2024 NCAA Indoors Women: Maia Ramsden & Parker Valby Dominate as Juliette Whittaker Stuns Michaela Rose

BOSTON – NCAA outdoor champions Maia Ramsden of Harvard and Parker Valby of Florida added indoor titles to their resumes on Saturday but LSU’s Michaela Rose, last year’s 800m champion outdoors, was denied by a terrific effort from Stanford’s Juliette Whittaker at the 2024 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Rose, who had run 1:59 twice already in 2024 to move to #2 on the NCAA all-time indoor list, ran 1:59 again tonight but it was not enough as Whittaker passed her in the home straight to take the victory, 1:59.53 to 1:59.81. Ramsden, who won the 1500 outdoors, was brilliant in winning the mile in what amounted to a home meet for the Crimson star, clocking a 4:25.13 meet record. Valby added the 3,000 crown to the 5,000 titles she won outdoors last year and indoors this year, running 8:41.50 – also a meet record.

Juliette Whittaker wins NCAAs
Juliette Whittaker wins NCAAs (Kevin Morris photo)

In the team race, Arkansas, in its first year under coach Chris Johnson, won its third title in four years despite being DQ’d in the 4×400 after crossing the line first. The Hogs scored 55 points, led by a 1-2-3 finish in the 400 by Amber Anning, Nickisha Pryce, and Rosey Effiong. Florida was second with 50 points, 20 of which were supplied by Valby.

Full results here. Analysis and interviews from the distance races below.

Women’s 3000m: Parker Valby dominates for the 2nd night in a row

It’s official. No woman in the NCAA is even close to the level of Parker Valby right now.

The University of Florida star, who broke the NCAA record in the 5000 on Friday night, pulled away from Olivia Markezich of Notre Dame over the final 1000m to win the NCAA 3000m title on Saturday night in a meet record of 8:41.50 as Markezich finished second in 8:46.71 with 5000m 4th placer Doris Lemngole of Alabama 3rd.

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Parker Valby NCAA 3000m Champ

After she went wire-to-wire to break the NCAA record on Friday, perhaps the biggest surprise in this one was that Valby did not take the lead until just after 1000m to go. Her teammate Flomena Asekol led the first 800 and then Markezich took over until a km to go when Valby went to the front and pulled away fairly easily, although the margin of victory was only 5.21 seconds tonight versus 22 last night.

1Parker VALBYFlorida [JR]8:41.50PB   MR  
2Olivia MARKEZICHNotre Dame [SR]8:46.71
3Doris LEMNGOLEAlabama [FR]8:50.70PB  
5Hilda OLEMOMOIAlabama [JR]8:55.88
7Chloe SCRIMGEOURGeorgetown [SO]8:57.28
8Maddy ELMOREOregon [SO]8:58.52
9Sadie SARGENTBYU [SR]9:02.90
10Kaylee MITCHELLOregon State [SR]9:02.91
11Melissa RIGGINSGeorgetown [JR]9:15.87
12Billah JEPKIRUIOklahoma State [SO]9:16.97
Flomena ASEKOLFlorida [SR]DNF
Taylor ROEOklahoma State [SR]DNF

If Valby is too good for the NCAAs, what about the Olympic team?

“I felt good and my coach said, ‘Save your best K for the last K’, so I was like give it all I had,” said Valby after the race.

Valby has now won four straight NCAA titles: 2023 outdoor 5k, 2023 XC, 2024 indoor 5k, and 2024 indoor 3k. It’s the same four titles – in the same order – that NC State’s Katelyn Tuohy racked up in 2022 and 2023. Tuohy did not win in either of her final NCAA appearances (2023 outdoors or 2023 XC), but Valby will be the heavy favorite in the NCAA 5,000 in June as long as she can stay healthy. 

Given how dominant Valby is at the NCAA level, we asked her if she’s starting to think about how she might stack up as a potential US Olympic team member. 

