Men's XC Top 25: Week 8 (10/30)


KEY

(Unranked)Was not ranked the week before.


(#/#)

First number indicates how much the team has moved in the rankings.

The second number indicates where that team was ranked the week before.

25. Furman Paladins (0 / 25)

The Paladins cruised to an easy win at the Southern Conference Championships. With very few Kolas points, they'll need to earn a top two spot in the Southeast region OR be pushed in by NC State to qualify.


24. NC State Wolfpack (Unranked)

The Wolfpack struggled at Pre-Nats, finishing 14th in the Cardinal race. After such a disappointing performance, it looked like their qualifying hopes were gone. Luckily, the Wolfpack rebounded with a strong 3rd place finish at the ACC Championships, earning a crucial win over Virginia who finished 4th. A low-stick from Ian Shanklin and a close 2-3-4 kept NC State competitive. If they can replicate that at the Southeast Regional Championships, they may have a chance of qualifying for Nationals...


23. Arkansas Razorbacks (0 / 23)

Arkansas had the best low-sticks in the field at SEC's, but the rest of their lineup wasn't strong enough to hold off an Ole Miss squad that was simply more complete through five runners. Still, this is a program that has historically done well in the postseason. They'll hold their own at Nationals.


22. Virginia Cavaliers (-3 / 19)

It was a rough day for the Cavaliers who fell to 4th at the ACC Championships. Demarest got the job done with a 4th place finish, but there was a significant drop off after that with runners finishing 20-21-34-49. With Lachlan Cook redshirting the 2018 season, Virginia is lacking some much needed firepower that would help them contend with the best of the best.


21. Indiana Hoosiers (+1 / 22)

The Hoosiers pulled out a clutch 3rd place finish at the BIG 10 Championships, beating Michigan by one point and Michigan State by three. Kyle Mau (7th) has been the perfect replacement for Ben Veatch while Dustin Horter (14th) has been a very reliable #2 man for the Hoosiers. Millar (24th) and Murphy (26th) had better performances than expected which helped make up for a slightly underwhelming performance by freshman Arjun Jha who finished 37th. Overall, this is a very solid team, but their youth may be something to keep an eye on as we go through the postseason.


20. Oklahoma State Cowboys (Unranked)

The Cowboys had a solid showing at Nuttycombe where they were 15th, but they underwhelmed at the Arturo Barrios Invite where they finished 2nd to a little-known Guelph team. They were runner-up at BIG 12's to Iowa State, but their top three was incredibly strong, finishing 2-3-4. Luis Martinez is a great veteran to have in the postseason while Isai Rodriguez and Ashenafi Hatte have become legitimate low-sticks. However, their bottom two scorers could be liabilities in a larger field at Nationals.


19. Ole Miss Rebels (+2 / 21)

Mississippi's win at the SEC Championships was huge from a program standpoint. They had never won an SEC title before in cross country and were facing an Arkansas squad that was gaining momentum in the latter portion of the regular season. That, however, didn't matter to Ole Miss who was led by Waleed Suliman in 4th.


The emergence of redshirt freshman Cade Bethmann and true freshman Mario Garcia Romo have complemented the scoring potency from transfer Farah Abdulkarim. Those three finished 6th, 7th, and 8th this past weekend. With veteran Mark Robertson securing the fifth scoring spot in 11th, Ole Miss looks like one of the more underrated squads in the nation.


18. UCLA Bruins (-4 / 14)

After a monster 4th place finish in the Pre-Nats White race, the Bruins faltered at the PAC 12 Championships, placing 6th overall. They were over 20 points behind a Washington State team who has had their fair share of ups and downs throughout the season. Colin Burke posted a strong 11th place finish, but there were plenty of gaps throughout the rest of the lineup. Which Bruins team will we see throughout the rest of the postseason? That is the biggest question on our minds.


17. Wyoming Cowboys (-2 / 15)

It wasn't necessarily a bad race from Wyoming, but their fifth man proved to be their biggest downfall at the Mountain West Championships. Despite having four runners in the top 20, their final scorer finished in 39th overall. It's clear that this team will be successful, but the fifth man is traditionally a major issue for most teams outside of the top 10.


16. Eastern Kentucky Colonels (+4 / 20)

Eastern Kentucky had a great race at the OVC Championships, placing five in the top 10. However, the main reason for their move up is more because other teams in front of them struggled/didn't meet expectations. With that said, EKU is plenty worthy to be at the 16th spot in our rankings.


15. Colorado State Rams (-2 / 13)

Colorado State finished 3rd at the Mountain Wets Championships, 13 points behind Air Force. However, a struggling Cole Rockhold (who placed 16th) is likely the reason why the Rams fell behind the Falcons. If he finishes in the top three, CSU takes silver.


