Cusick's D2 Review: Update #2


By: John Cusick


Week four of the season (week three by our standard) has come and gone. While it seems like the season is progressing rather quickly, there are still a few things that we haven’t seen.

We're still waiting for Colorado School of Mines to debut their top lineup, leaving us with questions about the Orediggers. They’re not scheduled to run again until October 13th at the Fort Hays State Tiger Open.


As the weeks go on, we’ll continue to dive into the results of meets where D2 programs left a mark in the team results. We’ll also begin to look at squads who may make a splash later on in the season (as well as teams who may not be as strong as we initially thought).


Let us begin.


Chile Pepper XC Festival

In what used to be one of the best meets in the year for some teams to race at, we had a fair share of teams who did well while looking towards November.


The first team on that list is Dallas Baptist who finished 3rd overall behind Arkansas and Iowa Central CC. We have Andrew Curry ranked as one of our top competitors for the individual title, but it was Stetson Rayas who led the Patriots on this day. He finished in 5th place and obviously served as the low stick for DBU. Curry was the number two man coming in at 11th.


Trent Phelps was a strong third place finisher for DBU in 19th overall. That's a great top three for the Patriots, but where the concern begins (as withmost teams) is at the four and five spots. Their fourth was Matthew Hahn who was 65th and Ivan Hernandez was the last scorer in 90th place. If they are able to tighten that gap as the season goes on, a podium finish for the Patriots is something definitely within reason.


Missouri Southern State was the 6th overall team at Chile Pepper and were once again led by Gidieon Kimutai. The upstart freshman had another successful race for the Lions which led them to a strong team finish.


Behind Kimutai is wehre the Lions may be hard pressed. Josh Webb was the next best scorer (50 seconds behind) in 43rd. Nickson Kiptoo was 55th, Mike Shanahan was 69th, and Tadd Capron was the final scorer in 76th.


Kevin Koester was 77th and the next man in for Missouri Southern, showing us that there is a bit of depth on this roster. That 6th man finished ahead of Dallas Baptist’s number five. It’ll be exciting to see how this team improves as the season goes on and to see what they can do when it comes to regionals.


Fort Hays State finished in 8th place and were led by junior Seppe Van’t Westende who crossed the line in 38th. Despite not having a super low scorer, the Tigers made up for it with a tight pack. Reed Rome was 63rd, Brett Meyer was 68th, Layton Werth was 70th, and Alex Barbosa was 74th. The time between those runners? Six seconds. That’s pretty incredible and leaves a lot of room for improvement. If this team can improve upon their positioning (i.e. their time) or have a breakout low-stick, the Tigers could make some noise at their regional meet come November.


Alabama-Huntsville, much like Fort Hays, didn’t have much of a low scorer as Benjamin Knox was 51st on the day. Their second man was Jay Day (incredible name by the way) in 66th place. However, their bottom three scorers were eight seconds away from each other as Hunter Nails was 82nd, Brydon Groves-Scott was 89th, and Harold LaCroix was 91st.


A team that stood out to me was Lindenwood who saw a strong effort from their top four runners. Austin Crowe was 34th with teammates Ero Doce, Jerod Broadbooks, and Benjamin Stasney finishing 37th, 42nd, and 57th, respectively. Their only downfall? The lack of a fifth runner.


Samuel Yaro was 337th and ultimately caused their team result to drop. Looking at their roster, we are not sure if this is the only option they have right now. If they can find any improvement upon that part of their team, it will greatly benefit them down the road.


Other teams that were at Chile Pepper included Tampa, Oklahoma Baptist, and Emporia State. These three teams were all under the 27:00 minute average for 8000 meters.


Mountain Dew Gator Cross Country Invitational

We had one team above the others at this meet as Embry-Riddle scored 17 points when the D1 schools were taken out. Ryan Szklany was the number one man across the line for the Eagles in 9th overall. Calahan Warren was next in 20th with his teammate Lelei Too right behind him in 21st.


Paul McKenna (26th) and Paris Williams (36th) were the final scorers for the Eagles. The 17 points scored by Embry-Riddle was 52 points better than the next team in Flagler.


Flagler put together a respectable performance as well. They saw their number one man place 28th. Anthony Colasanti was 33rd, Connor Norton was 44th, Trenton Liberty was 48th, and Justin Greene was the fifth scorer in 62nd. Their pack time was just under a minute (57 seconds). With three freshmen in the scoring five, we have plenty of reason to believe that Flagler is just getting started and could see a huge jump towards the end of the season.


