Five Races That Will Be Especially Close At NCAA Prelims

The Road To Eugene Runs Through Prelims

The race for the top 12 begins this Thursday in Sacramento, California, and Tampa, Florida, as the NCAA's best try to navigate the preliminary rounds and advance to Eugene. The qualifying system is clear-cut and unforgiving, making events with obvious favorites still very intriguing. Here are five of the deepest events that could lead to some intense battles for the 12 qualifying spots.  

Watch The NCAA DI East and West Preliminary Rounds Live On FloTrack

Men's 5000m: West

The sheer depth of the men’s 5000m makes it hard to feel confident narrowing the list down to 12 names. Seed times don’t give as good an indication of the pecking order in the distance races with many athletes running just to qualify throughout the season. This field is filled with athletes who have championship experience and, in some cases, NCAA titles. 

Stanford’s Grant Fisher is the reigning NCAA champion in this event and Andy Trouard of NAU won the 3000m at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March. Jack Bruce of Arkansas was runner-up to Fisher last year and has run 13:28 this year. BYU has four entrants in the field with Clayton Young, Rory Linkletter, Connor McMillan, and Daniel Carney. 

All-Americans Dillon Maggard (Utah State), Cole Rockhold (Colorado State), Colby Gilbert (Washington), and Mike Tate (Southern Utah) should be safely through, but in a field this tough it will take a solid effort. Colorado has two top entrants in Zach Perrin and Ryan Forsyth. Oregon’s Cooper Teare and Northern Arizona’s Luis Grijalva, both freshmen, have proven themselves more than capable of turning in a big performance. 

In short, somebody deserving isn’t going to make the cut.  

Women’s 5000m: West

Like the men’s race, the women’s 5000m in Sacramento is completely loaded, and odds are someone with championship experience will find themselves on the wrong side of the cutoff. Five of the top six women from the 5000m at the NCAA Indoor Championships (and 10 of the top 13 in the 3000m) are in this race.

Karissa Schweizer of Missouri and Allie Ostrander will be racing their second events of the weekend, but they shouldn’t have any issue finding their way into the top 12. The same is true for NCAA cross country champion Ednah Kurgat, Kurgat’s New Mexico teammate Weini Kelati, and Vanessa Fraser of Stanford. 

However, there’s isn’t much margin for error. 

The race also features Amy-Eloise Neale of Washington, Fiona O’Keefe (Stanford), Marie Bouchard (San Francisco), Sharon Lokedi (Kansas), Lilli Burdon (Oregon), and Makena Morley (Colorado). 

Claire Green of Arizona, Kaitlyn Benner of Colorado, Clare O’Brien and Emily Venters of Boise State, Charlotte Taylor of San Francisco, and Erin Clark of Colorado sit 12th through 17th on the seeding—all of whom are capable of grabbing a qualification spot. 

Women's 800m: East

It took 2:07.96 to qualify for the meet, the fastest time required in the nine-year history of the preliminary qualification system. 

That high bar is also accompanied by a parity. The top seed, Heather MacLean of UMass, is 10th on the yearly performance list across the NCAA. Most of the best women’s 800m times have come from out west this season. 

Add in the fact that 2:03 runner Kayla Johnson of Miami is not competing in the meet and Rachel Pocratsky, Danae Rivers, and Jaime Morrissey are all focusing on the 1500m, and suddenly you have a field with a high floor and a low ceiling. 

MacLean’s 2:03.45 is the best of the remaining entrants, but Villanova’s Siofra Cleirigh Buttner might be the one to beat by virtue of her runner-up finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships. 

But this meet is about finishing in the top 12. There it is also jumbled. Five women have seed times in the 2:03s, three in the 2:04s, and 11 in the 2:05s. 

Men’s 110m Hurdles: East 

Grant Holloway of Florida is in a class by himself and should have no issue advancing to Eugene. Three of Holloway’s SEC compatriots—Daniel Roberts (Kentucky), Ruebin Walters (Alabama), and Damion Thomas (LSU)—have all run under 13.40 this season and are also are in good position. That has put a bit of separation between those four and rest of the field. 

