WTAG — Rating The 2018 Women’s Recruiting Classes

Top-rated Penn State scored big with the year’s best quartermiler, Alexis Holmes. (VICTOR SAILER/PHOTO RUN)

In assessing the value of a recruiting class we weigh multiple factors, the most important of which is whether or not an athlete is likely to have any kind of immediate impact at the collegiate level. Our ratings take into consideration new U.S. high school pickups, foreign recruits and both JC and 4-year transfers, but do not include earlier recruits coming back from a redshirt or other kind of ineligibility.

In a year where things were especially hard to sort out after non-seniors dominated the girls’ All-America scene, here’s this year’s First 5, with major credentials on the women’s side (with “honorable mention” status and listing of T&FN All-Americas recruited for places 5-10):

1. Penn State

It’s a rare haul for John Gondak as the Nittany Lions score a rare quadrifecta—including 2 No. 1s—of All-America talent: No. 1 quartermiler Alexis Holmes (51.21 HSL for No. 7 on the all-time list, plus 23.46), No. 1 putter Payden Montana (51-0 HSL, plus 164-11), No. 3 hammerer Gianna Rao (189-1) & No. 4 long jumper Breana Gambrell (20-4½/20-8½w). And for good measure, top 20 discus thrower Piper Klinger (160-0) as the Penn Staters make only their second First 5 appearance ever (they were previously No. 4 in ’03).

2. USC

The reigning national champs reloaded strongly with the big catch being Oregon transfer Lauren Rain Williams (11.29/11.17w, 22.51/22.44w), a 3-time T&FN A-A who won World Junior 200 silver last year. Caryl Smith Gilbert also scored a pair of this year’s All-Ams in No. 1 long jumper Lanae-Tava Thomas (21-11½, plus 11.62/11.57w, 23.42) and No. 5 discus thrower Karlee Freeman (173-3, plus 48-6). More sprint help comes from Bailey Lear (23.86/23.74w, 52.73) and Alyssa Brewer brings a 2:06.86 halfmile résumé.

3. Georgia

Denied the national outdoor title by a point in the last event last year, Georgia has added more firepower as the quest for the top spot continues. Petros Kyprianou nabbed a pair of All-Am threats who can threaten to score in more than one event, No. 2 heptathlete/No. 5 quartermiler Sterling Lester (5523 for No. 5 on the all-time list, 52.94A) and No. 4 triple jumper Titiana Marsh (43-5½, also 20-5). Likewise, Imani Carothers (13.72, 19-11¾, 40-3/42-10½w) can be of help in multiple places. Bermudan Sakari Famous is a 5-10½ high jump talent and middle distance credentials of 2:09.19 & 4:46.67 are provided by Anna Marian Block.

4. Oregon

The Ducks suffered some well-publicized transfer-away losses, but nonetheless scored well on the incoming side. The incoming transfer route provided long-distance strength in the form of Isabelle Brauer (33:44.11) and Weronika Pyzik (15:59.00, 32:37.89). They’re joined by a pair of All-Am talents, No. 2 triple jumper Lexi Ellis (42-11/43-6w) and double hurdle A-A Emily Sloan, No. 3 on the straightaway (13.35) and No. 4 in the long version (40.60, 59.73). Rounding things out for Robert Johnson is miler Taylor Chiotti (4:50.46). The Hayward Field crew scores for the sixth straight year. Only UCLA with 8 (1995–02) has ever had a better string.

5. Kentucky

New head Lonnie Greene took over a squad that returned none of its 3 national champions from last year, 2 turning pro and the other transferring away. But the Wildcats are off to a strong start on a rebuild with a pair of All-America pickups. Soccer standout Abby Steiner (11.38, 22.73 for No. 7 on the all-time list) rated as No. 5 in the 100 and No. 3 in the 200, while Masai Russell was No. 2 in the long hurdles (40.16 HSL for No. 4 on the all-time list/57.55, plus 13.93/13.80w). Sprint help will come from Bahamian Devine Parker (11.59, 23.68), and Jaci Bickett is a 13-3½ vaulter.

Honorable Mention

6. Stanford
Caitlin Collier (2:00.85, 4:38.48) was top-rated in the 800 and No. 2 in the mile. She also scored in the 2-lapper as a junior and her PR finds her at No. 4 on the all-time list.

7. Arizona State
Shelby Moran projects as the next Sun Devil multi-threat in the throws, leading both the discus (179-7) and hammer {202-0 for No. 3 all-time) yearly lists and earning A-A spots Nos. 2 & 1.

8. Duke
Javelin leader Dana Baker, at 180-10 No. 3 on the all-time HS list, with all-time performances 5, 6 & 9.

9. Texas
Triple threat Kynnedy Flannel (11.35, 23.18/22.95w, 19-6½/21-0w) was No. 3 in the 100 after achieving All-Am status in the 200 and LJ as a junior.

10. Clemson
The Tigers picked up a double throws threat in Veronica Fraley (49-5½, 175-9), No. 4 in the shot and No. 1 in the discus. □