Updated: Jan 13
Recruit rankings data has been manually collected by TSR contributors from multiple, reliable sources. Transfers and foreign recruits who are not expected to have four years of eligibility are excluded from these rankings. Order of rankings was decided by all TSR contributors.
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The initial publication of this article erroneously omitted Joshua Zelek, Sebastian Fischer, and Duncan Miller. We have since updated the article to include these recruits.
With cross country season still months away, the summer is often a dead period for collegiate running news. Luckily, you read TSR, so your summer is probably a little bit better than everyone else's. For us, recruiting is a fun topic because it allows us to identify the potential of certain rosters as new athletes attempt to go from hopeful recruits to valuable contributors.
Coming in at the #9 spot on the men’s side is the Princeton Tigers who bring together a very solid recruiting class with the potential to produce substantial results in the ensuing seasons. Although some of them won’t be expected to score in their first year, all of these incoming freshmen should have a key role in Princeton’s overall success come 2020 and 2021.
The first big name recruit for the defending Ivy League and Mid-Atlantic Region champions has to be Jack Stanley. The West Morris Mendham High Scool (NJ) product capped off his senior track season with times of 9:05 for 3200 meters and 1:54 for 800 meters. Additionally, he fell only one second short of his 1600 meter personal best of 4:12.
However, what really makes Stanley standout are his results on the grass.
During his senior cross country season, Stanley won the Footlocker Northeast Regional title and followed that up with All-American performances at both NXN (19th) and Footlocker Nationals (7th). These finishes demonstrate exceptional range and consistency throughout a very long (and often times grueling) season. That durability should only benefit the incoming Tiger as he makes the transition to collegiate running. It's also a nice indicator that Stanley can thrive in challenging, large-scale meets.
Connor Nisbet from Delaware joins Stanley as another high-quality distance recruit. He capped off his high school XC career with a 3rd place finish at the Footlocker Northeast regional meet which was followed by a 38th place finish at the national meet. If that wasn't enough, Nisbet secured a runner-up performance at New Balance Indoor Nationals in the 5k with a lethal time of 14:44. Although he failed to better his junior season outdoor PR’s of 1:54, 4:12, and 9:00, Nisbet shows tremendous promise and should hopefully see big improvements with consistent training. Much like Stanley, his championship experience will be extremely valuable for Princeton once the postseason comes around.
Of everyone in this recruiting class, Camren Fischer from Fayetteville arguably has the most impressive track credentials. His 4:09 mile, 8:55 3200 meter, and 8:59 two-mile highlight a quality blend of speed and stamina. Yet, it's his range in cross country that leaves you just as impressed.
Just like future teammate Jack Stanley, Fischer also attempted the NXN/Footlocker double and held his own at both meets, finishing 25th and 55th, respectively. He could be an extremely valuable 1500/5k specialist in the future - something Princeton hasn't had as of late outside of Conor Lundy.
Connor Livingston from De La Salle High School out in California is another well-rounded athlete. A Footlocker All-American (15th), Livingston has often been overshadowed by the overabundance of talented Californian high schoolers. His 9:04 3200 PR is impressive, yet also misleading. At the CIF State Track finals in May, Livingston fell two laps into the 3200 and rallied back to finish 9th with a 9:09. Had he not been tripped up, there is a chance that he could have potentially broken 9 minutes and/or made it on the podium.
Now we have Ethan Reese. The Princeton youngster brings in quality middle-distance speed to a class laden with long-distance studs. The Portland native comes in with an impressive 4:01 1500 meter PR and an outstanding 1:51 800 meter personal best. While he may not be at the top of the depth chart this fall, that doesn’t mean he can’t be a good cross country talent. His 5k PR on the grass is a solid 15:18 and he is also the Oregon 6A State Champion in cross country.
Joining Reese in the middle distance events will also be Australian Duncan Miller who has run 1:52 for 800 meters which is complemented by a time of 3:51 for 1500 meters. Not only that, but his range extends up to the 3000 meters where he owns a personal best of 8:29. Simply put, Miller is the full package and can seemingly do it all.
Canadian Josh Zelek and California-native Sebastian Fischer are the final two men to mention in this recruiting class. Both are outstanding milers, with Zelek owning a 1500 PR of 3:52 while Fischer has hovered around 4:11. Zelek has also run 9:09 for 3200 meters on an indoor track while Fischer isn't far behind with a 9:15 of his own. These two incoming Tigers will be key pieces on a Princeton squad that is known for it's depth.
Admittedly, this team is probably underrated when it comes to the rest of the Top 10. Regardless, these recruits are clearly among the nation's best and they will likely bring Princeton to an extremely high level of success over time.
Princeton has the luxury of owning an extremely valuable commodity: time. The Tigers return all of their top seven from last year’s cross country team that placed 22nd at Nationals. This gives their incoming freshmen an ample amount of time to transition to college racing - as well as college life in general - without the pressure of being immediate impact scorers. Plus, it also helps to have top returners such as Conor Lundy and Gannon Willcutts offer valuable veteran leadership for this young and talented recruiting class.
With that being said, it is important to note that this next year is a crucial preparation period for the Tigers. Four of their men from their 2018 championship squad will be seniors this year. Come 2020, Princeton will have significant holes to fill. Head Coach Jason Vigilante is no stranger to filling out depth charts, and this year’s crop is evidence of that. It should be very exciting to see how this group progresses in the next couple of years.
While all we can do at this point is speculate about how good these guys will be down the road, there is definitely enough potential star power from top to bottom to predict that Princeton remains at the top of the Ivy League standings for years to come.