2019 XC D2 Top 10 Teams (Men): Update #1

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 the team was ranked the week before.

10. Queens (N.C.) Royals (0 / 10)

When we mention a team in the top 10 losing to an unranked opponent, usually that team drops in the rankings. That, however, is not the case today. Two weeks ago, Queens (N.C.) made the trip to the West coast and competed against the likes of Cal State San Marcos and UC San Diego. The end result put the Royals in the runner-up position behind Cal State San Marcos.


Honestly, the trip was not a bad one. Anthony Raftis finished 2nd overall in a close finish with a time of 24:11. Seb Anthony was the next runner in for the Royals in 6th place. Nick Kipkemei and Erick Sanchez were the three and four runners while Felix Wammetsberger finished as the final scorer for Queens.


This team is still talented and an early-season loss doesn’t mean a whole lot for them as their depth should only improve. For what it’s worth, their seven runners were all in before San Marcos’ were. In a bigger meet, we’d expect to see a different result.


9. Cal State San Marcos Cougars (Unranked)

Knocking off a top 10 team in the first real contest of the season will certainly grab our attention. That’s exactly what the Cougars from San Marcos did two weekends ago.

At the Cougar Challenge, Joshua Litwiller led his team with a 3rd place finish just a second back of the top two finishers. He was the #3 runner at the West Regional Championships last year and it's clear that he has made improvements since then. Finishing behind him were Kibrom Elias (Cuyamaca transfer) and Shea Vavra. The idea here is that this is their top three moving forward, and if that’s the case then San Marcos has the ability to finish as a top team in the country when it’s all said and done.


Their #4 and #5 runners were Robert Marin and Phillip Dorado. For Dorado, he just ran a minute faster (24:48) than he had ever before for 8000 meters. His improvement is going to be a huge development for the Cougars in 2019. Meanwhile, Marin looks to be a strong #5 option. Their depth will need to improve, but this is a dangerous team.


8. Alaska Anchorage Seawolves (+1 / 9)

We see Alaska Anchorage only move up because a team has fallen out of this top 10. They’ve only competed once and it was a dual meet with Alaska Fairbanks. Wesley Kirui is still a top runner in the country, but we don't have any further analysis on this team.


7. Chico State Wildcats (0 / 7)

One of the few teams that stayed put this week is Chico State. The Wildcats ran at the Stump Invitational on 9/13 with Trad Berti acting as their top finisher. Teammate Wyatt Baxter was 2nd in that race and continues to look like a strong lead man for the Wildcats.


Jhavan Holston was 6th overall and the #3 runner for Chico in terms of scoring. After the top three, it looks like just another talented Chico State team. Tremendous depth. Strong runners. A lot of versatility. They’ll be dangerous moving forward.


6. Sioux Falls Cougars (-3 / 3)

This was the team I thought had the most promise coming into the season. I still think that’s the case, but I am slightly worried after their performance at the Augustana Twilight Meet.

Mason Phillips ran well, finishing 2nd overall in a competitive field. Steven Brown ran well too, finishing 6th overall. However, the interesting component here is that Zach Lundberg didn’t run for the Cougars. A big reason why I thought this team would be successful is that they had a three-headed monster. Of course, with Lundberg not in their lineup, Sioux Falls clearly didn't have enough depth to hold off the likes of Augustana.


5. Missouri Southern Lions (+1 / 6)

Two meets so far for the Lions and two dominants victories for TSR #1 man Gidieon Kimutai. Let’s be clear, this team has a chance to be a top five team at NCAA's as long as Kimutai is healthy.


Their depth is strong with runners Nickson Kiptoo, Ryan Riddle, and Cody Berry serving as key supporting scorers. That should be more than enough to get this team inside the top five come Nationals.


4. Grand Valley State Lakers (+1 / 5)

A strong start to the season for the Lakers. Tanner Chada upheld our low-stick prediction as he finished 3rd overall at the MSU Spartain Invite behind Michigan State ace Morgan Beadlescomb and unattached runner Nathan Martin.


Colin Hermann and Ben Zaremba finished as the next two runners for GVSU, but were further back than expected. It resulted in a 2nd place team finish for the Lakers, but this was still a strong opening meet. While this is expected to be their top three throughout 2019, there’s still lots of time to figure out who will make up the backend of their varsity seven.


3 Adams State Grizzlies (+1 / 4)

Their annual home meet usually shows us what Adams State is working with and while there’s not a whole lot of competition, coach Damon Martin can see what he has in terms of talent moving forward.


This year it appears that Isaiah Rodarte is going to make the leap and become a strong lead runner for the Grizzlies. Kale Adams looks to be returning to form which gives Adams State a potential 1-2 punch.


We’re going to keep an eye on Joshua Joseph because if he returns to the form of just a few years ago, it could make the Grizzlies even more potent than they are now. Improvement from Paddy Robb, Miguel Villar, and Dane Blomquist will be important if Adams State wants to stay competitive.


2. Colorado Mines Orediggers (0 / 2)

Simply put, the Orediggers dominated the UCCS Rust Buster. They had a perfect score of 15 points after being led by freshman Chris Cathcart. Dylan Ko and Kyle Moran also crossed the line at 24:46. Ben Schneiderman and Luc Hagen were just a second behind at 24:47. The loss of Logan Ramlet hasn’t done much to hurt the depth of this Oredigger team and with plenty of talent, we should expect to see them towards the top later on in the year.


1. Western Colorado Mountaineers (0 / 1)

Only one real meet for the Mountaineers this season. They went to Wyoming to participate in the Wyoming Invite. They finished 4th out of five teams, but they fell to Wyoming, Colorado and Colorado State (three established Mountain region programs).


Charlie Sweeney was the top Mountaineer finishing 6th overall with teammate Taylor Stack back in 10th place. This is likely a duo that will interchange as the season goes on. Ross Husch was the team's #3 scorer in 32nd with Juan Diaz and Ricky Esqueda in 40th and 42nd, respectively.


Simon Kelati was 34th, but was running unattached. It’s a wonder if coach Jen Michel will pull what looks to be a redshirt in order to provide additional depth. Keep an eye on Ryan Outler as well as he’s run unattached at both the Wyoming and Mountaineer Open this year. He could provide another safety valve for Western.


Lastly, no Ahmed Jama yet. If he doesn’t return in the near future then this team will certainly take a hit in terms of potency. The Mountaineers were looking at five possible All-Americans in 2019 and if he’s not there it could hurt their scoring.

ADDED

Cal State San Marcos Cougars


KICKED OFF

Saginaw Valley State Cardinals


JUST MISSED (in no order)

Saginaw Valley State Cardinals

Michigan Tech Huskies

Augustana (S.D.) Vikings


HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no order)

NW Missouri State Bearcats

Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles

Simon Fraser Clan

Western Washington Vikings


SURPRISE OF THE WEEK

Cal State San Marcos Cougars

Not sure anyone saw this coming besides maybe the Cougars and head coach Torrey Olson. A spectacular run on their home course came with dividends as they enter our top 10 for the first time. They have all of the makings moving forward to be a top 10 team in November.


TEAM OF THE WEEK

Missouri Southern Lions

They seem to have their idea of racing already put together and they’re only going to be getting in better shape as the season goes on. Kimutai is a top three athlete in the NCAA and can make up for any potential slip-ups during championship season.


NOTES

- Saginaw Valley State is not a bad team. CarLee Stimpfel and Ryan Talbott are strong 1-2 runners for them. They’re depth after Dayton Brown is the main concern right now. If they clean that up then they should be fine moving forward.