2019 Women's XC Top 25 Teams: Update #2

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. Georgetown Hoyas (-6 / 19)

The Hoyas did not perform quite to the level of their previous performance when they upset Penn State at the Spiked Shoe Invitational. This past weekend, the Hoyas fell to 5th at Paul Short behind the likes of Tennessee and Penn, as well as D2 powerhouse Adams State. Senior Madeline Perez continues to lead this squad with her 10th place finish, while the rest of the scoring five from the previous meet was scattered down the standings.


The depth of this Georgetown team continues to keep the Hoyas in the Top 25, but if they can't find someone to stand out above the rest of the pack, this group will struggle.


24. Columbia Lions (-4 / 20)

Columbia managed to earn a 2nd place finish at the continually weakening Roy Griak Invitational. Alexandra Hays led the way for the Lions, finishing behind only San Francisco’s Aoibhe Richardson and ahead of the rest of the field by a significant margin. Columbia, like Georgetown, is searching for the backend of their lineup to fully identify themselves.


Still, runners like Samantha Marin and Emily Virtue ran well in Minnesota, while Serena Tripodi and Emily Acker held their own in the Paul Short Brown race (where the Lions ran a "B" team). Columbia has the right pieces to be successful, but they need to put it altogether when they toe the line.


23. Illinois Fighting Illini' (Unranked)

This group just missed the rankings after finishing behind ranked teams at the John McNichols Invite. However, they bounced back at the Buckeye Preview, beating out respectable squads such as Penn State and Ohio State.


Individually, Rebecca Craddock is proving to be a capable ace for the Fighting Illini. Her front-running alongside a tight pack of scorers has shown the nation that Illinois can be a tough BIG 10 and Midwest regional contender in a year that seems wide-open.


22. Minnesota Golden Gophers (-1 / 21)

Even though Minnesota fell to Columbia at Roy Griak, their 9th place finish at Notre Dame puts the Golden Gophers at the #22 slot. The Hasz twins are almost surely redshirting, leaving Anastasia Korzenowski to lead this squad. There’s not too much to note behind Korzenowski, but their bottom four scorers aren't necessarily a liability either.


There are also no seniors in this year's top seven which is a great sign for the future.


21. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+2 / 23)

Nothing too impressive for Notre Dame on their home course, but the debut of Anna Rohrer (who finished 6th overall) shows us that she is healthy and fit. However, Jacqueline Gaughan struggled in her season debut, placing 94th overall (#5 for Notre Dame) in a race where she should have been in the top 20 (or at least top 30). Maddy Denner held her own in 25th place while Annasophia Keller finished 47th. Kelly Hart was their #4 scorer in 74th place.


Depth was a concern for this team entering 2019, and that still seems to be the case, but if Gaughan runs to her full potential then this group becomes much stronger.


They were only one spot behind 7th place New Mexico and most the teams ahead of them were established powerhouses. Nothing too concerning for the Irish, but nothing exciting either.


20. California Baptist Lancers (+4 / 24)

A very solid win at Roy Griak keeps the newly D1 squad moving up the rankings. It’s tough to know what level this team would be at if they were eligible for postseason competition, but that hasn’t stopped the Lancers from making their impact on the NCAA. They have a very solid pack and have been able to avoid excess scoring.


19. Air Force Falcons (Unranked)

A big 3rd place finish over Oregon, Oregon State, and Furman at the Bill Dellinger Invite show us that this Air Force team is here to compete in 2019. Mikayla Gallagher was a big surprise, finishing 6th overall and giving her squad a true low-stick who helps the Falcons rise in the rankings. However, holding this group back is the gap between their #4 and #5 runners.


Still, the victories over four possible NCAA qualifying teams might have sealed their trip to Nationals.


18. Ole Miss Rebels (-5 / 13)

A 10th place finish at the Joe Piane Invite isn’t the end of the world for Ole Miss, but we are still waiting for their top runners to challenge the top of the pack. The longer that they don't have a low-stick, the further down the rankings they’ll drop. Had 2018 NCAA 65th place finisher Clio Ozanne-Jacques run alongside current front-runner Madeleine King, then the Rebels would have challenged Notre Dame. That potential keeps the Rebels from dropping too far in our rankings.


17. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (-1 / 16)

They haven't raced since the John McNichols Invite, so they only drop one spot due to performances from other teams. They’ll next appear at the Nuttycombe Invite.


16. Florida State Seminoles (Unranked)

A huge 3rd place finish at Joe Piane almost assuredly puts them in NCAA's either by a top two regional finish or by securing a ton of Kolas points. Prior to the meet, we assumed Ole Miss and Florida were running away with the South region, but the Seminoles clearly want to change that narrative.


Skyring looks like a legitimate low-stick (finishing 17th) who will be supported by Judd and Funderburk. The addition of Villanova transfer Lauren Ryan has turned out to be huge as she (along with Addison Coggins) gives the Seminoles a legitimate top five without many vulnerabilities. They lack depth after five, and that's concerning, but we really like what we saw from all of their scorers this past weekend.


15. Furman Paladins (-5 / 10)

A rough day at the Bill Dellinger Invite drops this group down a few spots, but the strength of Carnahan and Jennings keeps them up in the rankings. Let’s not get too scared here, especially since they were the only east coast team on the women's side (and that is a difficult trip to make). 6th place was not where we wanted to see this group, and their depth left us with legitimate concerns, but let's wait until their next race to accurately gauge their overall talent level.


14. Syracuse Orange (+1 / 15)

Typically, it’s tough to move up the rankings when you don’t race, but Syracuse jumps up a slot after a few other teams struggled. The impressive win at Coast-to-Coast Battle In Beantown still stands out as one of the more defining wins of the season so far. They’ll next appear at the Nuttycombe Invite.


13. Boise State Broncos (Unranked)

A 2nd place finish at the Bill Dellinger Invitational skyrockets the Broncos into our rankings. Heading into the season, it wasn’t clear where they could find a complete top five, but this team has come together incredibly well.


As expected, Clare O’Brien is leading this group, but the surprise comes with Yukino Parle stepping up for the #2 spot on the team. Kristie Schoffield venturing up to 6k while Grace Brock makes an impact in her first NCAA season creates a very solid foundation for the Broncos to build on moving forward this season. Having four women inside the top 20 (and five inside the top 21) in that strong of a field is very encouraging for the Boise State women.


12. Oregon Ducks (-1 / 11)

The Ducks settled for 4th place at the Bill Dellinger Invite two weeks ago. Susan Ejore ran well and came away with a 3rd place finish. Taylor Chiotti was 11th overall, but then things started to fall apart for Oregon. Their bottom three scorers finished 25th, 54th, and 74th. Their top five time spread was 91 seconds.


However, it should be noted that both Isabella Brauer and Aneta Konieczek have yet to make their season debuts. If they are healthy, things could dramatically improve for Oregon.


11. Michigan State Spartans (+1 / 12)

Michigan State competed at the Panorama Farms Invitational and took home the win, scoring 56 fewer points than the runner-up team. Florida would have been Michigan State’s closest competitor, but the Gators fell back to 6th place in what was one of the more surprising results of the meet.


Annie Fuller and Jeralyn Poe have been two consistent low-sticks for the Spartans this fall and have been finishing close to the front in most races. Michigan State also has a tight pack between their #3 and #7 runners, showing only eight seconds of separation at Panorama Farms.


The Spartans haven't shown us too many areas of weakness so far, but we'll wait until they compete against top-tier competition to make that judgement.


10. Utah Utes (Unranked)

What happens when you defeat five top 10 teams? You leap up the rankings.


So congrats Utah, welcome to the #10 spot after a superb victory at the Joe Piane Invitational.


Utah started out at #25 in our Preseason Rankings, but quickly fell out after a few early-season races. What brings them back is their huge win at the Joe Piane Invite where they took down Colorado, New Mexico, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Washington, NC State, Minnesota, and many others.


It was a close race for 1st as the Utes scored six fewer points than Colorado. Bella Williams was the leader for her team after placing 11th overall. Veterans Poppy Tank and Sarah Feeny ran together well in 16th and 19th place, respectively. Only 26 seconds separated their top five.


If the Utes can get their #6 to improve over these next few weeks to be used as security if someone has an off-day, then Utah could once again make some noise later in the season.


Utah's next race will be at Nuttycombe where the Utes will look to prove that their stunning upset win was no fluke.


