2023 BU Sharon Colyear-Danville Season Opener

NCAA Champions Parker Valby, Graham Blanks Headline BU Season Opener Fields

NCAA Champions Parker Valby, Graham Blanks Headline BU Season Opener Fields

At Boston University, recent NCAA champions Parker Valby and Graham Blanks headline the distance races at the Sharon Colyear-Danville Season Opener.

Dec 1, 2023 by Maxx Bradley
NCAA Champions Parker Valby, Graham Blanks Headline BU Season Opener Fields

It feels like it wasn't even two weeks ago that we saw the collegiate cross country season come to and end at the NCAA Championships in Charlottesville, VA. 

Well, that's because it was in fact just 13 days ago where the nation's top distance runners squared off on the grass, and a lot of familiar faces are running it back on the indoor oval at Boston University this Saturday.

As it has for years, the Sharon Colyear-Danville Season Opener has given us distance fans one more blast of serotonin before we take brief hiatus for the holiday season. This weekend will be no different, as 29 All-American men and 26 All-American women are slated to take on the 5000m, 3000m or Mile at BU.

Here are are the key storylines to watch across all three distances.

Pair Of National Champions Headline 5000m Fields

Not even two weeks removed from becoming the first-ever Ivy League man to win a national title on the grass, Harvard's Graham Blanks leads the charge in the 5000m at the historically fast BU track. 

Blanks is no stranger to the indoor track at Boston University, as he finished 11th a year ago in 13:18.45, his lifetime best. However, this time around, Blanks is rolling into the meet following an undefeated cross country season, consisting of wins at Nuttycombe, regionals and, of course, the national title. Although Blanks has nearly all of the momentum on his side, there are 25 others recently-crowned All-Americans joining him on the start line, with 13 of them finishing in the top 20.

Some other names to keep an eye out for include NCAA runner-up Habtom Samuel of New Mexico, the reigning outdoor 5k/10 national champion, and Stanford's Ky Robinson, both of whom have ran sub-13:15. Overall, there are 44 men who have ran under 13:30, and 14 who have clocked 13:20 or faster.

On the women's side, distance phenom Parker Valby of Florida is looking to keep her winning ways. Coming into the race, Valby (15:20)  owns the second-fastest PR among collegians, trailing only Hilda Olemomoi (15:17) of Alabama. To this day, no collegian has ever broken 15:00, and only two have ever ran quicker than 15:10. Most recently, North Carolina State's Katelyn Tuohy ran 15:03 in May. If any two women have the best shot at joining Tuohy and NCAA record holder Jenny Simpson (formerly Barringer), it's these two. 

They'll both have a plenty of competition to work with on Saturday, including six All-American women from the NCAA championships last month, and nine professionals who have ran under 15:30.

Drew Bosley and Nico Young Opting For 3000m

While the bulk of top distance runners are opting for 25 laps around the track, three NAU All-Americans would prefer 15, and are taking a shot at a fast 3k instead.

This distance won't have as much firepower throughout the entries, but there are a few names up front who will most likely dictate the heat's outcome, two of those being NAU superstars Drew Bosley and Nico Young, who most recently finished 5th and 6th at Panorama Farms. Bosley and Young are two of the best at the distance, with Bosley owning a PR of 7:36, the current NCAA record, and Young having run 7:51. All-in-all, ten total entrants have ran quicker than 7:50, with a whopping 32 under 8:00.

One of the best Fighting Irish women in recent memory, Notre Dame senior Olivia Markezich enters the 3k field as the top dog, with her 8:50 PR being the fastest of the 146 entrants. As far as collegians go, Georgetown's Melissa Riggins and Florida's Flomena Asekol have the next two best PR's, 8:52.0 and 8:52.2 respectively. Adidas professional and Brigham Young alum Anna Camp Bennett will be one of many women up front, as she is making a jump up in distance from her typical 1500m distance.

15 Sub-4:40 Women, 6 Sub-4 Men Take On Mile

Only one All-American from the 2023 cross country championships on either side is running the mile this weekend, with Clemson's Gladys Chepngetich taking up that slot. With a 4:35 PR, the Tiger freshman is the fifth-fastest entrant, behind Oregon's Klaudia Kazimierska (4:31), Gabija Galvydyte (4:32) from Oklahoma State, Angelina Napolean (4:33) of North Carolina State and Florida's Elise Thorner (4:34). With 30 women under 4:50, it's sure to be a quick one.

On the men's side, six men On's Sam Ellis (3:53) is the fastest of the six men with bests under 4:00, followed by a trio of collegians, with Oregon's Elliott Cook (3:55) and Tomas Palfrey (3:57), and Aidan McCarthy (3:56) of Cal Poly. Last year, there were zero sub-four performances, but with an elite field, surely there will be a couple.

You can find all of the meet information for Saturday's competition here, and all entries here. Additionally, you can find the full schedule here. The first race of the day goes off at 10:00am, with the bulk of 5k heats starting at 4:25pm (women) and 6:25pm (men).