W800, Steeple and 10,000 Preview: Rose vs Willis could be historic as Chelangat looks to repeat

Katelyn Tuohy‘s historic quest for the 1500/5000 double gets its own article here: LRC Katelyn Tuohy & the Pursuit of History – 2023 NCAA W1500/5K Preview.

Below I preview the other mid-d and distance events at the 2023 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships for you.

Women’s 10,000: Will Mercy Chelangat repeat?

Final – 10:08 pm. ET on Thursday

The six fastest NCAA women of 2023 *Full start lists here

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Athlete Year Team Time Meet Meet Date
1 Venters, Emily SR-4 Utah 31:48.35 Stanford Invitational Mar 31, 2023
2 Chelangat, Mercy SR-4 Alabama 31:55.80 2023 Bryan Clay Invitational Apr 13, 2023
3 Kemboi, Everlyn JR-3 Utah Valley 32:03.30 Stanford Invitational Mar 31, 2023
4 Olemomoi, Hilda SO-2 Alabama 32:05.83 2023 Bryan Clay Invitational Apr 13, 2023
5 Mazza-Downie, Amelia JR-3 New Mexico 32:07.62 2023 Bryan Clay Invitational Apr 13, 2023
6 Vestri, Amanda SR-4 Syracuse 32:08.26 Stanford Invitational Mar 31, 2023

The first women’s track final at the 2023 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships is the we’re thankful Katelyn Tuohy didn’t run this women’s 10,000. With no Katelyn Tuohy, who is gonna get the win?

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The favorite in the LetsRun.com voting is the one woman in the field who has previously won an NCAA title — the defending champion Mercy Chelangat of Alabama by way of Kenya. The senior Chelangat, who also won the March 2021 NCAA XC Champs, comes into NCAAs after losing a nail-biter in the 5000 at SECs to Parker Valby. Her pb is 31:55.80 when she won Bryan Clay — a race that produced three of the six sub-32:10 times in the NCAA this year.

Finishing behind Chelangat in second at Bryan Clay in 32:05.83 was her teammate Hilda Olemomoi, who has had a stellar first season at Alabama after a year at Iowa Western CC. The Kenyan Olemomoi beat Chelangat at both NCAA XC (where she was 6th) and NCAA Indoors (where she was 2nd in the 5000 and 5th in the 3000) but has lost to her every time they’ve run outdoors. Aussie Amelia Mazza-Downie of New Mexico, who was 22nd in XC and 10th indoors in the 5000, ran 32:07.62 at Bryan Clay.

The NCAA leader and only other woman under 32:00 this year is Emily Venters of Utah — the 6th-year senior who started her career at Boise State, then went to Colorado, and now is at Utah. While Venters has been a two-time All-American in XC (12th in 2022, 39th in 2018), this is her first NCAA outdoor meet. She was fifth indoors in the 5000 (Chelangat was 3rd).

She won the Stanford Invite in an NCAA-leading 31:48.35 in a race in which Utah Valley’s Everlyn Kemboi ran 32:03.30 and Syracuse’s Amanda Vestri ran 32:08.26.

LRC Prediction: Chelangat goes out on top.

Women’s 800: Rose vs Willis

The 5 Fastest Women Outdoors in the NCAA *All entrants can be found here

1 Rose, Michaela SO-2 LSU 1:59.08 2023 Bryan Clay Invitational Apr 13, 2023
2 Seymour, Claire SR-4 BYU 2:00.04 2023 Bryan Clay Invitational Apr 13, 2023
3 Tobias, Valery SR-4 Texas 2:00.31 2023 Bryan Clay Invitational Apr 13, 2023
4 Barrett, Imogen SR-4 Florida 2:00.96 UF Tom Jones Memorial Apr 14, 2023
5 Whittaker, Juliette FR-1 Stanford 2:01.19 Pac-12 Track & Field Championships May 12, 2023

Indoors, the NCAA women’s 800 final was an all-time classic. LSU’s Michaela Rose had the lead until late when she was passed by the freshman phenoms from Stanford, world junior champ Roisin Willis and US high school record holder Juliette Whittaker. Willis, who as a freshman in high school beat Athing Mu (when Mu was a junior), was your winner in 1:59.93 to Whittaker’s 2:00.05 to Rose’s 2:00.85. No one else was close as BYU senior Claire Seymour ran 2:03.18 for 4th.