Still, it's surprising that Colorado State couldn't take runner-up despite having Eric Hamer and Carson Hume finish 2nd and 3rd, respectively. I'm a big believer in this team, but I'm not sure that there has been a glaring weakness that they can fix.


14. Purdue Boilermakers (+4 / 18)

Purdue could have folded under the pressure at BIG 10's where they were faced with a podium-caliber Wisconsin team and a number of potential national qualifiers (Indiana, Michigan, and Michigan State). That, however, didn't phase the Boilermakers.


Carpenter did his job with a 5th place finish while Curt Eckstein has shown us that he is one of the more underrated postseason performers in the country over the past two years. Brody Smith, Bailey McIntire, and Jake Hanawalt closed out the scoring with finishes of 17th, 27th, and 30th, respectively.


However, Michigan actually had the better fifth man in 28th. The difference was that Purdue had their top two in before Michigan's first and three men in before Michigan's second.


In other words, the low-sticks and firepower are why the Boilermakers had success.


13. Air Force Falcons (+4 / 17)

Air Force has had a very underrated season and it's time that they get recognized in our rankings. So far, they've been 7th at Nuttycombe, 7th in the Pre-Nats White race, and now runner-up at the Mountain West Championships. Sure, their Pre-Nats race wasn't great, but they've done enough throughout the season to earn this ranking.


The continued firepower from Mickey Davey (5th), the emergence of Trevor Siniscalchi (10th), and a breakout race by Nathan Thomas (7th) all contributed to Air Force's 2nd place finish at the Mountain West Championships. With Bilvado in 18th and Johnson in 23rd, Air Force has a respectable top five that can compete with some of the best teams in the country.


12. Oregon Ducks (0 / 12)

Oregon's 4th place finish at the PAC 12 Championships was about what we expected. Teare has reemerged as a top low-stick (finishing 6th) while Jackson Mestler continues to fill a key scoring role with a 12th place finish of his own. James West failed to match his Pre-Nats performance after finishing 30th, but Australian redshirt freshman Charlie Hunter has been a pleasant surprise in this lineup after placing 16th overall. Levi Thomet closed out the scoring in 31st.


This was a decent performance by the Ducks, but it wasn't much more than that. A strong low-stick, respectable middle scorers, and the need for improvement on the backend.


11. Syracuse Orange (0 / 11)

10. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+6 / 16)

We're combining these two because it's hard to mention one without the other (at least after this weekend). Notre Dame pulled off the upset victory at ACC's, taking the title by four points over the Orange.


The Irish put three in the top 10 and used aggressive front-running tactics to make things competitive early in the race. Although Syracuse made up some ground, it wasn't enough to catch ND. However, it's important to note that Aidan Tooker fell to 8th in this race. If he contends for the win like we've seen him do all season, then Syracuse takes home the team title. That is why they don't drop in the rankings this weekend.


As for Notre Dame, they continue to impress. They have developed into one of the most complete teams in the nation with constant improvements in every race. They were 3rd at Notre Dame, 5th in the Pre-Nats White race, and are now champions of the ACC. This group has serious momentum and I'm not willing to bet against them at this point.


9. Colorado Buffaloes (-2 / 7)

A 3rd place finish was a bit underwhelming for a Colorado team that was expected to have some scary good low-sticks this season. They placed three in the top 10, but Eduardo Herrera fell back a bit more than expected to 18th. However, the real scoring deficiency came at the fifth man spot where Gus Newcomb was 41st in the team scoring. That was enough for the Buffs to fall out of 2nd place and into 3rd.


8. Boise State Broncos (0 / 8)

Boise State won the Mountain West title as expected, but the way they did it was a bit surprising. Neither Uchikoshi nor Haller were in the top 10. Instead, it was Ahmed Muhumed (4th) and Addison DeHaven (6th) leading the way while Elijah Armstrong secured a key 12th place finish.


With Haller (13th) and Uchikoshi (15th) finishing in the bottom half of the Broncos lineup, it's clear that Boise State is struggling with consistency among their top scorers. However, unlike recent years, the men in blue have enough depth to make up for any up-and-down performances this season.


7. Washington Huskies (+2 / 9)

Washington continues to impress me. I thought it would take much longer for Powell's influence to affect this program, but the impact has been immediate. Tanner Anderson has been the top scorer we thought he could be, but Talon Hull and Tibebu Proctor continue to beat expectations.


At the PAC 12 Championships, Hull challenged Grant Fisher for the individual title with a blistering final kick. Tanner Anderson secured a 9th place finish while Proctor earned a respectable 14th place finish. Veteran Andy Snyder has been far more consistent this season when it comes to the scoring. He was 17th. Rounding out the top five was another elder Husky (Fred Huxham). He finished 20th overall to make Washington the only team with five men inside the top 20.


The Huskies may not have beaten Stanford through four scorers, but they beat them in spots five, six, and seven. With depth like that, Washington may be a legitimate contender for the podium in November.


