2019 Men's XC Top 25 Teams: Update #3

Updated: Jan 13


KEY

(Unranked)

Was not ranked the week before.

(#/#)

First number indicates how much the team has moved in the rankings.

The second number indicates where that team was ranked the week before.

25. Florida State Seminoles (0 / 25)

The Seminoles finished 6th at Pre-Nats this weekend in what was maybe the most unsurprising result of the meet. The 'Noles beat the teams they should have and lost to the teams that were better than them. There's not too much to analyze here.


Knevelbaard finished 15th overall while the rest of the FSU lineup packed together to earn finishes of 50th (Pottorff), 59th (Griffith), 61st (Cross), and 65th (Stafford). It was a solid result, but nothing too exciting.


24. Southern Utah Thunderbirds (Unranked)

The SUU men had a rocky start to their season. They fell to Duke at Roy Griak by a convincing margin and without Aidan Reed, there was some doubt as to how they would put together a good enough top five for the rest of the season.


However, just like last year, the Thunderbirds shattered expectations by placing 13th overall at Nuttycombe this past weekend. Christian Ricketts and Josh Collins put together a pair of strong results in 27th and 43rd place, respectively. Meanwhile, Sean Newcomb (91st) and Nate Osterstock (92nd) kept the scoring together while Jason Quinn (143rd) closed out their top five.


It wasn't pretty, but it was good enough. This team has found a way to stay relevant despite some considerable gaps throughout their top five. Finishing 13th overall at Nuttycombe may have just saved their season from ending after the regional meet.


23. Alabama Crimson Tide (-1 / 22)

The top Alabama men didn't race this past weekend (Kigen and Kiprop), but we did get to see Noel Rotich make his season debut with a 12th place finish at the Penn State National Open. Still no Eliud Kipsang, but this was a good sign that the Crimson Tide may have a reliable option at the #3 spot now.


They drop in the rankings for no reason in particular. I just want to see what their full lineup looks like.


22. Syracuse Orange (-4 / 18)

24th place at Nuttycombe. That is where the Syracuse men finished on Friday.


If we're being honest, having that poor of a performance almost helps Syracuse from a rankings standpoint. They are clearly so much better than what we saw from this past weekend. They had only two men finish inside the top 100 (Henderson in 50th and Lawler in 63rd) and their usual top scorers (Dragon and James) just simply had bad days. Not only that, but they didn't even have Aidan Tooker!


Should they be happy with this result? Of course not, but at least it's not truly indicative of their actual talent. However, not having Tooker in this race is concerning, especially since he already ran at the Battle in Beantown earlier in the season. If he's out for the rest of 2019, then the Orange will lose a lot of scoring potency.


21. Oklahoma State Cowboys (-2 / 19)

Everyone will likely (and understandably) overreact to Oklahoma State finishing 11th at Pre-Nats this past weekend. However, it's important to note that Smeeton did not race and Hatte was a DNF. Smeeton will be added back to this lineup later in the season and Hatte will likely return barring any significant injury.


If these two come back at full health and full fitness, then you're looking at a team that could have contended with Iona (3rd) and Washington (4th). They'll stick in our rankings until the BIG 12 Championships. If they don't run a full lineup there, then we'll be forced to drop them from our Top 25.


20. Boise State Broncos (+1 / 21)

Solid result for the Boise State men. They finished 12th this past weekend at Nuttycombe after finishing 4th at Bill Dellinger a few weeks ago. Ahmed Muhumed continues to be a solid top scoring option for the Broncos after placing 23rd while veteran Miler Haller is a solid #2 after placing 34th. With Logan Rees placing 52nd overall, it seems like the Broncos were going to put together a top 10 performance as a team. However, their final two scorers finished 100th and 160th in the team scoring, dropping Boise State to the 12th position overall.


It's very clear that Boise State will be competitive this season, but they don't seem to have the complete top five that we saw from them last year. They're good, just not great.


19. Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (-2 / 17)

They easily took down a relatively unimpressive field at the Arturos Barrios Invitational. Their firepower is great, but their final scoring position continues to be a little suspect.


