Predictions are of the writer's opinion and may not match our site's official Kolas projections
The Mid-Atlantic race on the men’s side should prove to be one of the more interesting races of the weekend. You could make an argument that anywhere from six to seven teams have the ability to place in the top two and qualify for NCAA's.
To start, let’s dive into the favorite to win outright this weekend, the Villanova Wildcats (TSR #25). Villanova started slow out of the gate this season and it is odd to see them in this position considering that usual low-stick and 2018 XC All-American Casey Comber is having an off year (possibly coming back from an injury?). Seniors Nathan Rodriguez and Andrew Marston have led the way while Comber attempts to rebound, proving to be valuable front-runners for a team that has needed the extra scoring potency. Freshman Haftu Strintzos (who owns a personal best of 14:15 for 5000 meters) has helped provide depth to this team with strong front-runners. However, Villanova’s biggest weakness going into the regional meet is their #5 runner.
At the BIG East Championships, Georgetown managed to put their top eight runners ahead of Nova’s #5. In a larger field, this could be exploited in the scoring, so it will be interesting to see how liable that final scorer will end up being for the Wildcats.
Hoping to keep the ball rolling at the regional meet this Friday is Penn. Arriving fresh off of upsetting Princeton for the the Ivy League title (Penn: 62, Harvard: 65, Princeton: 68), the Quakers are hoping that they can repeat that performance at Lehigh.
Led by junior and Ivy League runner-up Anthony Russo, Penn flexed their experience by taking down a talented Ivy League field that will be hungry for redemption this weekend. The rest of their pack is made up of Will Daly, Ryan Renken, Daniel Cohen, and Alex Roth who all seem to be peaking at the right time and are expected to run as a pack come Friday.
While on the subject of Ivy League Schools, we must mention last year's Mid-Atlantic champion, the Princeton Tigers. After an underwhelming Ivy League finish, the Tigers should be driven to reclaim their title of "best in the region" on Friday. It won’t be an easy task as their top five has lacked consistency.
Usual low-stick Conor Lundy had what seemed like an off race at Heps and the Tigers will need him to be the 13:53 5k runner that he was in the spring to jumpstart the frontend of their lineup. However, Princeton’s real problem at their conference meet came at the final two scoring spots where they scored 50 of their 68 points. Matt Grossman, who was Princeton’s #4 runner in that race, was actually their #2 man during the season and placed 40th in a loaded Nuttycombe field. We fully expect him to bounce back in a big way.
The Georgetown Hoyas are looking to qualify for Nationals after a brief hiatus for the first time in two years. As we mentioned earlier, this team is deep, but will need to bridge the gap between their top two and bottom three scorers if they want a chance to qualify.
The conditions at the BIG East Championships were terrible and we think that is something to note. The Hoyas looked primed to qualify, they just need to put it all together on the right day. Led by Jack Van Scoter, Price Owens, and Spencer Brown (also known as TheAthleteSpecial), the G-Town men arrive as the deepest team in the race and also the biggest wildcard. It will be interesting to see if the Hoyas can qualify and reclaim themselves as the Mid-Atlantic elite.
The sleeper of the meet is Temple. The Owls have been the under the radar so far this season, showing up to meets and taking down stiff competition such as Penn and Penn State. They finished runner-up to a very good Tulsa team at their conference meet and pose as a legitimate threat to qualify for NCAA's. They look strong through four runners, but their #5 man will need to close the gap if the Owls want a shot at qualifying.
Individually, Jake Brophy (Navy) arrives as the morning-line favorite. He has won three races this season, including most recently the Patriot League Championship where he placed 1st by 18 seconds over Bucknell’s Drew Dorflinger, who seems to be peaking at the right time.
Brophy also placed 2nd in the Gold race at Paul Short, running 23:23. Running well at Lehigh earlier in the season should bring some extra confidence going into Friday’s race.
Brophy’s teammate Kevin Murray shouldn’t be far behind and also has a chance to individually qualify for NCAA's. Anthony Russo (Penn) should be a strong challenger and a threat to win the individual title. Penn will need to get any edge they can and winning the individual battle with one point would certainly help.
It is hard to not mention last year’s individual winner Casey Comber and the rest of the Villanova men. As mentioned earlier, they have been inconsistent, but each athlete has the necessary firepower to win this race.
Last but not least, keep an eye on Conor Lundy. Lundy didn’t race to his fulll potential at the Ivy League Championships, but he might be the biggest wildcard individually.
