Iowa State, Texas, and Oklahoma State all have solid runners who can score low points, but what really is going to determine the winner in the BIG 12 is how well their 3-4-5 runners pack together and finish.
Iowa State is led by individual favorite Edwin Kurgat who should only add one point to the Cyclone's team score. The Iowa State men have a very solid supporting cast behind Kurgat in Addison Dehaven, David Too, and Mitchell Day. At Nuttycombe, these three finished between 33rd and 42nd, were separated by only seven seconds, and helped carry the team to a 4th place finish in a deep field. Iowa State will need to rely on their #5 and #6 guys to close out the scoring relatively quickly if they want to make this an easy win.
Then we have Texas who hasn’t run their top seven since the Chile Pepper Festival, a meet they won by 22 points over D2 powerhouse Colorado Mines and 51 points over BIG 12 rival Oklahoma State.
Like Iowa State, the Longhorns have a man up front and then a strong 2-3-4 pack behind him. Sam Worley is the man to watch for Texas as he should be a top 10 finisher this weekend. Behind him, veteran John Rice and two freshmen - Cruz Gomez and Haftu Knight - elevate the Longhorns. Those two mentioned true freshmen have been pivotal to the success of the Texas men this year, but it will be interesting to see how their youth translates to a championship meet such as this.
Finally, we have Oklahoma State who finished a respectable 11th at Pre-Nationals just a few weeks ago. In that race, Isai Rodriguez made his season debut for the Pokes after not competing since late February and just like many of us expected, he made a statement with his 3rd place finish. Rodriguez’s low points will be useful for the Cowboys in this meet, but it may be a moot point if Smeeton and/or Hatte don't run (which we believe they will). The real test for this team will be seeing how their #4 and #5 perform when they need them the most.
As long as Hatte is not injured and Ryan Smeeton is added back to the roster, things should only be getting better for Oklahoma State
Kurgat of Iowa State will lead the field this weekend as he the very heavy favorite to take home the win. He has been on a roll this season, taking down elite competition at the John McNichols Invite and Nuttycombe. At John McNichols, Kurgat was four seconds ahead of 2nd place before he extended that difference at Nuttycombe where he crossed the line 10 seconds ahead. Kurgat is the defending champion from last year’s conference championship and is expected to repeat that performance.
Another Iowa State Cyclone who could make some noise is Addison Dehaven who has the ability to finish in the top five come Saturday. Dehaven, an All-American transfer from Boise State, has slid right into the #2 position for the Cyclones as expected and he has not disappointed. So far this season, Dehaven has finished 11th at John McNichols and 33rd at Nuttycombe. If he puts the pieces together on the right day, he will not only help add key low points for Iowa State, but he will also gain some confidence before the regional meet and NCAA's.
Oklahoma State’s Rodriguez will be going after his first conference title this weekend in Waco, Texas. He hadn’t competed since the BIG 12 Indoor Championships in late February, but he returned to the grass in a big way at Pre-Nationals. Rodriguez placed 3rd against some stiff competition and was only three seconds off from 1st place Conner Mantz. He has a set of wheels and could challenge Kurgat down the homestretch.
Hatte, another Oklahoma State runner, will be another potential top three finisher. He was the bronze medalist last year at this meet and it is very possible that he replicates that performance. The only point of concern for Hatte was that he did not finish his race at Pre-Nationals, so long as he is not injured, Hatte could redeem himself prior to the Midwest Regional Championships.
Worley of Texas has had two top 10 finishes at the Big 12 XC Championships and this year should be no different. As a freshman in 2017, Worley placed 3rd and then last year, he was 8th. The Longhorn ace has put together two solid performances this fall, finishing 11th at Bill Dellinger and 7th at Chile Pepper, leading us to believe that he could have a big showing in Waco this weekend.
1. Iowa State
3. Oklahoma State
5. Kansas State
1. Edwin Kurgat (Iowa State)
2. Isai Rodriguez (Oklahoma State)
3. Ashenafi Hatte (Oklahoma State)
4. Addison Dehaven (Iowa State)
5. Sam Worley (Texas)
The women's team title at the BIG 12 Cross Country Championships can be considered wide-open this fall. There is no one dominant team, but Oklahoma State, Texas, West Virginia, and Iowa State will make this a must-watch race.
