BOSTON, Mass. – Following an All-American performance at the NCAA Cross Country Championships two weeks ago, Florida State senior Militsa Mircheva joins an elite field chasing an NCAA Indoor Championships 5000-meter qualifying mark at Saturday’s Boston University Season Opener.
A year ago the season-opening indoor race at Boston produced six of the nation’s 16 fastest times. That’s significant because only the top 16 times or marks in each individual event qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Missouri’s Karissa Schweizer and New Mexico’s Ednah Kurgat finished 1-2 in Boston and duplicated that finish at the NCAA Championships; their season-opening times standing as the top two marks nationally throughout the three-month indoor season.
The No. 16 NCAA qualifying in 2018 was 15:46.85; one of the fastest qualifying standards of all time.
Mircheva would like nothing more than to secure her first NCAA Indoor Championships berth on the heels of her 25th-place finish at the cross country championship meet two weeks ago. The Bulgarian is one of 11 NCAA Cross Country All-Americans in the field of 17 entrants, including four top-10 finishers.
Not among that count in the field are the third- and fourth-place finishers from the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championship 5000-meter final; Kansas’ Shawon Lokedi and Georgia’s Jessica Drop.
Mircheva owns a personal-best time of 16:07.12, which she ran in a virtual solo winning effort on the Boston University track at last season’s David Hemery Valentine Invitational. Her time ranks No. 4 in Florida State history, but is only 11th-fastest in Saturday’s race field.
Florida State coach Kelly Phillips is confident that Mircheva can not only post a national qualifying mark, but take down Hannah Walker’s Florida State record of 15:58.15, which she set in 2014. Walker and teammate Pippa Woolven were the last Noles to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships in the 5000, finishing ninth and 13th in 2014.
FSU Hall of Famer Vicky Gill is the only Seminole to score at the NCAA Indoor Championships, placing fourth in 2004.
“Last year [Mircheva] ran 16:07 and ran it by herself,” Phillips said. “She’s way ahead of last year. And coming off the fall, she’s really confident. Last year she didn’t have the confidence she does now. She has a relaxed confidence now…
“If she just keeps her head together, which she has been really good at lately, she should be able to legitimately run 15:40 or better. She’s in that good shape.”
Maintaining composure will be key, especially if race favorites and New Mexico teammates Weini Kelati and Kurgat and Boise State’s Allie Ostrander – second, fifth and sixth at the NCAA Cross Country Championships – make a run at Emily Sisson’s collegiate record (15:12.22).
“The rabbit is going to be so fast,” Phillips said. “It’s just a matter of how people respond to the rabbit… What I suspect will happen is it will be one single-file line. Everyone just gets in line and pounds the laps. If you can do that and just shut your mind off, she’s in a really good place. She’s had some good workouts and she’s excited to run.”
The meet will be streamed by Flotrack, which requires a paid subscription. Mircheva’s race is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. http://live.flotrack.org/#/event/6506-2018-bu-sharon-colyear-danville-season-opener