Cusick's D2 Review: Update #6


The season is beginning to wind down as teams begin their prep for conference championships. With that preparation comes less action each week. That being said, we still had some solid performances across the country. Slippery Rock hosted the Pre-Nationals meet and with that came some surprise performances (as well as a big statement).


2018 Lenoir-Rhyne University CC Classic

There are two teams here that we want to talk about. The host team, Lenoir-Rhyne, and Tusculum.


After jumping into the top 10 of the Southeast Region, Lenoir-Rhyne didn’t slow down as they saw themselves take home the team title with a very solid performance. Josh Adkins led the Bears on the day with a 3rd place finish in a time of 25:53. His teammate Jayden Hefner was behind him in 4th place and nine seconds back in 26:02. Dasani Hawkins was next in 6th place (26:11). Corbin Boyles finished in 7th place (26:23) while Petar Ivackovic (26:31) was 8th place and concluded the scoring for the Bears at 25 points.


As for Tusculum, they took home 2nd place and were led by a 1-2 overall finish from their harriers. Jackson Beason covered the course in 25:22 and was 14 seconds ahead of his teammate TJ Tupps. After dropping out of the regional top 10, it looked like Tusculum bounced back extremely well. Kyler Hodges was the next athlete across the line in 9th place. Daniel Rotich (15th) and J’Quen Johnson (17th) were the 4th and 5th runners for Tusculum. With the 2nd place finish, it would be no surprise to see them move forward in their region once again.


45th Western Washington University Cross Country Classic

We have another 10k prep race that features many D2 teams. Obviously hosted by Western Washington, it was sure to bring it’s fair share of talent with it.

We saw Simon Fraser, Alaska Anchorage, Western Washington, and UCCS finish as the top four teams. I think it’s fair to say that Simon Fraser and Alaska Anchorage had the best days of the four teams.


Simon Fraser walked away with the win by 11 points over Alaska Anchorage. Rowan Doherty was the lead man in 4th place and Pierre-Louis Detourbe was right behind him in 5th. Sean Miller and Carlos Vargas were 7th and 9th which gave them a nine second spread between runners 1-4.


Aaron Ahl was the fifth man in 19th to secure the victory. Simon Fraser had 1-5 spread time of 48 seconds which is already very impressive considering the race was over 10,000 meters. The depth and consistency of this team should not only place them in the conversation for being a serious GNAC title contender, but the West region as well.


The Seawolves finished runner-up and had the top two runners in the race in Felix Kemboi (31:40) and Wesley Kirui (31:51). Nickson Koech and Jorge Sanchez were 10th and 11th to keep pace with Simon Fraser. It was their fifth man (Kaleb Korta) who finished in 34th place to drop them into 2nd place.


If that fifth scoring spot is improved upon, they should find themselves in a good position. Their 2nd place finish also secured a win over Western Washington who was ranked ahead of them going into the weekend. This performance should give them confidence moving forward.


Western Washington came back down to earth a bit this weekend as they saw their team finish in 3rd place. They were led by Eric Hamel who snuck inside the top 10 with a 9th place finish (32:18). The Vikings tried to make up the deficit by placing four runners between 20th 27th. Edward Kiolbasa was 20th, James Jasperson was 24th, Kyler Sager was 26th, and Liam Cossette was 27th. The time spread of those four was 17 seconds. Moving forward, if they can drop the distance between their number one and number two they’ll be good moving forward.


A surprise team that I didn’t expect to see out here was UCCS. The Mountain Lions traveled a long way to compete in a race that didn’t necessarily help them. While the distance was 10,000 meters, they’ll still have to compete at elevation when it comes to their regional. They finished in 4th place and two points behind Western Washington. They saw three athletes finish in the top 25 in Tim Howley (14th), Afeworki Zeru (15th), Sam Nofziger (17th) and Willie Moore (22nd). They had a spread time of 22 seconds. Mark Simmons was the fifth man in 38th place and was 36 seconds back of Moore. While the placing is good for UCCS, it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out for them within their own region where they’ll see even tougher competition.


