2022 NCAA Indoors Women’s Mid-D/Distance Preview: Courtney Wayment Goes for Double
March 11, 2022 to March 12, 2022
By Jonathan Gault
March 10, 2022
Yesterday, I previewed the men’s distance events and team title battle at the 2022 NCAA Indoor Championships, which begin on Friday in Birmingham, Ala. Now it’s time to examine the women. Without any further ado, let’s get to it.
Women’s 800: A new champion will emerge
(prelims Friday 8:45 p.m. ET, final Saturday 8:30 p.m. ET)
1 Lindsey Butler JR Virginia Tech 2:01.23 2 Shafiqua Maloney SR Arkansas 2:01.74 3 Allison Johnson FR Penn State 2:02.84 4 Katy-Ann McDonald JR LSU 2:02.85 5 Sarah Hendrick JR Kennesaw State 2:02.87 6 Aurora Rynda SR Michigan 2:02.89 7 Imogen Barrett JR Florida 2:03.39 8 McKenna Keegan SR Villanova 2:03.48 9 Gabija Galvydyte SO OK State 2:03.80 10 Victoria Tachinski SR Penn State 2:03.83 11 Brooke Jaworski SO Texas 2:03.87 12 Valery Tobias JR Texas 2:03.91 13 Isabella Giesing JR UMass Lowell 2:03.95 14 Kassidy Johnson JR KS State 2:04.00 15 Claire Seymour JR BYU 2:04.03 16 Quinn Owen JR Arkansas 2:04.03
There’s been quite a shakeup in this event since last year. Athing Mu, who broke NCAA records indoors and outdoors en route to an Olympic title in 2021, turned pro. So did the top two finishers at NCAAs outdoors, Michaela Meyer and Laurie Barton. Baylor’s Aaliyah Miller, the reigning NCAA indoor champ, did return in 2022 but with a season’s best of 2:05.78, she didn’t even qualify for the meet this year.
So who will step up and win this thing? The top two seeds, Virginia Tech’s Lindsey Butler and Arkansas’ Shafiqua Maloney, appear to be peaking at the right time. Butler, who was 4th at NCAA Indoors and 6th at NCAA Outdoors last year, is coming off an incredible double at ACCs where she split 4:29 to anchor Virginia Tech to victory in the DMR, then came back two days later to win the 800 by three seconds in an NCAA-leading 2:01.23. Maloney, whose indoor pb of 2:01.22 from last year is .01 faster than Butler’s and who was 3rd indoors and 9th outdoors at NCAAs last year, comes at the event from the other end — she split 50.60 on Arkansas’ winning 4×400 at SECs and won the 800 in 2:02.10. Both women could potentially run the DMR as well (Arkansas and Virginia Tech are the #1 and #2 seeds), making for a nice little rivalry this weekend.
No one else has run within a second of Butler or Maloney this year, but there are a few other women worth noting. BYU’s Claire Seymour was one of the last women into the meet, but she is the top returner from last year’s NCAA outdoor meet (4th) and was 5th at NCAA Indoors last year. True freshman Allison Johnson of Penn State is also intriguing. At Mount Gilead High School in Ohio, Johnson set school records in everything from the 60 hurdles to the 5k in cross country and even dabbled in the pole vault. This year, she won the Big 10 title and has the #3 time in the NCAA.
JG prediction: On paper, this race should come down to Butler and Maloney, who have both been in multiple NCAA finals and have run the fastest times this year, but indoor 800’s rarely go to form. That said, I’ll take Butler FTW.
