Updated: Jan 13
Note: Keep in mind that what our writers value for the men's rankings varies from the criteria that we use to rank the women.
20. Emmanuel Roudolff-Levisse, Senior, Portland
At the big meets during the cross country season, Emmanuel Roudolff-Levisse of Portland consistently shows up. He has been a cross country All-American twice, placing 11th in 2017 and 21st in 2018. Roudolff-Levisse has a lot of potential this season to earn a third All-American finish this fall and continue to establish himself as one of the reliable scorers in the NCAA.
The past two seasons, Portland has placed 2nd (2017) and 3rd (2018) as a team, and Roudolff-Levisse’s low-points have helped the Pilots. As the top returner for Portland this cross country season, he will need to bounce back from not qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor Championships to lead the Pilots to Terre Haute. Although he did not qualify, Roudolff-Levisse still ran a nice PR of 28:37 for 10k on the track, proving that he has the raw ability to race with the best in the nation.
Roudolff-Levisse only raced two times last fall before the NCAA XC Championship, finishing 39th at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invite and the 26th at the NCAA West Regional. The Portland men do not race often because Coach Rob Conner puts much more of an emphasis on training than racing, which has clearly worked for his group with All-American and podium finishes.
On a team that loses a ton of top names, Roudolff-Levisse will need to elevate to his elite level of fitness if the Pilots want to stay in the mix on the national stage.
19. Robert Brandt, Rs. Senior, UCLA
UCLA’s Robert Brandt redshirted the 2018 cross country season, but after a strong track season, he will be ready to take to the grass again. Brandt has experience running with the lead pack, as in 2019 alone, Brandt accumulated three All-American honors (indoor 3k and 5k, outdoor 10k) as well as one Second Team All-American honor (outdoor 5k).
In other words, he is a consistent championship performer...well, at least on the track.
Brandt has raced at the NCAA XC Championships three times, twice for California and once for UCLA. At the 2017 championship meet, Brandt finished 88th overall. He had a strong cross country season for UCLA in 2017, finishing 3rd at the Roy Griak Invitational, 7th at Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invite, and the 6th at PAC-12’s.
If Brandt brings back this same momentum and adds in the success he had in track, he should find himself with the top packs at NCAA’s in November. His track 5k PR of 13:36 and 10k PR of 28:55 show that Brandt’s potential is there, he just needs to put it together at Nationals.
18. Geordie Beamish, Senior, Northern Arizona
The first Northern Arizona cross country member to be ranked in the Top 50 is Geordie Beamish. Beamish surprised fans this past indoor season when he took down a star-studded field in the mile at the NCAA Indoor Championships to take home the win. Beamish had only run a PR of 4:06 in the mile, but that did not stop him from winning the title in a shocking upset. He later went on to run a 13:31 5k during the spring, which shows just how extensive his fitness reaches.
Beamish has two All-American cross country finishes in his career. In 2018, he placed 39th at the national meet, but didn't even score for the Lumberjacks. With three of NAU’s top seven graduating, Beamish will once again find himself near the front for the star-studded dynasty later this fall. He is another year stronger and has gained more experience with running at the front which will benefit him over 10,000 meters.
Can the Lumberjacks win back-to-back-to-back-to-back NCAA team titles? If Beamish stays healthy and continues to give them All-American performances, then I don't see why not.
17. Aidan Tooker, Senior, Syracuse
Aidan Tooker of Syracuse will be left without his teammate and training partner Noah Affolder this year after Affolder transferred to Oregon, but that will not slow down Tooker. The Syracuse veteran ran extremely well during the meets leading up to NCAA’s, but then struggles at the championship. In 2017, Tooker finished 109th and in 2018, he dropped to 123rd.
Even so, Tooker displayed great racing strategy and endurance in earlier meets. During the 2018 season, he was consistently placing within the top eight of his races. Tooker was 2nd at the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown, 2nd at the Wisconsin Pre-Nationals (a superb finish), 8th at the ACC Championships, and 6th at NCAA Northeast Regional Championships. These finishes clearly show the potential of Tooker, he just needs to piece everything together at the end of November.
It is hard to gauge where Tooker’s fitness is right now because he has not raced since April, but he did drop a 13:48 5K PR in late March. Unfortunately, an injury sidelined him for most of the spring track season. If he has regained his strength, this cross country season will be one for Tooker to find his groove in Terre Haute.
16. Alek Parsons, Junior, Stanford
Alek Parsons of Stanford tremendously improved in cross country when looking at 2017 and 2018 NCAA XC Championship results. Parsons was 145th place as a freshman, but jumped up 115 places to 30th in 2018.
Parsons was majorly successful in each of his races last fall. He started the season off with a respectable 14th place finish at the University of San Francisco Invite, then finished 3rd at the Stanford Invite. At the bigger meets of the season, Parsons raced to an 11th place finish at Wisconsin Pre-Nationals and the 4th at PAC-12’s, taking down top runners at both meets and establishing himself as a legitimate low-stick.
