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Schweizer Looks To Defend After Track Wins

by Jeff Hollobaugh

Schweizer Karissa xc previewGiven the dicey nature of cross country prognostication before most of the serious contenders have even raced, it would be silly not to go with a proven winner as our favorite. That's precisely what Karissa Schweizer is, after winning what some people call an NCAA triple crown (XC, Indoors & Outdoors) and then finishing 4th—just 3 seconds away—from a World Championships berth.

The impressive quality of the likely field will guarantee that if Schweizer manages to pull off the repeat, it won't come easy. She will have to get past a host of NCAA titlists in various disciplines, some who boast blistering kicks (Dani Jones comes to mind) and others who are strong and unafraid of leading, such as Anna Rohrer and Allie Ostrander.

The list of names not mentioned in the top 15 features a number of runners with better resumes than many past winners of the coveted title. Stanford brings us the best examples, with a phalanx of national class talent, any one (or more) capable of breaking into the top 10.

So consider this early tabulation a rough sketch of a road map—certainly not a GPS guide to the direction the season will take. (A team preview will follow soon — click here for men’s preview)

1. Karissa Schweizer (Missouri): Defending champion is a senior now. She shocked many with her winning kick last fall but Indoor & Outdoor NCAA titles in the 5000 confirmed her penchant for winning.

2. Allie Ostrander (Boise State): The NCAA steeple champ in 9:41.31 also managed 4th in the 5000 (15:46.18) on the same day. She was sidelined by injury last year, but with a solid summer of training should be ready to challenge for the front.

3. Anna Rohrer (Notre Dame): Third last year after leading for much of the final kilometer, the junior has had a year to plan for a different outcome in Louisville. Produced a 31:58.99 on the track early last spring, but only managed 16th in the NCAA 10K.

4. Dani Jones (Colorado): Only 22nd last year, Jones caught fire indoors, using a stinging kick to win the 3000 and anchor the victorious DMR. Now a junior, she improved her 1500 best to 4:08.42 following a 4th-place 1500 at the NCAAs.

5. Charlotte Taylor (San Francisco): NCAA 10,000 champ in 32:38.57 finished 10th last year. May start season late, as she was still competing in August in the World Champs 10,000.

6. Katie Rainsberger (Oregon): 4th last year as a frosh. Had a solid track season, finishing 3rd at NCAA Indoors in the 3000 and 4th in the Outdoor 1500.

7. Sharon Lokedi (Kansas): The junior from Kenya placed 5th last year. In the spring she took 3rd in the NCAA 10,000 in a PR 32:46.10.

8. Brenna Peloquin (Boise): Junior redshirted last season in outdoor track after placing 6th in Terre Haute. All indications are she's ready to race this fall.

9. Elinor Purrier (New Hampshire): Last year's 7th-placer is now a senior. After mile (4:29.44i) and steeple (9:43.65) PR's on the track, she managed 4th in the NCAA steeple.

10. Alice Wright (New Mexico): Senior should be a factor, with plenty of NCAA experience, finishing 20th-5th-19th over the last three years. On the track she was runner-up in the NCAA 10,000 and ran a PR of 32:29.28 at Stanford.

11. Alyssa Snyder (Utah State): The 4th placer in the outdoor 10K, newly transferred from Montana State, might be ready to make an impact in cross country. She won the Sagebrush Invitational.

12. Tessa Barrett (PennSt): Redshirt junior ran 15:28.99 last winter. The past Foot Locker champ will want to make up for her DNF last year.

13. Nikki Hiltz (Arkansas): The Oregon transfer just missed winning the NCAA 1500 with her runner-up finish by 0.02. She later placed 6th at USATF in a PR 4:20.28. Can she convert that speed to the 6K?

14. Amy-Eloise Neale (Washington): With fresh track PR's of 4:11.00 and 15:39.30, last year's 8th-placer is starting the season strong.

15. Courtney Smith (Stanford): Because of injury, the transfer senior (from Harvard) hasn't raced since last year's 35th at nationals. Has a 10K PR of 32:08.32, so if healthy, could be very dangerous.

Others to watch: Isobel Batt-Doyle (Wa), Peyton Bilo (Cal Poly), Alli Cash (Or), Elise Cranny (Stan), Avery Evenson (Mi), Vanessa Fraser (Stan), Brianna Ilarda (Prov), Weini Kelati (NM), Rachel Koon (NCSt), Nevada Mareno (Stan), Jordann McDermitt (EnMi), Fiona O'Keeffe (Stan), Judy Pendergast (Or), Jamie Phelan (Mi), Katherine Receveur (In), Gina Sereno (Mi), Taylor Werner (Ar).

September 15, 2017

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