2019 Women's XC Top 25 Teams: Update #5

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 they were ranked in the last update.

25. Oregon Ducks (-3 / 22)

The Ducks have so much potential on their roster, but have been consistently underwhelming this season. They were 4th in the West region, but were not that far ahead of 5th place Arizona. Susan Ejore did not race which means that the Ducks could have likely closed the gap on Boise State, but even then they still haven't looked incredible.


Isabelle Brauer was at one point a top 15 runner in the NCAA, but finished only 35th at the regional meet. Oregon is certainly not a bad team, but they won’t be making much noise at Nationals.


24. Minnesota Golden Gophers (0 / 24)

The Gophers ran almost exactly as expected on Friday and likely would have been 2nd if Tulsa hadn’t put together a phenomenal performance. Minnesota was only seven points behind the Hurricanes, but still managed to earn a trip to NCAA's with their 3rd place finish.


Anastasia Korzenowski has proven to be a reliable front-runner in the absence of the Hasz twins, notching a 9th place finish after her great run at BIG 10's. Given their redshirt scenario, Minnesota looks poised for a strong 2020 season. A top 20 finish in Terre Haute this would be a great way to build that momentum.


23. Tulsa Hurricanes (Unranked)

Tulsa may have been the biggest surprise of the weekend. The Hurricanes grabbed the second auto-qualifier out of the Midwest region to earn a trip to NCAA's, taking down TSR #24 Minnesota in the process. During the regular season, Tulsa had looked like a solid team, but nothing indicated that they were going to have such a big day on Friday. They finished close behind Minnesota at Nuttycombe earlier this season and had a dominant conference meet, but they never beat any big names during the regular season.


Junior Caitlin Klopfer had a huge day to finish 5th overall and Tulsa was able to get their #5 runner across the line before any other team which was ultimately the difference maker on Friday.


22. Columbia Lions (-3 / 19)

Columbia almost had the disaster of the weekend when they finished a shocking 4th in the Northeast region. For awhile, it looked as though they may not even move on to NCAA's, but after the Kolas confusion cleared, the Lions found themselves on the list of those invited to Terre Haute.


On one hand, Columbia easily could have fallen out of the rankings, but it’s important to consider a few things. First, they have looked very solid at every race outside of their regional meet this season. Secondly, and more importantly, is that everything about the Northeast region was bizarre.


The race was turned into a road event after snow/ice issues which left athletes scrambling to find flats for racing. No team prepares to run road races and the chaos of the weekend was enough to throw anyone off of their game. Despite a really rough day, Columbia still made it through to NCAA's and will almost certainly run much better next week, especially considering that the race will be run on grass.


21. California Baptist (-4 / 17)

They're not eligible for postseason competition since they're still making the transition from Division Two to Division One, but that shouldn't mean that they are immediately kicked out of the rankings. They still had a good season and were better than a few of these teams this season.


20. Ohio State Buckeyes (+3 / 23)

Ohio State followed up a strong run at BIG 10's with an even better performance at the Great Lakes Regional Championships this weekend. The Buckeyes finished 4th and beat out TSR #17 Notre Dame in the process. Abby Nichols has developed into a potential All-American and led Ohio State with a 9th place run on Friday.


The Buckeyes were able to beat out Notre Dame and Indiana largely thanks to a big day for freshman Allie Guagenti, who finished 33rd. Guagenti was the #4 runner for the Buckeyes and finished just behind the #4 runner of 3rd place Wisconsin. If Nichols is able to make a serious run at All-American honors, Ohio State could crack the top 20 in Terre Haute.


19. Illinois Fighting Illini' (+2 / 21)

Illinois came away with the win in a tightly contested Midwest region thanks to great running by their supporting scorers. Junior Allison McGrath led the Fighting Illini’ with a 12th place run and Rebecca Craddock was right behind her in 14th.


Illinois was able to beat out Tulsa and Minnesota for the win as a result of strong days for Madison Marasco and Emma Wilburn. The pair finished 18th and 25th, a combined 18 places higher than the #3 and #4 women for runner-up Tulsa. Those two ended up being the difference maker as Illinois came away with the win by 15 points.


18. Penn State Nittany Lions (+2 / 20)

The Nittany Lions came away with a close victory at the Mid-Atlantic region, edging out Villanova by only four points. Penn State saw Kathryn Munks, Danae Rivers, and Julia Paternain all finish in the top 10, with Alison Willingmyre close behind in 15th.


