We’re getting back into the swing of things after a couple weeks off. The good thing is we have the entire national qualifying list now! The bad thing is that we have a very different looking top 20 list from just a few weeks ago. I’ll quit with the fluff and get right into it...
Outside Looking In
Tyler Jones (Western Oregon)
Dustin Nading (Western Oregon)
Wesley Kirui (Alaska Anchorage)
Pierre-Louis Detourbe (Simon Fraser)
Luke Greer (Carson-Newman)
Karim Achengli (NW Missouri)
Jacob Klemz (Washburn)
Austin Nolan (Southern Indiana)
Ross Husch (Western Colorado)
Bashir Aidrus (SW Minnesota State)
Kale Adams (Adams State)
Andrew Curry (Dallas Baptist)
20. John Lawson | Previously: Unranked | Movement: None
Lawson is a transfer student from California and he has seen great success in the postseason as a D2 athlete. He finished 2nd at the CCAA Conference Meet and followed that up with a 4th place finish this past weekend at the West Regional in Billings, Montana. He competed at the D1 National Championships in 2015 and 2016, and that experience should benefit him at the D2 National Championships.
19. Daniel Wallis | Previously: Unranked | Movement: None
The Queens athlete has quietly put together a very strong season. He most recently finished 3rd in the Southeast regional race. Two weeks prior to that, he won the SAC Conference Meet. Wallis is helping put Queens on the map and is currently trending upwards at the right time as last weekend’s performance was the fast cross country 10k of his career.
18. Lucas Taxter | Previously: Unranked | Movement: None
This is the first time we have mentioned Taxter on this website outside of meet recaps, but it probably won’t be the last time we talk about him. He raced to a 2nd place finish behind the likes of Leakey Kipkosgei by just four seconds. Taxter also finished runner-up to Kipkosgei at the NE-10 conference meet. Both of those races were the fastest races of his cross country career and shed some light on his current fitness.
17. Felix Kemboi | Previously: Unranked | Movement: None
Kemboi is fresh off of two 2nd place finishes which helped lead the Seawolves to a conference title and then a 3rd place finish at the West Regional Championships. The sophomore finished a second behind Eddie King at the regional race, but also ran the fastest 10k cross country race of his life. This was on the heels of an 8k PR from his conference meet. Kemboi looks to be in good form heading into Nationals.
16. Eddie King | Previously: Unranked | Movement: None
We just mentioned King in the ranking above, and it’s only right that he’s made his way into our Top 20. King took home the CCAA individual title and followed that up with a regional victory. The senior has been a huge part of the Chico State success throughout the last four years and he is now having the best season of his collegiate career. King should be primed for a strong breakout race at Nationals.
15. Josh Hoskinson | Previously: Unranked | Movement: None
Hoskinson was in our early rankings this year and fell out due to lack of competition (not his fault, really). After a strong performance at Pre-Nationals earlier this year, he came back with another strong performance at the South Central regional meet last weekend. Mind you, we only have seen him race twice, but a 6th place finish in the toughest region of the year signals that he is in the right shape to compete on December 1st.
14. Derrick Williams | Previously: 17 | Movement: Up 3
The CSU-Pueblo senior could arguably be higher on this list due to his experience in big meets. Williams finished 10th at his conference meet and then came back with a 5th place finish at the regional race. It isn’t much of a surprise that Williams found success in the longer version of the race as he has done this before. He is a smart runner who should find himself in the right spot when it comes down to the end of the race.
13. Joshua Chepkesir | Previously: Unranked | Movement: None
The freshman has come onto the scene with strong performances throughout the season. He won the Peach Belt Conference Meet by almost 20 seconds and then followed it up with a win at the Southeast regional in a close race. He is a huge reason why UNC-Pembroke is continuing their season on December 1st and should be a major player at the end of race.
12. Titus Winders | Previously: Unranked | Movement: None
This is the biggest jump for someone who wasn’t previously ranked. However, when you take down the #1 and #3 national contender at the regional race, it’s definitely deserved. That’s exactly what Winders did last weekend as he took home the individual title over Zach Panning by 14 seconds. The freshman finished 2nd at the GLVC conference meet behind his teammate, but came back with a dominant performance through 10,000 meters.
11. Christian Noble | Previously: 12 | Movement: Up 1
We’ve talked about Noble before, especially after he ran 23:26 at the Royals Challenge earlier this year. I’m sure the question heading into the postseason was whether or not he could perform on the big stage and he certainly showed the D2 landscape that he is up for anything. He won his conference meet by 21 seconds and then came back to win the South regional by 25 seconds. He has taken the next step up in terms of training and will be looking to throw his name in the hat.
