WTW: New Balance Sticks It to Nike, Lauren Gregory Oh So Close, Ruth Chepngetich’s ‘WR’ & More

The Week That Was in Running, March 7-13, 2023

By Robert Johnson with additional reporting by Jonathan Gault
March 14, 2023

Each week, we try to make the sport more fun to follow by putting the prior week’s action in perspective for you. Past editions of our Week That Was weekly recap can be found here. Got a tip, question or comment? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us, or post in our forum.

Converting the crazy NCAA times to sea level

If you missed our extensive on-site coverage of the 2023 NCAA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, you can catch up here, but we want to make a few more observations.

We saw some wild times at NCAAs, both in the sprints (a slew of collegiate records and all-time world #2 marks) and distance events (three people ran 7:48 for 3k at nearly 5,000 feet of altitude).

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But a common question in the year 2023 is, what do the times mean? Well, in the table below, we convert the times run in ABQ (4,953 feet/1,511m) to sea-level equivalents. All marks are initially converted using the NCAA’s altitude converter program. 

Some people, including Wisconsin’s Jackson Sharp, who was third in the 3000 in 7:48.66 (that equates to 7:37.12 according to the NCAA’s computer program), think the NCAA conversions are overly generous (he called them “crap”) for distance runners. So we decided to also convert the times using a second altitude converter. For the sprints, we used Jonas Mureika’s 60m, 200m and 400m altitude conversions. For the distance events, the other one we found was Tom “Tinman” Schwartz‘s converter, which is actually even more generous than the NCAA’s.

Women Winning time NCAA altitude conv J. Mureika/Tinman
60 6.94 6.96 6.97
60h 7.72 7.74 7.75
200 22.01 22.08 22.16
400 49.48 49.59 49.83
800 1:59.9 1:59.3 1:58.2
Mile 4:34.0 4:28.0 4:27.8
3k 9:10.1 8:56.5 8:54.1
5k 16:09.6 15:44.0 15:37.3
DMR 10:56.3 10:46.4 N/A
4 x 400 3:21.7 3:22.2 N/A
Men Winning time NCAA alt. conv J. Mureika/Tinman
60 6.46 6.48 6.48
60h 7.55 7.57 7.58
200 20.12 20.19 20.27
400 44.75 44.86 45.10
800 1:45.90* 1:45.3 1:44.4
Mile 4:02.7 3:57.4 3:57.2
3k 7:48.1 7:36.6 7:34.4
5k 13:37.6 13:16.0 13:10.3
DMR 9:28.8 9:20.2 N/A
4 x 400 3:02.1 3:02.5 N/A

*1:45.90 was the time for the first runner across the finish line, Mississippi State’s Navasky Anderson, though he was later DQ’d

It was funny watching Wisconsin coach Mick Byrne try to convince Sharp that he could actually run 7:36. What do I think?

Considering the fact that Drew Bosley and Dylan Jacobs both ran 7:36 this year and Sharp beat them both, it’s likely Sharp could run the time.

Lauren Gregory & Drew Bosley join the NCAA near-miss club

This section was written by Jonathan Gault

Drew Bosley after NCAAs

In college track & field’s regular season, time takes precedence over place. A runner could finish 5th in a major invitational, but as long as they run fast, many athletes and coaches would consider it a huge success. The only point of the regular season is to earn qualifying times for the postseason. The conference meet and NCAAs are the only meets where the outcome is important.

That is what makes NCAAs such a great spectacle, year after year: all the best athletes together on the same stage, and there can only be one winner. To even put yourself in position to win an NCAA title requires a significant amount of natural talent and hard work. And even if you have those, you need health, timing, race-day execution – and sometimes a little luck – to stand atop the NCAA podium.

A couple of athletes came agonizingly close to national titles over the weekend in Albuquerque. Northern Arizona’s Drew Bosley led much of the 5,000 and finished 3rd, then in the 3000 he had the lead coming off the final turn but finished 2nd, just .24 behind champion Fouad Messaoudi of Oklahoma State. Drake’s Isaac Basten came just .03 shy of winning the men’s mile – an outcome he said would haunt him for the rest of his life. On the women’s side, Arkansas’ Lauren Gregory came even closer. She had the fastest 1600 split by far in the DMR (4:31.36) but just couldn’t catch Stanford’s Juliette Whittaker as Gregory and the Razorbacks finished 2nd, .27 behind. Less than 24 hours later, Gregory had the lead on the home straight in the mile final only for Illinois’ Olivia Howell to overhaul her and beat Gregory to the NCAA title by .24.

