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.
10. Jacob Klemz, Senior, Washburn
Klemz had finished the 2017 season with a 32nd place finish at the D2 National Championships. By the time he had finished 2018, he had put together an impressive season and was looking to finish higher than the previous year...and that is exactly what he did.
After starting the season with a win over a 7000 meter course at the SBU XC Invite, he took home yet another win two weeks later at the Southern Stampede. While there, he took down the likes of Gidieon Kimutai, Steven Brown, and Mason Phillips. He continued his hot streak at the Lewis Crossover where he finished 8th overall before earning a 3rd place finish at the MIAA Cross Country Championships. It was one of the best regular seasons of anyone in Division Two.
He then ran the fastest XC 10k of his career at the Central Regional Championships, running 30:23 and ending up in 6th place overall. Klemz capped off his season off with an excellent 29th place finish at the 2018 national meet. He took that success into the indoor season where he ran a personal best of 14:11 for 5000 meters which eventually yielded a 5th place finish at Nationals, giving him his second All-American honor of the academic calendar.
Although he redshirted the outdoor season, he’ll be prepared for the upcoming cross country season. Klemz will likely be a contender for the entire year and with the individual race being so open this early on, there’s a strong chance we could see Klemz inside the top 10 come NCAA's.
9. Logan Ramlet, Senior, Colorado Mines
We waited a long time to see Ramlet debut in 2018. But the wait was worth it as he immediately impressed and helped change the narrative of the Orediggers season. Ramlet waited until the Pre-Nationals meet in Slippery Rock before racing and when the day was over, he had finished 5th in an 8k PR of 25:17.
After taking conference off, he came back to finish 13th the South Central Regional Championships to help Colorado Mines take home the team title. Two weeks later, and in an even more impressive race, Ramlet finished 15th at the national meet. Albeit, it was not as strong of a finish as his 2017 year, but it still helped propel his team to a runner-up placement.
Ramlet sat out both track seasons in preparation for this 2019 cross country season (at least in all likelihood) as the Orediggers will likely be trying to make another run at the team title. He’s the clear low-stick on this team with the graduation of Josh Hoskinson and the end of Grant Colligan’s cross country eligibility.
8. Tanner Chada, Sophomore, Grand Valley State
Chada may have just been a freshman last year, but he had the biggest impact on any given team. He ran his fastest time for 8000 meters at the Loyola Lakefront Collegiate Invitational where he ran 24:51. By the third meet of the season, Chada was already serving as the number three man on a loaded Lakers’ team behind Zach Panning and Enael Woldemichael.
He finished 4th at the GLIAC Championships and then followed that up with a very good performance at the Midwest Regional Championships where he finished 6th. Both meets ended up with Grand Valley taking home team titles as well.
That brings us to the national meet where Chada placed 21st and was still the number three man for GVSU. For a freshman to step up and stay consistent throughout the season as Chada did says a lot about his ability to perform at the highest level. It's clear that he has tremendous room for growth.
This was showcased once again as Chada qualified for both the indoor and outdoor national meets. He finished 10th in the 5000 during indoor, but showed the rest of the country that he was truly a force to be reckoned with as he finished 3rd at the Outdoor National Championships.
Without a return from Enael Woldemichael, Chada will likely lead the Lakers in their attempt to repeat as team champions in 2019.
7. Anthony Raftis, Senior, Queens (N.C.)
Raftis began the 2018 season on the slower side with championship season clearly at the top of his priorities list. After placing 45th at the Charlotte Opener, 35th at the Royals Challenge (where his fastest 8k time was 25:01), and then 31st at the Pre-Nationals meet in Slippery Rock he finally flipped the needle as November rolled around.
The South Atlantic Conference Championships is where Raftis finally broke out as he placed 5th to help Queens run away with the team title. He then replicated that performance two weeks later at the Southeast Regional Championships by placing 5th once again.
He then improved on that finish once again when Nationals rolled around. He became the lead man for Queens as he finished an incredible 20th place overall. He’ll likely serve that same role during the 2019 season as he’ll look to carry his incredible momentum into the fall months.
However, the Queens standout was more than just a great cross country runner. Raftis set personal bests in the 3000 (8:38), the 5000 (14:25), and the 10,000 (29:52) during the track seasons. It's clear that he has made significant improvements over the past year which is why he has earned the right to be a Top 10 candidate in our rankings.
6. Christian Noble, Senior, Lee (Tenn.)
The fastest man in Division Two last year finds his name at the #6 spot on this list. Let’s take a quick recap of Noble’s season from 2018 where he became a household name.
At the Falcon Classic, he finished 3rd overall in a time of 24:50. Two weeks later he finished 14th at the Louisville Classic running 24:09. Both are great placings and great times, but they paled in comparison to what he would do in the second half of his 2018 season. Two weeks after Louisville is when he ran his monster 8k time of 23:26 at the Royals Challenge where he took home the individual title as well.
Noble later took home the Gulf South Conference title at the beginning of November with a time of 24:51 and then two weeks later proved that he wasn’t just capable of running 8k's, but 10k's as well. He ran 31:19 and took home the South Regional title, making him a legitimate threat for the NCAA's most elite runners. This all leads us to his performance at Nationals where he finished 18th overall and had the greatest improvement from 2017 where he finished 117th.
Noble decided to redshirt the indoor season, but returned for the outdoor season where he ended it as an All-American in the steeplechase. Noble will be a top contender this upcoming cross country season if he isn’t redshirting 2019. If he can refine his speed and endurance into tactical championship races, Noble could put himself in the title conversation later this year...