2024 NCAA Women’s Distance Preview: Parker Valby, Michaela Rose & Maia Ramsden Ready To Star

Some of the fastest women in NCAA history including Parker Valby, Michaela Rose, Maia Ramsden and Doris Lemngole are favored to take home NCAA titles

The 2024 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships will be held in Eugene, Ore., from Wednesday – Saturday (men are Wed./Friday women are Thursday/Saturday).

Mid-d and distance-wise, the meets offer two stark contrasts. On the women’s side, each of the mid-d/distance events has a clear favorite who is also one of the fastest in NCAA history — 800: Michaela Rose of LSU (#2 all-time); 1500: Maia Ramsden of Harvard (#2 all-time), 5000/10,000: Parker Valby (#1 all-time); and steeplechase: Doris Lemngole (#2 all-time).

For the men, only in the 10,000 is there a huge favorite — New Mexico’s Habtom Samuel has run over a minute quicker than the rest of the field, running an NCAA #2 all-time 26:53.84. 

We’ve broken down the men’s and women’s meets separately, you can find the women’s preview below.  *Men’s Preview here

We also have an overall preview here: 5 Things to Watch at 2024 NCAAs: All-Time 1500/5K Matchups, Which Heavy Favorite Will Lose, & Learn These Sprint Names.

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After you read everything and become informed, come back to LRC and enter our free NCAA Prediction contest which is here. Then spread the word and get a friend to enter as well. You can play in groups.

If you’re not sure how or where to watch, take a look at this viewing guide as well as the schedule of events.

Women’s 800: Rose Looks For Repeat Gold

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At the 2024 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, Michaela Rose was defeated by Stanford’s Juliette Whittaker. Since then, Rose hasn’t lost over the 800-meter distance, including a 1:58.37 run at the Bryan Clay Invitational, good for the win and second all-time in the NCAA.

On Saturday afternoon, she’ll attempt to be the first woman since Raevyn Rogers in 2017 to repeat over 800 meters at the NCAA outdoor championship (Rogers won in 2015, 2016, and 2017). Despite being the NCAA leader and holding the second-fastest mark in history, repeating will not be easy. Rose is joined on the start line by two women who have broken 2:00 this season: SEC runner-up Sanu Jallow of Arkansas (1:59.37) and ACC champ Gladys Chepngetich of Clemson (1:59.81), but neither made the final indoors. Stanford teammates Roisin Willis (2:01.00 this year to win Pac-12s) and Whittaker (2:01.05 outdoors this year), both have gone sub-2 in the past and both defeated Rose indoors for their respective NCAA titles (Willis in 2023 & Whittaker in 2024). Another athlete flying under the radar is Oklahoma State’s Gabija Galvydyte, who placed second at last year’s outdoor championship and fifth indoors this year. 

This particular race boasts a balance of experience. Six of the top 10 entrants have no individual experience at the NCAA outdoor championship. The remaining four athletes (Rose, Willis, Whittaker, Galvydyte) have placed inside the top two at the NCAA championships at some point in their career. 

Who wins the NCAA women's 800?

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Harper’s Prediction: Rose gets repeat gold.

Women’s 1500: Ramsden vs. the Field

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It has been 357 days since Maia Ramsden emerged from the field to win the NCAA outdoor title over 1500 meters. Since then, she’s been on an absolute tear, winning the NCAA mile title, competing at the World Indoor Championship, and running 4:02.58 pb (#2 in NCAA history). 

Ramsden was sensational at Penn Relays. Phil Bond photo

While her resume makes her the clear favorite in this race, there are several women in line to challenge her for the title. Returning alongside Ramsden from last year’s race are All-Americans Klaudia Kazimierska (4th place), Billah Jepkirui (5th place), and 2023 NCAA mile champ Olivia Howell (8th place). 

Following Ramsden in close order is Florida senior Flomena Asekol, who ran 4:07.10 at the East Regional for second place. Indoors she ran 4:26.47, good for 4th in NCAA history (8th place at NCAA indoors). Perhaps the greatest two threats to Ramsden’s repeat aspirations are Jepkirui and Kimberly May of Providence, who finished 2nd and 3rd to Ramsden indoors. Jepkirui and May are sub-4:28 milers in their own right and will surely be looking to improve on their finishes from indoor nationals. 

One more name to look out for is Melissa Riggins of Georgetown, the junior who finished fourth at NCAA indoors and ran 2:40.67 for 1000m indoors (#3 all-time in the NCAA).

Maia Ramsden has proven time and time again she is the best middle-distance runner in the NCAA but will be forced to run her best race to repeat as the 1500-meter national champion. 

Harper’s Prediction: The year of Maia Ramsden continues.

Who wins the NCAA women's 1500?

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Women’s Steeple: Who’s Gonna Keep Up With Lemngole?

Full List of Entrants / Live Results / NCAA Rankings

The women’s steeplechase will offer one of the most interesting matchups of this national championship. Between Doris Lemngole and Olivia Markezich, we will be treated to a clash of raw talent vs. seasoned championship experience that will be on full display come Saturday. 

