2019 Women's XC Top 25 Teams: Update #1

Updated: Jan 13


Written by Maura Beattie & Sean Collins

KEY

(Unanked):

Was not ranked the week before.


(#/#):

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

The second number indicates where they were ranked in the last update.


25. Southern Utah Thunderbirds (-9 / 16)

A loss to CBU at the UCR Invitational has dropped the Aggies down the list a few slots. Still, the trio of Alison Pray, Maddy Kauffman, and Madison Fruchey should help push the Thunderbirds into a national qualifying spot come November. For now, those three keep this crew from dropping further in the rankings. Still, they will need to clean up their #4 and #5 spots to keep their place in the rankings.


24. California Baptist Lancers (Unranked)

The Cal Baptist crew is still in their transition to full DI competition and they are still ineligible for the NCAA Championships. However, they are showing just how formidable they will be once their transition is complete. CBU made some noise at the UCR Invitational two weeks ago by upsetting a ranked Southern Utah squad. In that race, CBU earned a spread of just 17 seconds for the 6000 meter course. Individually, look for Emilie Renaud and Anna Mate to contend in almost any race they compete in this season. After an incredible year for recruiting, the Lancers look like a formidable group.


23. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+1 / 24)

Notre Dame has managed to keep most of their stars on the bench so far this season with Jacqueline Gaughan and Anna Rohrer staying on the sidelines. Of course, they haven’t needed them as the group from South Bend won the Valparaiso Invitational and the National Catholic Invitational. Leading the way so far has been Maddy Denner, who beat teammates Annasophia Keller and Jocelyn Long by of over 20 seconds at the National Catholic Invitational.


The top three women on this team seem pretty set (Rohrer, Gaughan, and Denner). If they can find reliable scoring options in the final two spots of their lineup, then this team could easily make a jump in our rankings.


22. Princeton Tigers (-4 / 18)

While Princeton did take down the field at the Henry Mercer Monmouth meet, a lack of competition and an odd loss to Harvard three weeks ago has us questioning the strength of this team.


Princeton appears to have used a pack-running strategy during that race against Harvard, finishing 5-6-7-8-9-11. However, Harvard’s #2, #3, and #4 athletes finished only two seconds ahead of that group. This meet did not count for Kolas points, but the Princeton-Harvard rivalry leads one to believe that if the Princeton pack could have overtaken the Crimson, they would have.


21. Minnesota Golden Gophers (-4 / 17)

The Golden Gophers have only raced once this season and it was at their home Oz Memorial meet. The Hasz twins raced unattached for 3rd and 4th while the uniformed Minnesota team took the remaining 13 spots inside the top 15. Anastasia Korzenowski could present to be another top contender for this squad, but a possible lack of Hasz sisters this season leaves us second guessing ourselves.


20. Columbia Lions (+2 / 22)

Columbia moves up the rankings after a strong showing at the Paddy Doyle Meet of Champions. They pushed ahead of Cornell, La Salle, and D3 powerhouse Johns Hopkins by sweeping the top three spots. Katie Wassmerman and Alexandra Hays finished with almost identical times while Bianca Alonzo was close behind.


Admittedly, a large gap in their final two scoring spots is concerning and the Lions will need Abigail McLauhglin in their lineup this fall. Still, they are looking like one of the better teams in the Northeast region this year once again.


19. Georgetown Hoyas (Unranked)

My goodness did the Hoyas impress us at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational. Defeating TSR #14 Penn State handily, the Hoyas took five of the first eight spots. Madeline Perez is off to her best cross country season yet and is leading the ladies of Georgetown. A trio of sophomores followed behind her while Maggie Donahue and Margie Cullen were battling for the team's #5 spot.


Cullen has been a consistent finisher in the 30's at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships over the past few years. If she can improve upon that finish and push up her team, then Georgetown will make their regional meet with Penn State and Princeton very competitive.


18. Florida Gators (+1 / 19)

Florida took the victory at one of the largest invitationals of the season so far (by team count) when they emerged victorious at the Mountain Dew Gator Invitational. The Gators put six of the first 11 athletes across the line in an impressive result over a predominantly South region matchup.