It's important to note that Texas did not run in this race, so the potential for earning a Kolas point is likely out of the question for them right now. The Blue Raiders will have to hope that they can finish inside the top two of their region if they want to make it to the national meet. Otherwise, they may not have enough Kolas points to advance them past regionals...


18. Washington Huskies (-11 / 7)

I just don't understand why this Washington team has struggled. A 4th place finish at Pre-Nats isn't bad, but this group was supposed to contend for a podium spot. Why are they struggling to put it all together? Andrew Jordan's 7th place finish was a really nice result, but Talon Hull (23rd), Tibebu Proctor (31st), Rowe (53rd) should all have been 10 to 20 spots better than what we saw from them.

Mick Stanovsek has a been a pleasant surprise for this group, finishing 46th this past weekend, but the rest of this roster just hasn't been able to offer much of an insurance policy.


On paper, this is one of the best teams in the country, but when will they all run their best on the same day? Truthfully, I don't know.

17. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-7 / 10)

What is going on with Notre Dame? They had more potential out of anyone in the country, but have been unable to capitalize on that. The Irish finished 15th at Nuttycombe this past weekend with Nuguse finishing 25th. But after that? Well, it wasn't ideal.


The rest of the team placed 81-83-125-128 in the overall standings. Danny Kilrea had another tough day, dropping to 174th place. Clearly this was just a bad team performance compared to what we saw from them at Joe Piane, but they are no longer the podium squad we once thought they could be.


At the end of the day, they just need to run better. Simple as that.


16. Iona Gaels (Unranked)

What an outstanding performance from the Iona men. They finished 3rd at Pre-Nats ahead of teams like Washington, Ole Miss, and Florida State. Ehab El-Sandali stunned us with a clutch 6th place finish while Johnjack Millar gave the team an excellent 1-2 punch by finishing 10th.


There was a relatively notable gap between Iona's top two and bottom three scorers, but with finishes of 35th (O'Leary), 37th (Dee), and 52nd (Goddard), the Gaels had enough to fend off the rest of their competition.

Entering the season, we viewed Iona as a team with a TON of scoring options, plenty of potential, and solid depth. However, we were concerned about their firepower and a few inconsistencies. Luckily for them, that issue has seemingly been resolved.

They'll stick at #16 in our rankings until they can prove that this race wasn't just a fluke. Still, there were a lot of encouraging results for them this past weekend.

15. Ole Miss Rebels (-6 / 9)

It was a decent day for Ole Miss at Pre-Nats, but it wasn't anything crazy special. The team finished 5th overall in the team standings, one spot and 14 points behind Washington. Suliman held his own in 12th place while Bethmann finished 24th.


However, the gaps between the rest of their scorers was relatively large for this field, going 36-45-57. Farah Abdulkarim was the team's #3 runner, but he didn't act as the same low-stick that he was at Notre Dame.

This group had such a great performance at Joe Piane so I'm not willing to give them a huge drop in our rankings. Even so, I think it's clear that a hillier, more challenging course like LaVern Gibson doesn't necessarily suit the strengths of the Rebels.

14. Michigan Wolverines (+1 / 15)

See #10 + #11 for Michigan analysis

13. NC State Wolfpack (-1 / 12)

Really odd race for the NC State men. They had only three men finish the race. Then they had three other runners (Shanklin, Flavin, and Mekonnen) end the day as a DNF. Finally, they had one other runner record a DNS.

Why did those guys drop out? Did they know they weren't going to run well? Why would you go all the way to Wisconsin just to not record a team score? Just a really weird Saturday for the Wolfpack men.


We can't really penalize them for not recording a team score, but I'm not sure how we can look at this and take away any positives. Luckily for them, they ran so well at Joe Piane that it's hard to see them as anything other than a true national contender...for now.

12. Oregon Ducks (-6 / 6)

A 10th place finish at Nuttycombe was a bit underwhelming for the Ducks. Teare did a great job by earning a 12th place finish, but they needed someone else to support him up front. Guys like West (58th), Hocker (64th), and Christman (87th) had respectable finishes, but their #5 runner was a little too far back in 109th.

Had Noah Affolder been in the race, then this team is likely contending with Indiana and Wisconsin. However, without him, this team will not have the scoring support they need in order to contend with UCLA.