Both Lynn and Saint Leo had good overall performances at this meet as well. They finished within three points of each other. While Lynn had the slower average time, they also saw their 1-3 runners finish 37th, 38th and 39th on the day. Saint Leo saw their 1-3 finish 41st, 45th and 51st. While Lynn isn’t ranked in their region, a solid win over the number two team in the South region (Saint Leo) is definitely a resume builder for the Fighting Knights.


GRCC Raider Invitational

We have one team to talk about that competed in the GRCC Raider Invitational this weekend and that would be Wayne State. They had an average time of 24:48 and were runner-up to Aquinas.


While the meet wasn’t the most competitive, Wayne State still had Ethan Byrnes lead the way with a 3rd place finish. Nicolas Trevino also had a great race, finishing 6th overall to keep the team score low. Zac Truman, Zahid Salodawala, and Jack Lacasse had a great pack in the final three scoring spots, finishing 12th, 16th, and 17th respectively.


It's also important to note that their first four runners were freshmen with their fifth scorer being a sophomore. The Warriors look to be in a good spot for the future and should only build confidence from here on out.


UNLV Cross Country Invite

Alaska Anchorage made their way down to Las Vegas this past weekend and simply did what was expected of them at a meet of this size. The Seawolves cruised to an easy team title victory that saw them score 18 points and go 1-2-3-4-8.


The team was led by Wesley Kirui and Felix Kemboi as they both crossed the line in 26:10. Jorge Sanchez was next in 3rd place while Nickson Koech was 4th. Jacob Moos rounded out the scoring for Alaska Anchorage.


The Seawolves finished 40 points ahead of the second place team (UC Riverside). While we may have expected some faster times from the Seawolves at this meet, it looks like they are in the right position as we approach the midway point of the season.


We should also like to note that Dixie State’s Kyle Warrick finished 5th to lead his team.


2018 Harry F. Anderson Invitational

Robert Wesleyan is the only team to note from this race as they took home the team title by a single point over SUNY Geneseo. Wesleyan, despite a slower average time, were able to pack their team together for spots 5-6-7-8-14. Christopher Sims led the Redhawks and was followed by teammates Josiah Ottolini, Nathan Cannon, Shane Pease, and Anthony Casullo. The Redhawks will look to move up in the East Regional rankings after this performance.


17th Annual LHU Invitational/Open

Lock Haven hosted its annual meet and proceeded to finish 2nd overall. They scored 86 points to York’s 83. What's impressive about this race is the fact that Lock Haven was able to place all of their scorers within 10 spots of each other.


Matt Oscovich led the way in 12th place while Aaron Pfeil was two spots behind him in 14th. Luke Vanderhoff, Anson Weidner, and John Davern all finished together in 19th, 20th, and 21st. They were able to put five in front of York’s fifth scorer, but not having an individual crack the top 10 ultimately hurt the Bald Eagles in the team standings.


Texas A&M Invitational

Tarleton State is the big team to talk about here. They placed runner-up behind host team Texas A&M. In doing so, they placed ahead of established D1 programs like Lamar, Tulane, and Houston.


Johen Deleon led the way for the Texans in 6th place serving as the low-stick. Quenten Lassetar was their next scorer, placing 12th overall while Justin Botello finished 19th.


Michael Simcho and Kyle Doty were the final scorers for Tarleton as they finished 25th and 29th, respectively. The South Central may be one of the toughest regions in the NCAA, and although Tarleton State wasn’t ranked last week, this performance could help them help them jump into that conversation.


SMU Ken Garland Classic

The meet hosted by St. Martins was dominated by Western Washington. The Vikings pulled off a complete sweep to win the team title. They had their entire seven finish within the top eight spots.


Ian Fay led the way by taking the individual title. Jadon Olson was 2nd, Kyler Sager was 3rd, James Jasperon was 4th, and Eric Hamel was 5th.


For good measure, Edward Kiolbasa and Bentley Wilson were 7th and 8th on the day. Western Washington was ranked 6th in the West region last week, but this should help them move up despite the lack of competition at the meet.


San Francisco State Invitational

The last meet to talk about is the San Francisco State Invite which saw Academy of Art place 2nd behind a strong Biola team.


Leading the way was Victor Moreau who took home the individual win. Teammate Rabah Houali was behind him in 3rd while Freddie Hessian finished 5th, giving Art U three strong low-sticks on the day.


Art U lost pace with Biola at the fourth and fifth scoring spots as Logan Briner was 32nd and Joshua Browne was 34th. Both are just freshmen which means there is room for them to improve.

***


There is a ton to discuss and so much to decipher. Teams are beginning to gear up for their most important meets of the year. Qualifying for Nationals is now creeping into everyone's mind. The new regional rankings came out today and that should be a good indicator of where some of these teams currently stand.


In other words, the show is just getting started.


‘Til next time, cheers.