10. Mason Phillips | Previously: 7 | Movement: Down 3
Phillips didn’t win his conference meet a few weeks ago (2nd behind his teammate), but returned to the front of the team this past weekend finishing 5th overall and helped lead Sioux Falls to a 3rd place team finish. He was out run by three Missouri Southern runners at regionals, but posted his best cross country time of his career. The junior will be looking to improve upon his 15th place from last year in just a week’s time.
9. Gidieon Kimutai | Previously: 15 | Movement: Up 6
Kimutai proved us right when we thought he’d be fine when it came to championship season. He won his conference meet by five seconds and then came back to win regionals by 16 seconds while dipping underneath the 30 minute barrier. He led a Missouri Southern squad that seems to be peaking at the right time which also means that he’ll be ready to go on December 1st.
8. Taylor Stack | Previously: 8 | Movement: None
Stack continued a strong season after he placed 4th the RMAC conference meet helping lead the team to a 2nd place finish. He followed that with another strong race at regionals with a 7th place finish. Stack was 41st last season at Nationals, but looks to be primed for a stronger finish than that this year.
7. Elias Gedyon | Previously: 5 | Movement: Down 2
It feels weird moving Gedyon down two pegs here after back-to-back 3rd place performances at the RMAC conference meet and the South Central regional. Despite him moving down, it’s definitely not a knock on his talent or level of fitness. Gedyon plays a huge role in the Adams State team implications and could easily be a top five runner on December 1st.
6. Marcelo Laguera | Previously: 6 | Movement: None
Laguera has had his best season to date and it was emphasized by a 2nd place finish at the RMAC conference meet and then another 2nd place finish at regionals. He went toe-to-toe with Sydney Gidabuday at RMAC's, coming up just short of the win. He’s been the lead man all year for CSU-Pueblo and it should remain that way at Nationals.
5. Leakey Kipkosgei | Previously: 4 | Movement: Down 1
Kipkosgei had showdowns with Lucas Taxter twice within the last month and came out on top both times. He hasn’t lost a single race all year and finds himself as a very strong contender for the individual title. He was 8th last year and has only seen improvement throughout this 2018 season, leading us to believe that he’ll be towards the front at the end.
4. Grant Colligan | Previously: 19 | Movement: Up 15
Normally there isn’t huge jumps like this, but Colligan’s most recent race spoke volumes about where he is at with his current fitness. If you look at the splits, he led the South Central regional from wire to wire and took home the victory over Laguera by 16 seconds. He’s only raced twice this season, but both have been victories (he also won Pre-Nationals). There’s a reason why Colligan and the Orediggers only raced twice, and it should pay dividends here soon.
3. Enael Woldemichael | Previously: 3 | Movement: None
Woldemichael hasn’t moved from this spot since the beginning of the year and we still think he’s the number three contender. He’s had a stellar sophomore season that’s perhaps been overshadowed by his teammate Zach Panning. He finished 2nd at the GLIAC conference meet and then 3rd this past weekend at the Midwest regional. He is already ahead of where he was in terms of time last year and he looks to be improving each week.
2. Sydney Gidabuday | Previously: 2 | Movement: None
Gidabuday was "upset" at the South Central Regional Championships where he finished 4th overall. However, if you take a look at the splits, it looks as if he was helping to pace his teammates to ensure that they had a good race. He climbed back into the top five by the end. With that in mind, Gidabuday was the RMAC champion edging out the aforementioned Laguera at the end. The cross country title is the only national title that has eluded the Adams State senior thus far and he certainly has a legitimate shot at winning this year.
1. Zach Panning | Previously: 1 | Movement: None
Panning has been the unanimous number one runner through the season this year and for good reason. Up until this last weekend, he had gone undefeated by a solid margin over the rest of his competitors. At the GLIAC Championships, he won by 25 seconds and despite getting 2nd at the regional meet, Panning is still the man to beat on December 1st.
As of right now, these are our top competitors. We believe that we have put together a strong list of athletes who have been running well and trending in the right direction all season long. We had some surprises during the regional weekend, but we mostly saw athletes who had dominated all year long stay towards the top. December 1st is the date where it will all come together. We’ll be following along with live updates as the race progresses. Make sure you’re tuned in.