Mount Marty Invite

This meet looked more like a tune up for Sioux Falls as they took home the team title in a perfect score of 15. Mason Phillips and Jase Kraft led the way as they finished 1-2 in a time of 25:13. Steven Brown was 3rd while Zach Lundberg and Billy Beseman closed out the scoring. Looking at times, it certainly looks like it was treated as a workout. Especially with Augustana (S.D.) not running any of their top athletes.


NSIC Preview

MSU-Moorhead won this meet with a total of 16 points over U-Mary. John Young (1st) and Nadir Yusuf (2nd) led the way for the Dragons and finished only a second apart. Nick Marshall was 5th overall with Jay Biwer coming in right behind him 11 seconds later. It appears that they’re still looking for a stronger fifth runner as Hunter Kjelshus was 15th and almost a minute back of Biwer.


12th Annual Sand Shark Invitational

Embry-Riddle scored 58 points on their way to a team title in South Carolina over the weekend. Shaun Bullock (25:15) was the 4th finisher overall and was the first of three athletes inside the top 10. Lelei Too and Callahan Warren were 6th and 7th to give Embry-Riddle a strong start to the meet. Paul McKenna was the number four man in 18th and Paris Williams finished as the number five in 23rd, solidifying a team win and another strong performance against South region opponents.


Florida Southern was the 2nd place team with 82 points. Mason Jones was the lone man inside the top 10 for them and finished in 3rd place and a time of 25:14. Florida Southern placed runners 2-3-4 inside the top 20 to help try and make up the gap. Joshua Wagner was 14th, Dean McGregor was 15th, and Warran Grajalez was 20th. Mitchell Kozik was 30th and the final scorer for the Moes.


SRU - Pre Nationals

This was probably the biggest meet of the weekend and it contained three top 10 teams. With that in mind, we finally saw Colorado Mines make their debut and with that debut came a huge statement.


We also saw Mount Olive, Queens (N.C.), Cedarville, Malone, Walsh, and Hillsdale all compete this weekend.


Let’s begin with Colorado Mines. They scored 19 points. Yes, you read that right. Against six top 25 teams, they made it look rather easy. This was a long awaited debut for the Orediggers as they are clearly getting ready for another run at a national title and this shows that they are ready to go. Grant Colligan ran away with he individual title with a time of 25:46 and was 12 seconds better than teammate Josh Hoskinson (25:08) who finished 2nd. Luc Hagen (25:13) was 3rd overall and was 17 seconds behind Colligan. Logan Ramlet was 5th and Derek Steele was eighth and the final scorer for the Orediggers. It’s safe to say that the RMAC Championships and South Central regional are going to be worth watching.


Two teams from the Southeast region also joined Mines in their preview of the national course. Mount Olive and Queens (N.C.) tied each other with 126 points on the day. Mount Olive received the second place spot while Queens was third. Tai Smith (25:42) and Jacob Gonzalez (25:46) finished 9th and 10th and were the first two guys for the Spartans. Alexandre Durand was 22nd and Jereamy Hall was 25th while serving as three and four. Most of their points came from their number five man as Jacob Willis was all the way back in 69th place.


As for Queens, it looks like they took this race as a time to get used to the course they expect to be on in just over a month. Nick Kipkemei led the Royals with a 13th place finish and was the only one under 26:00. Daniel Wallis was 27th, Yannik Duppich was 29th, Seb Anthony was 30th, and Anthony Raftis was 31st. While this may affect their regional ranking a tiny bit, it shouldn’t mean too much moving forward. If anything, it signifies a strong Southeast regional meet is in the future.


Cedarville was the 4th place team with 158 points. Ethan Sullivan (16th) and Trenton Classen (21st) were both inside the top 25 and were the top scorers for the Yellowjackets in a strong team performance. Caleb Pendleton was 38th, Alec Weinhold was 41st, and Andrew Shell was 49th. The pack time for Cedarville was 44 seconds which bodes well for future competitions.


Malone was the 5th place team despite having a faster team time than Cedarville by a second and having the same average time. They were led by George McCartney who finished in 7th place (25:35) and was ultimately the reason for the faster combined time. Zach Fresenko was 24th and Noah Chaplin was 39th. Brett Cortelletti and Christopher Cannon finished 50th and 51st to cap the scoring for Malone.