What is troublesome for the Gators is the spread that was created by Jessica Pascoe over her teammates. Over just 5000 meters, the Gator’s top five spread was one minute and 38 seconds. Luckily, Imogen Barrett and Gabrielle Wilkinson should help contribute to a smaller spread moving forward. Plus, the front-running by Jessica Pascoe will be particularly beneficial throughout the majority of the season, specifically at larger invitationals.


17. Oklahoma State Cowgirls (-4 / 13)

They haven't raced yet this season, so their drop in our rankings is mainly us just pushing them back until they actually toe the line.


16. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (+5 / 21)

NAU has the worst invitational finish of anyone in these rankings after placing 5th at the John McNichols Invite. Of course, it helps that their 5th place finish was behind four Top 10 teams...


NAU emerged as the "best of the rest" at this meet, beating out an underrated Illinois squad for a top five finish. Villanova transfer Taryn O’Neill led the Lumberjacks with her 13th place finish and is providing a much needed low-stick for this group. Mikayla Malaspina placed 15th right behind O'Neill before the rest of their lineup followed suit. NAU will have to work on bolstering the bottom half of their top five if they want to stay competitive, but they are making great strides. Their new-look lineup is impressive.


15. Syracuse Orange (Unranked)

The biggest mover of any team this week is the Syracuse Orange who stormed to victory at the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown. A top duo of Laura Dickinson and Iowa State transfer Amanda Vestri helped bring the total score to 35 points. Jordan Jacob (a transfer from Boise State) placed 7th overall while Rachel Bonner slotted in 9th to act as the team's #4 runner. Abigail Spiers finished off the scoring five with a 14th place finish of her own, correcting for an 89th place finish the previous year.


Having Madeleine Davison at the #6 spot provides great scoring security for this team as well. The question at the beginning of the season for the Orange was where their scoring was going to come from outside of Dickinson, Vestri, and Bonner. It seems as if that answer has been found.


14. Penn State Nittany Lions (0 / 14)

Normally, teams stay at their spot in the rankings because of a good performance that satisfies expectations. That is not the case with Penn State. If these rankings had been a point system, Penn State’s score definitely would have decreased. The Nittany Lions struggled against a Georgetown team who put 10 women in front of the PSU’s #5 runner at the Spiked Shoe Invite.


It's important to note that Penn State was without Julia Paternain who would have made this a much closer race. They also have potential for a medical 6th year for Elizabeth Chikotas. Yet, even if Paternain had run and won the race, the Hoyas still would have taken home the W.


That said, there are still plenty of positives for the Nittany Lions. Kathryn Munks earned an impressive win and Alison Willingmyre placed 3rd. Those two, when paired with Paternain, should give this team a lethal top three.


It is also impressive that Danae Rivers continues to succeed in cross country by taking a 10th place finish. If the team title at a meet comes down to the #4 or #5 runners, and Danae Rivers is part of that equation, then Penn State’s chances of a win surely increase.


They may have been upset by a regional rival, but let's not overreact. This team will be better in larger invitationals where their low-sticks have a greater scoring impact.


13. Ole Miss Rebels (+2 / 15)

Ole Miss showed that they are a team to be reckoned with after their win at the Commodore Classic, beating strong competition from Ohio State and Indiana. What’s even more impressive is that Clio Ozanne-Jaques, Ylvi Traxler, and Lisa Vogelsang were all absent from their lineup and should only bolster their team once they return. The ceiling for this group might just be determined by how low of a score Ozanne-Jaques can give them.


12. Michigan State (-1 / 11)

The Spartans easily won their home meet, scoring only 15 points to Grand Valley State’s 58 points. Jeralyn Poe, India Johnson, and Annie Fuller all finished side-by-side. Maggie Farrell was 18 seconds back and was the team’s #5 runner. Michigan State will need to form tight packs and finish as close as possible at the front of their races to ensure a low finish. The Virginia Invitational will be Michigan State’s first true test of the season.

11. Oregon Ducks (+1 / 12)

Oregon almost scored a perfect 15 points at the Ash Creek Invitational in early September. Senior Susan Ejore won the 5k and was followed by three of her teammates. Transfer Moira O’Shea was Oregon’s #3 at this meet and could offer additional depth throughout the remainder of the season. Isabelle Brauer and Aneta Konieczek, as well as a few others, did not compete, but they should be toeing the line at Bill Dellinger next weekend.


