Cusick's D2 Review: Update #7


Welcome back ladies and gentlemen. I hope you all enjoyed your D2 conference weekend as well as the D1 regional championships. I know I certainly did. Last week, saw some epic races that will have some impact within the regional rankings and definitely a bigger impact within the national picture.


We saw individuals who were thought to be a lock for the win and they came up short. Teams came together for some surprise performances and we had teams that held down the fort when it came to winning their conference.


We’re going to get into some brief recaps of the weekend’s meets as there was tons of action. Check it out below.


NE-10 Cross Country Championships

Southern Connecticut State, Stonehill, and American International battled it out a day after most conferences. They all finished within 10 points of each other with Southern Connecticut State taking home the title.


SCSU were able to have two runners inside the top 10 in Christopher LeBeau (3rd) and Terrell Patterson (7th). Connor Shannahan and Jake Mattei were 10th and 11th and less than a second from each other while their fifth scorer was Steven Cugini was 19th to ensure a victory the Owls. This was a huge victory considering they upset top ranked Stonehill.


Stonehill had the best trio on the day as Lucas Taxter finished 2nd, Alex Demeule was 4th, and Riley Dowd was 5th. Three inside the top five looks very promising as a team, but they didn’t see their fourth and fifth man come in until 21st and 25th. This put them three points behind SCSU.


American International had the individual winner in Leakey Kipkosgei who was six seconds clear of Taxter. The Yellow Jackets number two was Benoit Campion in 12th place with Siem Mehretu in 14th, Patric Clark in 16th, and Charlie Joslin-Allen in 17th.


CCAA Conference Championships

There isn’t a whole lot here as we saw Chico State assert their dominance as they won yet another conference title. They finished 44 points ahead of 2nd place Cal St. San Marcos and they had an average time of 24:22, a whole 41 seconds better than San Marcos.


Eddie King led the Wildcats in 24:09 and 1st place overall. Jason Intravaia, Jack Emanuel, Luis Ortega, and Wyatt Baxter were the next scorers in 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th place. This was very much expected from the Wildcats.


San Francisco State’s John Lawson broke up the perfect score for the Wildcats as he finished 2nd in an impressive run that challenged King for the individual title.

Cal St. San Marco was led by Vahagan Isayan in 8th place. Steven Terris was 13th, Josh Litwiller was 15th, Shea Vavra was 17th, and Kevin Lehr was 22nd. This was good enough for 63 points and runner-up as a team. With that performance, they jumped Cal Poly Pomona who were ahead of them in the regional rankings. Overall, this was a nice surprise for those who were following along.


RMAC Conference Championships

We’ll continue the trend of dominant performances as we reach the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. The Adams State Grizzlies won the team title with 30 points and were 41 points better than Western Colorado University who scored 71 points.


Sydney Gidabuday edged out Marcelo Laguera by a second to take home the individual crown. Elias Gedyon was the next Grizzly across the line, five seconds back of Gidabuday and in 3rd place. Isaiah Rodarte was in 5th place. Kale Adams finished in 9th place and was the fourth Grizzly inside the top 10. Danny Dominguez was the fifth scorer in 12th place and was only 43 seconds back of Gidabuday.


Western Colorado had a relatively good day with Taylor Stack leading the way in 4th. Ross Husch was next in 11th place. He was followed by Charlie Sweeney who continued his strong freshman campaign by finishing 13th while Kyle Lewis was 20th and Nicholas Turco was 25th. There was simply too much of a gap here for Western to upset Adams State as their spread was just under 1:20.


Marcelo Laguera and Derrick Williams both had strong races for the Thunderwolves as they finished in the top 10 while leading Pueblo to a 3rd place finish. They’ll need their back three runners to step up in the future.


Last thing to note is that Colorado Mines did not run their "A" squad. It’s clear what their intentions are as they are looking forward to regionals and Nationals.


Sunshine State Conference Championship

Embry-Riddle was the winner of the Sunshine State conference over the weekend as they scored 26 points to beat Florida Southern by 22 points.


Shaun Bullock was the overall winner and he crossed the line in 25:24. His teammate Lelei Too was 25 seconds behind him along with his teammate Calahan Warren in 25:41. Ryan Szklany was in 9th and Paul McKenna was the final scorer for them in 11th place to secure their team victory.

