2023 USA Women’s 5K/10K Preview: Monson Seeks First US Track Title; What to Expect from BTC’s Cranny & Schweizer?

The 2023 Toyota USATF Outdoor Championships begin on Thursday in Eugene, and at LetsRun.com we’ve been previewing every single distance event. If you missed any of them, catch up below:

*Men’s 800 *Men’s 1500 *Men’s 5k/10k *Women’s 800/1500

Now it’s time to look at the women’s long distance events. Karissa Schweizer and Elise Cranny are the reigning US 10k and 5k champs, respectively, but the Bowerman TC duo have not raced a ton this year — in fact, Schweizer has not raced at all since July 2022. Meanwhile the On Athletics Club’s Alicia Monson has been in the form of her life, setting US records in the 3,000 and 10,000 this year. Can Monson win her first track title, will Schweizer and Cranny get it done again, or will someone else — perhaps Monson’s OAC teammate Josette Andrews — rise up and beat all of them? We preview both the 10,000 and 5,000 below.

Women’s 10,000: The team may be a foregone conclusion

(final Thursday, 10:45 p.m. ET)

Top entrants (athletes with 30:40.00 Worlds standard in bold)

Name Affiliation Qualifying mark
Alicia Monson On Athletics Club 30:03.82
Elise Cranny NIKE Bowerman Track Club 30:14.66
Karissa Schweizer NIKE Bowerman Track Club 30:18.05
Natosha Rogers Puma Elite Running 30:48.69
Fiona O’Keeffe Puma Elite Running 30:52.77
Weini Kelati Under Armour Dark Sky Distance 31:04.16
Ednah Kurgat U.S. Army 31:12.10
Millie Paladino New Balance Boston 31:19.92
Emily Venters University of Utah 31:48.35
Vanessa Fraser NIKE Bowerman Track Club 31:52.11

Right now, only three women in the United States have the World Championship standard of 30:40: Alicia MonsonElise Cranny, and Karissa Schweizer. In most events, that’s not a dealbreaker as athletes can also qualify for Worlds via their world ranking. But in the women’s 10,000, there are 19 athletes with the entry standard, eight athletes qualified by their World Cross Country Ranking, and Letesenbet Gidey qualified with the bye as defending world champion. That’s 28 athletes, which exceeds the target field size of 27.

Article continues below player.

What that means is that whoever makes Team USA almost certainly needs to hit the 30:40 standard by July 30 (USATF is allowing athletes to chase the standard this year but it’s a tough ask as only five Americans have ever run that fast). Currently, there are some horrendously unqualified athletes who are in line to receive World Championship invitations by World Athletics due to their XC ranking — a Brazilian woman with a 34:02 pb and a Dutch woman who has never run a 10k. It’s possible they decline their spots, which would open up the possibility for Americans Fiona O’Keeffe (20th in the 10k rankings), Natosha Rogers (23rd), or Weini Kelati (26th) to get an invitation from World Athletics but none of those spots are assured and USATF doesn’t like taking those sort of risks. The only way to be sure to be on the team is to get top 3 and hit the standard, either at USAs or in a track/road race before the end of the month (Editor’s note: USATF always enters 4 for Worlds so even if you don’t have the standard but are top 3 you’d be entered and then if you got in off of ranking you might get in that way).

Kevin Morris photo

The one lock on the team is Alicia Monson, who has been on fire all year. Back in February, she ran 8:25.05 at the Millrose Games — the fastest an American woman has ever run for 3000m, indoors or out — and followed that up a month later with a 30:03.82 American record in the 10,000. Most recently, at the Oslo Diamond League on June 15, she finished 4th in the 3k in 8:29. The 25-year-old Monson has never won a US track title but will be favored in this race.

The other two Americans with the Worlds standard, Bowerman TC teammates Elise Cranny and Karissa Schweizer, are typically good bets to make the US team — Cranny has won the last two US 5,000 titles, while Schweizer is the defending champ at 10,000. Their pbs (30:14 for Cranny, 30:18 for Schweizer) rank #3 and #4 on the all-time US list and are more than 30 seconds faster than anyone else in the field outside of Monson.