So which of the Big 3 will win outdoors?

Well things will be a little bit different in Austin.

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Whittaker isn’t in the race as she moved up to the 1500 and failed to qualify, while Seymour has improved a lot, dropping her pb from 2:01.91 to 2:00.04 — #2 in the NCAA outdoors. However, I don’t see her beating Rose as in that 2:00.04 race she lost by nearly a full second to Rose, who leads the NCAA at 1:59.08. In that race, it looked like Rose might run much faster as she hit 600 in 1:25 and tied up late, but 1:59.08 is still #2 in NCAA history behind only Athing Mu’s 1:57.73.

As for Willis, some may be a little less bullish on her as compared to indoors. Before regionals, she had only finished one outdoor 800m race. She cratered late and lost to Whittaker at Mt. SAC, running 2:01.97, was a DNF in the 800 at Payton Jordan, split 2:04.87 for 800 in the DMR at Penn Relays (getting the baton and handing off in the lead), ran 53.41 in the 400, and then failed to score in the 1500 at Pac-12s. However, at regionals, she won both her races in the 800, running the fastest time of anyone in the West region at 2:02.51 in the final round, nearly 3/4ths of a second faster than Valery Thomas, the third fastest woman in the NCAA outdoors this year.

Who wins the w 800?

Your vote has been counted. Thank you!

LRC Prediction: This is a two-person race. Seymour was way back indoors and Imogen Barrett was way behind Rose at SECs, while Tobias was way behind Rose at regionals. Rose doesn’t always get the pacing totally right but she’s a massive talent. I expect her to run at least 1:58. 1:57 woudn’t surprise me and even 1:56 wouldn’t stun me. Rose FTW.

Women’s Steeplechase

Is the steeplechase down a bit this year?

2022 champ Courtney Wayment has moved on to the pro ranks and last year at NCAAs, it took a 9:35.60 to score (8th place). This year, heading into regionals, the #1 performer in the entire NCAA, Cal Baptist’s Greta Karinauskaite, had run 9:35.55. The Lithuanian blew out the pipes at regionals and ran 9:26.88. As a result, she leads the NCAA by a mile in terms of time. But she’s never competed at an NCAA track meet before and was just 214th in cross country. It’s hard to call her a big favorite.

The woman with the best PB in the field is Washington’s Kayley DeLay, but it’s hard to feel very confident in her either. Last year, running for Yale, she only got into the final at NCAAs on time but then somehow ran 9:25.08 to place 2nd — a time that ranks her #3 in NCAA history and ahead of future stars such as Jenny Simpson and Emma Coburn. Yet at UW, she’s only run 9:45.72 (at regionals) and was just 3rd at Pac-12s. But she is a big-meet performer as shown by her runner-up showing last year and her 10th-place showing at 2021 NCAA XC.

The Pac-12 champion in the steeple and 5000, Oregon State senior Grace Fetherstonhaugh, looks formidable. Only 10th last year, she was an All-American in XC (31st).

West Virginia’s Ceili McCabe, who was 3rd at the 2021 NCAA XC meet as well as in last year’s steeplechase, is a big threat as well, but the athlete who has had the best 2022-23 overall is Olivia Markezich. The Notre Dame junior was 8th in XC and 2nd indoors in the 3k. Outdoors she’s undefeated in individual events.

Kayley DeLay Greta Karinauskaite Ceili McCabe Grace Fetherstonahaugh Olivia Markezich
Mile 4:32.34* 4:47.77 4:31.57 4:31.13* 4:34.00
3000 9:09.19 9:38.43 8:50.44 8:55.71 8:50.48
Steeple 9:25.08 9:26.88 9:31.14 9:37.56 9:35.80
5000 15:36.66 15:36.88 N/A 15:30.55 15:33.62

*converted from 1500

Who wins the w steeple?

Your vote has been counted. Thank you!

LRC prediction: Past pedigree at NCAA matters to me. Karinauskaite leads the NCAA but I feel more confident in picking one of the women who has been top 10 at NCAA XC. McCabe has had a lowkey outdoors but I think that changes here: McCabe FTW.

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