WEEKEND PREVIEW: Distance Action Heats Up

NEW ORLEANS — It’s officially crunch time as there are now just four weeks left until the 2017 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Any athlete and/or relay team looking to punch his/her or their ticket to College Station, Texas needs to get it done sooner rather than later.

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This weekend is a big opportunity for those athletes who run distance events as we’ll see a litany of loaded meets around the nation including the NYRR Millrose Games, Husky Classic and Iowa State Classic.

Here are a few of those distance races we’re keeping an eye on this weekend.

If you want to know what’s going down when it comes to sprints and field events, check out our preview of the Tyson Invitational.

NYRR Millrose Games

ELITE HEAT SHEETS

Wanamaker Mile

Women’s – 5:27 pm ET | Men’s – 5:50 pm ET

The Wanamaker Mile has long been considered the cornerstone of the NYRR Millrose Games. Collegians routinely receive invites and 2017 is no different.

When Saturday’s races get underway, there will be three collegians in the field — including both NCAA Division I mile champs from last year.

Virginia’s Henry Wynne is the lone collegian in the men’s field. Wynne captured the mile crown last year and debuted at the distance last week at the Scarlet and White Invitational. He is currently 23rd on the NCAA Division I Descending Order List, which leaves him outside the cutoff, but should work his way into the mix here as he’ll be in a talented field that includes the likes of 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy and former Washington standout Izaic Yorks, among others.

The women’s Wanamaker Mile features Oklahoma State’s Kaela Edwards (2016 NCAA champ) and New Hampshire’s Elinor Purrier.

Edwards set a collegiate record earlier this season over 1000 meters (2:40.79), so we know she’s in elite shape. She told Oklahoma State’s website that her goal is to break another collegiate record this weekend — this time in the mile. It currently stands at 4:25.91 and was established by Jenny Barringer in 2009.

Purrier finished 3rd in the mile at NCAAs last year and was an All-American this year in XC. She holds a lifetime PR of 4:29.71 in the mile and should lower it here.

Women’s 3000 Meters

Saturday, 3:50 pm ET

The last time we saw Molly Seidel compete at a distance longer than one mile, it was at the 2016 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships. She just stepped off the track following a commanding seven-second victory in the 3000. That completed the coveted distance double (3000-5000) for the Notre Dame standout.

Seidel is back at it Saturday afternoon as she’ll be the lone collegian in the Elite 3000. She’ll be joined by the likes of Dana Giordano, Shannon Osika and Angel Piccirillo.

There is a strong chance Seidel could end up on the all-time best list if she runs the race of which she is capable. The collegiate record is 8:42.03 — set by Jenny Barringer in 2009 — but 10th on the chart is Vicki Huber’s time of 8:55.29. Of note: Three of the fastest times in collegiate history were set in mid-February back in 2014 and 2015.

Husky Classic

HEAT SHEETS

Women’s Mile

Saturday, 6:30 pm ET

Any event at the Husky Classic could give us a solid preview of what to expect at NCAAs and the women’s mile is no different.

Right now three of the women entered are ranked in the top-16 of the mile. We’ll see Penn State’s Danae Rivers (No. 2) battle Arkansas’ Nikki Hiltz (No. 7) and Oregon’s Lilli Budron (No. 16), who had a hand in her team’s DMR record last month.

There is a strong chance we’ll see a few more qualifiers for NCAAs after this race.

Men’s Mile

Saturday, 5:45 pm ET

If you want to run fast in the mile, the Husky Classic is your chance. Last year we saw Sean McGorty and Izaic Yorks two of the fastest times in collegiate history.

This year the field is stacked with a trio of professionals (Evan Jager, Lopez Lomong, Jordan McNamara) as well as several quick collegians, namely Oregon’s Edward Cheserek and Matthew Maton, Colorado State’s Cole Rockhold (No. 4 in the NCAA right now) and Oklahoma State’s Joshua Thompson (No. 18 USTFCCCA Individual Rankings).

You’ll also see the best in NCAA Division II square off in Section 5 as Adams State sends Oliver Aitchison and Sydney Gidabuday up against Oklahoma State’s Craig Nowak as well as Montana State’s Diego Leon (11th on the Descending Order List).

Women’s 3000 Meters

Saturday, 7:40 pm ET

The Who’s Who will be in this race.

We’ll name them. You tell us when enough is enough.

Elise Cranny. Katie Rainsberger. Calli Thackery. Samantha Nadel. Claire Green. Erin Clark. Bethan Knights. Kaitlyn Benner. Vanessa Fraser. Dani Jones. Taylor Werner.