MB: No love for Lauren Gregory?

Few athletes have come as close to winning an NCAA title as Gregory without actually winning one. Two years ago at this meet, Gregory ran the 1200 leg for Arkansas’ DMR that finished 2nd behind BYU before again finishing 2nd behind BYU’s Courtney Wayment in the individual 3,000, 9:01.47 to 9:01.67.

Turns out, Gregory is far from the only athlete to finish 2nd in two events at the same NCAAs. Eleven athletes have done it since 2012 (Gregory is the only one to do it twice). Of those 11, only Oregon’s Eric Jenkins came closer to winning a title than Gregory. Five of the athletes won an NCAA individual title either before or after while five never won one. Gregory, a 6th-year senior, has one season of outdoor eligibility remaining at Arkansas but she may not be able to use it. She told us it was a “maybe” as to whether she could race outdoors as she heroically did double duty on a badly injured foot so Arkansas could win the team title — which they did by just four points. She had to be carried away from the mixed zone.

Here are the other near-winners like Gregory. Athletes in bold never won an NCAA individual title.




Race 1


Race 2


Overall margin

Eric Jenkins


2015 outdoors






Lauren Gregory


2023 indoors






Grant Fisher


2019 indoors






Katelyn Tuohy

NC State

2022 indoors






Chris Derrick


2012 indoors






Deborah Maier


2012 indoors






Lauren Gregory


2021 indoors






Elise Cranny


2015 indoors






Krissy Gear^


2021 indoors






Lawi Lalang


2014 indoors






Dominique Scott


2015 outdoors






Erin Finn


2016 indoors






*1200 leg of DMR
^Gear did go on to run the 800 leg on the winning DMR in 2022

It got us wondering: who is the greatest distance runner to have run in the NCAA but never won an NCAA title? 

There are a few ways to answer the question. One is to determine the runner who competed in the NCAA and went on to have the best career. The other is to determine the runner who had the best NCAA career without winning a title.

Embed from Getty Images

If we’re looking for who had the best career…did you realize four-time Olympic champion Lasse Viren ran for BYU during the 1969-70 season? He only stayed in Provo for one season but did technically compete in the NCAA. Kenya’s Peter Rono also ran four NCAA 1500/mile finals for Mt. St. Mary’s after winning the 1988 Olympic final in Seoul, but didn’t win any of them. He was 2nd in the mile indoors and 2nd in the 1500 outdoors in 1989 and 2nd in the mile indoors and 3rd in the 1500 outdoors in 1991. 1991 World 5,000 champ Yobes Ondieki – the first man to break 27:00 in the 10,000 meters – competed at Iowa State in the ‘80s and never won an NCAA title either.

Among Americans, 1964 Olympic 5,000 and 10,000 champs Bob Schul (Miami of Ohio) and Billy Mills (Kansas) never won NCAA titles. More recently, two-time Olympic 5,000 medalist Paul Chelimo (UNC Greensboro) and Molly Huddle (Notre Dame) also finished their NCAA careers without a national title.

If we go by the second definition, the athlete who had the best NCAA career without winning it all, Stanford’s Chris Derrick was a popular answer on the messageboard. Derrick is one of only eight athletes to finish in the top 10 at NCAA XC four times (among that group, only Derrick and Michigan’s Kevin Sullivan never won an XC title). On the track, Derrick finished 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 4th, 4th, 4th, 4th, 5th, and 8th, but never 1st at NCAAs. He graduated in 2012 with pbs of 7:46, 13:19, and 27:31 – all pre-super shoes – the latter of which remains the American collegiate record in the 10,000 meters (and #5 all-time).

And the winner of the mid-d/distance portion of the meet was

It’s common for distance coaches to rescore the meet 800 on up to see how they did.

Here are the top five women’s teams at NCAAs for 800 through 5k, including the DMR. Next to the team’s name is their place in XC.