10. Furman Paladins (0 / 10)

The women of Furman have raced twice so far this season and have scored perfect 15’s both times. At the Charlotte Opener, Gabrielle Jennings took the win, five seconds ahead of Savannah Carnahan. Two weeks later, Jennings won again at the Eye Opener Invitational, this time 24 seconds ahead of teammate Kristlin Gear. Furman will get their chance to show-off their true talent at the Bill Dellinger Invite next weekend when they face some of the best teams in the nation.


9. Wisconsin Badgers (-3 / 6)

The Wisconsin Badgers swept the first eight places - with seven women in uniform and one unattached - at the Badger Classic. The first six women across the line for Wisconsin were freshmen who could potentially find themselves in Wisconsin's top seven come the middle of the season. Wisconsin did not race Alicia Monson, Amy Davis, Lucinda Crouch, or Alissa Niggemann - four women projected to be in their varsity lineup. The Badgers will race at the Loyola Lakefront Invitational next weekend and then the Joe Piane Invitational the following weekend.


New coach Mackenzie Wartenberger might be holding out some of her top women from racing until the bigger meets (i.e. Joe Piane, Nuttycombe) as they continue to acclimate to her training.


8. Michigan Wolverines (0 / 8)

Michigan placed 4th at the John McNichols Invite over the weekend and were once again led by standout freshman Ericka VanderLende. VanderLende finished 4th in a field full of All-Americans. Rounding out the scoring were Kathryn House (who was 12th), Maddy Trevisan (who was 14th), Alice Hill (who was 23rd), and Camille Davre (who was 24th). These ladies did run well, but Michigan needs to start finding some consistency in their top seven. Anna West was absent from the race and Anne Forsyth ran unattached, finishing 35th overall (but 9th on the team).


7. NC State Wolfpack (-2 / 5)

NC State put on a show at the Adidas XC Challenge this past weekend when they won the meet with a low score of 18 points. Elly Henes did her thing and won the meet by 11 seconds over freshman teammate Kelsey Chmiel. Chmiel did not hesitate in her first collegiate race and has set herself up to continue improving. Julia Zachgo (3rd) and Samantha Bush (4th) were competing unattached, but proved that they could be possible contributors for this team later in the season.


Dominique Clairmonte and Nevada Mareno did not compete this weekend, but will surely add firepower to the Wolfpack if/when they return.


6. Washington Huskies (+3 / 9)

Washington put together a strong performance at the John McNichols Invite, finishing 3rd in an ultra-talented field. Freshman Melany Smart paced the Huskies with her clutch 5th place finish while Katie Rainsberger was close behind in 8th. Their next three runners were near each other at the finish as well, taking spots 16th, 18th, and 20th.


The good news is that Lilli Burdon appears to be healthy which will help the Huskies as the season progresses. What pushes the Huskies up all the way to the #6 spot in our rankings is the fact that they also have Haley Herberg (TSR#46) now on their roster. The transfer from Oklahoma could give this team four All-American candidates if coach Maurica Powell opts to run her this season. If that happens, then Washington becomes a much more dangerous team.


5. Stanford Cardinal (+2 / 7)

Stanford, under a new coaching staff, looked strong in their season opener at the John McNichols Invite. The Cardinal placed 2nd to Arkansas by only five points. Fiona O’Keeffe picked up right where she left off by finishing runner-up in her first race this season. Ella Donaghu and Jessica Lawson were also solid and placed inside the top 10 as well. Christina Aragon did not race this weekend, but if she had (and if she is in top form), then Stanford could have beaten an Arkansas team that was admittedly not at full strength.


4. BYU Cougars (0 / 4)

BYU dominated their first meet of the season, the Big Wave Invitational, by scoring 15 points and sweeping the top 13 spots. At the BYU Autumn Classic, the team once again took the win, outscoring Weber State 28 to 32, and did so without racing their top four: Whittni Orton, Erica Birk-Jarvis, Courtney Wayment, and Olivia Hoj. Oregon’s Bill Dellinger Invite will be a chance for BYU to see what they have and to compete against other nationally ranked teams.


