Change Of Plans



With most race schedules released, The Stride Report found that a number of programs have changed which meets they will attend from 2016. These changes in meet selection have these seven invitationals shaping up to have some exciting battles...

NOTE: We did not find any significant moves for Roy Griak, Paul Short, or the Wisconsin Invite. They are not listed in this article. Let us know who we missed or if we made any errors!

Crimson Classic: Alabama vs Kentucky vs Middle Tennessee State vs Florida State

Notable Additions

Kentucky

Middle Tennessee State

Florida State

Notable Returners

Alabama

The Matchup

The Crimson Classic might as well be titled the "Battle of the South" as three of TSR's Top 25 teams will all meet on October 13th. Although this race is later on in the season, we'll get a clearer answer of what we should expect in the postseason after watching this trio race each other. Can Alabma's top three hold off more complete squads like Kentucky and MTSU who have the front-runners AND depth? At a smaller venue like this, Alabama could be at risk for a potential upset.

We also have to acknowledge that his may be a great opportunity for Kentucky and Florida State to get some Kolas points. If either team can somehow pull off the overall win, then it is very possible that the Wildcats or Seminoles could walk away with two Kolas points (if we assume both Alabama and MTSU secure auto-lock spots at the South Region Championships). Could the Crimson Classic be the make or break meet for both Kentucky and FSU's 2017 season?

Dellinger Invite: Oregon vs Stanford vs BYU vs Portland

Notable Additions

Stanford

BYU

Washington

Notable Returners

Oregon

Portland

The Matchup

It may be an early season rust-buster, but when you look at the teams entered to race, there could be some serious Kolas points on the line. With the Stanford Invite suspended until next year, the Cardinal is on the look out for a new meet to shake off the dust at the beginning of the season. They typically don't race their top guys until Wisconsin, but could a meet like this be too good to not take seriously?

The opportunity for Kolas points is huge for both Oregon and BYU who aren't necessarily locks for a top two spot at their regional meets. With the West and Mountain regions still filled with talent, neither the Ducks nor the Cougars should solely rely on earning an auto-lock spot.

At the same time, this meet is huge for teams like Portland and Washington who aren't expected to take an auto-lock spot in the West region. If they can grab one or two Kolas points at this meet, it will certainly ease the pressure of trying to earn more points later on in the season.

Cowboy Jamboree: Oklahoma State vs Ole Miss

Notable Additions

Ole Miss

Notable Returners

Oklahoma State

The Matchup

For many fans of the sport, this may seem like a rematch of last year's Penn State Open that took place in the later portion of the season. However, Ole Miss has opted out of competing at Penn State and has decided to race at Pre-Nats instead. Racing at the Cowboy Jamboree simply makes up for the Rebels not racing the Cowboys later on in the season.

So why is this important?

This will be a season where Ole Miss relies on inexperienced and younger guys to make up for the loss of four graduates. Development and progression is the key to a successful fall and I'm not so sure we will see that by the time the Cowboy Jamboree starts. If the Rebels are soundly defeated by Oklahoma State, don't overreact. It's a long season and the results could be different if these two are able to meet at NCAA's, especially if Cerake Geberkidane is still having complications with his injury from last year.

Oregon XC Preview: Oregon vs Boise State vs Washington State vs Portland

Notable Additions (1st ever meet)

Boise State

Washington State

Portland

Oregon

The Matchup

The Oregon Preview is a new meet that the Ducks have added to their schedule and it seems to have attracted some excellent talent so far.

Much like the Dellinger Invite, the Oregon Preview is another opportunity for West regional rivals to pull off some upsets and earn potential Kolas points. One of these teams are more than likely to be an automatic qualifier for NCAA's and I'm sure this field knows that.

Although we don't know how seriously some of these teams will take this meet, the Oregon Preview should be able to answer some early season questions we have such as "How strong is Portland after losing five of their top seven from NCAA's?" and "What will Oregon look like without Cheserek in the scoring?". If all four of these teams run their 'A' squads then I'm sure we'll be able to get a lot of answers.

Joe Piane (Notre Dame) Invite: Colorado vs Alabama

Notable Additions

Colorado

Michigan

Notable Returners

Alabama

UTEP

Southern Utah

Washington State

Eastern Michigan

Bradley

The Matchup

Joe Piane is set up to be one of the more exciting meets of the season as Colorado and Michigan join a deep field of strong competitors. Admittedly, it's a little surprising to see Colorado entered in two big invites for one season (Notre Dame and Pre-Nats). The Buffaloes typically lie under the radar throughout cross country so to see this meet on their schedule is a bit surprising.

Nonetheless, this will be the perfect challenge for Alabama who will have not yet faced a powerhouse program until this point in the season. It will be interesting to see how Alabama's top three challenges Klecker and Dressel.

The Michigan Wolverines will return to the Notre Dame course for the first time since 2012. They will join Southern Utah and Washington State in the chase to pick up Kolas points as they attempt to get out of their difficult regional meets.

Greater Louisville Classic: NAU vs Wisconsin vs Boise State

Notable Additions

Wisconsin

Boise State

Illinois

Notable Returners

Virginia Tech

Middle Tennessee State

The Matchup

It was a slightly down year for the GLC in 2016 as Virginia Tech and Middle Tennessee seemed to be the two biggest names in the field. Since then, the meet has gone back to attracting big-time programs like Northern Arizona, Wisconsin, and Boise State. NAU will most likely enter this meet as the favorites while Wisconsin and Boise State will battle with relatively equal talent. Overall, we should expect a very close matchup. How many guys can Boise State get across the finish the line before Wisconsin's 2nd or 3rd scorer? That will most likely be the difference maker in regards to who beats who. As for NAU? They'll just need to run like we know they can...

Of course, there are plenty of other teams behind that top three which could put on some great performances. Virginia Tech is returning a good portion of their 2016 team while Middle Tennessee State seems to have one of the more complete top five in this field. Illinois' depth could also play a huge role in how they place at this meet.

Pre-Nats: Arkansas vs BYU vs Oregon vs Furman vs Colorado

Notable Additions

BYU

Georgetown

Ole Miss

Texas

Georgia

Notable Returners

Oregon

Colorado

Arkansas

Furman

The Matchup

Much like the Greater Louisville Classic, 2016 was a bit of a down year for Pre-Nats as most teams opted for Wisconsin. However, it seems like that trend has been broken as many top-tier teams are set to enter this race once again.

The race at the front won't be too different as Oregon, Arkansas, and Colorado will be returning to Louisville. However, they will be joined by a BYU team that pulled off some major upsets last year as well as a greatly improved Furman squad.

Can Arkansas' low-sticks get revenge on a Cheserek-less Oregon team? Will Colorado have another conservative performance? Will BYU and Furman's depth be the difference maker in a 270+ person field? The speculation and different racing styles that each team holds sets the stage for an excellent Pre-Nats meet.

Other programs like Georgetown, Georgia, Ole Miss, and Texas aren't the most complete programs through five runners, but it will be a great point in the season to see how well some of their younger runners are progressing.

#ncaa #gzatlin #preview