2022 NCAA W 5K/10K/SC Preview: The 5000 is LOADED – Is It Katelyn Tuohy’s Time To Shine?
By Jonathan Gault
June 7, 2022
The NCAA Outdoor Championships will be held this week in Eugene, Ore., and as usual, they will serve as a launching pad for the next generation of track & field stars. The women’s long distance events this year should be particularly good as they feature a number of women who have already won NCAA titles or come very close. Thursday’s 10,000-meter final features Mercy Chelangat of Alabama, the 2020 NCAA XC champion, while BYU’s Courtney Wayment and Auburn’s Joyce Kimeli, the last two NCAA indoor 5,000m champions, lead the way in the steeple.
But the crown jewel is the women’s 5,000 meters. Not only are there two former NCAA champs in the field (Chelangat and Oklahoma State’s Taylor Roe, who won the indoor 3,000 in March), but the race also features two women in the midst of incredible outdoor seasons: NC State’s Katelyn Tuohy (the NCAA leader in both the 1500 and 5,000) and Colorado’s Abby Nichols (Pac-12 5,000/10,000 champ).
We dig into the women’s long distance events below. Our women’s 800/1500 preview is here.
Women’s 10,000: Chelangat and Gregory to reprise their SEC rivalry
(Final – 11:08 pm ET Thursday. Seed times below are from regionals. Regular season times here)
1 Grace Forbes SO Rice 33:35.30 2 Emma Heckel FR New Mexico 33:37.70 3 Lauren Gregory JR Arkansas 33:37.79 4 Haley Herberg JR Washington 33:40.11 5 Everlyn Kemboi JR UT Valley 33:42.57 6 Emily Covert FR Colorado 33:45.65 7 Gabby Hentemann SO OK State 33:46.67 8 Jessa Hanson SR No. Arizona 33:47.21 9 Amelia Mazza-Downie SO New Mexico 33:51.26 10 India Johnson JR Colorado 33:52.44 11 Aubrey Frentheway JR BYU 33:55.84 12 Hannah Branch SR UT Valley 34:00.23 13 Mercy Chelangat JR Alabama 34:17.49 14 Jenna Magness SR Mich State 34:18.92 15 Michaela Reinhart SR Duke 34:21.45 16 Maggie Donahue SO Georgetown 34:26.27 17 Gionna Quarzo SO NC State 34:26.27 18 Alexandra Hays JR NC State 34:26.36 19 Charlotte Dannatt SR Georgetown 34:27.22 20 Makayla Perez JR Mich State 34:27.73 21 Faith Linga SO Toledo 34:27.92 22 Daisy Liljegren FR Boston U. 34:31.44 23 Katie Rose Blachowicz JR Notre Dame 34:34.52 24 Louise Lounes SO Charlotte 34:36.11
The last two NCAA women’s 10,000m finals have produced head-to-head duels decided in the final laps. There’s a decent chance that happens again in 2022 as two names stand out on the 24-woman start list for Thursday’s race. Both hail from the SEC: Mercy Chelangat of Alabama, the 2020 NCAA XC champ and last year’s runner-up in the 10,000; and Lauren Gregory of Arkansas, who has three career top-four finishers at NCAAs. Both have been in contention for NCAA track titles before, and both will be among the favorites to claim the national title at Hayward Field
Because Chelangat is a former NCAA XC champ and Gregory has an impressive mid-d background (she has run 4:09 for 1500 and was the SEC runner-up in the mile indoors and 1500 outdoors), the natural assumption would be that Gregory has the superior kick. But that’s not necessarily the case; back at NCAA indoors in March, Chelangat passed Gregory on the final lap to finish 3rd. Considering the two are conference rivals, they’ve raced a fair amount already in 2021-22. Chelangat has won five of their seven matchups, including their two races outdoors (note that when they raced in the 5,000 at SECs outdoors, Gregory was doubling back from the 1500 earlier that day).
|October 29||SEC XC||6k||1st, 19:55.2||12th, 20:34.9|
|November 20||NCAA XC||6k||2nd, 19:29.3||19th, 19:46.1|
|February 26||SEC indoors||3000||4th, 9:02.23||1st, 8:59.28|
|March 11||NCAA indoors||5000||3rd, 15:31.06||4th, 15:32.95|
|March 12||NCAA indoors||3000||10th, 9:08.13||3rd, 8:59.50|
|April 15||Mt. SAC Relays||5000||6th, 15:17.28||8th, 15:25.17|
|May 14||SEC outdoors||5000||1st, 15:22.99||3rd, 15:39.04|
Given that history, Chelangat deserves to be favored at NCAAs, especially considering Gregory had never run the 10,000 before April. Plus Chelangat has the fastest pbs in the field at both 5,000 (15:17) and 10,000 (32:13). But Gregory is one of the top distance talents in the NCAA and should be a serious contender for the win.
