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.
25. Nicholas Turco, Junior, Western Colorado
Turco made his first NCAA XC Championship appearance last fall, where he finished 42nd, just missing out on an All-American spot. After finishing 30th at the South Central region, and not scoring for Western Colorado, he had a very good showing at Nationals, and was a big reason why Western Colorado ended up with a 3rd place team finish. His surprise postseason success and ability to step up in the clutch is a key reason why he was able to make it in our XC Top 25.
On the track, Turco stuck to the 5k and 10k last year, as he did not run another event during either season. He had a decent showing, as he picked up PR's in the 5k during indoors and in the 10k during outdoors.
After securing personal bests on the track and making notable improvements from his freshman to sophomore year during cross country, it's safe to say that Turco is on a path towards even better performances later this fall.
24. Jhavahn Holston, Sophomore, Chico State
Holston only has one season of collegiate running under his belt, but it was a very good one. After sitting out of the West regional meet, Holston finished 40th at NCAA's to capture his first All-American trophy in what may have been a surprise for the avid D2 fans.
Of course, his regular season was still respectable in it's own right. He was part of a clean sweep at UC San Diego before replicating another sweep again the CCAA Championships. A 39th place finish in a quietly strong Santa Clara Bronco Invite meet should not be overlooked.
After redshirting both indoor track and outdoor track earlier this year, Holston will be a part of a Chico State duo that is trying to carry their team into national contention this season. The need for a top low-stick makes us believe that Holston will be motivated to hit a new level of fitness this fall.
23. Wyatt Baxter, Junior, Chico State
The other part of that Chico State duo is Wyatt Baxter. Baxter bested his teammate at NCAA's last year by one spot, finishing 39th overall and claiming his first All-American honor. He was extremely consistent all year, with four top 10 finishes, including an 8th place finish at the West regional and a 1st place finish at the UC San Diego Triton Classic.
Like Holston, we have not seen Baxter race since the cross country season, so he has got to be itching to toe the line once again. With the loss of some important seniors on last year’s roster, he will need to step up this fall if Chico State is expected to contend on the national stage.
22. Karim Achengli, Senior, Northwest Missouri
In his first cross country season running for Northwest Missouri, Achengli captured four top 10 finishes including a 1st place finish at the ESU Homecoming Invitational and a 2nd place finish at the Central Regional Championships. He then claimed his first All-American trophy by finishing 38th at NCAA's. It may go overlooked, but Achengli's consistency makes him one of the most valuable scorers in the NCAA this fall.
Achengli also qualified for his first D2 Indoor National Championships last year in the 5k, just missing out on another All-American spot as he finished 9th. He did not run during outdoors, but we can expect to see a motivated Achengli as he prepares for another All-American performance over the next few months.
21. Brian Patrick, Junior, Northwood (MI)
Patrick made his first appearance at an NCAA XC Championship last year. After finishing 12th at the Midwest Region Championships (with a 10k PR), he finished 36th at NCAA's, picking up his first All-American trophy. It was his 9th place finish at the GLIAC Championships that sparked his phenomenal postseason streak and what was likely what vaulted him into an All-American finish.
With PR's by over a minute in both the 8k and 10k during cross country last year, and after picking up new personal bests in the indoor 3k and 5k, as well as the 10k during outdoors, it is very realistic to think that Patrick could take a big leap this cross country season. It is clear that his progress and momentum is putting him in the right direction towards becoming one of the better distance runners in D2 this fall.