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.
30. Tibebu Proctor, Junior, Washington
Washington improved tremendously last year after Coach Andy Powell moved from Oregon to Seattle. In the fall of 2018, Washington finished 6th at the NCAA XC Championships and will look to improve on that performance come November. A runner who played a key role in Washington’s success in 2018 was Tibebu Proctor as he was an All-American last year, placing 38th overall and finishing as the second Husky for the Seattle-based squad.
As a true freshman in 2017, Proctor showed potential for improvement and he made a massive leap when the 2018 season rolled around. Leading up to his All-American finish last cross-country season, Proctor secured an 11th place finish at the Battle of Beantown before having a breakout performance in the Pre-Nats White race where he finished 6th overall. In the final moments of that race, Proctor was battling with BYU's Conner Mantz for the overall win before falling victim to a barrage of kick.
Proctor then followed up that performance with a 14th place finish in a deep PAC-12 Championship race before cruising through the West Regional Championships in an effort to preserve himself for Nationals. As it turns out, that was a good idea considering he finished as an All-American.
Admittedly, the indoor and outdoor track seasons for Proctor were not as impressive as his cross country season. However, Proctor did drop his PR's to 14:02 and 28:54 for the 5k and 10k, respectively.
With a full year of Coach Powell’s training under him, one can fully expect that Proctor will find himself higher up than 38th place by the end of the season at NCAA’s. He will be one of the big names that Washington can expect to lean on as they pursue their first national title.
29. Thomas Ratcliffe, Rs. Junior, Stanford
Stanford’s Thomas Ratcliffe was a surprise 3rd place finisher in the 5000 meter earlier this year at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. When you pair that with his incredible personal best of 13:32 (which was also run this past spring), it's clear that he's worthy of being among the NCAA's most elite distance runners.
Ratcliffe has caught the injury bug a few times during his career at Stanford, but as long as he keeps this momentum going, he could find himself well within All-American placing during the 2019 XC season.
Ratcliffe raced only once during the 2018 cross country season at the University of San Francisco Invitational, finishing 11th. However, in 2017, Ratcliffe finished 8th at the PAC-12 Cross Country Championships. It is hard to determine how he will perform in a full cross country season because he hasn't finished one yet, but breakout season just a few months ago is a very encouraging sign.
It will be interesting to see what happens at Stanford with the new coaching change, but if Ratcliffe can stay healthy under new coaching, things will likely go well. Ratcliffe’s presence back in the line-up will be helpful if Stanford wants to place high as a team. If he stays healthy, the Cardinal could be in the hunt to win a national title.
28. Casey Comber, Rs. Senior, Villanova
Most recently, Casey Comber of Villanova has been tearing up the track in the mile and 1500 distances, but he is still a major threat in the BIG East during the cross country season. He is likely one of the better distance runners that the east coast has to offer.
Comber racked up three All-American finishes in 2018-2019: 34th (XC), 2nd (indoor mile), and 8th (outdoor 1500). With these three accomplishments last year, Comber will be riding a high heading into the 2019 XC season with hopes to place even higher at NCAA’s. It's clear that his fitness has reached a new echelon that can allow him to consistently compete at the national level.
Last fall, Comber placed 35th in the prestigious Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational. While that performance didn't necessarily turn any heads, it wasn't necessarily an issue. Comber was clearly looking to peak in the postseason...and he did just that. He followed his Nuttycombe showing with two back-to-back wins at the BIG East XC Championships and the NCAA Mid-Atlantic XC Regional Championships. The eventually led to the aforementioned All-American finish that he secured in Madison.
Comber will once again look to be an All-American and show his NCAA contenders that a middle-distance guy can run the 10k with poise. He will have the lead role in helping Villanova get back to the national meet in order for them to improve upon their 23rd place finish from last year.
27. Andrew Jordan, Senior, Washington
Andrew Jordan is transferring from Iowa State to Washington this fall and when you consider his accolades, it seems fair to suggest that he will make an immediate, high-level impact for the Huskies.
At Iowa State, Jordan was an XC All-American in 2017 as he finished 15th in what was hands-down the greatest race of his career. However, the success he had two years ago was absent in 2018. Last fall, Jordan raced to a 31st place finish at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invite. Later, he was 5th at the BIG 12 Championships and 6th at the Midwest Regional Championship.