Could anyone break up the SEC rivals? Of course. Colorado’s Emily Covert enters with the fastest season’s best (32:30), but we are discounting her as she finished a well-beaten 3rd at the Pac-12 champs (the top two aren’t entered in the 10,000 at NCAAs – Pac 12 champ Abby Nichols of Colorado is in the 5000 while Pac 12 runnerup Alessia Zarbo of Oregon failed to make the meet). Washington’s Haley Herberg also ran fast at Pac-12s (she was 4th in 32:34) and was 5th in this event at NCAAs last year. But the best bet outside of Chelangat and Gregory is Michigan State’s Jenna Magness, who finished second behind Chelangat at the East Regional. She won the Big 10 10,000 title by 56 seconds and doubled back to win the 5,000 as well. She’s also been in the mix at NCAAs before (4th in the 5,000 last year) and has run pbs in the 1500 (4:16) and 5,000 (15:26) this spring.
JG prediction: Chelangat, who swept the 5k and 10k at SECs (winning the former by 10 seconds and the latter by 56), has had a great outdoor season and isn’t afraid to push the pace. If she does that at NCAAs (and there is no reason not to as the weather is supposed to be in the 70s and overcast, I’m betting she can take it to a place where no one else can hang and she’ll be an NCAA champion once again.
Women’s 5,000: Is it Katelyn Tuohy’s time?
(Final Saturday 7:25 p.m. ET. Times below are from regionals. Regular season times here)
1 Katelyn Tuohy SO NC State 15:27.14 2 Parker Valby FR Florida 15:29.07 3 Savannah Shaw JR NC State 15:33.42 4 Sydney Seymour JR Tennessee 15:34.01 5 Samantha Bush JR NC State 15:35.55 6 Hannah Steelman SR NC State 15:36.05 7 Mercy Chelangat JR Alabama 15:36.20 8 Marlee Starliper FR NC State 15:37.83 9 Amaris Tyynismaa SO Alabama 15:42.27 10 Abby Nichols SR Colorado 15:49.51 11 Cara Woolnough JR Utah 15:50.80 12 Eusila Chepkemei SR Mid. Tenn. St 15:52.54 13 Taylor Roe SO OK State 15:53.21 14 Elizabeth Mancini JR La Salle 15:56.40 15 Nicole Fegans SR GA Tech 15:56.61 16 Gracelyn Larkin SO New Mexico 15:57.50 17 Isabel Van Camp SO Arkansas 16:02.66 18 Lauren Gregory JR Arkansas 16:03.71 19 Emily Covert FR Colorado 16:05.75 20 Bethany Hasz SR Minnesota 16:07.66 21 Amelia Mazza-Downie SO New Mexico 16:08.84 22 Emma Heckel FR New Mexico 16:15.28 23 Lucy Jenks SO Stanford 16:15.64 24 India Johnson JR Colorado 16:16.83
This race has the chance to be truly special. The big story here is NC State’s Katelyn Tuohy. A high school phenom, Tuohy has been in the national spotlight since winning the NXN title as a sophomore in 2017 and has so far handled all the attention about as well as one could hope. An injury at the end of her high school career made for a slightly bumpy adjustment to collegiate running (she didn’t make this meet last year), but she has come into her own in 2022, finishing second at NCAA indoors in dramatic fashion in both the 3,000 and 5,000 meters. Outdoors, she has been even better, running an NCAA-leading 15:14 in April (a 16-second pb) before dropping an NCAA leading 4:06 1500 at the ACC championships — #7 on the all-time collegiate list (in the last 13 years, only Sinclaire Johnson and Jessica Hull have run faster among collegians).
Those performances have supercharged the Tuohy hype train and she will enter NCAAs as the favorite to win her first national title. But to do so, she will have to truly earn it as a number of women are running incredibly well this season. We already discussed Alabama’s Mercy Chelangat and Arkansas’ Lauren Gregory above; whoever wins the 10,000 will be a threat here. But it’s quite rare for a woman to sweep the distance events at NCAAs — since the turn of the century, only Lisa Uhl (2010) and Dominique Scott (2016) have managed the feat.
Tuohy’s two biggest rivals in this race figure to be Oklahoma State’s Taylor Roe and Colorado’s Abby Nichols. Roe impressively won the NCAA indoor 3,000 title with a big move from 700 meters out, and she’s carried that form into the outdoor season, running a 5,000 pb of 15:21 and winning the Big 12 1500 title by six seconds. Meanwhile Nichols, a grad transfer from Ohio State, has blossomed into a star in her sixth year of collegiate running. In the fall, she was 8th in XC but had to sit out indoors as she didn’t have eligibility. Outdoors, she’s been great. At the Mt. SAC Relays in April, she clocked a pb of 15:15 — the #2 time in the country this year behind Tuohy — before going on to sweep the 5,000 and 10,00 titles at the Pac-12 championships, running her last lap in a strong 66 seconds each time.
