Earlier this week, we published our extensive D2 recap from this past weekend, highlighting all of major the action (well, most of it). However, none of those meets mean as much as the one happening tomorrow.
The implications on the D2 cross country scene have never been higher.
With a new qualifying system instituted last year, there are only three guaranteed spots from each region, creating a tougher qualifying system. With that new rule, beating teams during the regular season will hold far more significance. In turn, we get more competitive meets.
The Lewis Conference Crossover is a meet that is bringing some of the best D2 teams in the country together to create an elite field of programs Of the 27 teams that are attending the race, seven are ranked within the top 25 teams in the country by the USTFCCA. This includes Western State (5), CSU-Pueblo (7), Western Oregon (10), Queens (N.C.) (11), Saginaw Valley State (12), Simon Fraser (13) and Walsh (19).
These teams are highlighting the meet, but we also have regionally ranked teams in Tampa (South, 7), Western Washington (West, 6), Cal State San Marcos (West, 7), UC San Diego (West, 8), Academy of Art (West, 9), Pittsburg State (Central, 7), and Washburn (Central, 9) set to compete this weekend.
As you can see, this is more than just another weekend of racing. Below, we review some of the key teams to watch and mention the individual race at the bottom.
The Mountaineers are the 5th ranked team in the country and I think they need to show that this weekend. Leaders Taylor Stack and Ross Husch should be good enough to be inside the top 10 of this race. Western will be looking for another strong performance from their freshman Charlie Sweeney as they have proceeded to redshirt Ahmed Jama.
Led by Dustin Nading, the Wolves seem to be coming into their own. A strong result at their home meet is the only real thing we have seen from them this year. They had a solid time spread which should benefit them this weekend and in late November as they attempt to compete with Chico State.
Queens was upset this past weekend at their home meet, but I’m not sure if they were full strength. Despite the upset, I’d love to see Queens come out and make a name for themselves here. If Felix Wammetsberger is healthy and runs, they have a strong shot of winning this meet.
Prove It, Teams
The Thunderwolves (epic mascot, btw) need to prove to me that they are the real deal. The transfer of Paul Roberts left them short of one expected low-stick, and a win at the Colorado College Invite doesn’t do enough for me. Marcelo Laguera is their lead man, but are Derrick Williams and Alec Choury enough for this team to thrive?
Saginaw Valley State
Saginaw competed at the MSU Invite a few weeks ago and saw a successful team finish thanks to Nate Frasier and Parker Eisengruber. There were 45 seconds between Eisengruber and the third team scorer. Do they have the depth to keep pace this weekend?
Most to Gain Teams
They just recently fell out of the top 25 after staying idle last weekend. Part of the reasoning could be that they haven’t faced much competition yet. They easily won the two meets they competed in earlier this season and scored 15 points with a pack time of 22 seconds. If they can replicate anything close to that on Saturday, they’ll be moving around in the rankings again.
Academy of Art
Victor Moreau, Rabah Houali, and Freddie Hessian helped lead Art U to a 2nd place finish at the San Francisco State Invitational a few weeks ago. This trio has an opportunity to all be low scorers this weekend, giving them the chance to prove some people wrong about their regional ranking.
The Individual Race
This is arguably the most intriguing part of the weekend. With low-sticks Marcelo Laguera (CSU-Pueblo), Jacob Klemz (Washburn), Taylor Stack and Ross Husch (Western State), Dustin Nading (Western Oregon), Rowan Doherty (Simon Fraser), and potentially Felix Wammetsberger of Queens (N.C.), we could see a thrilling finish to the race.
All of those men easily have the chance to take home the individual victory tomorrow, but it won’t be easy. Klemz and Laguera have already won multiple races while Nading, Stack, and Doherty have progressed incredibly well this season, making this prediction much tougher. I think we are going to see something fast and someone potentially trying to make a statement early on.
Names to keep an eye out for include Steven Terris (Cal St. San Marcos), Elijah Horwitz (UC San Diego), and Victor Moreau (Art U).
The meet gets underway tomorrow morning at 10:00am central time. Stay tuned for the results and we’ll let you know how this weekend impacted most of these teams going forward.