Top Distance Runners Square Off At Payton Jordan Invitational


NEW ORLEANS – Standout track & field action gets underway this evening as one of the best distance meets in the nation is finally upon us with the running of Stanford’s Payton Jordan Invitational.

Some of the top collegiate distance runners in the country will head west as the track portion of the meet will get underway at 9 pm ET (6 pm PT) at Cobb Track and Angel Field.

The Payton Jordan Invitational has turned into an internationally renowned competition for elite collegiate, national and international athletes since it was first held back in 1996. The meet has turned into the premiere regular-season distance meet during the outdoor season at the collegiate level along with the ranks of the professionals as the event was created for competing athletes to hit national and international qualifying standards.

To put it lightly, they don’t just let anyone take to the track on Thursday.

Athletes had to hit a standard time in their respective distance event in the past 12 months prior to acceptance into the meet. Even meeting the guideline doesn’t guarantee an athlete acceptance in their race due to demand. 

2019 Payton Jordan Invitational Entry Standards
800 Meters 1:47.75 2:06.00
1500 Meters 3:40.00 4:17.00
Mile (For Consideration) 3:58.00 4:38.00
5000 Meters 13:40.00 15:45.00
3000 Meters (For 5K Consideration) 7:56.00 9:07.00
10000 Meters 28:40.00 33:15.00
3000-Meter Steeple 8:40.00 9:55.00

So with those strong entry standards, what races should you be keeping an eye on as a collegiate track & field fan tonight?

We got you covered with a complete meet preview below.

Women’s 800

Due to some late scratches, the women’s 800 lost a couple top competitors but still features a solid field of college athletes which starts with Susan Ejore of Oregonwho enters the meet ranked third in the nation at 2:03.09. She will be joined in the opening heat by Carolyn Wilson of Stanford(58th overall in the country).

The only collegian going in the second section is Kristie Schoffield from Boise State.

The third heat is filled as five of the eight athletes will be running in college uniform which includes Linnea Saltz of Southern Utah (40th in the nation), Taylor Chiotti of Oregon (41st) and Whittni Orton of BYU (71st).

Women’s 1500

The 1500 is made up of four sections in one of the largest fields of the meet on the women’s side.

The first section opens up with fire as Erica Birk from BYU is the top collegian entering the meet as she sits fourth in the country with a best time of 4:13.57. Gunning for the top collegiate spot with her will be Carina Vilkoen of Arkansas and Jessica Hull of Oregon. Vilkoen is ranked eighth in the nation in the event, while Hull will be making her outdoor debut in the 1500, a race where she captured the NCAA title just a year ago with a blistering 4:08.75.

And don’t sleep on Roisin Flanagan of Adams State who leads NCAA DII with a best mark of 4:16.42 so far this season. She is the lone collegiate in the second section of the race.

The entire third section is all college athletes led by Maddy Reed of Arkansas (currently 45th overall in DI), Allie Schadler of Washington (47th), Lauren Gregory of Arkansas (tied for 54th), Devin Clark of Arkansas (65th), Sharlie Dimick of Southern Utah (77th), Kate Hunter of BYU (84th) and Ella Donaghu of Stanford (87th).

The fourth heat of the event has four college athletes in attendance; Taylor Chiotti of Oregon, Olivia Hoj of BYU, Catherine Pagano of Stanfordand DII’s Stephanie Cotter from Adams State.

Women’s 5000

The 5000 race on brings some of the top collegiate distance runners together in what should be another good one.

The first section of the event might only feature three college athletes but boy did they choose some good ones to lead it off.

The top section will be led by currently national leader Weini Kelati of New Mexico who is the favorite at the college ranks. Joining her in the first heat is teammates Ednah Kurgat (37th in the nation currently) and Isobel Batt-Doyle of Washington who comes in at ninth overall.

The second section is headlined by Carmela Cardama Baez of Oregonwho is 10th in the country and Emily Martin of New Mexico (25th overall). The race also looks to feature some other top athletes at the distance level in Syracuse’s Paige Stoner (second in the nation in the 10000 and seventh in the steeple) and Portland’s Lauren LaRocco (13th in the 10000).

Abbie McNulty and Fiona O’Keeffe of Stanford and Angie Nickerson of Southern Utah round out the second race.

Women’s 10,000

No collegiate athletes competing in the women’s 10,000 this year.

Women’s Steeple

This race might just be the best one of the night at the collegiate level.

Looking to earn qualifying marks in the event are standouts Allie Ostrander of Boise State and Adva Cohen of New Mexico. Ostrander enters the meet tops in the nation in the 10,000 and 10th overall in the 1500, while Cohen is second in the country in the 5000.