One crazy stat before getting to the prediction: NC State qualified five women for this race: Tuohy, Savannah Shaw, Samantha Bush, Hannah Steelman, and Marlee Starliper (the 2019 Foot Locker runner-up who is finally healthy). Not only that; all five were in the same heat at the East Regional, and all five ran 15:37 or faster. Pretty sure we’re not seeing anything like that again anytime soon.
JG prediction: There’s a case to be made for Tuohy, Roe, or Nichols, but I’m taking Tuohy. As great as she was indoors, she hit an entirely new level with her 4:06 at ACCs.
Women’s 3,000 steeplechase: Courtney Wayment is the big favorite
(Prelims Thursday 9:02 p.m. ET, final Saturday 5:54 p.m. ET. Times below are from regionals. Regular season times here)
1 Kayley DeLay JR Yale 9:41.56 2 Olivia Markezich SO Notre Dame 9:41.76 3 Courtney Wayment SR BYU 9:42.32 4 Ceili McCabe SO West Virginia 9:46.73 5 Carmen Riano SO Miami (Ohio) 9:46.91 6 Logan Jolly SR Arkansas 9:47.43 7 Kayla Windemuller SR Michigan 9:49.17 8 Grace Fetherstonhaugh JR OR State 9:50.13 9 Elise Thorner SO New Mexico 9:51.96 10 Perri Bockrath JR Kentucky 9:52.00 11 Kaylee Mitchell JR OR State 9:53.00 12 Joyce Kimeli SR Auburn 9:55.65 13 Laura Taborda SO E. Kentucky 9:58.50 14 Adva Cohen SR New Mexico 9:58.81 15 Sasha Neglia SO North Carolina 9:59.80 16 Alissa Niggemann SR Wisconsin 10:00.72 17 Emily Cole JR Duke 10:01.37 18 Helena Lindsay SO Virginia 10:02.27 19 Madison Boreman JR Colorado 10:02.36 20 Annie Boos SR Syracuse 10:03.16 21 Gabrielle Orie JR Colorado 10:03.31 22 Lexy Halladay SO BYU 10:06.15 23 Kayla Schiera SR So. Illinois 10:07.62 24 Malia Pivec JR Oregon 10:08.66
Back on April 14, BYU’s Courtney Wayment ran 9:26.88 at the Mt. SAC Relays to move to #3 on the NCAA all-time list; only future American record holders Courtney Frerichs (9:24.41 in 2016) and Jenny Simpson (9:25.54 in 2009) have ever gone faster as collegians. Frerichs and Simpson set their collegiate records at NCAAs, which means it will be worth watching the clock closely in Eugene — especially considering Wayment’s personal best (9:23.09 from last year’s Olympic Trials) is already faster than the CR.
Should Wayment prevail, it would give her a fourth NCAA title in a fourth event after previous victories in the 3000 (2021), DMR (2021), and indoor 5000 (2022). Quite a way to end a decorated career.
Wayment is the clear favorite, but she occupied a similar position in 2021 and only wound up 4th at NCAAs. And unlike 2021, when she entered NCAAs fresh off setting a 15:17 5k pb, Wayment bombed her last race before regionals this year, running just 15:50 at the Track Meet on May 6. A warning sign or merely a bad race? We’ll find out this weekend.
Wayment will need to be close to her best on Saturday to win as the rest of the women’s steeple field is very strong. Auburn’s Joyce Kimeli (9:31.84 from last year’s NCAA final), West Virginia’s Ceili McCabe (9:32.14 sb) and New Mexico’s Elise Thorner (9:32.42 sb) sit at #7, #9, and #10, respectively on the all-time NCAA list. Add in Colorado’s Madison Boreman — the NCAA runner-up way back in 2017 who ran a personal best of 9:42.22 to win Pac-12s handily — and Yale’s Kayley DeLay (random fact: today is her 23rd birthday, happy birthday Kayley) who was 10th in XC and had the fastest time at regionals — and that’s a whole lot of talent. It would not be a surprise to see multiple women sub-9:30 in the final, something that has never happened in a collegiate steeple.
JG prediction: Wayment is the most talented athlete in the field, and she almost always brings it at NCAAs. Heck, even when she “underperformed” in last year’s NCAA final, Wayment only ran a second off her pb — but in a historically deep NCAA steeple, that was only good for 4th place. If Wayment runs her best race this year at NCAAs, no one is stopping her. But with the talent assembled behind her, she will need to run at least an A- race to earn the win as there are multiple women capable of running in the low-9:30s or faster.
Talk about the women’s meet on our world-famous fan forum/messageboard. MB: Official 2022 NCAA Outdoors Women’s Discussion Thread – 5k is LOADED. Is it Tuohy’s time to shine?