The Achilles heel of the Nittany Lions is their #5 runner. On Friday, there was a gap of 26 seconds between their #4 and #5 runners - a gap of 26 places. Considering the Mid-Atlantic region is not the deepest of regions, that gap could (and likely will be) exploited a bit at NCAA's. Unless they can close things down, Penn State could struggle in Terre Haute.


17. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+1 / 18)

The Fighting Irish finished 5th in the Great Lakes region with redshirt-senior Anna Rohrer once again leading the team. Rohrer finished 5th and it looks like a top 20 finish at NCAA's is well within reason for her.


The Fighting Irish also came away with one notable positive and one notable negative from Friday. On the up side, sophomore Jacqueline Gaughan had her second consecutive strong run, placing 16th overall. Gaughan was one of the best freshman in 2018 and appears to be finding form at just the right time.


Speaking of freshmen, Notre Dame’s young star Maddy Denner had a less than ideal run on Friday. Denner was only 38th in the Great Lakes region after running with Rohrer for much of the season. Was her performance a fluke, or is Denner beginning to feel the fatigue of a long collegiate season? Probably the former, but it may be fair to ask.


16. Boise State Broncos (0 / 16)

The Broncos finished a comfortable 3rd in the West region behind top-ranked Stanford and Washington squads and well ahead of TSR #25 Oregon. Like many of the teams in these rankings, Boise State appeared to be running only as well as necessary in order to move on to NCAA's. The Broncos got a very solid run by Yukino Parle, as the sophomore finished 7th overall in a relatively deep field.


One potential concern for Boise State is the performance of Clare O’Brien. After a very strong 2018, O’Brien has struggled a bit in 2019. She was only 25th on Friday (compared to 6th in 2018) and was Boise State’s #5 woman. The Broncos will have a hard time moving up much at NCAA's without a big day from O’Brien.


15. Furman Paladins (0 / 15)

Furman was led by strong showings from Gabrielle Jennings and Savannah Carnahan to finish runner-up in the Southeast region and book their trip to NCAA's. Jennings ran as expected, but Carnahan finishing ahead of both Kelsey Chmiel and Hannah Steelman was a great sign heading into Nationals. The Furman senior hasn’t looked quite as sharp as 2018, but her run on Friday indicates she may be ready to equal or better her performance from NCAA's last fall.


The only (and continued) concern for Furman is the big gap between their #4 and #5 runners. The Paladins put four women in the top 16, but their #5 runner crossed the line in 54th - a gap of 37 places. That was a span of 52 seconds which could be a lot more detrimental in a deep national meet. If they can close it down, Furman could move up in the ranks at NCAA's.


14. Air Force Falcons (0 / 14)

Insert either the Utah or NAU recaps here and everything holds true. Air Force has been a surprise team this season and they did exactly what they needed to at their regional meet to move on. The Falcons finished 3rd overall behind strong runs for Maria Mettler and Mahala Norris who placed 8th and 10th. While neither Mettler or Norris will boost Air Force to a huge day in Terre Haute, the combination of the two All-American candidates could have the Falcons aiming for a top 10 finish.


13. Michigan Wolverines (0 / 13)

In many cases, Michigan would have jumped up in the rankings after finishing ahead of TSR #8 Wisconsin in the Great Lakes region. However, given the tactics that go into regional meets, it’s unlikely that the Badgers actually ran all-out and consequently, Michigan stayed put this week.


Despite not moving, Michigan had plenty of positives come out of Friday. Ericka VanderLende continues to run well and looks like an All-American at NCAA's. Is Anna West back? Maybe, but she ran well on Friday and finished as the #2 Wolverine, placing 14th overall. Remember that she was an All-American for Baylor back in 2017, so anything can happen in Terre Haute.


Finally, you may look at the results and be asking, “Who the heck is Micaela DeGenero?”. The #4 Wolverine had easily her best race of the season by finishing 18th overall after not even making Michigan’s top seven for much of the season. Could DeGenero be the “x-factor” for the Wolverines to crack the top 10 in Terre Haute? Only time will tell.


12. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (-3 / 9)

Recapping NAU could essentially be a copy and paste of the Utah review. They showed up to a deep Mountain field, did what they had to do, and are headed to Terre Haute as one of the biggest surprise teams of this season. While the Lumberjacks only finished 6th, the 7th place Weber State women were roughly 100 points behind.


As long as NAU finished in the top six, they were essentially guaranteed a trip to Terre Haute. This Friday was likely more of a tougher workout than an actual race and NAU should come into NCAA's with a top 10 finish on their minds.