Florida Southern gave Embry-Riddle a run for their money as they had Mason Jones finish 4th, Joshua Wagner and Dean McGregor were 6th and 7th. Mitchell Kozik was 13th and Warran Grajalez was 18th.


Peach Belt Conference Championship

This was one of the best team races over the weekend which UNC Pembroke sneak away with a four point victory over Augusta.


Joshua Chepkesir was the overall winner in 24:22 and he bested his teammate by 19 seconds. Silus Kipkoech was the 2nd place runner for Pembroke. After him was Logan Ward back in 6th place. Matthew Martin was just outside the top 10 in 11th place with Ean Ormsby in 16th place.


As for Augusta, they had Hunter Kimball in 3rd place, Jacob Poston in 4th, and Noah Hulett in 5th. Chandler Kennedy was 9th and Augusta seemed to have the lead as they had their four in before UNC Pembroke had their fourth cross the line. However, Rakeem Littles was the fifth man for Augusta and he crossed the line in 19th place which proved to be the difference.


These two teams were ranked #3 and #4 going into the weekend, so a national bid between them is going to be worth watching on regional weekend.


MIAA Cross Country Championships

Missouri Southern ran away with the title. They scored 31 points, 70 more than 2nd place Nebraska-Kearney.


Gidieon Kimutai continues to make his name known as the next stalwart Lion in D2. He defeated Krim Achengli by five seconds to take home the overall victory on the day. He had teammates Cody Berry and Nickson Kiptoo behind him in 5th and 6th place. Josh Webb was in 8th which gave them four inside the top 10. Mike Shanahan was the last scorer across the line and was 11th to give them the team title handily. They are in a strong position moving forward.


GLVC Championships

Southern Indiana also had a dominant team performance this weekend. Led by Austin Nolan as the overall winner in 24:06, he was 27 seconds better than his next closest teammate. Titus Winders was 2nd place with Nathan Hall in 8th place, giving them three inside the top 10. Grady Wilkinson (13th) and Javan Winders (24th) were the final two across the line in terms of scoring for Southern Indiana.

This looked to be a promising weekend as Southern Indiana sat at #6 in their regional going into conference weekend. It looks like the pieces are falling together at the right time and they should be poised for a breakout at regionals.


Lewis, Illinois-Springfield and Indianapolis were the 2-3-4 teams in the standings and were seperated by a total of 15 points.


Lewis had Daniel Laskero in 6th, Ross Mccormick in 10th, Logan Tabor in 19th, Bryce Medaris in 26th, and Trey Houmes in 29th for a total of 77 points. This was huge result for them as the were not ranked in the region heading into last weekend.


Illinois-Springfield had Tyler Pasley in 5th, Blake Jones in 12th, and Brendan Koreger in 21st. Ryan Stark and Kenton Wilson closed out the scoring with 24th and 25th place finishes for a team total of 85 points.


Indianapolis was the 4th place team with 92 points. They had Chris Switzer in 4th, Taylor Kleyn in 9th, and Jacob Woodrow in 18th. Kieffer Vittetow and Nathan Herbst were the final two scorers in 31st and 32nd.


All three of these programs should see significant a impact within the regional ranking as we move forward.

GLIAC Conference Championships

Grand Valley State scored 19 points on their way to yet another championship.

Zach Panning ran 24:10 and was 25 seconds clear of his teammate Enael Woldemichael to keep his undefeated streak alive on the year. Woldemichael was 2nd in 24:35. Tanner Chada was 4th, and Josh Steible was 5th. Brian Masayesva was the final scorer for the Lakers as he was in 7th place.


Saginaw Valley State was the 2nd place team with 55 points. They had a strong day led by the likes of Tom Goforth who finished in 3rd place. CarLee Stimpfel was 11th with Nate Frasier right behind him in 12th place. Parker Eisengruber and Tellis Donajkowski were 14th and 15th to cap the scoring for the Cardinals.


Gulf South Conference Championships

Lee (Tenn.), Mississippi College, and Alabama-Huntsville had a very tight team race this weekend while being separated by 17 points between the three.


Lee was able to hold on with 49 points to earn a seven point victory over Mississippi College. Christian Noble continues to dominate this year and he took the overall victory with a time of 24:51 (21 seconds ahead of 2nd place). Caleb Eagleson and Jared Herzog were both inside the top 10 at 8th and 9th. Casey Guthery was 13th and Dawson Reed was 18th to give Lee the win.