6. Iowa State Cyclones (0 / 6)

Iowa State won the BIG 12 title despite looking a little rusty. Kurgat's 1st place finish was huge while Jordan and Curts settled for 5th and 6th place finishes, respectively. Underclassmen Milo Greder (9th) and Chad Johnson (11th) rounded out the scoring.


It's important to note that Iowa State only finished the meet with five men, a risky move that seemed to pay off. Oklahoma State came within eight points of the Cyclones, but I expect that point differential to be far larger in the bigger meets thanks to Iowa State's depth.


5. Wisconsin Badgers (0 / 5)

The Badgers dominated the BIG 10 meet, taking the top two spots with Eidenschink grabbing a huge 4th place finish. Tyson Miehe had one of the best races of his career, placing 12th overall while Hacker closed out the scoring in 19th in a relatively underwhelming performance. Regardless, Wisconsin handled a competitive field with ease. If Eidenschink can repeat that performance and Hacker can replicate his race from Nuttycombe, then Wisconsin is almost guaranteed to be a podium team.


4. Portland Pilots (0 / 4)

Portland finished runner-up to BYU at the West Coast Conference Championships. The Pilots were without top scorer Emmanuel Roudolff-Levisse as well as Stuart McCallum. They were also racing at altitude (BYU trains at altitude). Combine those factors and Portland was at a significant disadvantage.


Nick Hauger proved that he is a top 10 runner in the nation with an impressive victory. Riley Osen, Caleb Webb, Rebuen Kiprono, and freshman Evert Silva finished 10th, 12th, 14th, and 16th for a total score of 52 points.


Coach Rob Conner showed us last year that this meet is not at the top of his priority list, so I'm not reading into these results too much. They'll be better two weeks from now.


3. Stanford Cardinal (0 / 3)

Grant Fisher took the win, Ostberg secured 3rd, and Parsons added even more scoring potency with a 4th place finish.


Surprising? Not really.


With sophomore Callum Bolger finishing 13th, it was going to be hard for any team to beat the Cardinal. However, Stanford did show some vulnerability at the fifth scoring spot where Tai Dinger was 23rd. Keep in mind that if Steven Fahy returns to this team, Stanford could potentially contend with NAU for the national title.


2. BYU Cougars (0 / 2)

BYU took an easy win over a Portland team that was without a few of their top scorers. Being at altitude and racing in a smaller meet favored the Cougars and I like to think that most people would agree with me. However, just like last year, Portland will be a bigger problem for BYU at Nationals than they were this past weekend.


1. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (0 / 1)

They rested Peter Lomong and Luis Grijalva...but that didn't matter. They took the top four spots while freshman Ryan Raff placed 11th. It was an easy victory for the Lumberjacks at the BIG Sky Championships.

ADDED

NC State Wolfpack

Oklahoma State Cowboys


KICKED OFF

Southern Utah Thunderbirds

Alabama Crimson Tide


JUST MISS (in no order)

Michigan State Spartans

Washington State Cougars

Michigan Wolverines

Villanova Wildcats

Georgetown Hoyas

UNC Tar Heels

Gonzaga Bulldogs

Southern Utah Thunderbirds


WHO TO WATCH (in no order)

Temple Owls

Army Black Knights

Harvard Crimson

Utah State Aggies

Princeton Tigers

Weber State Wildcats

Texas Longhorns

Wake Forest Deacons


SURPRISE OF THE WEEK

NC State Wolfpack

Finishing 14th at Pre-Nats was a performance I didn't think they could rebound from. However, finishing 3rd at ACC's and beating Virginia is a huge result that the Wolfpack can use as a confidence booster in the Southeast region.


TEAM OF THE WEEK

Ole Miss Rebels

For the first time in program in history, the Ole Miss can say that they are SEC cross country champions. Securing the title means more than just beating Arkansas. It validates Ole Miss as a legitimate top team in the nation. It also proves that Coach Vanhoy is capable of constructing a championship lineup. Congrats to the Rebels. They've come a long way and deserve the hype.


NOTES

  • If I had to choose a 26th team, it would go to Washington State. They are followed by Michigan, Michigan State, Southern Utah, and Gonzaga.

  • Southern Utah was upset by Weber State at the BIG Sky Championships despite placing three in the top 10. The Thunderbirds are better suited for larger races, but this was not a good sign for the final two scorers of their lineup.

  • Iona showed that their top scorers are healthy at the MAC Championships. However, after a dominating performance by Army, I like the Black Knights to take the second auto-qualifying spot in the Northeast region.

  • Texas looks...bad. They finished 3rd at BIG 12's, but were only 9 points away from being upset by Kansas. Coach Watson's first year with the Longhorns has not been pretty.

  • Alabama will not be racing their top Kenyans for the rest of the season (they will only field Chelanga). For that reason, they drop out of our Top 25.