“I haven’t really thought about that. I’m just following what my coach says and taking life day by day,” said Valby.

In case you are wondering, an Olympic team is by no means a guarantee for Valby. Since the start of 2023, seven US women have run faster than Parker Valby’s 14:52.79 pb.

14:19.45 Alicia Monson – outdoors 2023
14:43.36 Josette Andrews – outdoors 2023 (also 14:46.51 indoors this year)
14:47.15 Elly Henes – outdoors 2023
14:49.78 Courtney Wayment – indoors 2024
14:50.90 Emily Infeld – outdoors 2023
14:52.21 Natosha Rogers – indoors 2024
14:52.66 Elise Cranny – outdoors 2023

Olivia Markezich finished 2nd for the second year in a row and was proud that she went for it 

Last year Markezich was 2nd behind a dominant run from Katelyn Tuohy and today she was second again behind an even more dominant run by Parker Valby. But she was proud with her effort – her time of 8:46.71 ranks in the top 10 all-time in the NCAA – particularly given how last night’s DMR played out. In that race, Markezich, who split 4:22 on Notre Dame’s DMR earlier in the year, had the baton in the lead on the anchor leg, but did not push the pace and got her doors blown off by BYU’s Riley Chamberlain on the last lap.

Markezich said she put too much trust in her kick and wanted to push the pace more tonight. But why turn it into a fast race with Valby, who just ran 14:52 on Friday, is in the field? Markezich said she figured that if she didn’t push it, Valby would, so the race would have been fast either way.

“I wanted to come out here and grind it with how the race played out and put my best effort on the track,” Markezich said. “That’s all I can do. Parker is an awesome competitor, so I’m happy with it.”

Women’s mile: Ramsden wins a quick one

Harvard’s Maia Ramsden showed no ill effects from running two races at the World Indoor Championships last weekend in Glasgow. Six days after running 4:06.88 to finish 10th in the world final for New Zealand, Ramsden ran 4:25.13 to add the NCAA mile title to the NCAA 1500 title she won in June. Ramsden’s win and fellow Kiwi Kimberley May (Providence) running 4:27.36 added to a great week for NZ milers that began with Geordie Beamish winning the World Indoor title in Glasgow. Oklahoma State’s Billah Jepkirui was 2nd in 4:27.14.

May took the pace through the first five laps, hitting 809m in 2:16.01. That led to a slew of fast times (five of the top six would run pbs), and while May would do her best to hang onto Ramsden, who took the lead with three laps to go, Ramsden was just too good, closing in 2:08.83 for her final 800 and 62.05 for her last 400 (30.39 final 200).

“I wish I could leave it to a kick, but I don’t like running that way,” said May, who has been racing her fellow Kiwi Ramsden since her early teens (but doesn’t think she’s ever beaten her). 

1Maia RAMSDENHarvard [JR]4:25.13MR  
2Billah JEPKIRUIOklahoma State [SO]4:27.14PB  
3Kimberley MAYProvidence [JR]4:27.36PB  
4Melissa RIGGINSGeorgetown [JR]4:29.02PB  
5Margot APPLETONVirginia [JR]4:29.07PB  
6Ceili MCCABEWest Virginia [JR]4:29.26PB  
7Klaudia KAZIMIERSKAOregon [SO]4:30.65
8Flomena ASEKOLFlorida [SR]4:35.34
9Maggi CONGDONNorthern Arizona [SR]4:36.71
10Shannon FLOCKHARTProvidence [JR]4:36.73

This race was very fast

Ramsden’s 4:25.13 took more than two seconds off the previous meet record of Michigan State’s Leah Falland from 2015. Jepkirui’s 4:27.14 was also under the old record, and in all, five of the top six (all but Ramsden) ran personal bests.

Ramsden remained at #2 on the NCAA all-time indoor list thanks to her 4:24.83 from Millrose last month, but Jepkirui and May both moved up. Here’s how the list looks now.

