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.
Kale Adams (Adams State)
Adams is a great runner. He was a title contender in the steeplechase in years prior to the 2019 season. He’s a multiple time All-American and last year he finished 44th at the NCAA meet. He finds himself on the "Just Missed" list because of inconsistency. In 2017, Adams finished 3rd at the NCAA Championships in cross country. He was in our contender list during the 2018 season, but he didn’t perform as we expected in the postseason. There’s no doubt in our mind that he can regain that form for the 2019 season, but we’re going to need to see it first before we can move him back into our Top 25.
Afewerki Zeru (UC-Colorado Springs)
Zeru was somewhat of a surprise last year for UCCS, but a pleasant one at that. The sophomore finished 45th at the RMAC Championships and then followed that with a top 25 finish at the South Central Regional Championships, showcasing that he might be best suited for the 10k during the cross country season. He finished just outside of the All-American spots with a 43rd place showing. He’ll be leading the UCCS squad once again in 2019 and with another year of training underneath his belt, Zeru should only get better from here.
Zach Lundberg (Sioux Falls)
Lundberg is more known for being a miler, but at last year’s NCAA Championships, he proved to us that he was more than capable of running the longer distances. The senior finished 50th at last year’s NCAA meet and then followed that up with appearances in Sioux Falls DMR at the Indoor National Championships and then a 1500 meter appearance at Outdoor Nationals. Given the track record of athletes at Sioux Falls, and the amount of success that Lundberg has already had in his career, he should only get better as the season goes on. Sioux Falls is one of those sneaky teams that have the ability to make some noise at this year’s championships and Lundberg is going to be a big reason if they do.
Steven Brown (Sioux Falls)
Sticking with the Sioux Falls theme, Brown was an athlete that we had in our contenders last year and he didn’t perform as well as many expected at the national meet. We didn’t see him after the indoor season, but he likely would have been with teammates Mason Phillips and Zach Lundberg at the outdoor national meet if he had run. He finished 51st at XC Nationals and it was definitely an underperformance. With almost six months of getting ready for the cross country season, we think Brown will improve upon his 51st place finish and help the Sioux Falls team make a bunch of noise in 2019.
Ben Zaremba (Grand Valley State)
Zaremba is one of the dark horses for the upcoming season. He was just a freshman last year and finished 45th at NCAA's which played a pivotal role for Grand Valley's first-ever national team title. He followed that up by running 8:33 for 3000 meters and then 14:36 during the indoor season. After missing out on the national meet for indoors, he proceeded to run 29:54 for 10,000 meters and qualified for the national meet. Zaremba is in the right program with Coach Jerry Baltes who will get the most out of his potential. It would not surprise us one bit if Zaremba became a very strong component who is trying to help the Lakers repeat as champs.