This past track season went well for Parson as he secured personal bests in the 5k and 10k. Like we already mentioned for previous teammates at Stanford, the coaching change will be an interesting topic to follow as well as how it may impact the rest of the team. Regardless, that shouldn't take away from the fact that Parsons is a top-tier talent.
15. Blaise Ferro, Rs. Junior, Northern Arizona
The third (and final?) Northern Arizona athlete ranked in our Top 50 is Blaise Ferro. Ferro was an All-American in 2018, finishing 26th overall and showing that the CBA high school powerhouse could stay prevalent in the collegiate realm. Ferro was one of the surprise breakout runners for NAU last year who all but solidified title number three for the Lumberjacks.
During the 2019 outdoor track season, Ferro lowered his PR to 28:22 in the 10k, proving that the fitness he picked up from cross country was not just a fluke. But after finishing 8th at Nuttycombe and 18th at Pre-Nats, that is something that we should have already known.
Ferro struggled with injuries early on in his career at NAU, but he has found his groove and is thriving in the thin air of altitude. As NAU looks to repeat their title streak, Ferro will look to add another All-American honor next to his name.
14. Paul Roberts, Senior, Wyoming
Wyoming’s Paul Roberts transitioned well into Division 1 cross country last year 2018 after transferring from CSU-Pueblo. Roberts helped lead the Wyoming men to the NCAA Championships for the first time in 32 years, where they ended up finishing 12th as a team. For Roberts, he placed 20th against the nation’s best and showed that the top talent in D2 can hang with the D1 elites.
However, Roberts did more than just prove that at Nationals. Roberts was 3rd at an underrated Joe Piane Invite where he finished ahead of a handful of talented men from BYU and Notre Dame. He also posted a respectable 12th place finish at Pre-Nationals before silencing the doubters by winning the Mountain West title with a convincing win.
Keep an eye out for Roberts this fall as he will be once again be competing with the nation’s best. Wyoming just promoted their cross country, Scott Dahlberg, to Head Cross Country Coach earlier this summer. Recruiting Roberts to Wyoming and helping him succeed at the national level is likely a reason why Dahlberg was elevated.
13. John Dressel, Rs. Senior, Colorado
John Dressel appeared to be back in top form this past year after sitting out 2017-2018 with an injury. One of the most experienced, consistent, and accomplished distance runners in the country will now be perfectly primed for a breakout 2019 which could see him potentially fight for an NCAA title if everything clicks.
Dressel has been an All-American in cross country three times during his career, finishing 26th (2015), 33rd (2016), and 9th (2018). Last season alone, Dressel never finished outside of the top 20. He has been one of Colorado’s top runners for the past few seasons and that is not going to change in the coming months.
Sticking with the pattern of most years, Colorado will once again be a team to watch come November in Terre Haute. Dressel will play a key role in the outcome because he knows how to handle the big stages of championship racing.
12. Luis Grijalva, Junior, Northern Arizona
Northern Arizona’s Luis Grijalva is back for his third season with the Lumberjacks and he brings with him a plethora of championship experience. In 2018, Grijalva was 23rd overall at the NCAA XC Championship and was the third scoring Lumberjack which led to their third national title in just as many years.
Grijalva has been a member of two championship teams at Northern Arizona so and will look to once again contribute for a potential title number four. In 2018, Grijalva thrived even in the nation's most competitive meets. His 5th place finish at the Nuttycombe Invite was absolutely jaw-dropping and a 15th at Pre-Nationals (Cardinal) was impressive in it's own right.
The rising junior lowered his PR's down to 13:37 in the 5K and ran 3:39 for 1500, times that placed him towards the top of the collegiate leaderboard. After an exciting spring of improvement, Grijalva will likely carry that momentum in the upcoming cross country season.
With Baxter, Day, and Lomong no longer having cross country eligibility, Grijalva will have a chance to shine and prove himself as one of the best distance runners in the NCAA this fall.
11. Oliver Hoare, Senior, Wisconsin
Oliver Hoare, the 2018 BIG 10 cross country runner-up, is back for another season with Wisconsin. Hoare showed tremendous strength when he started the cross country season in last fall. Even though he hardly raced, Hoare placed 15th at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invite and 2nd at the BIG 10 Championships showed the rest of the country that he could be the perfect low-stick complement to Morgan McDonald.
Hoare ended up finishing in 17th place at the 2018 NCAA XC Championship, earning his first cross country All-American honor. With this finish, Hoare established himself as one of the best runners in the NCAA when it came to range. Hoare is Wisconsin’s top returner this fall and will look to lead the Badgers down to Terre Haute come November.
Even though Hoare was not able to win a title in the 1500 or mile during the outdoor or indoor seasons, he still competed with the best and will bring that drive to the cross country season. Another All-American honor is in Hoare’s future later this fall.