Predictions & Previews: Conference Week (Pt. 1)



ACC

Analysis

As we look at this field, it seems pretty clear the Justyn Knight is the favorite to take the title. That's not the difficult part. What is difficult is predicting how Peter Seufer will respond after breakout performance at Pre-Nats. He will most likely have to battle Tooker and Bennie for the runner-up spot. After that, things get a bit more spread out. If you're looking for sleeper picks, be sure to keep an eye out on James Quattlebaum and Nahom Soloman. They've had strong performances this season and ACC's could be the perfect place to prove that their fitness is top-tier.

Team-wise, this is Syracuse's to lose. The Orangemen may have had a minor weakness at the 5th man spot when they raced at Wisconsin, but Kevin James has some great experience at ACC's and has done pretty well in the past (placed 21st in 2016). He should be the key reason why Syracuse comfortably walks away with the conference title. Behind the Orangemen will most likely be Virginia Tech. A respectable pack that follows Seufer and Jaskowak should be enough to lock-down 2nd place. After such a poor performance at Wisconsin, it's tough to think that Virginia will really threaten the Hokies. Still, there is more to this UVA team that we've seen so far this season. They've got some talent and they should still be competitive. They'll have to out-run an NC State squad that is desperate to secure more Kolas points as they attempt to grab a spot to NCAA's.

Individuals

1. Justyn Knight (Syracuse)

2. Peter Seufer (Virginia Tech)

3. Colin Bennie (Syracuse)

4. Aidan Tooker (Syracuse)

5. Brent Demarest (Virginia)

6. James Quattlebaum (Clemson)

7. Dan Jaskowak (Virginia Tech)

8. Nahom Soloman (Georgia Tech)

9. Lachlan Cook (Virginia)

10. Philo Germano (Syracuse)

11. Elijah Moskowitz (NC State)

12. Sean Burke (Boston College)

13. Vincent Ciattei (Virginia Tech)

14. Patrick Joseph (Virginia Tech)

15. Kevin James (Syracuse)

16. Chase Weaverling (Virginia)

17. David Barney (Florida State)

18. Jeremy Brown (North Carolina)

19. Ben Barrett (NC State)

20. Phillip Hall (NC State)

Teams

1. Syracuse Orangemen (33)

2. Virginia Tech Hokies (58)

3. Virginia Cavaliers (80)

4. NC State Wolfpack (107)

Ivy (Heps)

Analysis

The Ivy League has been an interesting group in 2017 and even as we enter the conference championships, there are still a lot of questions that we don't have answered. As we look into the individuals, Conor Lundy appears to be the favorite entering this meet. However, Lundy has only raced once so far this season at the Princeton XC Invite where he placed an unexciting 4th place. Will he be able to fend off an experienced Cornell senior in Domenic DeLuca? DeLuca finished 3rd at the Penn State Open two week ago and has been know to thrive in the postseason. Of course, this field seems relatively wide-open in terms of individuals. Many of these teams have yet to race each other this season so it's tough to really get an understanding of how one runner stacks up against another. Could the Penn duo break up a strong Princeton contingent? Will we see the Ryan Thomas we saw at the Paddy Doyle Invite or the one we saw at the Wisconsin Invite? Who will be the breakout performer(s) that we see every year at this meet?

In terms of the team race, there is a lot debate as to who will emerge victorious. Many people like the experience and consistency that Penn has shown over the past few seasons. Personally, I think Princeton's low-sticks mixed with an experienced group of depth makes them too strong to overcome. And what about Columbia? The Stride Report has them qualifying for NCAA's, but most of the teams outside of the top two in the Northeast region may not be as much of a challenge as the teams we will see at Heps. You'll probably see a lot of different predictions for this conference...

Individuals

1. Conor Lundy (Princeton)

2. Domenic DeLuca (Cornell)

3. William Paulson (Princeton)

4. Kevin Monogue (Penn)

5. Christopher Luciano (Penn)

6. Ryan Thomas (Columbia)

7. Matt Mahoney (Brown)

8. Patrick Gregory (Dartmouth)

9. Chase Silverman (Cornell)

10. Hugo Milner (Harvard)

11. Noah Kauppila (Princeton)

12. Garrett O'Toole (Princeton)

13. Matt Chisholm (Yale)

14. Kenny Vasbinder (Columbia)

15. Mark Martinez (Brown)

Teams

1. Princeton Tigers (44)

2. Penn Quakers (70)

3. Columbia Lions (74)

4. Brown Bears (92)

SEC

Analysis

Many people criticize the SEC for focusing on the sprints and rarely giving the distance events the proper attention. Yet, over the past few years, we have seen quite the surge in the talent of distance runners throughout the Southeastern Conference. In 2017, we have seen the conference hit it's peak in terms of talent, especially from an individual perspective. The Alabama trio looks unstoppable this season with their only loss occurring at the Crimson Classic to MTSU star Jacob Choge. Meanwhile, Alex George and Jack Bruce are looking to reestablish themselves as some of the best in the conference after a Pre-Nats performance that left something to be desired. Outside of those five, there is a slew of talented individuals looking to break into the next tier. Bryan Kamau, Sean Tobin, and Jacob Thomson have had some respectable performances this season. They have the ability to battle up front and if the race is tactical enough, they could potentially grab a spot in the top five.

