2018 DI NCAA West Preliminary Round

Top Takeaways From NCAA DI Prelims Entries

Top Takeaways From NCAA DI Prelims Entries

Analysis of the entries for next weekend's NCAA DI East and West Prelims, the first qualifying round for next month's national championships.

May 17, 2018 by Johanna Gretschel
The Road To Eugene Runs Through Prelims

Early entries dropped today for the NCAA DI East and West Prelims, the first qualifying round for next month's NCAA DI Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Check out the West entries here, the East entries here, view the FloTrack rankings here and read on for our top takeaways.

Watch the 2018 NCAA Division I East and West Preliminary Rounds LIVE on FloTrack from May 24-26!

Karissa Schweizer Goes For 10K/5K Double

Missouri's five-time NCAA champion Karissa Schweizer is going for broke in her final NCAA appearance, with aims at sweeping the 10K and 5K titles. She made her career 10K debut at the Stanford Invitational at the end of March with a 32:00.55, third-place finish behind the Bowerman Track Club's Gwen Jorgensen and Carrie Dimoff. That mark makes Schweizer the eighth-fastest woman in Division I history, and leads the NCAA by 15 seconds. 

Watch Karissa Schweizer's debut 10K at the Stanford Invitational:


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If Schweizer were to sweep the 10K and 5K, she would be the fifth woman in NCAA history to do so, and the first since Arkansas' Dominique Scott-Efurd accomplished the feat in 2016. 

The other women to nail the distance double are Iowa State's Lisa Uhl (2010), Wisconsin's Stephanie Herbst (1986) and Arizona's Amy Skieresz, who did it twice in 1997 and 1998.

Karissa Schweizer was ready to eat In-N-Out after her debut 10K:


But The Biggest Threat To Schweizer's Double Is...

Reigning NCAA XC champion Ednah Kurgat of New Mexico, who, despite having a 10K qualifier is opting to focus just on the 5K, meaning she'll be that much fresher than Schweizer for the latter's final NCAA championship race.

Though Kurgat blew by Schweizer—and pretty much everyone else in the NCAA—on the cross country courses last fall, she's actually never defeated her Missouri rival in a track race. Kurgat's season-best is three seconds faster per a 15:20 at Payton Jordan, but Schweizer outran her by two seconds in their respective PR race (15:17 to 15:19) and beat her by a full four seconds in the NCAA indoor 5K

Then again, Schweizer has never had to race Kurgat with a 10K on her legs, and with fellow Lady Lobos Alice Wright and Weini Kelati in the respective 10K and 5K fields, you know they are going to keep the pace honest.

Sydney McLaughlin Chooses The 400m Hurdles

Kentucky's star freshman Sydney McLaughlin has her choice of events, but she is opting to focus on the one that took her to the Olympics in 2016: the 400m hurdles. 

That may have seemed like a no-brainer after she torched the NCAA record last weekend at SECs with a sizzling 52.75, but she has the talent to contend for titles in the 200m (22.39 SB, NCAA #4, East Region #3) and 400m (50.07 SB, NCAA #2, East Region #1)—and possibly even the 100m (11.07 SB, NCAA #11, East Region #8)—as well.

Expect to see her on the 4x4, and possibly on the Wildcats' reigning NCAA champion 4x1 squad.

Michael Norman Picks The Loaded 400m Over 200m

Like McLaughlin, USC sophomore Michael Norman is capable of winning NCAA titles in multiple events but has chosen to focus on the 400m at the NCAA Prelims—which is probably the tougher event this year.

He is the reigning NCAA indoor champion and world indoor record holder at 44.52, but the quarter mile is absolutely loaded with talent this season and, unlike McLaughlin, Norman is far from guaranteed to win. At Prelims, he'll have to race Baylor's Wil London, who has run 44.73 this season and made the world team last year, and at NCAAs, he'll face Auburn's Nathon Allen and Tennessee's Nathan Strother, who ran 44.28 and 44.34 at SECs.

Norman's season-best is 44.40, which ranks No. 3 in the NCAA. His 200m, meanwhile, is 19.84. Only one other guy has broken 20 seconds this season, Andre Ewers of Florida State, who ran 19.98 at ACCs.

He will have one less sub-45 guy to deal with, as his Trojans teammate Rai Benjamin—who has run 44.74 this season—will focus on the 400m hurdles, in which he is ranked No. 1 in the NCAA at 48.46.

Allie Ostrander To Double In Steeplechase/5K Again

Boise State's Allie Ostrander is pursuing the same double as last year, when she won the NCAA steeplechase title and placed fourth in the 5K.

She is the NCAA leader in the steeple, with a career-best run of 9:38.57 from the Stanford Invitational. Only one other woman has run under 9:50 this year, Marie Bouchard of San Francisco, who clocked 9:41.32 to win Payton Jordan, but in a somewhat shocking move, she's opting for the 5K instead of the steeple—meaning no one in the field has run within 10 seconds of Ostrander this year.

Ostrander ranks just No. 17 nationally in the 5K with a season's best of 15:44.11 at the Mountain West Championships, as she fell during her attempt at a fast race at Payton Jordan.

Watch Allie Ostrander run 15:44 vs. Alice Wright at the Mountain West Championships:


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NAU Distance Splits Events

The reigning NCAA XC men's team champions in Northern Arizona have a plethora of riches in the distance events, and it appears as though they are choosing to divide and conquer. NCAA indoor 3K champion Andy Trouard is in the 5K (13:21.07 SB, NCAA #2, West Region #1), along with true freshman Luis Grijalva (13:49.75 SB, NCAA #37, East Region #27), who is also entered in the 1500m (3:41.21 SB, NCAA #18, East Region #14).

Tyler Day and Matthew Baxter will both compete in the 10K, in which they are ranked No. 1 and No. 3 in the NCAA descending order lists (and No. 1 and No. 2 in our hearts) this season, with respective times of 28:04.44 and 28:10.05 from Payton Jordan. Both conceivably could have doubled in the 5K, as they're ranked #17 and #5, respectively, in that event, but will instead put all energy into the first track final of NCAAs.

Ranked No. 3 In Both, Makenzie Dunmore Picks The 400m Over 200m; Lynna Irby Will Double

The 400m-200m double at NCAAs is a particularly tough task, as the finals are scheduled within 40 minutes of each other on the final day of competition. Oregon's Makenzie Dunmore, who has developed into the Ducks' top sprinter this year, is ranked No. 3 in the NCAA in both the 200m and 400m, but has entered only the quarter mile at prelims. Maybe Coach Robert Johnson got some intel that Kentucky was only putting McLaughlin in the hurdles...

But you know who is up to the task? Georgia's Lynna Irby.

The star freshman put together an impressive resume at the NCAA Indoor Championships, where she placed third in the 200m and 400m final behind collegiate-record setting marks.

Outdoors, she ranks No. 1 on the NCAA descending order list in the 200m (22.25 SB) and No. 4 in the 400m (50.95), and she will compete in both events at the East Prelims.

Lilli Burdon Is A 5K Runner After All

Australia native Lilli Burdon was brought into the Oregon program as a 1500m runner, but her prowess for the longer races showed itself when she ran 15:50 for ninth in the NCAA final in her third 5K ever last year. Even after running 15:42 to win the fastest section at the Stanford Invite, the junior told us she still wasn't a 5K runner.


Now, she's scratched from the 1500m and entered in the 5K for prelims, one year after contesting both races in the first round of NCAAs.

Sorry, Lilli...