11. Utah Utes (-1 / 10)

The Utes did all they needed to in order to move on to NCAAs. They finished 5th in the Mountain region, but only nine points separated their 3-4-5 runners and many of these teams were simply running to qualify.


Utah made waves this season when they upset Colorado at Joe Piane which forced us to question how legitimate they were. After a season of strong performances, Utah has proven their abilities heading into NCAA's and should have a solid day behind potential All-Americans Sarah Feeny, Poppy Tank, and Bella Williams.


10. Florida State Seminoles (+1 / 11)

Florida State made a statement on Friday with a dominant win over fellow ranked competitor Ole Miss. The Seminoles scored only 42 points and placed all five runners in the top 15. For perspective, only two other teams had their #2 runner finish before the #5 Seminole.


Maudie Skyring has bounced back nicely after a tough day at Pre-Nationals and Elizabeth Funderburk and Addison Coggins both ran very well on Friday. Florida State could be a sleeper team at NCAA's this year. Their depth could be a difference maker in Terre Haute.


9. Colorado Buffaloes (-1 / 8)

On paper, Colorado’s 4th place finish at the Mountain Regional Championships sounds a bit concerning until you look into the results a bit more. The biggest reason? Tabor Scholl did not finish the race after placing as the Buffaloes #2 woman all season. If Scholl finishes around Sage Hurta, Colorado beats New Mexico for 2nd. All things considered, unless Scholl dropped out due to injury, there isn’t much reason to worry going into NCAA's.


One positive takeaway for Colorado was Rachel McArthur placing 20th overall. She has now put up two solid performances in a row and could be ready for a big day at NCAA's. McArthur is a bit of a wildcard after winning the Mid-Atlantic meet last fall and then struggling at NCAA's. While she hasn’t looked quite as good during the regular season in 2019, this may be a result of her peaking at the right time.


8. Wisconsin Badgers (-1 / 7)

Similar to NC State, Wisconsin dropped a spot as a result of other teams outperforming expectations - not necessarily because of a bad performance on their part. The Badgers finished 3rd at the Great Lakes meet with Alicia Monson and Amy Davis finishing 1st and 3rd. Alissa Niggemann appeared to be a little off on Friday and only placed 26th, but in the grand scheme of things, this result didn’t really matter much for the Badgers.


It would have taken something crazy for Wisconsin to miss NCAA's, and consequently, this race appeared to be more of a tune up rather than all-out effort. Monson and Davis continue to look strong, but the 3-4-5 runners will determine where Wisconsin lands in Terre Haute.


Don’t put much stock in their run on Friday. Wait until NCAA's.


7. New Mexico Lobos (+5 / 12)

New Mexico put together their best team performance of the year thanks largely in part to the return of Adva Cohen. The Lobos finished runner-up behind BYU at the Mountain Regional Championships with the dynamic duo of Weini Kelati and Ednah Kurgat finishing 1-2.


Cohen raced for the second time this season after an extended absence due to the World Championships. In her debut at the Mountain West meet, she was not even in the Lobos top five, but this week she was their #3 runner and finished 15th overall. Now that Cohen is back in form, New Mexico look substantially more dangerous heading into NCAA's.


6. NC State Wolfpack (-1 / 5)

The Wolfpack dropped a spot this week, but only by virtue of how well Michigan State ran. NC State did exactly what was expected of them by cruising to a Southeast region win over a ranked Furman squad while placing all five women in the top 20. Elly Henes continues to impress up front and got the individual title over a handful of top-tier women. True freshman Kelsey Chmiel looks like a natural in her first collegiate season and finished 4th overall, less than a second out of 3rd place. Julia Zachgo is having a phenomenal year and placed 6th after not even running at this meet in 2018.


The one thing holding back NC State this fall are their 4-5 runners. Mariah Howlett and Savannah Shaw finished a respectable 19th and 20th on Friday, but were well behind Zachgo. In a somewhat weaker field, that gap has little impact, but at NCAA's, that gap could be the difference between the Wolfpack making the podium and missing it.


5. Michigan State (+1 / 6)

The Spartans were the only team in the Great Lakes region to put all five runners in the top 20, resulting in a team title over in-state rival Michigan by a big margin of 25 points. Michigan State pretty much dominated the team race in a field that included four other ranked programs and all signs are pointing towards a big day in Terre Haute. Annie Fuller has really come on strong this season, finishing runner-up to TSR #1 Alicia Monson of Wisconsin.