Walsh is the last team we want to talk about here as they finished 6th. Noah Murray (17th) and Jacob Kernell (20th) were both inside the top 20 to lead them on the day and were only seven seconds apart. Jacob Caniford was 28th and was the last man inside the top 30. Runners four and five were Jacob Turner (55th) and Ed Walsh (57th). They finished with 197 points and saw a spread time of less than a minute.


UCM Mule Run

The team to talk about here is Missouri Southern. They ran away with the team title with 22 points and were 43 points ahead of the 2nd place team in Southwest Baptist. Going 1-2 overall and leading Missouri Southern was Nickson Kiptoo (25:27) and Gideon Kimutai (25:28). Teammates Cody Berry and Josh Webb finished in 4th and 5th and both crossed the line in 25:33. Mike Shanghai was the last runner to score in 10th place, just under the 26:00 barrier at 25:59.


Festival Year Fiasco

Cal Poly Pomona and Southern Indiana met in Evansville and clashed in a tight team race that saw the Broncos come out on top.


Cal Poly placed all of their top five inside the top 12 of the race that put them 11 points ahead of Southern Indiana. Damon Smythe led them in third place in a time of 25:39. His teammates Tristan Sylva (8th), Alejandro Ambrosios (10th), Jeremiah Suzara (11th) and Jonathan Woolf (12th) all finished within 12 seconds of each other and helped the Broncos take home the victory.


As for Southern Indiana, it looked like they were running away with the meet as Austin Nolan and Titus Winders finished 1st and 2nd, both in a time of 25:11. They finished 24 seconds ahead of Smythe and also saw Grady Wilkinson (their third scorer) finish in 7th place. Nathan Hall was the number four man in 20th while Jake Wisniweski was five spots back in 25th to give the Screaming Eagles 55 points and a runner-up team finish.


Going through the athletes who ran, I’m not entirely sure if this was either team’s "A" squad. If it isn’t, there is definitely room for improvement on both sides.


Bobcat Cross Country Invitational

UNC-Pembroke definitely had the best day in terms of teams who were looking to gain confidence going into conference weekends. Silus Kipkoech and Joshua Chepkesir finished 1st and 2nd overall and were within one second of each other, running 24:08 and 24:09. They were almost a minute ahead of 3re place, which also happened to be their teammate Logan Ward (giving them the podium sweep). Their fourth runner was Matthew Martin who was 46 seconds back of Ward in 16th. Jonathan Martin was 41st and the number five man.


Despite such a strong showing, they’ll need to continue to develop their fifth runner to be competitive outside their conference and regional meet. Both Kipkoech and Chepkesir are enough to help this team win conference and qualify for regionals.


Alabama-Huntsville also saw a very successful day. They had all five of their runners inside the top 25 and had a spread time of 1:03 seconds. Jay Day was 5th overall in 25:13 with his teammate Brydon Groves-Scott in 12th place at 25:31. Benjamin Knox and Jacob Bishop were 18th and 19th while John McCrackin was 23rd. It goes to show what running as a pack can do for an entire team as Alabama-Huntsville finished 12 points back of UNC-Pembroke. This is definitely something they can build upon as they enter their conference meet.


UC San Diego Triton Classic

There isn’t a whole lot to talk about here except for Chico State. They scored a perfect 15 points and placed nine runners inside the top 10. They were all were under the 26:00 mark. It’s safe to say that Chico continues to flex their depth. Wyatt Baxter (1st), Eddie King (2nd), Jason Intravaia (3rd), Teddy Kassa (4th), and Jack Johnson (5th) led the Wildcats to 15 points while finishing seven seconds apart from each other. They’re obviously ready for the conference championships and are looking to use that depth for a title run.


***


We’re a day late on these recaps and we apologize for that. Conference weekend is almost upon us. Athletes are beginning to really hit their stride and we are starting to see teams come to the forefront in terms of readiness for the big stage. It’ll be interesting to see how certain programs make the conversion to 10k races in five weeks as that ultimately will define their season.


We will be bringing you conference previews in the upcoming week and a half and we couldn’t be more excited. Bragging rights are on the line and both the team and individual races are going to be tight.