  Women  800 Mile 3000 5000 DMR Total
1 NC State (1) 12 16 1 29
2 Stanford (13) 18 0 10 28
3 Alabama (3) 6 4 14 24
4 Arkansas (21) 8 8 16
5 Notre Dame (7) 8 6 14

The #2 team in cross country New Mexico scored only 2 points at NCAAs, but that makes sense as they were known for having a ton of pretty darn good runners, not superstars. #4 Oklahoma State scored 9 points. #5 North Carolina scored zero, which makes sense as none of their athletes qualified for the meet.

And here’s how it looked for the men.

Place Men  800 Mile 3000 5000 DMR Total
1 Washington (14) 0 20 1 5 26
2 OK State (2) 14 1 10 25
3 N. Arizona (1) 8 11 19
4 Texas (18) 18 0 18
5 BYU (3) 5 8 1 14

How did the #4 and #5 teams in XC do in track? #4 Stanford scored 2 points and #5 Wake Forest scored zero.

The presentation of NCAAs leaves a lot to be desired

The vast majority of “fans” at an indoor track meet are coaches, agents, parents, friends, and relatives. But the sport’s biggest meets still should be presented with fans in mind.

In 2021, the men’s and women’s events at the NCAA indoor championships were separated to reduce the number of people in the building for COVID-19 reasons. Major COVID-19 concerns are long gone but the meet is still separated by sex. It’s terrible from a spectator and athlete standpoint.

The running events from start to finish used to last 3 hours and 5 minutes. Now it takes 4 hours and 40 minutes to finish the meet. It’s also harder for athletes to double under the new schedule — while the meet overall is much longer, there is less time between events within each gendered meet. For example, the mile and 3k finals are now just one hour apart whereas they used to be two hours apart.

I hate the new schedule (although it makes it easier for journalists to cover the meet as it spreads everything out) and am not the only one. A top throws coach on the plane ride home told me she hates the new format.

But format only get us so far. Sometimes, it just comes down to presentation.

The women’s meet came down to the 4 x 400. Entering the event, Arkansas led Texas by just two points in the team standings. Arkansas and Texas both had run 3:26 coming into the meet and were seeded 1-2. You’d think the announcers would really be highlighting this fact to the crowd. Best I could tell, it was never mentioned at all inside the stadium. Admittedly, I was busy interviewing people but I never heard it and asked several coaches if they heard it — they didn’t and said they were unaware how close it was until I told them.


Something similar happened at the D2 meet in Virginia Beach. There, in the women’s competition, entering the final section of the 4 x 400, Adams State led defending champions Minnesota State by 1. Minnesota State had a team in the final section as they were seeded #4. All they had to do was place 7th to win outright, 8th to tie.

Matt Martucci, who had the brutal task of announcing the meet totally solo with no color commentating help (I think I’d refuse the offer as it’s just too hard of a job to do well), did mention the team score but once the race started, the broadcast focused on the top two teams. You couldn’t even see Minnesota State. When the race finished, instead of panning back to Minnesota State, the cameras focused on the winners. They never mentioned that Minnesota State’s time of 3:47.92 netted them zero points. Only 20+ minutes later were viewers told Adams State had won. It was brutal.

Watch it for yourself.

If the NCAA is going to broadcast events, they need to do it right. Find a few thousand dollars and hire a color commentator.


The three-section 4 x 400 also really kills the buzz of the meet. The NCAA should either a) reduce the final to six teams and run it in one section or b) run 12 but start six on one half of the track and six on the other half like they do in pursuit events in cycling.

Ruth Chepngetich set a “world record” in Nagoya

On Sunday, Ruth Chepngetich successfully defended her Nagoya Marathon crown by running 2:18:08, winning by a ton as second place was just 2:21:52. In the process, Chepngetich picked up the richest first-place prize in the sport — $250,000.

Chepngetich’s time was not as fast as she ran in last year’s race (2:17:18) nor is it as fast as Mary Keitany ran in the all-women’s 2017 London Marathon (2:17:01). So officially, it was not a women’s-only world record.

But it’s a world record of another sort. It’s the fastest marathon run by a woman totally solo — without any pacing help — as Chepngetich led from start to finish.* In last year’s race, Chepngetich was running with Lonah Chemtai Salpeter in the second half of the race and Keitany had a pacer for more than half the race at 2017 London.

With $250,000 on the line, Chepngetich didn’t do anything stupid but she also didn’t run with the pack at all. She went out in 68:47. Remember, this is a woman who went out crazy fast in Chicago in the fall (65:44) when she ran 2:14:18

*I haven’t been able to find a video showing the start of the race but all reports are that she led from start to finish. This video 6:10 into the race shows she was clear of everyone else and by 5k she was up by 35 seconds.