The four women behind Fuller all had big days as well which fueled the Spartans' success. #2 runner Jenna Magness finished 7th overall after placing 46th a year ago. Lynsie Gram was right behind Magness and improved 16 spots from 2018. Jeralyn Poe was nine places better than a year ago, and after not even making the roster in 2018, Sarah Kettel notched a 19th place finish to round out their top five.


The Spartans have been quietly rising in the rankings over the past few weeks and appear ready to make a big statement in Terre Haute. With Fuller coming into her own as one of the NCAA's best, and a strong supporting crew behind her, Michigan State will be shooting to get on the podium this fall.


4. Washington Huskies (0 / 4)

Another week, another solid run by Washington. The Huskies finished runner-up to Stanford in the West region behind a strong showing from true freshman Melany Smart. The young Husky finished 3rd (behind Donaghu and Lawson) and was able to put together another great performance moving into her first NCAA meet. Katie Rainsberger is as consistent as they come, notching another top 10 finish and looking like a contender for a top 15 finish at NCAA's.

Maybe the biggest performance for Washington was Lilli Burdon starting to put things together. She crossed the line in 15th, six places better than PAC-12's, and finished as Washington’s #5 runner. Burdon has notably underperformed during the regular season compared to NCAA's. Last fall, she finished outside the top 30 at both PAC-12s and the West region before matching that mark at NCAA's and earning All-American honors. A similar run in Terre Haute would go a long way for a Washington team with podium hopes.


3. BYU Cougars (0 / 3)

Like many of the top teams, BYU simply did what was necessary to move on. Erica Birk-Jarvis and Courtney Wayment finished 3-4 and Olivia Hoj continued to run well, coming across the line in 7th. The Cougars were able to get the team win over New Mexico by 13 points, but likely could have extended that gap had they run Whittni Orton. When BYU returns to full strength in Terre Haute, they should be a favorite to land on the podium after finishing 7th in 2018.


2. Stanford Cardinal (0 / 2)

Despite holding out top runner Fiona O’Keefe, the Cardinal cruised to a West region win over TSR #4 Washington thanks strong front-running by Ella Donaghu and Jessica Lawson. Those two have been huge for Stanford this season, developing into some of the NCAA's best over the past year. Junior Jordan Oakes continues to have a great season as well and finished 5th on Friday.


Stanford appears to be the most capable of challenging Arkansas in Terre Haute. The Cardinal can essentially match the Razorbacks through three or four runners, but the big question is what their #5 does. Christina Aragon is back in the lineup and although she is nowhere near where she has been previously, she could pull something together. When O’Keefe returns, Julia Heymach likely becomes the #5 runner and her 12th place finish this weekend is a big positive moving into NCAA's.


1. Arkansas Razorbacks (0 / 1)

It was a foregone conclusion that the Razorbacks would be moving on to NCAA's. They spent the entire season atop the rankings and run in a relatively weak South Central region.


Arkansas added a little bit more to their season resume this Friday by winning the meet with a perfect score. The top four runners - Taylor Werner, Katie Izzo, Devin Clark and Carina Viljoen - all ran together and crossed within a second of one another. Maddy Reed moved up a bit throughout the race and completed the perfect score.


Lauren Gregory was notably absent on Friday. She had a solid showing at SEC's, but appeared to come into the season a bit banged up. The Razorbacks were likely opting to rest her with hopes of a strong NCAA return.

ADDED

Tulsa Golden Hurricanes


KICKED OFF

Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders


JUST MISSED (in no particular order)

Virginia Tech Hokies

Indiana Hoosiers

Harvard Crimson

Villanova Wildcats

Butler Bulldogs


HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no particular order)

Oklahoma State Cowgirls

Cornell Big Red

Boston College Golden Eagles

Georgetown Hoyas


SURPRISE OF THE WEEK

Harvard Crimson

I don’t think anyone would have predicted Harvard would win the Northeast regional meet over Syracuse and Columbia. The Crimson took advantage of a chaotic day on the roads (that’s weird to say) and managed to win the meet by a 32 point margin of victory. Anna Juul had a great day to finish runner-up and Harvard put all five women in the top 26 to move on to Terre Haute.


TEAM OF THE WEEK

Cornell Big Red

You could easily swap Cornell and Harvard for “Surprise of the Week” and “Team of the Week” honors, but either way, Cornell had an absolutely incredible day on Friday. After finishing only 6th (of eight teams) at the Ivy League Championships, Cornell put up 126 points to narrowly edge out Boston College for the second automatic qualifier in the Northeast region and book a trip to Terre Haute. While they didn’t make it into the top 25 on virtue of having only one really strong race this season, their performance this weekend needs to be recognized.