Women’s mile: Veterans square off for first title
(prelims Friday 8:00 p.m. ET, final Saturday 8:00 p.m. ET)
1 Emily Mackay SR Binghamton 4:30.94 2 Julia Heymach SR Stanford 4:31.35 3 Katie Camarena SR Portland State 4:32.27 4 Anna Gibson JR Washington 4:32.34 5 Eusila Chepkemei SR Mid. Tenn. State 4:32.39 6 Sintayehu Vissa JR Ole Miss 4:32.70 7 Madison Heisterman SO Washington 4:33.24 8 Madison Boreman JR Colorado 4:33.59 9 Olivia Howell SO Illinois 4:33.75 10 Laura Pellicoro FR Portland 4:34.45 11 Micaela Degenero SR Colorado 4:34.49 12 Aneta Konieczek SR Oregon 4:34.76 13 Ellie Leather SR Cincinnati 4:34.89 14 Rachel McArthur SR Colorado 4:34.92 15 Mia Barnett FR Virginia 4:35.09 16 Bailey Hertenstein JR Indiana 4:35.22
Did you realize there’s a woman in the NCAA right now who has run faster for 1500 meters than any collegian in history outside of Jenny Simpson?
That would be Stanford’s Julia Heymach, whose 4:04.84 pb got her 6th at last year’s Olympic Trials. With a pb that fast, she should be a slam dunk for the NCAA title right?
Not necessarily. Heymach may have finished 6th at the Trials last year, but she didn’t even make the NCAA 1500 final. And while she’s been good in 2022, she has not won a single race this season — she was 6th in the 800 at the Razorback Invitational, 8th in the mile at the BU Valentine Invite (second among collegians), and 2nd in the 3k at the Pac-12 Invitational. She could very well win the title this weekend, but it’s no sure thing.
Heymach does have the #2 time in the country this year at 4:31.35, but she wasn’t the top collegian in that race. Instead, it was another fifth-year senior, Emily Mackay of Binghamton, who ran 4:30.94. Mackay has been on fire this year, running pbs in the 800 (2:03.49), mile, and 3k (8:54.45), and her head-to-head win over Heymach shows that she’s for real.
Another woman in top form right now is Ole Miss’ Sintayehu Vissa. An Ethiopian-born Italian, Vissa has come into her own this year and split 4:30 on the Rebels’ winning DMR at SECs before winning the mile a day later.
None of those women have ever been in an NCAA 1500/mile final, though. In fact, only three of the women in the field have run one of those before (Illinois’ Olivia Howell, Colorado’s Micaela Degenero, and Oregon’s Aneta Konieczek), and none finished in the top five. Which means anyone who makes the final this weekend will think they have at least an outside shot at the win.
JG prediction: When there’s no clear favorite, I like to bet on talent and with a 4:04 pb outdoors, Heymach is the most talented woman in the field. I predict she puts it together and wins her first NCAA title in Birmingham.
Women’s 5,000: Will Courtney Wayment or Mercy Chelangat get another NCAA title?
(final Friday 9:05 p.m. ET)
1 Courtney Wayment SR BYU 15:15.46 2 Kelsey Chmiel JR NC State 15:27.36 3 Maddy Denner JR Notre Dame 15:27.96 4 Adva Cohen SR New Mexico 15:33.00 5 Alexandra Hays JR NC State 15:33.84 6 Lauren Gregory JR Arkansas 15:34.58 7 Mercy Chelangat JR Alabama 15:34.82 8 Emily Covert FR Colorado 15:35.40 9 Ruby Smee FR San Francisco 15:36.04 10 Jenna Magness JR Mich State 15:36.60 11 Kayley DeLay SR Yale 15:36.66 12 Haley Herberg JR Washington 15:39.19 13 Emma Heckel FR New Mexico 15:41.07 14 Gracelyn Larkin SO New Mexico 15:41.17 15 Katelyn Tuohy FR NC State 15:41.51 16 Amelia Mazza-Downie SO New Mexico 15:41.56
The first two events we’ve previewed so far don’t feature anyone who has won an NCAA title before. The women’s 5,000 features two: BYU’s Courtney Wayment (winner of the 3k and DMR at 2021 NCAA Indoors) and Alabama’s Mercy Chelangat (2020 XC champ). Wayment, a sixth-year senior, is the top seed by some distance, with her 15:15 in Boston back in December putting her #7 on the all-time NCAA list. She beat the next-closest finisher in that race, NC State’s Kelsey Chmiel, by 12 seconds, and the next-fastest time from someone outside of that race was almost 20 seconds back (15:34 by Arkansas’ Lauren Gregory). Since then, Wayment has run 8:50 for 3000 (#2 in the country) and 4:33 for the mile, so she has good speed.