Jordan Pritchard led Mississippi College in 3rd place. Evan Del Rio was 11th and Will Young was 12th. Gabe Poulin and Sam Darnall were 14th and 16th. Despite having a close pack in their lineup, it wasn’t enough to fend off three in the top 10 from Lee.


Alabama-Hunstville probably looked to be the favorites after the first 10 runners crossed the line. They Jay Day, Benjamin Knox, and Brydon Groves-Scott finish 4th, 5th, and 6th overall. Despite the strong finishes from those three, they were let down by their four and five runners. Jacob Biship was 23rd and Hunter Nails was 28th, ultimately putting them in 3rd place as a team.


Mississippi College should benefit from this win over Alabama-Huntsville as we move towards the biggest weekend this year.


Conference Carolinas Championships

The Mount Olive Spartans secured a team title with a perfect score of 15 points. While doing that, they also had the first 11 athletes across the finish line. Christian Duran, Alexandre Durand, Jereamy Hill, Jacob Willis and Jacob Gonzalez were the first five across the line. They were all within two seconds of each other.


There isn’t much else to talk about here.


East Coast Conference Championships

Roberts Wesleyan took home the team title over St. Thomas Aquinas with four inside the top five on their way to 21 points.


Christopher Sims was 2nd overall, Josiah Ottolini was 3rd, Shane Pease was 4th, and Nathan Cannon was 5th. Anthony Casullo was the last scorer for Wesleyan as he crossed the line in 7th.


St. Thomas Aquinas had a decent day scoring 64 points, but were no match for Roberts Wesleyan. They had four inside the top 20 which helped secure a 2nd place team finish.


Great Midwest Athletic Conference Championships

We had another stellar team battle between the likes of Malone, Walsh and Cedarville over the weekend.


Malone came out on top with 48 points and a three point victory over Walsh. Cedarville was only 10 points back in 3rd.


Malone placed three inside the top 10 including 1st and 2nd overall runners in George McCartney and Zach Fresenko. Noah Chaplik was the third runner in the top 10 with an 8th place team finish.

Nicholas Michels and Lucas Huber were 18th and 19th to secure the three point win over Walsh.


Walsh, like Malone, also placed three in the top 10. Noah Murray was 5th, Jacob Kernell was 7th, and Jacob Caniford was 10th. Mark Hadley was 14th and Beau Boyden was 15th. Despite their five being in before Malone’s, the 1-2 finish of McCartney and Fresenko is what helped Malone win the team title.

Cedarville had two athletes inside the top 10 in Trenton Classen at 3rd and Ethan Sullivan at 4th. Their third runner, Alec Weinhold, didn't cross the line until 12th place. Caleb Pendleton was 17th and Russell Schutz was 22nd to give them a 3rd place finish.


Malone and Walsh both jumped Cedarville in terms of their regional rankings headed into the weekend.


GNAC Cross Country Championships We saw a tight team race between Alaska Anchorage, Simon Fraser, and Western Washington as those three teams were separated by 14 points.


Alaska Anchorage had the first two runners across the line in Wesley Kirui and Felix Kemboi who both ran 24:38. Jorge Sanchez had a great race that saw him finish 7th and give the Seawolves three runners in the top ten. Nickson Koech was 11th and Faisal Ibrahim was 25th.


Simon Fraser saw 3rd and 4th place go to Rowan Doherty and Sean Miller. Pierre-Louis Detourbe was 14th and Aaron Ahl was behind him in 15th. Chris Sobczak was 18th, but that wasn't good enough to combat the 1-2 performance of AAU.

Western Washington saw one of the best team performances on the weekend as they finished 3rd. They placed their top five from 9th to 16th and had a spread time of 21 seconds. Jadon Olson was 9th, Eric Hamel was 10th, James Jasperson was 12th, Kyler Sager was 13th, and Edward Kiolsaba was the last Viking in 16th.


Alaska Anchorage jumped Simon Fraser based on the regional rankings. If Detourbe has the race that's expected of him at regionals, I think we might see these teams flip spots again.


PSAC Championships

Edinboro and Shippensburg battled it out to a 12 point discrepancy that has ultimately solidified these two as national locks.


Edinboro came away with the team victory with 48 points. They had three inside the top 10 with Jared Hallow in 5th, Ward Ríes in 6th, and Colton Cassel in 7th. Corey Wefiing was 11th and Brandon Oswalt was the fifth runner in 19th.


