June 7, 2016
The 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships start on Wednesday in Eugene, Oregon, with the men’s competition taking place on Wednesday and Friday and the women’s on Thursday and Saturday. We’ll be previewing all the mid-d/distance events before the meet. Below you’ll find our previews of the women’s 5K and 10K, where Dominique Scott will attempt to become the fifth woman to sweep both crowns (and the first since Lisa Koll in 2010).
Women’s 10,000 (Thursday, 10:08 p.m. ET)
Entries (2015 finish in parentheses)
|Tara Jameson||SR||Iona||33:38.50||33:38.50||Bizarre fact: Has run the 400 6 times in college with a 71.93 PR.|
|Chelsea Blaase (6)||JR||Tennessee||32:08.39||32:08.39||SEC champ was 6th last year|
|Anne-Marie Blaney||JR||UCF||33:24.33||33:24.33||AAC champ|
|Dominique Scott (2)||SR||Arkansas||31:56.84||31:56.84||Last year’s runner-up has top NCAA time by 12 secs|
|Alice Wright (8)||JR||New Mexico||32:36.11||32:36.11||8th last year; 5th at NCAA XC|
|Katie Knight||JR||Washington||33:20.02||33:20.02||PAC-12 champ|
|Gina Sereno||JR||Michigan||34:19.39||34:19.39||Big 10 5k/10k champ|
|Ali Wiersma||JR||Mich. St.||34:00.23||34:12.41||3rd in Big 10 5,000.|
|Kinsey Gomez||SR||Idaho||33:23.59||33:23.59||Big Sky runner-up in 1,500.|
|Shaylyn Tuite||JR||Syracuse||33:22.04||33:22.04||55th at NCAA XC. Only 5th at ACCs in 10k.|
|Hannah Everson (21)||SR||Air Force||33:05.26||33:05.26||7th in 5k indoors|
|Lauren LaRocco||SO||Portland||33:15.75||33:15.75||Has 15:58 5000 PR.|
|Brenna Peloquin||FR||Boise St.||33:03.48||33:03.48||Only frosh in the race. Mountain West 5,000 champ.|
|Mackenzie Caldwell||SO||Colorado||33:52.08||33:52.08||3rd at PAC-12s.|
|Cleo Boyd||JR||Virginia||34:25.69||34:25.69||ACC champ|
|Olivia Pratt||JR||Butler||33:08.31||33:08.31||Big East 10k champ was 28th at NCAA XC.|
|Liz Berkholtz||SR||Minnesota||34:12.67||34:14.01||Big 10 runner-up was 44th at NCAA XC.|
|Caroline Kellner||SR||Cornell||33:32.07||33:51.94||Heps champ|
|Sharon Lokedi||SO||Kansas||33:10.06||33:10.06||Big 12 champ was 6th in indoor 5k|
|Kristen Busch||SR||Bradley||33:48.36||34:05.93||83rd at NCAA XC.|
|Rachele Schulist||SR||Mich. St.||34:12.23||34:12.23||4th at 2014 NCAA XC champs.|
|Charlotte Taylor||JR||San Francisco||33:25.09||33:25.09||118th at NCAA XC.|
|Margo Malone (7)||SR||Syracuse||32:29.89||33:55.93||7th last year|
|Hannah Wittmann||SR||Belmont||33:59.63||33:59.63||Ran 8, 1,500 and 5,000 at conference. 84th at NCAA XC.|
The NCAA women’s 10k from a year ago was one of the craziest we’ve ever seen. Scott and defending champ Emma Bates of Boise State entered as favorites but after Bates dropped a 66.4 400 with a mile to go, all hell broke loose. In the end, Bates faded to 10th, Scott was sixth at the bell (but kicked it in for second) and Notre Dame’s Molly Seidel was the shock winner.
Entering the spring season, Seidel was close to a lock to defend her title. She won NCAAs in XC and dominated in sweeping the 3k and 5k titles at NCAA indoors in March. Unfortunately, Seidel has missed the entire outdoor season with a sacral stress fracture and she won’t be competing in Eugene this week.She is far from the only stud who won’t be racing this week. Freshman Allie Ostrander of Boise State, second to Seidel at NCAA XC, is also out due to injury. Michigan’s Erin Finn, who ran the 6th fastest time ever by a collegian this spring 31:51.83), is redshirting to focus on the Olympic Trials. Harvard’s Courtney Smith, who ran the 10th fastest collegian time ever this spring (32:08.32), is injured and hasn’t raced since.
|The 10 Fastest Collegians at 10,000 *list via TFN
31:18.07 Lisa Uhl (Iowa St) 03/26/10
31:25.45 Sally Kipyego (Texas Tech) 05/04/08
31:37.22 Betsy Saina (Iowa St) 04/28/13
31:38.03 Emily Sisson (Providence) 05/02/15
31:41.44 Kate Avery (Iona) 05/02/15
31:51.83* Erin Finn (Michigan) 05/01/16
31:56.84 Dominique Scott (Arkansas) 05/01/16
32:06.64 Jordan Hasay (Oregon) 04/28/13
32:07.20 Aliphine Bolton (Wichita St) 04/28/13
32:08.32 Courtney Smith (Harvard) 04/01/16
32:08.39 Chelsea Blaase (Tennessee) 04/01/16
Bold = Running NCAAs
*Finn still has eligibility at Michigan but since she ran Payton Jordan unattached, her time doesn’t count for collegiate record purposes.