But not unbeatable speed. Gregory, who was the NCAA 3k runner-up last year behind Wayment, has run 4:32 this year and actually beat Wayment in that mile race. Gregory also ran 8:59 to beat Chelangat head-to-head in the 3k at SECs, an impressive feat considering it was her second race of the day and fourth of the weekend (she also split 4:32 on the anchor of the Hogs’ DMR and was 2nd in the mile). She’s a definite contender here.
Chelangat has been in good form as well. Her season’s best of 15:34 is almost 20 seconds slower than Wayment’s, but Wayment had the benefit of chasing pros whereas Chelangat was on her own (second place was 17:36). And her championship record is sterling: 1st in XC in 2020, 2nd (10k) and 5th (5k) outdoors last year, and 2nd in XC in November. She has run 15:17 outdoors, and if this race is fast, it’s hard to see her outside of the top three.
One other woman to watch is Michigan State’s Jenna Magness. She is the top returner in the 5k from NCAA indoors (7th) and outdoors (4th) and almost swept the 3k/5k at Big 10’s (she won the 5k by 13 seconds and was .05 behind first in the 3k).
And if you’re wondering where NCAA XC champ Whittni Orton is, she turned pro after the season and is now running for adidas (conversely, Wayment didn’t have XC eligibility but is back for the track season).
JG prediction: There are a number of worthy champions in this field, but none have the mix of strength, speed, and championship experience of Courtney Wayment. She’s my pick FTW.
Women’s DMR: How many of the stars will double back?
(final Friday 8:45 p.m. ET)
1 Arkansas 10:51.63 1) Krissy Gear SR 2) Britton Wilson FR 3) Shafiqua Maloney SR 4) Lauren Gregory JR 5) Logan Jolly SR 6) Isabel Van Camp SO 7) Kennedy Thomson SR 8) Paris Peoples JR 2 Virginia Tech 10:53.21 1) Leigha Torino SR 2) Star Price SO 3) Hannah Ballowe JR 4) Lindsey Butler JR 5) Grace Boone JR 6) Ava Hassebrock SO 7) Barbora Malikova FR 8) 3 Ole Miss 10:56.39 1) Anna Elkin SR 2) Jayda Eckford SR 3) Loral Winn JR 4) Sintayehu Vissa JR 5) Skylar Boogerd JR 6) 4 Virginia 10:56.84 1) Mia Barnett FR 2) Anzhelika Parenchuk FR 3) Keara Seasholtz FR 4) Margot Appleton FR 5) Alahna Sabbakhan SO 6) Jada Seaman SO 5 Oregon 10:57.28 1) Izzy Thornton-Bott JR 2) Katriina Wright FR 3) Mia Moerck JR 4) Aneta Konieczek SR 5) Emilie Girard JR 6) Nicole Louw FR 6 Oregon State 10:57.35 1) Kaylee Mitchell SO 2) Adael Scatena FR 3) Mari Friedman JR 4) Grace Fetherstonhaugh SO 5) Christina Geisler JR 6) Amber Jackson FR 7 Washington 10:57.69 1) Madison Heisterman SO 2) Carley Thomas SO 3) Anna Gibson JR 4) Allie Schadler SR 5) Victoria Gersch SR 6) Taylor Chiotti JR 8 Stanford 10:57.74 1) Lucy Jenks FR 2) Samantha Thomas FR 3) Ellie Deligianni FR 4) Julia Heymach SR 5) Kennedy Gamble SO 6) Alexa Rossum SO 7) Christina Aragon SR 8) Audrey Suarez FR 9 Notre Dame 10:57.84 1) Erin Sullivan SR 2) Jadin O'Brien FR 3) Kaitlin Ryan JR 4) Olivia Markezich SO 5) Madeleine King SR 6) Eve Balseiro FR 10 NC State 10:58.10 1) Samantha Bush SO 2) Jada Griffin JR 3) Anna Vess SR 4) Kelsey Chmiel JR 5) Savannah Shaw SO 6) Timara Chapman JR 7) Hannah Steelman SR 8) Marlee Starliper FR 11 BYU 10:58.37 1) Kate Hunter SR 2) Meghan Hunter FR 3) Claire Seymour JR 4) Courtney Wayment SR 12 Kentucky 10:58.81 1) Jenna Gearing SR 2) Dajour Miles SO 3) Jenna Schwinghamer FR 4) Tori Herman FR 5) DeAnna Martin SO 6) Megan Moss SO 7) Bryanna Lucas SO 8)
Arkansas has the #1 qualifying time of 10:51.63 — third-fastest in NCAA history — and the squad that ran that time consists of two NCAA individual title contenders (Shafiqua Maloney and Lauren Gregory) and Krissy Gear, who was the NCAA runner-up in the mile and DMR last year.
