D2 XC TOP 20: #20-16

By: John Cusick

Hello readers! I’m back with some new content. I mentioned in the team contender article that I’d have something like a top 20 individual leaderboard out at some point.

Well here we are.

While I’ve just recently learned that Cal Baptist has decided to move to the Division 1 rank, I hope you still enjoy my commentary enough to sit through this article as I break down the pre-pre-season favorites to win the individual title.

A few names have graduated including last year’s winner in James Ngandu. His departure leaves the race for the crown a wide open affair. There is a ton of talent in the top 20 and with each athlete comes their own promise.

It wouldn’t be much of a countdown if we gave you our number one contender right away now would it? We’re going to start with our 20th guy. That seems to be the most logical thing, right? Anyways, here we go...

#20 Josh Young, Rs. Senior (MSU-Moorhead)

Last fall, Young participated in his third cross country championship race and earned his first cross country All-American award. After finishing 5th at his regional, he finished 34th at Nationals and was the lone competitor for the Dragons.

In the spring, Young bettered his PR in the 1500 by more than a second and qualified for the outdoor national meet for the third time in his career. After earning All-American honors in 2017, he finished 8th this past year garnering him his third All-American award.

Prior to the National Championships, Young never finished outside of the top 10 in any race he toed the line for last fall. Between his progression in cross country and track, he should be ready to go for his senior year.

#19 Josh Hoskinson, Rs. Senior (Colorado School of Mines)

Hoskinson was a miler just a couple years ago and like most athletes at Mines, he’s become very good at running the longer distances. That ability was clearly showcased last year as Hoskinson saw himself at the top of the 5k leaderboard halfway through the spring season.

After his finish of 27th at the National Championships, he followed that up with PRs in the 3000 (8:16) and in the 5000 (15:05). Hoskinson qualified for both the Indoor and Outdoor National Championships last season as well.

It's clear that Hoskinson has elevated his fitness. He's a consistent runner who will be motivated by keeping Mines competitive with Adams State and other top teams throughout the year. Expect the redshirt senior to crack the top 20 in 2018.

#18 Jacob Klemz, Junior (Washburn)

Klemz enjoyed a successful sophomore year. He began the school year by earning top collegiate honors at the Rim Rock Classic in Kansas. He later followed that up with a series of impressive postseason finishes. Klemz put forth a strong effort at Nationals to place 32nd overall and earn All-American honors. He continued with strong showings during the indoor season that saw him post personal bests in the mile (4:09), 3000 (8:24) and 5000 (15:25).

Klemz proceeded to better that 5000 PR by two seconds during the outdoor season. He also qualified for the National Championships in the 10,000 meters. His time of 29:36 sat him 8th entering the meet and ended with him finishing in that place (the final All-American spot).

The rising Washburn junior improved in each of his first two years and we expect him to continue that trend. He’s been a lone qualifier since 2016 and should find himself in the top 20 this year.

#17 Ross Husch, Junior (Western State)

Husch was a part of the upstart Mountaineer team that surprised people by finishing 4th at the National Championships last year. After quietly navigating through his conference and regional championships, Husch had the best race of his season at Nationals by placing 25th overall.

The soon-to-be junior will also look to build upon a very successful track season. He ran 8:21 during the indoor season for 3000 meters and set a new PR in the mile of 4:17. In addition to new PRs, Husch qualified for the Outdoor National Championship meet in the 1500 with his altitude converted time of 3:55. Despite not making the final, his future is still promising. Husch also ran 14:15 (outdoors) and gave us a sniff of what he can do when he is at his best.

Another successful summer of training could give Husch and the Mountaineers a shot at the team title come November.

#16 Marcelo Laguera, Senior (CSU-Pueblo)

2017 was a strong fall for the now rising senior. Laguera had back-to-back-to-back 3rd place finishes (that's three in a row) at very competitive meets like the Rocky Mountain Shootout, the RMAC Championships, and South Central regionals. Laguera finished 23rd at last year’s championships which gave him his third All-American honors in just as many tries.

The Thunderwolf veteran had a very successful time on the track by smashing PRs in both the 3000 (8:25) and 5000 (14:25). The day after his 5000, he also set a PR in the mile of 4:17, making it three out of three PRs for the season.

Laguera didn’t waste any time qualifying for the Outdoor National meet as he recorded an altitude converted mark that gained him entry. Despite it only being his second 10,000 of the year, he finished 7th to secure him his second All-American award of the school year.

Laguera could arguably be higher because of the experience he brings into the fall season, but this is the year where he at least breaks into the top 20.