4:24.26 Katelyn Tuohy, NC State 2023
4:24.83 Maia Ramsden, Harvard 2024
4:25.91 Jenny Simpson, Colorado 2009
4:26.47 Flomena Asekol, Florida 2024
4:26.55 Elle St. Pierre, New Hampshire 2018
4:27.14 Billah Jepkirui, Oklahoma State 2024
4:27.18 Leah Falland, Michigan State 2015
4:27.19 Sally Kipyego, Texas Tech 2009
4:27.36 Kimberley May, Providence 2024
4:27.54 Karissa Schweizer, Missouri 2018

Maia Ramsden’s win felt extra special because she did it at home

Ramsden had won an NCAA title before but said it meant a lot for her to do it in Boston, just across the Charles River from Harvard’s campus. Ramsden slept in her own bed this weekend and said she was sitting in her dorm’s common room chatting with friends after her prelim yesterday as she would on a typical Friday night.

“This is the dream,” Ramsden said. “My dad’s here, my grandparents are here, my aunt and uncle, my cousins, and then my team. My teammates are all here, my roommates were right trackside. To me, that’s the coolest part of all this.”

Billah Jepkirui post-race

Kimberley May post-race

May gave great credit to coach Ray Treacy for building her back up after a disappointing 116th place showing at NCAA XC last fall.

Women’s 800: Whittaker takes down Rose for first NCAA individual title

Juliette Whittaker entered the NCAA with great expectations having run a US high school record of 1:59.04 for 800m as a senior in 2022. She largely delivered during the 2023 indoor season, finishing 2nd in the NCAA 800 before anchoring the Stanford DMR to victory, though outdoors she focused on the 1500 and failed to make it to NCAAs.

This year indoors, Whittaker raced sparingly and entered NCAAs under the radar as LSU’s Michaela Rose put up a series of fast times. Rose was hoping to do the same again tonight and went out hard in 27.92 before slowing to 58.33 at halfway. That pace was enough to shake most of the field, but not Whittaker, who came by on Rose’s outside down the home straight to take the title in 1:59.53 to Rose’s 1:59.81. BYU’s Meghan Hunter was a distant 3rd in 2:02.15.

1Juliette WHITTAKERStanford [SO]1:59.53PB   FR   MR  
2Michaela ROSELSU [JR]1:59.81
3Meghan HUNTERBYU [SR]2:02.15PB  
4Hayley KITCHINGPenn State [SO]2:02.16
5Gabija GALVYDYTEOklahoma State [SR]2:02.31
6Wilma NIELSENWashington [SR]2:02.33
7Lindsey BUTLERVirginia Tech [SR]2:02.39SB  
8Maggi CONGDONNorthern Arizona [SR]2:06.41

Juliette Whittaker runs 1:59 for the first time since June 2022

Whittaker had broken 2:00 twice in her life before tonight, both times outdoors in 2022. Whittaker did not focus on the 800 last spring for Stanford, choosing to build her strength in the 1500, and while she did not qualify for NCAAs in that event, she felt the experience was worth it. 

“We thought doing the 1500 and doing rounds of the 1500 would really help my strength in the 800,” Whittaker said. I think a lot of today, having that strength in the end, really goes back to those 1500s.”

Whittaker was already known to be a big-time talent, and though she still has not PR’d since high school, her win today over someone in supreme form like Rose shows that her potential remains vast.

Michaela Rose was a CLASS ACT in defeat

Often times, favored athletes do not handle losses well. That wasn’t the case for Michaela Rose of LSU. The 2023 NCAA outdoor champ obviously wanted to win tonight but she was the definition of class act in defeat.

“Yeah, I love her (Juliette Whittaker), she’s amazing,” said Rose after the race.

 “I’m glad that she got it this time because watching her this indoor season, I know she’s looking at her best. So I know when it’s time to come here, and she made it to finals, she was a dog.”

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