9. Wisconsin Badgers (0 / 9)

As expected, Alicia Monson began her cross country season at the Joe Piane Invitational, challenging New Mexico’s Weini Kelati for the win. Monson placed 2nd overall and was seven seconds ahead of 3rd place. This performance led the Badgers to a 6th place team finish.


Amy Davis has shown great improvement over the last year and is a strong #2 option for the team (she finished 15th this past weekend). The same can be said about Alissa Niggemann who was only eight seconds behind Davis. In fact, even Lucinda Crouch made some noise with an excellent 30th place finish of her own. This top four of Monson, Davis, Niggemann, and Crouch will be key for the Badgers' success this fall.


True freshman Alexa Westley was the team’s #5 scorer, but finished a bit further back in 95th place. Westley, who will obviously gain experience over time, has the potential to give her team an improved score as she continues to develop. However, that will be the key spot to watch this fall.


8. Michigan Wolverines (0 / 8)

Ericka VanderLende is the star-pupil for Michigan this fall and might just be the top freshman in the NCAA (although Melany Smart may have something to say about that). The Wolverines scored 20 fewer points than 2nd place Illinois at the Buckeye Preview. Michigan was led by VanderLende, who easily won the race by 16 seconds.


What makes Michigan a legitimate contender this fall is that they seem to have the ability to put a variety of runners inside their top seven and still come away with a strong showing. Kathryn House and Maddy Trevisan have been consistent scorers for the Wolverines so far this fall. The #4 and #5 runners have been different for Michigan in their past two races, but the backend of their lineup has found a way to form a tight pack near the finish.


On the flip side, there are legitimate concerns with this team. Camille Davre has struggled in her past two races while both Anne Forsyth and Anna West have yet to debut in a Michigan singlet. Those are three women who were expected to give the Wolverines a ton of scoring potency this year. Without them, Michigan may have a limited ceiling this fall.


7. Washington Huskies (-1 / 6)

Washington put together another strong showing at the Joe Piane Invitational. The Huskies finished 5th in the race, 15 points out from 3rd and five points out from 4th. Melany Smart is the real deal and will continue to compete with Michigan’s Ericka VanderLende for title of "Top Freshman in the NCAA".


Smart picked up a 4th place finish, once again taking down big names in the process. Katie Rainsberger is about where one would expect her to be, near the front, but not yet cracking the top 10 (she finished 13th).


Allie Schadler continues to be one of the more underrated scorers in the NCAA this year after placing 28th overall while sophomore Shona McCulloch held her own with a 39th place finish.


Unfortunately for Washington, Lilli Burdon had a rough race, finishing as the Huskies' #5 runner in 60th place overall. Burdon’s performance pushed Washington down to 5th in the team standings, but she showed us last year that she can thrive in the postseason when it matters the most.


6. NC State Wolfpack (+1 / 7)

NC State raced well at the Joe Piane Invitational and left Notre Dame with a 4th place finish. Elly Henes placed 9th overall, sticking her nose into the front of the race to give her team a true low-stick.


Freshman Kelsey Chmiel was the #2 runner once again for the Wolfpack, placing 15th in her first real test of collegiate competition. Dominique Clairmonte’s 29th place finish is promising for her first race of the season and offers some respectable scoring potency.


The Wolfpack’s #4 (Zachgo) and #5 (Bush) runners finished within one second of each other, but placed in the low 40's. If these two can close the gap with Clairmonte, big things could happen for NC State as they attempt to earn a podium finish in November.


5. New Mexico Lobos (-2 / 3)

It is not a secret that New Mexico has two of the best runners in the NCAA with Weini Kelati and Ednah Kurgat. Kelati was 1st at Joe Piane while Kurgat was 5th. However, even though these two scored a mere six points, their bottom three runners tallied 175 points. New Mexico’s #5 runner was 92nd overall, almost 90 seconds behind Kelati.


However, before we overreact, here is one major thing to think about: What is Adva Cohen going to do when she returns?


Cohen recently competed at the World Championships and ran 9:42 in the steeplechase, failing to qualify for the finals. If she returns to the New Mexico lineup and isn't burned out, she will completely alter the Lobo's for the better. Had she been in this race, New Mexico may have won the whole thing.


4. Stanford Cardinal (+1 / 5)

Stanford did not compete over the past two weeks. The team is scheduled to race next at the Wisconsin Nuttycombe Invite.