Jordan struggled a bit at NCAA’s, finishing 46th overall and just missing out on All-American status. Even though 46th place against the nation’s best runners is not bad, Jordan’s performances earlier in his career showed that he could compete for a top 30 finish.
In Jordan's defense, it doesn't help that he was rumored to be battling injuries in the most recent portions of his collegiate running career. If he can train and race at full health later this fall, he will almost certainly return to the elite level we once saw him at.
Arriving in Seattle this fall will be a great move for Jordan because the Huskies are building a strong program with Coach Andy Powell. Last year’s Washington team finished 6th at NCAA’s and I fully expect Jordan to help the Huskies seek a podium finish (or more) in 2019.
26. Ben Veatch, Rs. Junior, Indiana
Indiana’s Ben Veatch redshirted the 2018 cross country season, but returned for indoor and outdoor track where he qualified for NCAA’s in the 5k (indoor) and 10k (outdoor). Veatch has only raced at the NCAA XC Championships once which dates back to 2017 where he placed 87th overall. Needless to say, Veatch has plenty to prove this season.
As a sophomore, Veatch was one of the better BIG 10 runners in the country. The 2017 season saw the Indiana star earn finishes of 6th at the Battle of Beantown and then 28th at a Nuttycombe Invite meet that was arguably deeper than what we saw in 2018. Veatch would go on to secure back-to-back finishes at the BIG 10 and Great Lakes Championships before heading into the national meet.
If Veatch can stay healthy, he has shown he has the talent to compete with the best in the NCAA. Veatch has PR's of 13:40 in the 5k and 28:57 in the 10k and already has earned All-American status. His raw talent makes him an exciting talent with a ton of potential. Frankly, placing him at #26 may be undervaluing him.
The Hoosiers will need Veatch to have a solid season if they want to contend for the BIG 10 title and potentially threaten for a top 10 finish at Nationals. Indiana finished 18th last year as a team, but they have an extremely promising young core as well as a veteran leader in Kyle Mau. Adding Veatch back into the mix could be what gets them over the hump.
25. Jaret Carpenter, Senior, Purdue
One of the most pleasant surprises of the 2018 cross country season was seeing the Purdue Boilermakers breakout in a big way. There are numerous reasons for that, but having Carpenter emerge as one of the best distance runners in the country was what really gave them a boost.
In 2018, Carpenter put his BIG 10 competition on notice with a strong 16th place finish at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invite, followed by a respectable 9th place finish at the Wisconsin Pre-Nationals White race.
Carpenter carried that momentum in the postseason, earning a strong 5th place finish at BIG 10's as well as the overall win at the Great Lakes Regional Championships. These were great finishes for Carpenter, but they didn't translate to the national meet. The Purdue ace, along with the rest of his teammates, struggled at NCAA's as he finished 119th overall.
Carpenter is one of the better distance runners in the NCAA when it comes to the regular season, but he hasn't been able to run his best in championship races. He has qualified for the NCAA XC Championships twice, but has finished outside of the top 100 in both appearances.
Luckily, Carpenter sitll had plenty of success earlier this spring, running a nice PR of 13:43 in the 5k and qualifying for Outdoor Nationals.
It is clear that Carpenter is just as talented as anyone else in this tier. His top-ranked personal bests and consistently strong performances at large invitationals makes him plenty worthy of a Top 30 ranking. Admittedly, most of how we gauge Carpenter in these rankings will come down to how he performs at Nationals. Regardless, he'll be someone who we are keeping on our radar over the next few months.
24. Gilbert Boit, Senior, Arkansas
Arkansas’ Gilbert Boit bounced back well during track after a disappointing finish to his cross country season where he finished 127th at the NCAA XC Championship. Prior to that national meet, Boit upset Alabama's Alfred Chelanga and took home the SEC title before placing 5th at the South Central Regional Championships. He also posted a quietly impressive 4th place finish at the Penn State Open behind top-tier talents such as James Sugira, Peter Seufer, and now-graduated teammate Cameron Griffith.