The race for the other eight spots is where it gets complicated. Nine hurdlers are clumped between 13.54 and 13.69, including Florida State’s Trey Cunningham and Chad Zallow of Youngstown State. Zallow has finished in the top eight in the last two NCAA Indoor Championships and sits 13th on the seeding. Outside of that group, there are other top hurdlers. ACC champion Angelo Goss of Syracuse has a season best of 13.72 and is ranked 15th entering this meet.  

Women's 100m Hurdles: East 

Much like the men’s race, there are heavy favorites and then a mad scramble for the remaining qualifying spots. Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Kentucky and Devynne Charlton of Purdue are the top two seeds at 12.40 and 12.70. 

The real fun will be sorting out the back end of this race. Georgia super freshman Tara Davis is seeded 12th with a mark of 13.04, but after that it gets very hard to sort things out. Seeds 13 through 19 are separated by just 0.03 seconds. Yes, the top 12 qualify, but how often to hurdle races in championship settings go to plan?

Five Burning Questions For The 2019 World Cross Country Championships


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

The 43rd edition of the IAAF World Cross Country Championships is this Saturday, March 30, in Aarhus, Denmark. A hilly and eclectic 10,000m course awaits the senior men and women, and below I’ve tried my best to answer five of the most pressing questions entering this weekend’s championship races.

Holloway Debuts, Kenny B's Back, Another ASU Star Thrower Emerges

It’s still the early days of the outdoor season, with athletes regrouping from the indoors and slowly trickling into the spring season. This weekend’s action was light, especially compared to next weekend’s trifecta of big meets at Stanford, Florida and Texas, but there were some notable results.

Talented ADP Squad Likes World XC Medal Chances On Tough Aarhus Course


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

When Shadrack Kipchirchir lines up for the 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships on March 30 in Aarhus, Denmark, the 30-year-old American is hoping for the nastiest weather that the Danish city can provide.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Here's Why USATF Honoring World Rankings Would Be A Disaster

Earlier this week we published an opinion stating why it is a good thing for USATF to use time standards as the only means to guarantee a spot on the 2020 U.S. Olympic team. Our main reason was based on the fact that the new world rankings are unfair, but more importantly, the world rankings make the selection process even worse.

CAS Delays Semenya Decision Until Late April

The Court of Arbitration for Sport announced on Thursday that they will push back a ruling in the case involving Caster Semenya until late April. 

House Of Run: Everything To Be Excited About In The Outdoor Season

Jason and Kevin discuss the 42 most interesting storylines heading into the outdoor season. How healthy is Wayde Van Niekerk? Who will be the top women's 1500m runner? Can the Jamaican men win a sprint medal? What will Eliud Kipchoge do for an encore? Will this be the year of the 400m hurdles?

The Best Track And Field Athlete From Every NCAA Tournament School

The 2019 NCAA DI Men’s Basketball Tournament begins this week, and in honor of March Madness we’ve selected the best track and field athlete— past or present— from each of the tournament’s 68 schools (minus Old Dominion, who does not have a track team; get a track team Old Dominion). Some of the names below are NCAA track and field legends from major programs. Others on this list never even qualified for the NCAA Championships. The 68 here ran the gamut, from Olympic heroes to mere school record holders.

Why LetsRun Is Wrong & USATF Is Right About Olympic Qualifying

Last week, the IAAF announced its new qualification process for the 2020 Olympic Games, which included tougher entry standards and new computerized world rankings. The reaction was intense as some media outlets painted an apocalyptic worldview for U.S. athletics. In reality, it’s not that dramatic.

Cal Coach Tony Sandoval To Retire

Tony Sandoval, the director of track and field and cross country at Cal, will retire at the conclusion of the outdoor season. Sandoval spent 37 years at the university, beginning as the head women’s coach in 1982. 

Six Reasons We're Looking Forward To The NCAA Outdoor Track Season

As exciting as 200-meter ovals and banked curves are, we’re ready for the unpredictable weather, sprint relays and 10K races of spring track season. Here’s a few reasons to get excited for NCAA outdoor track and field.