Oklahoma State and Iowa State will need to prove themselves this weekend before heading into the Midwest regional meet. According to our Kolas projections, West Virginia will be on the outside looking in while Oklahoma State will likely not be in the qualifying conversation (given the current point totals).
If you look at this meet beyond bragging rights, there is a lot at stake here from a Kolas perspective. Two or three of these teams could realistically find themselves in automatic qualifying positions two weeks from now, so it's important that teams who need the Kolas points secure them this weekend.
Let's begin our meet analysis with Oklahoma State, a team that did not start their season until the Chile Pepper Festival. In Arkansas, they placed 4th behind TSR #1 Arkansas, Texas, and West Virginia. The Cowgirls took a blow when Sinclaire Johnson turned professional before completing her NCAA eligibility, but two women have stepped up to bat.
Molly Born and Taylor Somers have proven that they are two of the individual favorites heading into the conference meet and they will lead this young and developing team. These two finished 5th (Born) and 6th (Somers) at Chile Pepper before excelling again at Pre-Nationals when they finished 8th (Born) and 9th (Somers). Having these two finish together is going to help Oklahoma State score valuable low points, especially with such a large gap between them and their bottom three scorers. Just like their men's team, the bulk of Oklahoma State's success this weekend will be determined in the second half of their scoring lineup.
Texas is the next team to watch at BIG 12’s. The Longhorns haven’t put up stellar results this season, but they still have the ability to finish in the top three. In big invitationals, Texas has finished 7th (Bill Dellinger) and 2nd (Chile Pepper) which is relatively respectable in the grand scheme of things.
At Chile Pepper, the women of Texas took down five other BIG 12 schools, but Oklahoma State and West Virginia have improved significantly since that race. Destiny Collins and Kathryn Gillespie have traded roles for leading this team and both will need to work together to score as few points as possible up front.
The Longhorns have formed packs by grouping their 1-2-3 runners and 4-5-6 runners in most of their meets so far this season. Closing the gap between those two packs will be crucial towards Texas stay competitive with Oklahoma State and West Virginia (among others).
West Virginia put together a very solid performance at Nuttycombe when they finished 21st, six places higher than conference rival Iowa State. Although West Virginia doesn’t have a star up front, they only had a 31 second spread between their top five. Such a low spread will help the Mountaineers compete for a top three finish this weekend (or more). If they can perform like they did at Chile Pepper, when they were only 10 points behind Texas, big things could happen for WVU.
Iowa State is the final team to keep an eye on. Callie Logue is the individual favorite and has been a big bright spot for the Cyclones this season. However, behind Logue is a huge gap where points have been adding up quickly for the Cyclones.
At Nuttycombe, Iowa State scored 656 points and had a 2:06 time spread among their top five. This team hasn’t gained any Kolas points (based on current projections), so if they don't put together a major performance this weekend, then their season will most likely end at the Midwest Regional Championships.
Logue of Iowa State is the individual favorite heading into BIG 12’s, but she will have company up front with the Oklahoma State duo of Born and Somers. Logue has had a decent season thus far, finishing 8th at John McNichols and then 25th at Nuttycombe. The Cyclone ace will have her work cut out for her this weekend if she wants to repeat as the individual champion.
Born and Somers of Oklahoma State have finished in the top 10 of their past two races. Most recently, they took down some big names at Pre-Nationals en route to two breakout performances in a deep field. Born was 16th last fall at BIG 12’s and has already shown improvement since then. Somers was the 9th place finisher last fall and appears ready to challenge Logue (and Born) for the individual title.
Collins of Texas was 4th at this meet in 2018 and could find herself in the top five again this weekend. Collins has finished 27th at Bill Dellinger and 7th at Chile Pepper this fall. She will need to use the confidence she had at Chile Pepper to compete with some of the top women in the NCAA.
Hayley Jackson of West Virginia is another top 10 returner from last fall after finishing 8th. Jackson has had a slower start to her 2019 season, placing 30th at Chile Pepper and 69th at Nuttycombe. West Virginia will need a big performance from Jackson to help elevate the team to the podium.
1. Oklahoma State
3. West Virginia
4. Iowa State
5. Texas Tech
1. Molly Born (Oklahoma State)
2. Cailie Logue (Iowa State)
3. Taylor Somers (Oklahoma State)
4. Destiny Collins (Texas)
5. Hayley Jackson (West Virginia)