Lemngole and Markezich raced each other at Wake Forest back on April 19, and Lemngole won by a massive 14 seconds. She also ran faster at the East Regional (9:28 to 9:35), though they were in separate heats. But does Markezich have more in the tank? last year, Markezich’s best time before NCAAs was just 9:40, but she ran a big pb of 9:25 in the final to take the title. And she actually has the faster pb of the two — she ran 9:17 to finish 4th at USAs last summer.

Despite Lemngole’s dominance this season, Markezich’s championship experience cannot be discounted — she is the defending national champion in this event and boasts 9x All-American honors. 

Greta Karinauskaite, the CBU senior, is in a position to run for the win alongside Lemngole and Markezich. Despite only running 9:37.31 this season, she possesses a personal best of 9:26.88, good for third best in this field and #7 all-time in the NCAA.

Despite running 25 seconds slower than Lemngole and Markezich at regionals, Elise Thorner of Florida will surely look to mix it up at the front in this race. Alongside Lemngole, she is the only other woman to break 9:30 over the barriers this season. 

If recent history tells us anything, it is that this race is not typically close (minus 2021), meaning Markezich and Karinauskaite will be forced to run Lemngole’s race if they hope to challenge her for this title. 

Harper’s Prediction: Lemngole runs away with it early.

Rojo’s Prediction: Lemngole has run 14:40 for 5k on the roads. She is your winner. The only way Markezich wins is if she was purposely holding back in her other steeples, which certainly is a possibility.

Who wins the steeple?

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Women’s 5,000: Valby vs. Olemomoi vs. The Field

Full List of Entrants / Live Results / NCAA Rankings

November 19, 2022, is the last time Parker Valby was defeated in an NCAA title race. Since then, she has set collegiate records in the 5,000 and 10,000 running 14:52.79 and 30:50.43, respectively, and has won four NCAA titles.

For the most part, a double win this weekend seems likely but we’ve seen some of the NCAA’s very best fall short on the big stage. Just last year, Katelyn Tuohy finished seventh in the 1500 outdoors after an indoor championship that saw her claim wins in both the 3,000 and 5,000. 

Valby will be joined up front by Hilda Olemomoi of Alabama, who actually had the fastest time at the East Regional (she won heat 2 in 15:19.57 while Valby won heat 1 in 15:19.76). 

Despite being the only two women in the field with sub-15:10 personal bests, Valby and Olemomoi will be challenged by a field that includes All-Americans Taylor Roe, Samantha Bush, Margot Appleton, and Bailey Hertenstein. Not to mention, Maia Ramsden, who plans to double back from the 1500, which will finish 100 minutes earlier.

Similarly to the women’s steeplechase, the rest of the field will be forced to run Parker Valby’s race if they hope to dethrone her and claim the NCAA title. 

Harper’s Prediction: Valby dominates over the final mile.

Women’s 10,000: Will Anyone Keep Up With Valby?

Full List of Entrants / Live Results / NCAA Rankings

If the 5,000 seems like it will turn out to be a close competition, this one shouldn’t. Parker Valby is the clear-cut favorite, boasting a personal best 1:31 faster than the #2 seed, Hilda Olemomoi of Alabama.

Valby has set a bunch of collegiate records this school year. Her first came in December.

At the Bryan Clay Invitational in April, Valby shattered the 10,000-meter collegiate record, negative splitting a 30:50.43 (15:30 – 15:20) en route to a dominant win. If that wasn’t enough, last weekend at her regional she won the 10k by 9.73 seconds, a gap she formed over the last mile (which she ran in 4:42). 

The race for second place is rather interesting. Alongside Hilda Olemomoi is Grace Hartman of NC State and Chloe Scrimgeour of Georgetown, the third and fourth-place finishers at the East Regional. Notre Dame’s Andrea Markezich, the twin sister of Olivia, comes in with the fourth-fastest time of the season at 32:36.16 and will surely look to mix it up with the front pack in hopes of a top-4 finish. 

All-Americans Taylor Roe (Ok State), Sydney Thorvaldson (Arkansas), and Amaris Tyynismaa (NC State) are entered as well. They will be names to look for toward the front of the race.

Harper’s Prediction: Valby wins BIG.

Rojo’s comments: Will Valby try to hammer it to pick up an Olympic qualifier (30:40) or boost her world ranking into qualifying status? The temps will be a little warm (73) and the wind (6 mph) is out of the north, as it so often is in Eugene. That’s not great as the north side of Hayward Field isn’t blocked by the stands, but 73 may feel cool to someone used to training in Florida. The Olympic Trials 10,000 will be held two hours earlier in the day so this may be her best shot.

Does Parker Valby complete the 5,000/10,000 double?

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Talk about the meet on our messageboard: Official 2024 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Champs – Can Nico Young and Parker Valby complete legendary sesasons?

*Men’s Preview here*5 Things to Watch at 2024 NCAAs: All-Time 1500/5K Matchups, Which Heavy Favorite Will Lose, & Learn These Sprint Names

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