Shippensburg had a similar pack towards the front, they just didn’t have as many inside the top 10. Albert Schrimp was 9th, Dominic Stroh was 10th and Sean Weidner was 12th. They saw their fourth and fifth runners come in 15th and 16th. They’re another team that saw a strong grouping of five runners, but fell victim to a few low-sticks on other teams that were a bit better.


Regardless, both these teams should see themselves racing on December 1st.


South Atlantic Conference Championships

Queens (N.C.) didn’t waste any time to claim their conference title. They placed six inside the top 10 on their way to a 19 point victory.


Daniel Wallis was the overall winner in 24:34. He was followed by Nick Kipkemei in 3rd, Felix Wammetsberger in 4th, Anthony Raftis in 5th, and Jose Rosas in 6th.


Anderson (S.C.) had good meet as well, but they still seem to be lacking a real fourth and fifth runner in order to compete with the top groups. Logan Horning was 9th, Ben Clark was 10th, and Weston Hutto was 11th. Thomas Sutcliffe didn’t finish until 25th while Philip Quillen was 32nd.


NSIC Championships

This was expected to be one of the team races on the weekend and I still think it was.


Sioux Falls claimed the conference title by 21 points over Augustana (S.D.). How’d they do that? By placing four inside the top five ahead of Augustana athletes. Steven Brown upset teammate Mason Phillips to take home the individual title. Phillips was 2nd while Zach Lundberg was 3rd. Jase Kraft rounded out the top five runners in 5th. Billy Beseman had a strong race and finished 22nd to help solidify the win over Augustana.


Jesus Urtusuastegui led Augustana with a 7th place finish. Aaron Runge was 9th, Bonheur Mvuyekure was 11th, Nathan Schroeder was 12th, and Matt Steiger was the final scorer in 14th. They had a spread time of 27 seconds and also had all five in before Sioux Falls. It just goes to show how valuable the low-sticks are for each team.


MSU-Moorhead was the 3rd place team and were led by Josh Young. Young continues to prove that he is a championship runner. If we don’t see them qualify as a team, I’d expect Young to be running on December 1st.

Lone Star Cross Country Championships

This might have been the most exciting team race the whole weekend. West Texas A&M was able to hold off Tarleton State by three points thanks to 2nd place performance from Briggs Wittlake.


Wittlake led A&M in 2nd place with Daniel Haymes in 5th, Butare Rugenerwa in 6th, and Theo Daeschler was 7th. Their fifth runner was Justin Vigil who finished in 14th.


Tarleton State was led by Quenten Lasseter who finished in 3rd place with his teammate Justin Botello right behind him in 4th. Michael Simcho was 9th, Johen Deleon was 10th, and Jarred Elizondo was 11th.


It looked like Tarleton State was going to upset West Texas behind a strong team performance, but they were denied behind Wittlake’s 2nd place finish.


Heartland Conference Championships

Dallas Baptist won their conference meet rather easily with 19 points. They bested 2nd place by 63 points and had five runners in the top seven.


Andrew Curry and Stetson Rayas finished 1st and 2nd both clocking 24:55's. Trent Phelps was 4th and Ivan Hernandez was 5th. Matthew Hahn was the number five man for the Patriots helping them claim the conference title.


PacWest Conference Championships

Biola probably had the best and most surprising performance of the weekend as they upended the Academy of Art.


Biola was led by Gabe Plendcio who took home the individual honors by covering the course in 24:43, 16 seconds faster than 2nd place. Giovanni Orellana finished in 7th place, Angel Escobar was 11th, Jared Donnell was 13th, and Brady DeHaven was the number five in 14th place. The 52 second spread time was good enough for 46 points.


The Academy of Art had three athletes inside the top 10 at the meet led by Freddie Hassan in 3rd place. Rabah Houali was 5th and Victor Moreau was 6th. However, their fourth runner (Hudson Lockette) was 22nd and their fifth runner (Logan Briner) was 35th.


I'm not entirely sure if this was a poor race from Art U, or if Biola had an amazing day. Regardless, this race will be reflected in the regional rankings as we get closer to that race.


*****

It was a helluva weekend. I apologize in advance if a team was missed or if I spoke only a tiny bit about a certain conference.


We have regional previews coming up early next week and we’ll be talking about all of those regions and what the expected outcomes should be. Stay tuned and until then, cheers!