3. Colorado Buffaloes (-1 / 2)

When the final scores were calculated at the Joe Piane Invitational, Colorado was 2nd.


Besides being shocked to see the Buffaloes not win, Colorado lost to unranked Utah. Six points separated the two teams. Sage Hurta and Tabor Scholl were back in uniform and placed 10th and 12th, respectively. Annie Hill and Rachel McArthur put together strong finishes of their own in 20th and 21st place.


However, what Colorado really needed was a strong #5. Karina Mann was too far back in 53rd which ultimately gave Utah enough room to earn the win.


Recent transfer Emily Venters did not compete again for the Buffaloes nor did star recruit Emily Covert. If a healthy Venters were in the field, Colorado would have demolished the competition. It is still unknown if Venters (or Covert) will race for Colorado this fall.


The next chance we could see them in their lineup is at Pre-Nationals, a race that Colorado will use for redemption.


2. BYU Cougars (+2 / 4)

BYU has competed in three meets so far this season and have won all three.


At Bill Dellinger, BYU took the title with 35 points, 46 fewer points than 2nd place Boise State. Whittni Orton has returned to the grass and won her second meet of the season, five seconds ahead of teammate Ericka Birk-Jarvis.


Orton beating Birk says more about the strength of Orton than any weakness in Birk-Jarvis. Courtney Wayment is a solid #3 for the Cougars and adds key low points for the team. That trio scored only six points two weeks ago.


With Hoj and Frenethway finishing 12th and 18th respectively, it's clear that BYU has a legitimate top five. Will it be enough to contend with the firepower of Arkansas? Maybe, maybe not, but it is tough to dislike a team that has a complete lineup through seven runners (their #7 runner finished 24th at Dellinger).


The Cougars will get another chance at racing nationally ranked teams at Pre-Nationals.


1. Arkansas Razorbacks (0 / 1)

The Razorbacks easily took the win at the Chile Pepper Festival. Taylor Werner once again led the team with Katie Izzo only five seconds behind. Devin Clark has taken over the #3 spot and Carina Viljoen is coming along nicely. Lauren Gregory ran unattached, placing 9th overall and would have added even more firepower to Arkansas if she was in uniform. If Gregory redshirts, the Razorbacks will need to find a consistent #5 who can finish closer to Clark and Viljoen.


Aside from what has already been written, what is going on with Katrina Robinson? Why has she not raced yet? Why did she at least not race unattached at Chile Pepper? If Robinson redshirts, can Arkansas still be the favorite going forward?


Answers to these questions will come at Nuttycombe on October 18th.

ADDED

Illinois Fighting Illini'

Utah Utes

Florida State Seminoles

Boise State Broncos

Air Force Falcons


KICKED OFF

Southern Utah Thunderbirds

Princeton Tigers

Oklahoma State Cowgirls

Florida Gators

Penn State Nittany Lions


JUST MISSED (in no particular order)

Oregon State Beavers

Princeton Tigers

Penn State Nittany Lions

Texas Longhorns

Ohio State Buckeyes


HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no particular order)

Southern Utah Thunderbirds

Boston College Golden Eagles

West Virginia Mountaineers

Penn Quakers

Tennessee Volunteers

Indiana Hoosiers


SURPRISE OF THE WEEK

Boise State Broncos

The losses faced by the team from Idaho have been well documented. For this team to rebound in such a powerful way is extremely impressive. We have grown so accustomed to them competing with elite firepower that we almost didn't consider that they could thrive with depth. So far, that has been the case for this Boise State team.


TEAM OF THE WEEK

Utah Utes

Utah took down numerous nationally ranked teams, including Colorado, at the Joe Piane Invitational en route to a 1st place finish. Utah had run two meets earlier in the season, but had not debuted their top seven. At Notre Dame, every runner in Utah’s top five ran extremely well. Bella Williams, who had never finished in the top 30 of a cross country race before this weekend, finished 11th and took down a handful of All-Americans along the way. Poppy Tank has come back strong after redshirting last season while Sarah Feeny enjoyed a breakout indoor track season and has returned to the grass with that same momentum. The Utes can surprise the nation once again if they bring this same energy and pack-running to Nuttycombe in two weeks.