Jun 23, 2013; Des Moines, IA, USA; Jenny Simpson celebrates after winning the womens 5,000m in 15:33.77 in the 2013 USA Championships at Drake Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sacramento 2014 Power Rankings #1: Preseason Prognostication

(Credit: Tom Liu)

(Credit: Tom Liu)

For the past two seasons, I’ve published a series of power rankings throughout the spring leading up to the U.S. Championships in June. The goal in 2012 and 2013 was to keep track of the favorites to qualify for the Olympics and World Championships, respectively. Though there’s no major championship in 2014, it’s still fun to following who’s hot and who’s not as we head towards Sacramento in late June.

Men’s 800 meters

1. Nick Symmonds
2. Duane Solomon
3. Brandon Johnson
4. Erik Sowinski
5. Mike Rutt
Darkhorse: Robby Andrews
Others: Elijah Greer, Charles Jock, Ryan Martin, Cas Loxsom, Mark Wieczorek

  • Should be interesting to see how Symmonds fares with a dual 800/1500 focus this year. He’s stated his intention to run the 1500 at USA’s.
  • Solomon already opened up with 1:45.17 in Melbourne.
  • Sowinski was easily the top American indoors and look to translate that success to the larger oval.
  • Now under the tutelage of Coach Gags, can Andrews bounce back from a rough 2013?

Women’s 800 meters

1. Brenda Martinez
2. Ajee Wilson
3. Chanelle Price
4. Laura Roesler
5. Phoebe Wright
Darkhorse: Maggie Vessey
Others: Molly Beckwith, Lea Wallace, Kate Grace, Latavia Thomas, Geena Gall, Amy Weissenbach

  • Alysia Montano is out for the season due to pregnancy.
  • With Martinez developing remarkable strength for a middle distance runner (she’s running the 5k at Mt. SAC), is a 800/1500 double possible in 2016? It’ll depend on what the schedule looks like in Rio.
  • Looks for big improvements this year from Price (World Indoor champ) and Roesler (2:01.10 early outdoors).

Men’s 1500 meters

1. Matt Centrowitz
2. Leo Manzano
3. Will Leer
4. Andrew Wheating
5. Garrett Heath
Darkhorse: Mac Fleet
Others: Dave Torrence, Russell Brown, Jordan McNamara, Andy Bayer, Cory Leslie

  • Centrowitz missed the entire indoor season with illness. He’s slated to open up in the 5k at the Oregon Relays this weekend.
  • Manzano finally has a sponsor — Hoka One One. His lack of financial security must have taken a toll on him last year, so a new shoe deal could be what he needed to get back to being the Leo of old.
  • Wheating is now being coached by Mark Rowland and appears to be healthy. As we’ve seen in the past, a healthy Wheating is a dangerous Wheating.
  • It’s interesting to note that the majority of the names listed are veterans — I’m defining that as in their second Olympic cycles as professionals. For reasons I’ve yet to figure out, the NCAA hasn’t produced many top American mile prospects in the last couple of years.

Women’s 1500 meters

1. Jenny Simpson
2. Mary Cain
3. Brenda Martinez
4. Treniere Moser
5. Gabe Grunewald
Darkhorse: Morgan Uceny
Others: Katie Mackey, Sarah Brown, Cory McGee

  • What will #cainsanity bring this outdoor season? I’d love to see her at the World Junior Championships in Eugene, duking it out against the best under-19 (or allegedly under-19) runners East Africa has to offer.
  • Did you know? Mary Cain’s 1500 PR of 4:04.62 was only the seventh-fastest by an American last year.
  • Uceny had a mediocre indoor season after struggling in 2013 but appears to be healthy and had a solid 800 meter outdoor opener at the Florida Relays.
  • Sometimes it takes people a while to learn the new names of newly wedded female athletes. It certainly wasn’t the case for Gabe Grunewald this indoor season.