That leaves Scott as the presumptive favorite in the 5k and 10k. Last year, in addition to the 5k, Scott took up the 10k for the first time in order to help Arkansas vie for the team title (the Hogs wound up 4th). She’ll try for the same double once again this year and the team race could rest on her shoulder: Track & Field News’ formchart has Arkansas edging Oregon, 60-55, with Scott accounting for 18 points (30% of its total).
Scott’s not the only woman in the long-distance events who could impact the team race. Her chief competition based on seasonal-best time, Chelsea Blaase of Tennessee, has the #2 time in the 10k behind Scott this year and Track & Field News has her Volunteers third in their formchart (though with 44 points, they’re a fair bit back of Arkansas and Oregon).
Barring a major upset like Seidel last year, this race should come down to Scott and Blaase. Scott is the NCAA leader at 31:56 (#6 all-time NCAA) and Blaase is #2 in the field at 32:08. New Mexico’s Alice Wright is the only other woman under 33:00 at 32:36. She was 5th at NCAA XC, so she’s a threat, but Scott and Blaase are more credentialed. Check out their resumes:
-2nd in 5k/10k last year
-3rd at NCAA XC
-3-time NCAA champ (’15 indoor 3k, ’14/’15 DMR anchor)
-Beat Blaase head-to-head in SEC 5k (16:10-16:16)
-3rd in NCAA indoor 5k in ’16, 4th in ’15
-14th at NCAA XC
-6th in 10k last year (#2 returner)
Both women are battle-tested NCAA Championship veterans; they won’t shrink from the stage in Eugene. But Scott simply has too much going for her to pick against her. She DESTROYED Blaase by 6 + seconds in the SEC 5k, and though Blaase was coming back from the 10k two nights earlier, Scott was coming back from the 1500 just over two hours earlier. Add in that Scott’s PRs (4:08/8:52/15:25/31:56) are much better than Blaase’s (9:20/15:42/32:08) across the board and it’s clear that Scott isthe huge favorite.
Blaase may have peaked in early April, not early June. Between Stanford and SECs, she was only third in the Penn Relays 5000 in a race that was won in just 16:07. A 32:08 10,000 runner should have no problem winning a 16:07 race (Blaase ran just 16:13).
In addition, Scott’s biggest weakness from a year ago — her lack of experience at 10,000 meters — should be improved. First of all, she’s fitter, which makes any race easier. But with two more 10ks under her belt this year (in addition to the three she ran last year), she should be more prepared to respond to the inevitable move late in the race — or perhaps even make it herself.
If you’re looking for a true dark horse pick to win this race, consider Katie Knight of Washington. Knight, a junior, has never run at NCAAs on the track before, but could be capable of something special on Thursday. A stud since high school (she made NXN all four years, finishing 16th, 8th, 3rd and 3rd), Knight has started to unlock some of her potential, running PRs at 1500 (4:21) and 5,000 (15:52) this spring. But it’s in the 10k where she’s been most impressive, running 33:20 (a 61-second pb) to win by 20 seconds. We’ll get to see what she’s truly capable of against the nation’s best in Eugene.
LRC Prediction: Scott is clearly the best on paper. She’ll learn from last year’s mistakes and secure 10 big points for Arkansas by winning the 10k.
