Paige Hofstad: Bigger Gain for UNC or Bigger Loss for Georgetown?
In a summer that has been highlighted by exciting transfers and surprising coaching changes, Paige Hofstad's decision to use her final year of eligibility at UNC has been overshadowed. The Hoya turned Tarheel has been battling injuries throughout her college career, but she is certainly capable of putting up some impressive numbers such as a 16:04 5k and a handful of strong cross country finishes.
Last fall, Hofstad finished 32nd at Nuttycombe, 11th at the Penn State Open, and then 3rd at the BIG East Championships. She later ended her season with a 16th place finish at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships.
In other words, she can be a consistently strong scorer for nearly any team in the country.
Hofstad leaving the program will certainly not help the Hoyas, but the Georgetown women were going to have to make some serious adjustments in other areas of their lineup if they wanted to battle for a spot to Nationals. Georgetown finished 7th at regionals last year with a varsity group that simply didn't have enough backend talent to keep up with top-tier teams like Penn State, Villanova, and Princeton.
However, with Villanova experiencing a handful of departures and the Hoyas returning everyone from last year's team (except Hofstad), Georgetown could potentially be in the conversation for the BIG East title this year. Having Hofstad would have been extremely useful in that quest.
Regardless, the talent that Hofstad brings to North Carolina is invaluable, especially for a team that is going through so much change. Despite the ACC being far more competitive, the UNC women showed glimpses of promise this past winter and spring. Their progress was encouraging and it leads me to believe that they'll be better in 2019, even if they lose one of their top scorers in Caroline Alcorta.
I'm not saying that the Tarheels will make it to Nationals this year, but having a potential low-stick like Hofstad (or at the very least, a reliable consistent scorer) makes UNC a fun team to watch this fall. The hope is that she can help jumpstart the program for future success in year one of Chris Miltenberg's newest coaching challenge.
I think there's an argument for both here, but at the end of the day, giving UNC a spark during this transition period seems more valuable to me in the long-term. Advantage Tarheels.
Final Verdict: Bigger Gain for North Carolina
Addison DeHaven: Bigger Gain for Iowa St. or Bigger Loss for Boise State?
If you're an Iowa State fan and don't know who Addison DeHaven is, then you better keep reading. The Boise State standout is quietly one of the best postseason cross country runners that the NCAA has to offer. In the fall of 2017, he pulled off a miraculous 31st place finish at Nationals to end his season as an All-American. Fast forward to 2018, and the story was similar as DeHaven shattered expectations with another All-American finish (28th) at NCAA's.
Having competed in a conference like the Mountain West, it's safe to say that DeHaven has plenty of experience racing against high-level competition. He should be more than capable of handling the BIG 12 conference which holds significantly less depth overall.
DeHaven would have been a top five scorer for any team in the country at Nationals over the past two years, so to say that his transfer is a big deal would be an understatement. The value he brings to the table is extremely underrated.
Losing DeHaven is going to hurt quite a bit for the men of Boise State, especially since they lose their #2 and #3 scorers (as well as their #6 man) from XC Nationals last fall. Don't get me wrong, the Broncos will still be competitive thanks to guys like Miler Haller, Elijah Armstrong, and Ahmed Muhumed, but the Broncos were going to be far weaker in 2019 regardless of if DeHaven left or not.
But DeHaven's arrival to Iowa State? Well, that's a different story.
The Cyclones have been one of the top teams in the country over the past two years, consistently returning some of the best scorers in the NCAA. Overall, they're experienced and own depth well beyond seven runners.
However, the news of Andrew Jordan transferring out of the program to go to Washington was a massive blow for a team that had so much potential this fall. Jordan was the key complementary low-stick next to Edwin Kurgat who, together, gave Iowa State a lethal 1-2 punch. Without Jordan, Iowa State was in serious jeopardy of not being in the podium conversation.
But with DeHaven now in the lineup, Iowa State can field a team that could potentially compete with the Washington Huskies come Nationals. Just when you thought that Martin Smith's group was in trouble, they reloaded with another All-American ace.
Final Verdict: Bigger Gain for Iowa State
Aneta Konieczek: Bigger Gain for Oregon or Bigger Loss for W. Colorado?
One of the best distance runners in Division Two has taken her talents to Eugene after two successful years at Western Colorado. The Polish distance star posted a handful of impressive times as a Mountaineer, earning marks of 4:29 for 1500 meters and 10:01 for the steeplechase.
However, Konieczek's ability to emerge as a key cross country scorer for the Oregon Ducks is what makes her transfer so important. The rising junior was 19th at D2 XC Nationals as a sophomore and 7th in the same race as a freshman. Even though she'll be moving up to a more competitive level, she has clearly proven that she can be an valuable scorer and a potential low-stick.
Despite her outstanding talent, Konieczek's arrival will likely not be enough to overcome Oregon's significant lack of scoring options. The Ducks lose three All-Americans as well as veterans Susan Ejore and Phillippa Bowden from last year's team, leaving only two returners for the 2019 season.
There's no doubt that Konieczek will significantly help Oregon this fall, but even if she ends up as the best runner in the NCAA, she still wont be enough to keep the Ducks as a top team in the NCAA.
However, just like Oregon, the ladies of Western Colorado also lose a handful of their top scorers from last year's D2 National Championships. Their top two runners from last year (who were both All-Americans) have used up their eligibility. The same can be said for their #5 and #6 runners.
When you remove Konieczek from last year's team, Western Colorado loses four of their top five (which equates to three All-Americans) as well as their #5 and #6 runners...which is exactly what happened to the Oregon Ducks.
Both of these teams are powerhouses in their respective divisions, but Oregon is often considered as the Mecca of collegiate distance running. To say that the Ducks won't be competitive on the national stage just sounds ridiculous, especially with Konieczek now on their squad.
In the long term, both of these teams will be totally fine. Still, not having a low-stick that you were expected to have is never great.