Men’s 3000 meter steeplechase

1. Evan Jager
2. Dan Huling
3. Cory Leslie
4. Donn Cabral
5. DeSean Turner
Darkhorse: Billy Nelson
Others: Donnie Cowart, Travis Mahoney, Matt Cleaver

  • Jager was sixth at the Olympics and fifth at Worlds last year. Following this progressive trend, he’ll be fourth at the Beijing World Championships next year and third in Rio. Sounds good to me.
  • Leslie has huge upside in the steeple, especially when considering at his 1500 PR of 3:34.93 from last summer.
  • Cabral struggled mightily in his first pro season but has since joined the New Jersey-New York training group under Coach Gags. The Princeton grad had a decent indoor season, though it’s often difficult to judge the merits of steeplers’ indoor performances given the fact every race is in an “off-distance.”

Women’s 3000 meter steeplechase

1. Emma Coburn
2. Bridget Franek
3. Shalaya Kipp
4. Ashley Higginson
5. Nicole Bush
Darkhorse: Colleen Quigley
Other: Jamie Cheever, Stephanie Garcia, Amber Henry, Sara Vaughn

  • Coburn is the clear U.S. #1, but quite a few women are lining up for the spots following her. I count six to eight women as serious contenders for a top three spot at USA’s even with no national team spot up for grabs.

Men’s 5000 meters

1. Bernard Lagat
2. Galen Rupp
3. Lopez Lomong
4. Ryan Hill
5. Ben True
Darkhorse: Evan Jager
Others: Andrew Bumbalough, Hassan Mead

  • Amazingly, Rupp has still beaten Lagat just once in his career — in the 2012 Olympic Trials 5k.
  • Hill popped a super fast 7:34.87 3k indoors and has to be considered at threat in the 5k outdoors. The key for the former NC State harrier will be developing his strength to be able to hang on to the likes of Rupp and Lagat in order to utilize his “ninja kick.”
  • Many might forget about Jager’s 13:02.40 PR from late in the 2013 season. If all goes well, sub-13 could certainly be a target in 2014.

Women’s 5000 meters

1. Kim Conley
2. Molly Huddle
3. Abbey D’Agostino
4. Shannon Rowbury
5. Jordan Hasay
Darkhorse: Marielle Hall
Others: Julia Lucas, Brie Felnagle, Chelsea Reilly, Alisha Williams

  • Huddle and Conley are both prepping for a fast 10k at Payton Jordan. Interestingly, the two took very different approaches this indoor season. Conley sharpened up in the shorter distances, setting a mile personal best of 4:24.54. Huddle opted to run the NYC Half Marathon where she finished in 69:04. Who wins in a 5k? I give Conley the slight edge with better mile speed.
  • D’Agostino seemed to run out of gas at last year’s U.S. Championships after a long collegiate season. Will she have anything left this summer at the conclusion of her senior campaign at Dartmouth?
  • Hall shocked observers for a sub-15:20 clocking at the Stanford Invite. Is she a future star in the making?

Men’s 10,000 meters

1. Galen Rupp
2. Chris Derrick
3. Ben True
4. Diego Estrada
5. Aaron Braun
Darkhorse: Dathan Ritzenhein
Others: Ryan Vail, Bobby Curtis

  • While Derrick has the reputation of getting in done in the clutch, True hasn’t yet had a standout race on the track despite his successes on the cross country course. Perhaps 2014 will be his time.
  • Estrada announced this week that he’d now be competing in the stars and stripes. It’s good news with U.S. depth in the 10k looking scarce in light of guys like Braun and Vail moving up to the marathon.
  • Ritzenhein pulled out of Boston with an injury but has yet to indicate whether track will be an option in 2014.

Women’s 10,000 meters

1. Molly Huddle
2. Kim Conley
3. Jordan Hasay
4. Lisa Uhl
5. Tara Erdmann
Darkhorse: Amy Hastings

  • A totally wide open event. Newcomers Huddle and Conley may well be targeting the 25-lap event for 2016.
  • Fans were hoping for a return of Kara Goucher to the track this year, but she was stricken by a stress fracture and will be sitting out the season.

Tags: Abbey D'agostino Ajee Wilson Andrew Wheating Ben True Bernard Lagat Brenda Martinez Cainsanity Chris Derrick Dathan Ritzenhein Diego Estrada Duane Solomon Emma Coburn Evan Jager Galen Rupp Jenny Simpson Jordan Hasay Kim Conley Leo Manzano Lopez Lomong Mary Cain Matt Centrowitz Molly Huddle Nick Symmonds Sacramento 2014 Shannon Rowbury

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