3. New Mexico Lobos (0 / 3)

New Mexico has only raced once this fall and that was back in August. At the University of New Mexico Cross Country Invitational, the Lobos ran away with the win and were led by Juanita Johnson’s 4th place finish.


Weini Kelati and Ednah Kurgat are expected to make their return to the cross country course at the Notre Dame Joe Piane Invitational (Oct. 4). Adva Cohen, a potential All-American this fall, won’t be racing until the Mountain West Conference Championships due to her competing at the World Championships. Without Cohen scoring low points at upcoming meets, it will be interesting to see which women step up in her absence.


2. Colorado Buffaloes (0 / 2)

Colorado recently competed at the Wyoming Invite and finished a surprising 2nd place overall, five points behind Colorado State. Holly Bent was 1st overall and Annie Hill crossed the line immediately afterwards. The next scoring individual for the Buffaloes was Karina Mann in 6th. It should be noted that Tabor Scholl and Sage Hurta were 3rd and 4th overall in the results, but they raced unattached. If Scholl and Hurta raced in uniform, Colorado would have easily won this meet.


Also missing from the Colorado lineup were Emily Covert (freshman), Emily Venters (transfer), and Rachel McArthur (transfer). Without these three racing, and two superstars running unattached, it leaves us wondering who will race this season for the Buffaloes.


The next time we will see Colorado toe the line is at the Joe Piane Invitational.


1. Arkansas Razorbacks (0 / 1)

It is no surprise that Arkansas won the John McNichols Invite in Terre Haute. They took down top-tier ranked teams such as Stanford, Washington, and Michigan in the process.


What is surprising though is Katie Izzo.


Who is Katie Izzo?


Izzo, a transfer from Cal Poly, was the team's #2 runner this past weekend and adds some new, unexpected firepower to their roster after finishing 3rd overall in a loaded field. Having her run as well as she did dramatically changes our perception of an already overwhelmingly powerful Arkansas team.


Ahead of Izzo was Taylor Werner who won the race by 10 seconds. It was also nice to see Devin Clark coming back into form as the team’s #3 scorer after finishing 7th place overall.


Katrina Robinson and Lauren Gregory did not compete this past weekend which could be a good thing or a bad thing. It’s good if the two will return at the next meet. It’s bad if the two redshirt this season. Either way, Arkansas needs the back half of their lineup to step up as the season progresses.

ADDED

Cal Baptist Lancers

Georgetown Hoyas

Syracuse Orange


KICKED OFF

UCLA Bruins

Utah Utes

Oregon State Beavers


JUST MISS (in no order)

Virginia Tech Hokies

Ohio State Buckeyes

Indiana Hoosiers

Florida State Seminoles

Boise State Broncos

UCLA Bruins

Utah Utes

Oregon State


HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no order)

Villanova Wildcats

Colorado State Rams

Iowa State Cyclones

UNC Tarheels

Tennessee Volunteers

Dartmouth Big Green

Boston College Golden Eagles

Wake Forest Deacons

Illinois Fighting Illini'


SURPRISE OF THE WEEK

Syracuse Orange

Much like MTSU on the men's side, there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding this team. We knew they had really good pieces, but last year's performances were underwhelming. Now, with Amanda Vestri leading the way, this team looks like a Northeast region juggernaught. Their dominant performance in Boston easily thrusts them into our XC Top 25.


TEAM OF THE WEEK

Arkansas Razorbacks

A good team can thrive with their best runners. A great team can run thrive without them. The Arkansas Razorbacks displayed incredible depth this past weekend thanks to the rise of a few unexpected scorers. Even with Katrina Robinson and Lauren Gregory out, they showed that they are still an elite program. If Izzo and Clark run like they did this past weekend at Nationals, then the women from Fayetteville may very easily have six All-American candidates on their roster this season.


NOTES

- The UCLA Bruins, Utah Utes, and Oregon State Beavers were pushed out of our rankings, but that is mainly due to the performances from other teams. We haven't really seen much from these teams yet this season, but they will have a chance to reappear in our XC Top 25 in the coming weeks.