New Balance sticks it to Nike

The two shoe marketing events high school national indoor meets — the Nike Indoor Nationals at the Armory in NYC and the New Balance Nationals Indoor at The TRACK in Boston — were held last weekend.

The biggest star of the weekend was Issam Asinga of Monte Verde High School in Florida who tied the national record at 60m (6.57) and broke the national record at 200m (20.48). But everyone on LetsRun will probably think he should move up in distance as his dad, Tommy Asinga, was a three-time Olympian for Suriname and the 1991 NCAA runner-up for Eastern Michigan at 800m (1:46.7 pb). His mom, Ngozi Mwanamwambwa Asinga, was an Olympic sprinter for Zambia (12.13 100m, 53.9 400). (h/t to David Woods at dyestat). Asinga was born in America and can represent the USA internationally if he wants.

The youngest star of the weekend came in the sprints in Boston where 9th grader Quincy Wilson, age 15, came from way behind and won the 400 in 46.67.

Wilson has had quite a freshman year. He’s the indoor 9th-grade record holder in the 300 (34.11), 400 (46.67), 500 (1:02.63), and 600 (1:17.80). Plus, he looks super young.

15-year-old Quincy Wilson

MB: 9th Grader Quincy Wilson wins 400m NBIN in 46.67!  


Distance-wise, Massachusetts junior Ellie Shea, who led Team USA to the bronze at World Cross in Australia in the U20 race with a 10th place finish, had quite the meet. Shea blew everyone away in the 2-mile (9:49.82, 2nd place was 10:07.06) and the 5000m (15:46.28, 2nd place 16:43.18), and finished third in the mile (4:40.76).

The fastest mile time of the weekend came in New York where Irene Riggs, who was 12th at World U20 Cross, won in 4:38.23.


On the boys side, distance wise Tyrone Gorze, the third placer at NXN, ran 13:56.82 in the 5000m to broke Edward Cheserek’s national record of 13:57.04, thanks to a very impressive 2:02.84 final 800m. Lex Young was third.


Perhaps the biggest winner of the weekend was New Balance. When I was at the NCAA meet, I asked someone who pays a lot of attention to the high school scene if the Nike and New Balance meets had roughly equal levels of talent. He told me no and that New Balance had way more talent the Nike. The stats back him up as shown below.

Here are the winning times of the mid-d and distance events at the two meets.

Boys New Balance (Boston) Nike (NY) Edge
800 1:48.27 1:51.54 New Balance
Mile 4:02.25 4:11.49 New Balance
2-Mile 8:43.24 8:51.40 New Balance
5000 13:56.82 14:20.54 New Balance
800 2:04.77 2:07.30 New Balance
Mile 4:38.65 4:38.23 Nike
2-Mile 9:49.82 10:15.95 New Balance
5000 15:46.28 17:01.63 New Balance

Almaz Ayana gets a big pb/Sara Hall returns to racing

At the EDP Meia Maratona de Lisboa in Portugal over the weekend, former 10,000 world record holder Almaz Ayana showed she’s someone who could contend in the totally ridiculous London women’s race next month. She picked up the win with a big pb of 65:30. Of course, her old half pb of 67:10 was quite modest for someone who has run 14:12, 29:17, and 2:17:20. 65:30 would have been a women’s WR as recently as 2014 but now it makes Ayana the 25th-fastest woman in history.

Almaz Ayana. Photo via @NNRunningTeam

The runner-up in Lisbon in 65:50 was Kenya’s Margaret Kipkemboi, who won bronze in the 10,0000 at Worlds last summer.

American Sara Hall, 39, was also in the race and she ran 69:31 for 11th. 69:31 isn’t a great time for Hall considering she’s run under 69:00 four times in the last three years — including a 67:15 American record (since broken) last year in Houston — but Sara Hall fans should be encouraged by the result.

Why? Well this was Hall’s first race since finishing 5th at the Worlds marathon in July, and Sara Hall loves to race. So why the long drought? Hall had the most significant injury of her career. Hall told Portuguese journalist Fábio Lima after the race (Lima gave the quotes to LetsRun.com) that she went four months without running at all due to an IT band injury.