There are significant questions about each of them, however. Schweizer was in terrific form last year, finishing 9th in the World Championship final in 30:18. But a torn calf muscle led to a DNF in the 5,000 final, and Schweizer has not raced since, other than pacing Cranny at the USATF Distance Classic in May. Schweizer is a super talent and has bounced back from injury before — she had Achilles surgery in October 2021 and went on to have a great 2022 season — but she has not finished a race in 50 weeks. Her agent Tom Ratcliffe told LetsRun she was in good shape when we caught up with him at NCAAs last month but we won’t see for sure until Thursday night.

Cranny held off Schweizer and Infeld to win the 5k last year © 2022 Kevin Morris

Like Schweizer, Cranny had a great 2022 season overall, setting an American indoor record of 14:33 for 5,000, running 30:14 for 10,000, and then running two 3:59 1500s on the Diamond League circuit. But she went through a down period in training in the spring and had to miss the US 10,00 trials after dealing with RED-S (relative energy deficiency in sport).

Fill out the BetterRunningShoes.com shoe survey and we will enter you into a drawing a free pair of shoes.

This year, her big races have not gone very well. At Millrose in February, Cranny was only 5th in 8:37 — beaten by Whittni MorganKatelyn Tuohy, and Elly Henes, and well back of Monson. Then at the USATF Distance Classic on May 26 — her most recent race — Cranny tried to go for the Worlds standard of 14:57 but imploded over the final three laps and finished a distant 3rd in 15:16.

If Schweizer/Cranny aren’t on their game, there are a number of women who could contend for 2nd and 3rd. Look at the following list of women, all of whom have run pbs in the 5,000 and 10,000 in 2023.

Athlete Team 5k pb 10k pb 2022 USAs place
Natosha Rogers Puma Elite 14:52 30:48 3rd
Fiona O’Keeffe Puma Elite 15:01 30:52 6th (5k)
Weini Kelati Under Armour Dark Sky Distance 14:53 31:04 5th
Ednah Kurgat US Army WCAP 15:11 31:12 16th

Reaslistically, all of those women have a shot at the top three (Kurgat’s track times lag behind a little, but remember she won USA XC this year and was the top American at World XC in 18th) but considering none have the standard it is unlikely any of them make it to Worlds (even if they worked together, it would be tough for one of them to break 30:40 in a US final). Rogers, who changed groups from Hansons-Brooks to Puma Elite after 2022, has a strong kick and made the team last year (she was also 2nd at the Olympic Trials way back in 2012). O’Keeffe and Kelati have also run fast this year in other races, though they may ultimately be better-suited for the roads than the track. There is not a ton to choose between this group.

JG prediction: 1. Monson 2. Schweizer 3. Kelati (Cranny still makes the team)

Monson has been in incredible form, and while Schweizer has historically had the edge when it comes to a kick, I’m not picking someone who has not raced at all in 2023 to upset a woman who set the American record four months ago. If I knew Cranny was in top form, I’d pick her for 3rd over Kelati but without that certainty I’ll take Kelati, who came very close to making the team in 2022 (5th in 10k, 4th in 5k).

Who wins the women's 10k at USAs?

Your vote has been counted. Thank you!

Women’s 5,000: More standards = much better race

(final Sunday, 10:29 p.m. ET)

Top entrants (athletes with 14:57.00 Worlds standard in bold, athletes in italics in position to qualify via world ranking)

Name Affiliation Season’s best
Alicia Monson On Athletics Club 14:34.88
Josette Andrews On Athletics Club 14:43.36
Emily Infeld NIKE 14:50.90
Natosha Rogers Puma Elite Running 14:52.21i
Weini Kelati Under Armour Dark Sky Distance 14:53.41
Elly Henes adidas 14:54.20
Fiona O’Keeffe Puma Elite Running 15:01.34i
Katelyn Tuohy North Carolina State University 15:03.12
Taylor Werner Puma Elite Running 15:03.13
Annie Rodenfels Boston Athletic Association 15:08.22
Emily Lipari adidas 15:08.87
Elise Cranny Nike Bowerman Track Club 15:16.72
Karissa Schweizer Nike Bowerman Track Club none

A number of the main players from the 10,000 will be doubling back in the 5,000 — Monson, Cranny, Schweizer, Rogers, and Kelati (Cranny is also entered in the 1500 but we’d be surprised if she runs that). Of the two races, the 5,000 is definitely the more compelling event, for two reasons.