11. Wisconsin Badgers (+5 / 16)

10. Indiana Hoosiers (+4 / 14)

This BIG 10 trio continues to crowd the middle portion of our rankings, but they are slowly climbing up. At Nuttycombe, Indiana had a great performance by finishing 7th overall while the Badgers settled close behind for an 8th place finish. Michigan dropped back to 11th, likely due to their lack of scoring potency.

The Hoosiers rallied around 10th and 17th place finishes from Mau and Veatch, while their final three runners did enough to get by, ending the day with finishes of 68-78-107 (in the team scoring).


Wisconsin was in a similar situation, earning a big boost from Oliver Hoare's runner-up performance. However, the gaps throughout the rest of their top five (48-53-94-95) is what held them back from doing any better.

Then we have Michigan who finished 11th overall. The scoring group of Myrer, Foster, Plaetinck, Hewitt, and Harding earned team finishes of 36-54-70-82-87 for a total score of 329 points, six points behind 10th place Oregon.


We should note that Jack Aho simply had a bad race (finishing 113th overall) and had he finished between Myrer and Foster, then the Wolverines likely jump closer to Wisconsin and Portland.

Theoretical finishes aside, this team needs scoring potency. They will never have a bad race this season thanks to their depth, but they can be just as good as Indiana and Wisconsin if they put someone in the top 10 at the BIG 10 Championships.

9. Tulsa Golden Hurricanes (Unranked)

Wow. Absolutely mind-boggling performance from Tulsa. Just like the Utah women at Joe Piane, this team came out of nowhere to shock the nation and earn a 3rd place finish at Nuttycombe.


Peter Lynch established himself as an All-American favorite with a 14th place finish while the rest of their lineup Dever (35th), Field (39th), Akers (41st), and Beattie (46th) put together a pack that almost no other team could match. Now, admittedly, their #6 and #7 runners are a bit of red flag, finishing 183rd and 212th in the team scoring. If anyone in this top five has a bad day, then the Golden Hurricanes could be in trouble.

Nonetheless, it's hard to dislike what we saw through five runners. They stunned the nation and made themselves clear favorites to take home the Midwest regional title. I'll be interested to see if they can replicate a performance like that in the future...

8. Portland Pilots (0 / 8)

It was actually a really good day for Portland despite the results showing that they finished 9th at Nuttycombe. They debuted most of their top runners, putting three men inside the top 30 and four inside the top 62. However, their #5 scorer recorded a total of 156 points. If we add Justin Hazell back into this lineup (who finished 13th at Dellinger), then the Pilots become a scary good squad. We'll keep them at #8 for now.

7. Purdue Boilermakers (+4 / 11)

6. UCLA Bruins (+7 / 13)

It is really hard to dismiss the legitimacy of either of these teams. UCLA finished 5th at Nuttycombe this past weekend while Purdue secured a 6th place finish. Both of these teams have phenomenal top three low-sticks with "good enough" backend scorers.


The Bruins' top three of Brandt, Burke, and Reynolds went 5-18-24 while Purdue's top three of Carpenter, Smith, and Eckstein finished 22-26-29. Each team had the rest of their top five finish inside the top 100 places overall.

There is still room to improve in the second half of each of these lineups, but their scoring potency is clearly better than other top teams in our rankings. Both UCLA and Purdue have proven that they are legitimate national contenders on multiple occasions now. For that reason, they earn a pair of top 10 rankings.

5. Iowa State Cyclones (-2 / 3)

We got a 4th place finish from the Cyclones at Nuttycombe. You can't necessarily fault them for losing to a breakout Tulsa team, but I was looking for a little bit more scoring potency.


Edwin Kurgat easily took home the win, but their final four scorers of DeHaven (33rd), Too (38th), Day (42nd), and Greder (66th) were all roughly 10 to 15 spots back from where I thought they could finish. I like the fact that they have a complete lineup through all seven runners, but I wanted to see them embrace this field as a challenge and I think they came up a little short.

4. Colorado Buffaloes (0 / 4)

Unlike BYU, we expected Colorado to rally around their top-tier low-sticks this fall. That's exactly what happened at Joe Piane, but Pre-Nats was a bit of a different story. Dressel and Klecker finished 8th and 9th, respectively in a race where they should have been hovering around the top five.


