First Thoughts: Pre-Nationals

Updated: Oct 20, 2019


With Nuttycombe in the books, it is time to turn our attention to the battle in Terre Haute which took place earlier today. There is plenty of action to discuss, so just like our First Thoughts article from yesterday, we'll give you our bullet-point notes as we go over the results.


Let's get started...


WOMEN

  • We have to start with the Washington women who came away with an incredible victory, edging BYU by just three points. While many will be quick to point out that the Cougars didn't have top ace Whittni Orton, we should also recognize that the Huskies didn't have one of their top-runners in Melany Smart. A TON of Washington women stepped up to the plate this weekend, producing finishes of 5-11-20-21-27. If you add Melany Smart back in, then the women from Seattle look like they could possibly contend with Stanford for the #2 spot in the NCAA right now.


  • Not an ideal showing for the Colorado women who dropped back quite a bit to 3rd place overall. Hurta (3rd) and Scholl (10th) got the job done, but the backend of their lineup continues to present issues. Annie Hill and Rachel McArthur held their own with finishes of 31st and and 38th respectively, while Karissa Mann ended the day in 49th. None of those performances are necessarily bad, but they all needed to be much further up in the results if they wanted to be closer to Washington and BYU. The absence of Venters and Covert continues to loom over this squad...


  • Michigan continues to be a solid BIG 10 challenger with a 4th place finish at Pre-Nats, but they just don't have the firepower that we thought they would have this season. Anne Forsyth is likely redshirting, Anna West was the team's #6 runner today, and Camille Davre just hasn't been able to replicate her scoring potency from 2018. That said, this team still has a lot of strong depth and stability. Their final three scorers finished between 41st and 48th today, so although this team won't necessarily have standout low-sticks outside of VanderLende, they still have a strong group of supporting scorers.


  • The Boise State women finished 12th in this race, but don't look too far into that. Their "A" squad competed at Wisconsin yesterday where they finished 7th in the team standings. If anything, their 12th place finish at Pre-Nats was super impressive.


  • Solid performances from the women of Illinois and Virginia Tech as they finished 6th and 7th, respectively. However, I'm unsure how this race will benefit them from a Kolas standpoint. They likely earned a point from beating Ole Miss (who finished 10th), but none of the other teams they beat are guaranteed/expected to make it to the national meet (Butler, Boston College, Oklahoma State). That said, Illinois is likely a favorite to finish in the top two of their region this year, so this result may not even matter for them.


  • The Florida State women finished 5th in this field...not really sure what to say about that other than it's a good performance. We spoke about almost every other team in this race, so I felt compelled to mention them.


MEN

  • Really excellent rebound race for the BYU men who took home a huge victory over Colorado be a mere two points. After losing to Oregon at the Bill Dellinger Invite, there were questions as to whether or not the Cougars would have enough firepower to compete for a podium spot this year (especially with Clayson Shumway out of their lineup). However, the BYU men silenced the doubters by finishing 1-4-14-18-44 in the team scoring. Their depth was surprisingly weaker than usual which is what allowed Colorado to stay in contention for the win, but the 1st and 4th place finishes from Mantz and Heslington were too much to overcome.


  • Colorado didn't run poorly, BYU just ran better. Dressel and Klecker finishing 8th and 9th was a bit surprising as we thought they would be closer to the top five. However, the Buffaloes had the better 3-4-5 scorers in comparison to BYU, finishing 11th (Harrison), 17th (Herrera), and 38th (Hornecker). There are clearly areas to improve for this team, but I'm not going to hit the panic button just because Colorado lost to a traditionally great program.


  • HUGE performance from Iona. The Gaels put together a clutch 3rd place finish and after Syracuse's abysmal performance at Nuttycombe, they might be the best team in the Northeast region this year. El-Sandali secured an outstanding 6th place finish while the rest of their lineup ended the day going 10-35-37-52. This is a team that was expected to thrive with depth this year, but the emergence of low-sticks Ehab El-Sandali and Johnjack Millar has given them an identity. Props to them...


  • The Washington men finished 4th and I truthfully don't know what to think about it. Sure, this was better than their Beantown performance and in the grand scheme of things, it wasn't a bad result. Nonetheless, this team should have been so much better this year. It just seems like they can't get their top guys to all run well on the same day. More so, their depth has underwhelmed this season and the gaps within their top seven have been less than ideal. We should acknowledge that this team has come so incredibly far since the Powell's joined them two years ago, but with higher expectations and new recruits, I can't help but think that the Huskies are underperforming this fall.


  • Nothing to note about Ole Miss (5th), Florida State (6th), and Virginia Tech (7th). They ran well, but those finishes are about what we expected.


  • Absolutely incredible job by the Villanova men. They finished 8th in this race without Casey Comber and Andrew Marston and took down respectable Weber State and Iowa squads. This is a team that has thrived off of having top-tier firepower and their backend hasn't always been the best. However, their race at Pre-Nats showed us some really solid development and progress. When you add in their top men, this is a Top 25 team.


  • Oklahoma State finished 11th in this race while Arkansas finished 13th. However, it's important to note that the Cowboys did not run Ryan Smeeton while Ashenafi Hatte recorded a DNF. Meanwhile, Gilbert Boit didn't make his season debut for Arkansas like the entries originally suggested. I'm not ready to write off either of these teams, but if we don't see some of these scorers at their conference meets, then we'll likely need to reevaluate our initial thoughts on them.