Probable Top Five:
SR Charlotte Taylor (15:28 5K; 32:11 10K; 1st at '16 NCAA Outdoor 10K; 27th at '17 IAAF Worlds 10K; 10th at '16 NCAA XC)
SR Liz Bird (4:39 Mile; 9:18 3K; 16:49 5K; 58th at '15 NCAA XC)
JR Weronika Pyzik (9:32 3K; 15:59 5K; 87th at '16 NCAA XC)
SO Marie Bouchard (9:23 3K; 9:45 3K SC; 135th at '16 NCAA XC)
SO Isabelle Brauer (9:47 3K; 16:27 5K; 33:44 10K; 99th at '16 NCAA XC)
Liz Bird via Princeton (4:39 Mile; 9:18 3K; 16:49 5K; 58th at '15 NCAA XC)
Valerie Almanza via Oxnard, CA (10:30 3200; 17:40 5K XC; 6th at '16 CA State XC)
Lea Meyer via Germany (4:25 1500; 9:33 3K; 16:51 5K)
Ellie Wallace via Great Britain (4:32 1500; 9:51 3K)
Led by head coach Helen Lehman-Winters in her 15th year, the San Francisco Dons have a great chance to repeat their 2016 top-10 showing with potentially two All-American placings.
When thinking of the Dons, there's one woman who should stand clear ahead of the rest. Charlotte Taylor broke on to the scene last year in placing 10th at NCAA XC and winning the NCAA 10K, and she'll be back with a vengeance to again be the low stick for USF. Her national 10K championship should speak for itself, but it's far from the only accomplishment she's achieved in the last year, including nice 15:29 and 32:11 PRs as well as a 27th-place showing at the IAAF World Championships 10K a month ago, representing Great Britain.
The other woman that could be a huge contributor is Liz Bird, who is tranferring from Princeton for her final season of XC eligibility. Bird has enjoyed years of dominance in the Ivy League scene, including three conference track titles and the coveted Heps XC crown during her last fall season in 2015. She finished 58th at NCAAs that year, and will have an opportunity to improve upon that to net an All-American finish behind Taylor this year.
The three women behind that duo will be the most important in securing a high team placing for the Dons. Tops among them on the form chart is Weronika Pyzik, who is coming off her first ever sub-16 5K clocking at Stanford this outdoor season along with a 9:32 3K indoors. But another potential challenger for that No. 3 spot is Isabelle Brauer, who unlike Pyzik has shown 10K strength with her 33:44 PB last spring. (Though, for what it's worth, Pyzik won her season-opener at the USF Invitational last weekend, two seconds ahead of Brauer in second.)
The final top-five threat is Marie Bouchard of France, who holds an impressive 9:45 3K steeplechase PB (and 9:27 flat best) from 2016 but has struggled to capitalize on that strength in NCAA XC, finishing 135th at nationals last year. She'll be looking to make a big jump in 2017, and she could be the third woman in the mix for that third scoring spot.
With the guidance of an experienced coach, USF has a final opportunity to do something special at NCAAs. With their projected top two runners using their last seasons of eligibility and most other runners coming off lifetime PBs in the spring, the Dons look set to capitalize on their fitness to match their top-10 showing from last year.
FULL WOMEN'S RANKINGS HERE