After his cross country season, Boit then took to the track and finished 9th in the 10k at the NCAA Outdoor Championships - one spot out of All-American honors. The Arkansas ace owns PR's of 13:37 for 5k and 28:25 for 10k, making him one of the best pure long distance runners in the NCAA.
The return of Alabama's Gilbert Kigen and Vincent Kiprop makes the SEC a bit more complicated, but Boit will most definitely have a strong chance to defend his conference title. He is one of the few standout stars capable of hanging with the elite Crimson Tide duo.
23. Ashenafi Hatte, Senior, Oklahoma State
Ashenafi Hatte saw notable success in his first year of competing at the Division One level for Oklahoma State. The transfer from Iowa Central CC had an immediate impact for the Cowboys and thrived in his transition when toeing the line against elite competition.
In 2018, Hatte started the season off strong by earning a huge 13th place finish at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational. He would later carry that momentum into the rest of the season as he went on to win the Arturo Barrios Invitational at Texas A&M before securing a 3rd place finish at the BIG 12 Championships. Hatte’s 5th place showing at the Midwest Regional Championships helped the Cowboy’s qualify for NCAA's as an at-large bid. With Isai Rodriguez upfront and Hatte not far behind, the Cowboy’s pulled off a 13th place finish thanks to a wildly impressive 27th place finish to earn All-American honors.
Currently, it is hard to gauge whether or not Hatte is healthy. He did not compete during the indoor and outdoor track seasons, although star teammate Isai Rodriguez didn't run during outdoors either.
Regardless, it is clear that Hatte is not only a consistent scorer, but a clear top contender in the nation who thrives on the biggest stages. He never had a poor performance in 2018 and with a year of experience at the D1 level now under his belt, expect Hatte to make some serious noise later this fall.
22. Clayson Shumway, Rs. Junior, BYU
Clayson Shumway of BYU is one of the top returners for the Cougars this fall after Rory Linkletter, Connor McMillan, and Clayton Young graduated. He will be heavily relied upon this fall as his team looks to show that they can still compete at a high-level even without many of their established stars.
In 2018, Shumway finished inside the top 10 at every meet he competed in leading up to Mountain Regional Championships. He won the BYU Autumn Classic, was 6th at the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invite, 5th at the Wisconsin Pre-Nationals (White), and 8th at the West Coast Conference Championship. That consistency, mixed with the fact that he could be an elite low-stick at a competitive meet like Pre-Nats, made Shumway one of the most valuable scorers in the country.
In a stacked Mountain Regional Championship where team qualifying was likely the major focus, Shumway walked away with a 15th place finish and with the Cougars securing an automatic bid to Nationals. He would later go on to earn All-American honors with a 32nd place finish, a result that surprised no one.
The steeplechase is Shumway’s main event on the track and the success he had this past spring will be a good confidence booster heading into the fall. His personal best of 8:36 is encouraging, as is his 28:36 10k PR.
Shumway brings a little bit of everything to the table. A consistent low-stick with experience (and success) at championship meets should not be overlooked.
21. Steven Fahy, Rs. Senior, Stanford
Stanford’s Steven Fahy had an excellent end to his 2019 outdoor track season when he won the 3k steeplechase national title in a dramatic, almost comical, finish. Being a national champion will likely give Fahy some extra confidence as he turns his attention to the cross country course where he will finish up his eligibility.
Fahy hasn’t raced a full cross country season since 2017 after sustaining a season-ending injury in the early fall of 2018. However, what we saw from him two years ago makes us excited about his potential for the 2019 season.
Admittedly, Fahy's 2017 regular season was uneventful. After finishing 19th at the Dellinger Invite (which was likely a rust-buster for him), Fahy went on to earn an underwhelming 65th place finish at the Nuttycombe Invite.
However, Fahy turned it all around in the postseason, securing back-to-back 3rd place finishes at the PAC-12 and West Regional Championships. The Stanford veteran would go on to have a monster 17th place finish at the 2017 XC National Championships, establishing himself as one of the top returners in the country for 2018.
Just like teammate Thomas Ratcliffe, Fahy's health will be something to watch this season. Luckily, as far as we know, Fahy doesn't have the injury history that Ratcliffe does and his national title from just a few months ago tells us that he'll be at 100% by the time October and November roll around.