Women’s 5,000 (Saturday, 8:25 p.m. ET)
Entries (2015 finish in parentheses)
|Allie Buchalski||SO||Furman||16:08.10||16:08.10||7th at NCAA XC|
|Aurora Dybedokken||SO||Okla. St.||16:03.72||16:03.72||Big 12 1,500 champ|
|Aisling Cuffe||SR||Stanford||15:11.13||16:08.45||2nd in ’14 but has barely raced on track since|
|Brenna Peloquin||FR||Boise St.||15:55.43||15:55.43||Mountain West champ|
|Blanca Fernandez||SR||Temple||16:09.84||16:09.84||AAC 1,500/5k champ|
|Vanessa Fraser (13)||JR||Stanford||15:41.64||15:41.64||10th in indoor 3k|
|Regan Rome||SO||William & Mary||16:12.41||16:12.41|
|Tessa Barrett||FR||Penn St.||16:06.19||16:06.19||’13 FL champ was 11th indoors|
|Chelsea Blaase||JR||Tennessee||15:42.47||16:13.10||3rd indoors but beaten handily by Scott at SECs|
|Jordann McDermitt||SO||E. Michigan||16:07.25||16:13.61||MAC champ|
|Kaitlyn Benner||SO||Colorado||15:56.52||15:56.52||PAC-12 champ; 8th in 3k indoors|
|Dominique Scott (2)||SR||Arkansas||15:25.10||15:25.10||2nd last year + NCAA leader by 12 secs|
|Alsu Bogdanova||JR||E. Michigan||15:58.61||15:58.61|
|Calli Thackery (6)||JR||New Mexico||15:37.44||15:37.44||6th last year|
|Katrina Coogan||SR||Georgetown||15:34.34||15:50.51||3rd in 3k indoors but only made it as final time qualifier in East|
|Alli Cash||JR||Oregon||16:00.90||16:00.90||7th in 3k indoors|
|Sandie Raines (12)||SR||Texas||15:48.04||15:59.58||Big 12 champ|
(Editor’s note: We’ll fill in a the blank bios above later tonight but wanted to get this up now).
Returners from NCAA indoor final
3. Chelsea Blaase, Tennessee 15:42.47
9. Ednah Kurgat, Liberty 16:07.18
11. Tessa Barrett, Penn State 16:25.94
Scott, the NCAA leader (15:25) by 12 seconds, faces more of a challenge here. As should go without saying, if Blaase or someone in the 10k springs the upset there, we like their chances more in the 5k, but Scott also has much better wheels than Blaase. It would take a special athlete (a la Emily Sisson last year) to break Scott and render her kick useless and Blaase (or indeed, anyone else in this field) is not close to Sisson’s level. And since that’s the case, it’s going to be hard to stop Scott, who used fast final 400s to outkick the rest of the field for second in the 5k and 10k at NCAAs last year.
The one thing the other contenders in this race can hope for is that Thursday’s 10k takes a lot out of Scott, leaving her vulnerable here. She admitted after the 5k last year that it was hard to run two championship races in three days.
“It was a tough double,” Scott said. “People kind of talk about it as being a suicidal double. Having to do it at regionals two weeks ago and then coming back here this weekend and just with the pressure of it being NCAAs, it’s really, really tough.”
Fortunately for Scott, the competition in the 5,000 is weaker than in recent years. For the first time since 2011, no NCAA woman broke 15:20; in fact, Scott was the only one who was remotely close (15:25) as the #2 time was 15:37 by New Mexico’s Calli Thackery. In all, only four women on the start list have broken 15:50 this year: Scott, Thackery, Stanford’s Vanessa Fraser (15:41) and Liberty’s Ednah Kurgat (15:48). Thackery, who was 6th in the 3k at NCAA indoors, is a fine runner but has yet to show that she’s on Scott’s level. You could say the same for Fraser (10th in the 3k indoors, 4th in the Pac-12 10k) and Kurgat (9th in the 5k indoors).
The woman who might pose the biggest threat to Scott is Georgetown’s Katrina Coogan (daughter of Olympians Mark and Gwyn). In 2012, 2013 and 2015, Coogan focused on the 1500 to no great effect: she went out in the East prelims in ’12 and ’13 and in the NCAA prelims (in Eugene) in ’15. Coogan’s best event throughout college has undoubtedly been the 3k, where she’s placed 7th, 5th, 4th and 3rd in her four years at NCAA indoors. Now for her final season, Coogan has moved up to the 5,000, and it may prove to be an inspired decision if she has the strength to capitalize on her outstanding turnover at the end of the race. Coogan’s pb of 15:34 from two years ago is only nine seconds off Scott’s, and though her 1500 pb is well behind Scott’s (4:08 to 4:13), she was fast enough to anchor Georgetown to DMR wins at NCAAs and Penn earlier this year. If Scott’s tired, Coogan may be able to kick with her.
Before we wrap this up, we should mention Stanford’s Aisling Cuffe, who has by far the fastest PR in the field (15:11) and was second in this race two years ago. But Cuffe, who has a season’s best of 16:08 and didn’t make it out of the 1500 prelims at Pac-12s, has not been the same runner since then as she’s struggled to stay healthy. Unfortunately, Cuffe’s fine NCAA career seems destined to end on Saturday without an NCAA title.
LRC Prediction: Coogan is an intriguing upset pick, but Scott is too good. She closes out her NCAA career by completing the 10,000/5,000 double. Next stop for her – the Rio Olympics (for South Africa). Might we see her in a Team USA uniform in 2020? We talked to her about that earlier this year. Watch/listen to that interview here.
Talk about the meet on our world famous fan forum / messageboard: MB: Official 2016 NCAA Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Discussion Thread.