There are some concerns about Arkansas, though. First is that they were beaten by Ole Miss at SECs. On its own, that’s not a huge issue as Arkansas subbed out two of its legs from the 10:51 squad — 800 leg Maloney and 400 leg Britton Wilson (50.88 sb, #2 in the NCAA). But then you look at the NCAA entries and see their anchor, Gregory, is entered in the 5k and 3k at NCAAs. We highly doubt she’s doing the DMR as well, although Galen Rupp became a legend by doing all three at this meet in 2009. If the Hogs sub Gear in at anchor and bring back Maloney and Britton, they still have a shot to win, but they’re not the big favorite they would be at full strength.
With that in mind, Ole Miss or Virginia should probably be favored. Both won their conference meets in impressive fashion, and both boast strong anchor legs — Ole Miss’ Sintayehu Vissasplit 4:30 at SECs, Virginia Tech’s Lindsey Butler split 4:29 at ACCs. Both of those women will have individual prelims on Friday, but the other three legs will be fresh. Stanford is also intriguing because they have a 4:04 1500 runner on anchor in Julia Heymach, but considering they were only third at the Pac-12 Invitational with Heymach two weeks ago, winning NCAAs will be tough.
JG prediction: Virginia Tech put on a show by running 10:53 at ACCs two weeks ago and Lindsey Butler has been in great form. I say the Hokies win it.
Women’s 3000: Anyone’s race
(final Saturday 9:00 p.m. ET)
1 Lauren Ryan JR FL State 8:47.88 2 Courtney Wayment SR BYU 8:50.05 3 Ceili McCabe FR West Virginia 8:52.52 4 Mercy Chelangat JR Alabama 8:53.16 5 Lauren Gregory JR Arkansas 8:53.77 6 Katelyn Tuohy FR NC State 8:54.17 7 Samantha Bush SO NC State 8:54.37 8 Emily Mackay SR Binghamton 8:54.45 9 Kelsey Chmiel JR NC State 8:55.37 10 Katie Camarena SR Portland State 8:57.08 11 Kaylee Mitchell SO OR State 8:58.39 12 Taylor Roe SO OK State 8:58.58 13 Alexandra Hays JR NC State 9:00.49 14 Tori Herman FR Kentucky 9:00.60 15 Grace Fetherstonhaugh SO OR State 9:00.87 16 Nicole Fegans SR GA Tech 9:01.31
In our men’s preview, I noted that the 3k at this meet is usually an opportunity for the NCAA’s best distance runner to win another title. That is even more true on the women’s side, as in each of the last eight NCAA championships, the winner of the 3k has either been the winner of the 5k or the anchor leg of the winning DMR.
That streak could absolutely extend on Saturday: Wayment, Chelangat, and Gregory are all doubling in the 3k/5k, and if one of them wins on Friday, they’ll likely be favored to win again on Saturday (it’s unlikely any DMR anchors are a factor in this race). A more surprising double champion would be Binghamton’s Emily Mackay, since she’s running the mile as well (which starts just one hour before the 3k).
But this could be the year the streak of double champions comes to an end as two of the top three seeds will be running this event totally fresh. Lauren Ryan of Florida State and Australia qualified in both the 3k and 5k but scratched the 5k to focus completely on this race. Among collegians, Karissa Schweizer, Jenny Simpson, and Alicia Monson are the only women ever to have run faster than Ryan’s 8:47.88 this year — truly elite company.