The list doesn’t end there as six nationally ranked athletes in the event are competing. They are: Cierra Simmons of Utah State (14th in the country), Emily Hamlin of Washington (15th), Emma Gee (20th) and Maddie Cannon of BYU (21st), Amanda Gehrich of Oregon (30th) and Jordan Oakes of host Stanford (39th).

That is seven of the top-39 athletes in the event in the country as the field is composed of 14 of the 19 college athletes overall.

The event also features some of the best runners at the NCAA Division II level in Eilish Flanagan (Adams State), Julia Howley (Simon Fraser) and Alicja Konieczek (Western Colorado). Flanagan is second in the 5000 and third in the 1500 at the NCAA DII level and Konieczek is fourth in the 1500 and fifth in the 5000. Howley enters as the NCAA DII leader in the steeple, fourth overall in the 5000 and 13th in the 1500. She would currently rank ninth in this event in NCAA DI.

Men’s 800

Half of the field in the only section of the 800 is running in a college uniform.

The entry list is headlined by Southern Utah’s George Espino (16th currently in the nation) along with Michael Wilson of New Mexico (37th).

Stanford’s Isaac CortesNathaniel Kucera and Hari Sathyamurthy will also be competing in front of the home fans in the event.

Men’s 1500

There are four sections in total of the 1500 as the event has 41 athletes currently entered.

The first heat will be headlined by the home favorite in Grant Fisher as he looks to earn a qualifying mark in the event after already being ranked No. 1 in the 5000. His PR coming into the race is 3:41.24.

He will be joined in the opening race by William Paulson of Arizona State, who is currently ranked fourth in the nation at 3:38.35 and George Kusche of Nebraska, who comes in at 13th overall with a best this year of 3:41.35. Other nationally-ranked athletes racing in the first section include Reed Brown of Oregon(29th) and Mick Stanovsek of Washington (40th).

The second heat will feature NCAA DII standout Elias Gedyon from Adams StateCooper Teare of Oregon and Kasey Knevelbaard of Southern Utah(22nd in NCAA DI). Gedyon’s converted time of 3:42.50 leads NCAA DII and would rank 16th at the NCAA DI level.

BYU teammates Talem Franco and Robert Dickson will go head to head in the third heat as they enter the meet ranked 16th and 25th in the nation, respectively.

Men’s 5000

The men’s 5000 will be one of the better races on the men’s side of things as a cross country rivalry brings the heat to the track as two top distance programs meet in the opening section of the event.

BYUbrings to the table Conner Mantz (tops the nation in the 10,000) and Clayton Young (second in the 10,000) as the two go after top times. They will be joined by the Northern Arizonatrio of Tyler Day (fifth at 10,000), Geordie Beamish (seventh in the 1500) and Luis Grijalva (eighth in the 1500) who have the same goal as their Cougar counterparts.

The race will also include Sydney Gidabuday who is one of the best distance runners currently competing at the NCAA DII level.

The second section will feature Portlandteammates in Michael Teran-Solano (88th in the country in the event), Evert Silva and Caleb Webb. It will also include nationally-ranked athletes in James Mwaura of Gonzaga(50th in the nation), Connor Lane of host Stanford (64th) and Jack Davidson of Santa Clara(89th).

Men’s 10,000

The men’s 10,000 is only slightly more filled than that of the women’s but just three college athletes will face off in the only section of the event.

BYUdistance teammates Rory Linkletter (currently 10th overall in the 5000) and Connor McMillan will both look to put up marks to qualify them for the NCAA West Preliminary Round. They will be joined by Benjamin Preisner of Tulsa.

Men’s Steeple

The men’s steeplechase has 10 collegiate athletes entered in the ranks that will race across two sections and rivals that of the women’s race as it will include seven of the top-16 athletes in NCAA DI. 

The opening heat of the event has just one college athlete entered in Obsa Ali of Minnesota. Ali is 26th in the country in the 5000 coming into this one in his only outdoor race of the season. It will be his first steeple event during outdoors. Ali won the NCAA title in the event last year.

The second section is where the college fans will be looking as it is led by the powerhouse group from BYUin Matt Owens (second in the nation), Clayson Shumway (fourth overall), Jacob Heslington (ninth) and Kenneth Rooks (16th). Also toeing the line will be Ryan Smeeton of Oklahoma State (ranked sixth overall), Emmanuel Rotich of Tulane (10th), Noah Schutte of Portland (12th) and Jonny Glen of New Mexico (56th overall).

Adam State’s Jackson Sayler will also look to give it a go against his NCAA DI counterparts.