1. Villanova - Team Automatic
2. Princeton - Team Automatic
1. Jake Brophy (Navy) - Individual Qualifier
2. Nathan Rodriguez (Villanova)
3. Anthony Russo (Penn) - Individual Qualifier
4. Andrew Marston (Villanova)
5. Kevin Murray (Navy) - Individual Qualifier
6. Casey Comber (Villanova)
7. Conor Lundy (Princeton)
8. Jack Van Scoter (Georgetown) - Individual Qualifier
9. Nicholas Wareham (Georgetown)
10. Matt Grossman (Princeton)
11. Drew Dorflinger (Bucknell)
12. Zach Seiger (Temple)
13. Ben Bumgarner (Penn State)
14. Haftu Strintzos (Villanova)
15. Zachary Michon (St. Joseph's (PA))
TSR #20 Penn State rolls into the Mid-Atlantic region as the favorite to win their four regional title in the past five years. Only Villanova last year was able to dethrone them in this race.
Led by senior Kathryn Munks, this Penn State team looked like they had depth issues early on in the season, but they proved that to be wrong when they placed 4th at the BIG 10's, by far the deepest conference in the country. They did lose earlier in the season to Georgetown, but the Nittany Lions seem to be peaking at the right time.
This leads into a perfect segue to one of Penn State's strongest competitors.
The Georgetown Hoyas' depth poses a legitimate threat to sweep the title away from Penn State. Led by senior Madeline Perez, their top five is essentially interchangeable. The only knock on the Hoyas is their front-running ability. They have a lot of scoring options, but who can support Perez at the front of this race?
If their group of Madeline Perez, Alyssa Aldridge, Sami Corman, Baylee Jones, and Katherine Modrall can move up and minimize any gaps in their time spread, then Georgetown could have a chance at winning this region.
The reloaded Villanova women are looking to win back-to-back regional titles and qualify yet again for the National Championships. The Wildcats lost a plethora of notable runners during the offseason such as Rachel McArthur, Lauren Ryan, and Taryn O'Neill, but they reloaded with a talented group of freshmen.
Led by junior Lydia Olivere and senior Ann Campbell, their next four runners in their lineup consist of all freshmen. Their experience is an obvious question mark, but they proved that they could at least be competitive at the BIG East Championships. Their depth is an issue, but if their final two scorers can close the gap at all between them and their #3 scorer, then we could see the Wildcats qualifying once again.
The Penn women are also a challenger to qualify for Nationals. Led by Madeline Villalba, the Quakers placed 3rd at the Ivy League Championships behind TSR #19 Columbia and Harvard. Penn’s #4 and #5 struggled at their conference meet, and in a larger field that could drastically shift the points against them. They have a lot of underrated talent, specifically in the top portion of the scoring five, but it will be interesting to see if they can close that gap on their backend.
Finally, we can't forget to talk about West Virginia who have quietly thrown themselves into the conversation for a top two spot this season. After placing a very close 3rd to Oklahoma State and Texas at the BIG 12 Championships, the Mountaineers look like a very real threat to some of the other top teams in this region.
Haley Jackson looks like a reliable front-runner for this team after putting together a respectable 69th place finish at Nuttycombe while teammates Candace Jones and Olivia Hill finished ahead of Jackson at the BIG 12 Championships for a pair of top 10 finishes.
Don't be surprised if the West Virginia women sneak into a top two spot on Friday. They are certainly capable of doing that after only losing their conference title by four points.
As for the individuals, defending champion Rachel McArthur is no longer at Villanova, so it looks like a wide-open race for the individual title this year.
Madeline Villalba (Penn) should be one of the favorites to win the title. After last year's 4th place finish, she is one of the top returners and one of the top runners in the Ivy League conference this year. After placing 4th at her conference meet a few weeks ago, it will be interesting how she fares against stiffer competition.
Another legitimate contender should be BIG East champion and Villanova's #1 runner Lydia Olivere. She has been consistent in smaller meets, but struggled at Nuttycombe. Regardless, she is extremely talented and should have a ton of confidence after winning the BIG East conference title.
Last year's runner-up and #1 returner Grace Mancini (La Salle) isn’t having the senior campaign we expected, but she had similar results going into this regional meet last year. After placing 3rd at the A10 Championships, she looks like she is on track to make some noise heading into Friday's race.
1. Penn State - Team Automatic
2. Villanova - Team Automatic
3. West Virginia
1. Lydia Olivere (Villanova)
2. Madeline Villalba (Penn) - Individual Qualifier
3. Grace Macini (La Salle) - Individual Qualifier
4. Ann Campbell (Villanova)
5. Kathryn Munks (Penn State)
6. Maggie Smith (Villanova)
7. Melia Chittenden (Princeton) - Individual Qualifier
8. Madeline Perez (Georgetown) - Individual Qualifier
9. Hayley Jackson (West Virginia)
10. Alison Willingmyre (Penn State)
11. Danae Rivers (Penn State)
12. Grace Moore (Temple)
13. Suzanne Dannheim (George Washington)
14. Candace Jones (West Virginia)
15. Julia Paternain (Penn State)