Number one, it’s deeper — in addition to those five women, it features Josette Andrews (14:43 sb, #2 in the US in 2023), Emily Infeld (who made the team last year), Elly Henes (2021 NCAA champ who has been running well this year), and NCAA superstar Katelyn Tuohy. Number two, there are way more women who could qualify for Worlds. Six Americans already have the 14:57 Worlds standard, with four more in position to qualify via world ranking. Notably, Cranny and Schweizer — who have each made the last two US teams in this event — don’t have the standard, but we’re sure that Bowerman TC coach Jerry Schumacher will figure out a way to get them in a fast race to hit the standard by July 30 if it comes to that.

Whoever wins the 10k will likely go off as the favorite, and the guess here is that that will be Monson. But the same caveats as above apply to this race — if Schweizer and Cranny are ready to roll, they’ll be tough to beat.

Kevin Morris photo

It’s interesting to see Josette Andrews (formerly Norris) entered in the 5k only. Two years ago, as a member of the Reebok Boston Track Club, Andrews had to decide between the 1500 and 5k at the Olympic Trials. She chose the 5k, finished 8th on an off day, and then crushed it the rest of the year in the 1500, running 3:59 and finishing 3rd in the Diamond League final. But at the time, the 5k was a defensible pick — Andrews’ 1500 pb was only 4:06 when she entered the Trials while she was coming off a big 14:51 pb 5k.

This time around, Andrews, now in her first year with the On Athletics Club, again had her choice of events and again chose to run only the 5k. It’s the smart choice. In her last race in Oslo, Andrews ran the mile and while her time of 4:21 wasn’t bad, she finished three seconds behind Cory McGee and Nikki Hiltz, both of whom will be gunning for the 1500 team. In the 5k, she has the #2 time in the US this year at 14:43 (#6 all-time among Americans) and 3:59 1500 speed. This is her best bet to make the team right now, which is probably why Andrews is running it.

Consider: when Andrews ran that 14:43, she did it by blasting the last 1600 in 4:34 and her last 800 in 2:12. She wound up beating Infeld, who made the team last year, by seven seconds, Henes by 11, and Tuohy by 20. If she is still in that sort of 5k shape, she will be very dangerous at USAs.

It wouldn’t be a shock to see Infeld, who was .27 from winning this race in 2022, contend again as she has a strong kick and great championship record. Tuohy could be in a little over her head, however. During the indoor season, when Tuohy was smashing collegiate records left and right, she looked like a contender for the team, but the long collegiate season may have taken its toll as she was only 7th in the 1500 at NCAAs. At 21, she has plenty of years ahead of her but she’ll be up against some of the fastest women in US history in this race.

JG prediction: 1. Monson 2. Schweizer 3. Andrews

Obviously things could change after the 10k, but Monson has been exceptional this year so I’m taking her FTW. I have more faith in Schweizer than Cranny given Cranny did not race well her last time out whereas we don’t know what Schweizer is capable of (though if she’s running, I expect she is fit). And if Andrews runs the way she did in her 14:43 at Mt. SAC, she’s on the team.

Who wins the women's 5k at USAs?

Your vote has been counted. Thank you!
Want More? Join The Supporters Club Today
Support independent journalism and get:
  • Exclusive Access to VIP Supporters Club Content
  • Bonus Podcasts Every Friday
  • Free LetsRun.com Shirt (Annual Subscribers)
  • Exclusive Discounts
  • Enhanced Message Boards