unlike the other women in this field who are strong milers (Teschuk and Piccirillo), Coogan won’t face the possibility of a same-day double at NCAAs since she’s not entered in the mile (she may have to run the DMR on Friday though).
We should also mention Aisling Cuffe, who owns a 15:11 5k pb and was 2nd at NCAAs at that distance indoors and outdoors in 2014. At full strength, Cuffe is extremely formidable, but she’s been inconsistent since missing all of 2014-15 with a stress fracture. She came back to win Pac-12s in XC last fall, but was only 117th at NCAAs and has raced just once since then. Two weeks ago, she ran her first track race in 2014 and put up a 9:10.59 to place sixth at the MPSF champs and knock out her NCAA qualifier. The fact that Cuffe is racing again is a good sign for her outdoor season but she’s not fit enough right now to contend for an NCAA title.
LRC: We’ll take whichever athlete out of Seidel/Ostrander wins the 3k on Friday, which will probably be Seidel.