“It was my longest injury I ever had. It was four months with no running, at all. I have never had that before,” said Hall, who is now headed to Ethiopia for some altitude training for three weeks before coming back to the States to run the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler on April 2. That will be Hall’s last race as a 39-year-old; she will run the Boston Marathon on April 17, two days after her 40th birthday.

There’s another reason for Hall fans to be encouraged by her 69:31. She’s known for not liking warm weather (in her first marathon ever in 2015, she ran 2:48 in LA before running 2:31 in Chicago that October) and she found the temps in the 60s with high humidity (77 to 100% according to this website, race time was 10:05 a.m.) to be a little tough but she greatly enjoyed the experience.

“It’s such a cool race, it’s awesome how many people are out there, I had a lot of cheers, because they were going in the opposite way. It was a really cool experience. Every country you run in has a different flavor… Running has taken me every country in Europe, except Portugal and Austria. So now, to get to run here it’s really special…

“It was a tough race for me, felt really hot and humid to me, coming from winter. This feels like summer to me. But it’s an awesome place to visit and spend some vacation. For running, that felt really tough. I went out too fast for those conditions, but it’s a good experience, because the Olympic Trials will be in Orlando, Florida, so it can be like this. I learned something and tried to improve in those conditions. I’m grateful for that.”

Men go out crazy fast in Lisbon

In the men’s race in Lisbon, 23-year-old Ethiopian Nibrek Melak, who ran 12:54 to make the Ethiopian Olympic team in 2021, had a great debut and won a tight race in 59:06. Former 5000-meter ace Hagos Gebrhiwet was 2nd in 59:07 and Vincent Ngetich of Kenya 3rd in 59:10, in Ngetich’s first sub-60. Gebrhiwet, who has won three 5000 medals on the track, has now run 58:55 and 59:07 in his two halves this year. When will he make his marathon debut?

The 4th and 5th placers were names you’ll likely recognize as Rhonex Kipruto took 4th (59:22) and Jake Robertson was 5th (60:05).

But the results don’t tell the story of this race. Early on, Kipruto and Gebrhiwet went out on crazy fast — 13:32 for 5000 (that’s 57:06 pace; Jacob Kiplimo went out in 13:40 in his 57:31 WR run) but faded to 27:44 at 10k. Melak won by being more conservative as he hit 5k in 13:42 and 10k in 27:51.

Berihu Aregawi stays hot

The performance of the weekend on the roads came in Laredo, Spain, where Ethiopia’s Berihu Aregawi, who won silver at World XC in Australia but has yet to medal on the track, blitzed a solo 26:33 in the rain — the 2nd fastest 10,000 ever run on the roads.

2nd place was 28:17.

To every American fan who wonders why Grant Fisher hasn’t medalled yet, please realize how difficult it is. In the Tokyo Olympics in the 10,000, Aregawi was 4th and Fisher 5th. The three guys ahead of them were Selemon Barega, who ran 12:43 at age 18, 5,000 and 10,000 WR holder Joshua Cheptegei, and half marathon world record holder Jacob Kiplimo. And all of those men are younger than Fisher except for Cheptegei.

Abbey Caldwell gets better/A 16-year-old stays unbeaten versus Matthew Centrowitz

In Australia on Saturday, there were some notable results at the Sydney Track Classic. In the women’s 800, 21-year-old Abbey Caldwell, who was left off the Australian Worlds team last year even though she won the Aussie 1500 champs and got the standard before Worlds, showed she’s going to be a force to be reckoned with in 2023 as she ran an 800 pb of 1:58.62 in the 1500. And the Nike Union Athletics Club’s Jessica Hull broke the Australian record in the 3,000 meters by running 8:31.81. Hull now owns Aussie records in the 1500 (3:58.81), 3,000 (8:31.81), and 5,000 (14:43.80)

In the men’s 3,000, 20-year-old Jude Thomas got the win in 7:48.25, as 16-year-old Cameron Myers, the 3:55 miler, broke 8:00 for the first time in fifth in 7:52.06, three spots ahead of 2016 Olympic 1500 champ Matthew Centrowitz, who ran 7:53.58.

7:48 is pretty fast for age 20 but it’s worth noting that Thomas ran faster at the meet last year — 7:47.26.

MB: Cameron Myers 7:52, Centrowitz 7:53! in Aussie 3km Champs

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