Likewise, #3 seed Ceili McCabe of West Virginia and Canada, who was 3rd at NCAA XC in November and is quickly becoming known for her kick, will only run the 3k at NCAAs. The one concern about Ryan and McCabe is that both could only manage 3rd in their conference meets (granted both ran the mile instead of the 3k). Ryan was 3rd at ACCs in 4:37.35 (UNC’s Taryn Parks won in 4:36.41), while McCabe was 3rd at Big 12s in 4:38.99 (OK State’s Taylor Roe finished well ahead in 4:33.56).
JG prediction: The big question is whether Ryan or McCabe can take down whoever wins the 5k on Friday night. Based on their conference results, I don’t see that happening. One of them may end up making me look foolish, but I’ll pick the winner of the 5k to double up in Birmingham. Based on my earlier pick, that would be Courtney Wayment.
Below we took a look at the top 5 teams in the USTFCCCA’s computer rankings and scored the descending order list.
Florida – 63.33 points
60 – 2 Grace Stark SO Florida 7.12
400 – 3 Talitha Diggs FR Florida 51.25
800 – 7 Imogen Barrett JR Florida 2:03.39
60h – 3 Grace Stark SO Florida 7.86
4 x 400 – 7 Florida 3:31.61
LJ – 1 Jasmine Moore SO Florida 6.75m
LJ – 6 Claire Bryant FR Florida 6.57m
TJ – 1 Jasmine Moore SO Florida 14.55m
TJ – 2 Natricia Hooper SR Florida 14.10m
PENT – 1 Anna Hall SO Florida 4618
Arkansas – 53.5
60 – 8 Jada Baylark SR Arkansas 7.18
200 – 8 Jada Baylark SR Arkansas 22.89
400 – 2 Britton Wilson FR Arkansas 50.88
800 – 2 Shafiqua Maloney SR Arkansas 2:01.74
3k – 5 Lauren Gregory JR Arkansas 8:53.77
5k – 6 Lauren Gregory JR Arkansas 15:34.58
4 x 400 – 1 Arkansas 3:24.09
DMR – 1 Arkansas 10:51.63
PV – 4 Elien Vekemans SO Arkansas 4.47m
PV – 6 Nastassja Campbell SO Arkansas 4.45m
LSU – 44.5
60 – 1 Alia Armstrong SO LSU 7.11
200 – 3 Favour Ofili SO LSU 22.46
800 – 4 Katy-Ann McDonald JR LSU 2:02.85
60h – 1 Alia Armstrong SO LSU 7.81
60h – 8 Leah Phillips FR LSU 7.97
HJ – 3 Abigail O’Donoghue SR LSU 1.88m
PV – 2 Lisa Gunnarsson SR LSU 4.51m
Texas – 43.33
60 – 4 Julien Alfred JR Texas 7.12
200 – 5 Rhasidat Adeleke FR Texas 22.87
200 – 6 Kynnedy Flannel JR Texas 22.87
200 – 7 Julien Alfred JR Texas 22.89
400 – 6 Kennedy Simon JR Texas 51.54
400 – 7 Stacey Ann Williams JR Texas 51.60
4 x 400 – 4 Texas 3:28.05
HJ – 4 Tyra Gittens JR Texas 1.88m
TJ – 3 Ackelia Smith FR Texas 13.94m
PENT – 2 Kristine Blazevica FR Texas 4402
Kentucky – 39.83
60 – 3 Abby Steiner JR Kentucky 7.12
200 – 1 Abby Steiner JR Kentucky 22.09
200 – 4 Karimah Davis JR Kentucky 22.79
400 – 1 Alexis Holmes JR Kentucky 50.77
60h – 7 Masai Russell JR Kentucky 7.93
4 x 400 – 3 Kentucky 3:25.89
Prediction: With the top 5 schools all projected to score 39+ points, it could take a very high score to win. Arkansas, gearing up for a three-peat, will be tough to beat, but the prediction here is that Florida uses its dominance in the jumps to win its first indoor title in 30 years.
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