Six of those women were XC All-Americans in 2016 (Rainsberger, Werner, Nadel, Jones, Benner and Thackery) and five of those women listed above competed in this event last year at NCAAs (Clark, Thackery, Benner, Knights and Fraser).

Green is currently ranked 4th in the nation over 3000 meters with a time of 9:07.21 that she ran last week at the Armory Track Invitational.

Women’s 5000 Meters

Saturday, 8:25 pm ET

Just when you thought nothing could top the 3000, the 5000 came along.

Chelsea Blaase. Alice Wright. Tessa Barrett. Charlotte Taylor. Brenna Peloquin. Regan Rome. Lauren LaRocco. Alli Cash. Maggie Schmaedick. Jillian Forsey. Jillian Hunsberger.

Those are six major players in the 2016 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships if you’re counting All-Americans (Peloquin, Taylor, Cash, Wright, LaRocco and Hunsberger), three others who have mixed it up in the past (Barrett, Rome and Forsey) and one (Schmaedick) whose final kick secured her team the NCAA title.

They’re running on the track, though, but they’re accomplished on the galvanized rubber as well. Blaase finished 3rd at NCAAs last year indoors. Barrett took 11th. Outdoors, Cash was 5th, LaRocco 6th, Rome 7th, Peloquin 8th, Blaase 10th.

Men’s 5000 Meters

Saturday, 8:45 pm ET

Expect to see a bunch of NCAA qualifying marks out of Section 3.

Two-time NCAA champ Edward Cheserek is the headliner here, but he’ll be challenged by a strong contingent of athletes trying to prove their might as well.

Cheserek will be joined by the likes of Colby Gilbert, Erik Peterson, Jerrell Mock, John Dressel and Alex Short. Gilbert already has a fast time to his name (No. 1 in the nation at 3000), while Dressel and Short were All-Americans in XC. Mock is 6th on the USTFCCCA Individual Rankings in this event with is time of 13:46.22 from last year.

Iowa State Classic

HEAT SHEETS

Men’s 3000 Meters

Friday, 9 pm ET

Justyn Knight versus Grant Fisher.

Need we say more?

If we do, how about these names: Aaron Baumgarten, Jack Bruce, Scott Carpenter, Dylan LaFond, Jack Keelan, Adam Palamar, Marc Scott, William Sheeran and Sean Tobin.

No matter how you slice it, this is a loaded race headlined by Knight and Fisher, who were 2nd and 5th at the 2016 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. Knight owns a lifetime best of 7:48.71 in this event, which he set last year at this very meet.

Scott is currently the NCAA leader over 5000 meters with a time he ran way back in December at the Hoosier Open and will look to double qualify for NCAAs.

Palamar and Sheeran already have top-16 times in the mile — 3:57.39 (6th) and 3:59.15 (12th), respectively — so look for them to stretch the legs a bit here.

Baumgarten is currently 10th in the Descending Order List in the 3000 and has a great chance to solidify his spot at NCAAs.

Women’s 3000 Meters

Friday, 8:45 pm ET

The big name here is Missouri’s Karissa Schweizer, who was the surprise winner at the 2016 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in November. Schweizer kicked past a slew of top runners to capture the crown.

So far this indoor season, Schweizer ran strong times in the 5000 (1st NCAA, 15:37.40) and mile (5th NCAA, 4:35.61), but has yet to contest the 3000. Schweizer last ran a 3000 at the SEC Indoor Championships last February and set her PR (9:17.48) at the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational last year.

Look for NC State’s Ryen Frazier, Iowa State’s Erin Hooker and Baylor’s Maggie Montoya (9:08.91 PR) to push the pace with her.

Men’s 5000 Meters

Friday, 7:55 pm ET

Some heavy hitters from NCAA XC will be in this event as MJ Erb (6th), Nicolas Montanez (9th), Matthew Baxter (11th), Colin Bennie (17th), Joel Reichow (20th), Tyler Day (23rd), Malachy Schrobilgen (25th), Rory Linkletter (32nd) and Amon Terer (35th) are all in action — but not in the same heat.

You also want to keep a close eye on Ian LaMere, who runs for NCAA Division III UW-Platteville. LaMere ran away with the NCAA DIII XC title the past two years and showed why he could be a force to reckon with here after his performance at the Stanford Invitational 10K last year. The then-junior ran a NCAA DIII record 28:38.63 to beat a strong field comprised of mainly NCAA DI athletes. Needless to say, the NCAA DIII Indoor 5000 standard of 13:53.17 set by Dan Mayer in 1994 could very well be in danger and LaMere could continue to show he’s among the best in the nation, regardless of division.