True freshman Kashon Harrison had an outstanding race in his own right by finishing 11th while Eduardo Herrera finished 17th. The drop-off until their #5 scorer was notable (Hornecker finished 38th overall), but Colorado actually had better depth than BYU when you compare their final three scorers.

However, it turns out that firepower and scoring potency would ultimately be what gave BYU an edge over the Buffaloes. Despite the loss, I'm not willing to drop Colorado from the #4 spot in our rankings. Partly because a lot of other top teams didn't really impress me that much.

3. BYU Cougars (+2 / 5)

This was a huge statement victory for the BYU men. Entering this season, we expected this team to thrive with great depth despite having limited firepower (at least compared to last year). Without Clayson Shumway, we had some doubts as to whether or not this team could step up and still contend with other top programs.

Clearly, we were wrong. Mantz took home the individual title at Pre-Nats while Jacob Heslington stepped up for a huge 4th place finish. Seeing Garnica (14th) and Carney (18th) support the middle of their lineup was also incredibly clutch.


However, the patented depth that we had grown so accustomed to seeing didn't seem to work out all that well. #5 scorer Michael Ottesen was all the way back in 44th place, but it should be noted that he actually passed 29 runners in the last 3000 meters of the race to secure a two point victory for his team.

This group isn't perfect, but taking down a fully-stacked Colorado team without Clayson Shumway show us that they are still in contention for a podium spot.

2. Stanford Cardinal (0 / 2)

They established themselves as the clear #2 team in the country this past weekend. Ostberg and Ratcliffe gave the Cardinal a lethal 1-2 punch by finishing 3rd and 4th, respectively. Mendez, Bolger, and Parsons rounded out the scoring by finishing 37th, 44th, and 45th (in that order).


Steven Fahy continued to struggle by falling back to 78th place while Parsons also underwhelmed a bit. Two guys who we thought would be clear front-runners haven't been as good as we thought they would be this season. However, if they are able to return to top form, then they may be in a position where they can make things interesting with NAU...

1. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (0 / 1)

Three men in the top 10 and all five of their scorers in the top 21. All of that with a true freshman (Bosley), without Brody Hastey, and with a top scorer (Ferro) having an off day. No matter what, this team continues to establish themselves as a true dynasty. They'll win the national title later this fall and there isn't much argument about that.

ADDED

Southern Utah Thunderbirds

Iona Gaels

Tulsa Golden Hurricanes

KICKED OFF

Wyoming Cowboys

Eastern Kentucky Colonels

Princeton Tigers


JUST MISS (in no order)

Villanova Wildcats

Virginia Cavaliers

Gonzaga Bulldogs

Eastern Kentucky Colonels

Virginia Tech Hokies

Utah State Aggies

Princeton Tigers

HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no order)

Army Black Knights

Navy Midshipmen

Iowa Hawkeyes

Weber State Wildcats

Duke Blue Devils

Furman Paladins

Georgetown Hoyas


SURPRISE OF THE WEEK

Tulsa Golden Hurricanes

This would have gone to Iona, but there is no way anyone was more surprising than the Tulsa men this past weekend. No one (outside of Tulsa) expected Peter Lynch to finish 14th and no one expected the rest of their scorers to all finish inside the top 50. Every aspect of their performance was stunning.

TEAM OF THE WEEK

Northern Arizona Lumberjacks

Didn't have Brodey Hasty.

Blaise Ferro had an off day.

A true freshman was their #5 scorer.


All of that and they STILL scored 59 points, putting five men inside the top 21. How could they not be our Team of the Week?


NOTES

- The Duke Blue Devils finished 24th this past weekend at Pre-Nats with all of their top runners racing. This was such a poor performance from them that I actually think they deserve to stay inside the "Honorable Mentions" portion of our rankings. That result didn't actually their show their true talent. After all, they did beat currently ranked Southern Utah at Roy Griak. Don't look too heavily into that performance. They'll be fine for the future.


- If we had to pick a #26 team, it would likely be the Utah State men. A 14th place finish at Nuttycombe is very solid. They won Paul Short in convincing fashion and I like the depth they have on their team. Don't sleep on the Aggies this fall.