The team race is where we might see some debate. I like to imagine that the Razorbacks will rebound from a disappointing performance at Pre-Nats, mainly because I anticipate Andrew Ronoh and Christian Heymsfield making their season debut. It will also help if Austen Dalquist actually finishes the race rather than recording a DNF. Putting three runners back into the equation greatly benefits Arkansas in a smaller field. Of course, it will be tough to argue against Mississippi after their 5th place finish at Pre-Nats. They may have a strong group of depth, but in a field of low-sticks, I'm not sure how much that racing style will benefit them. The final team everyone will be watching is Alabama. Right now, I'm projecting the Crimson Tide to take the top three spots and finish the day with 74 points. That means their 4th and 5th scorers would place somewhere around 31st and 37th. If their final scorers can crack the top 30, then an upset could be in the cards for the men from Tuscaloosa.

Individuals

1. Vincent Kiprop (Alabama)

2. Gilbert Kigen (Alabama)

3. Alfred Chelanga (Alabama)

4. Alex George (Arkansas)

5. Bryan Kamau (Georgia)

6. Sean Tobin (Mississippi)

7. Jack Bruce (Arkansas)

8. Jacob Thomson (Kentucky)

9. Andrew Ronoh (Arkansas)

10. Alex Riba (Texas A&M)

11. Derek Gutierrez (Mississippi)

12. Zach Long (Tennessee)

13. Brennan Fields (Kentucky)

14. Taylor Caldwell (Mississippi)

15. Austen Dalquist (Arkansas)

16. Ethan Moehn (Arkansas)

17. Christian Farris (Texas A&M)

18. Thomas George (Missouri)

19. Eric Westog (Georgia)

20. Parker Scott (Mississippi)

Teams

1. Arkansas Razorbacks (51)

2. Mississippi Rebels (73)

3. Alabama Crimson Tide (74)

4. Kentucky Wildcats (113)

BIG 12

Analysis

In terms of individuals, it seems pretty clear that Hassan Abdi is the heavy favorite entering this meet. Abdi was runner-up to teammate Sylvester Barus at the Cowboy Jamboree and later took the win at the Penn State Open. He's not slowing down much from last year and it's tough to see him losing. That said, Andrew Jordan of Iowa State might at least make him work for it. The Cyclone sophomore finished 24th at Wisconsin two weeks ago and he seems to be hitting his stride at the right time in the season. Others like Sylvester Barus, Thomas Pollard, and freshman Sam Worley could be potential threats at the front of the pack. All three of these individuals are due for a breakout race.

The team title conversation is where things become a bit more interesting. As usual, Oklahoma State is a talented group with lots of experience. In a postseason meet like this, that experience will be their biggest strength. It also helps that the field is relatively small and not super competitive outside of the three teams we have predicted. This allows the Cowboys to have some wiggle room with their 5th man which has been their only weak area so far this season. Iowa State and Texas are two teams that I feel are neck-and-neck right now. For the first time in a few years, Texas actually has a reliable group of scorers up front and they have been relatively consistent all season. Iowa State, on the other hand, struggled in their first major invite of the season. While I certainly do think that the Cyclones are a better team than what we saw at Wisconsin, it does show that they are vulnerable to a potential upset.

Individuals

1. Hassan Abdi (Oklahoma State)

2. Andrew Jordan (Iowa State)

3. Luis Martinez (Oklahoma State)

4. Sam Worley (Texas)

5. Thomas Pollard (Iowa State)

6. Sylvester Barus (Oklahoma State)

7. Connor O'Neill (Texas)

8. Alex Rogers (Texas)

9. Festus Lagat (Iowa State)

10. Christian Liddell (Oklahoma State)

11. Devin Myrer (Baylor)

12. Stanley Langat (Iowa State)

13. Liam Meirow (Oklahoma)

14. John Rice (Texas)

15. Ryan Smeeton (Oklahoma State)

Teams

1. Oklahoma State Cowboys (35)

2. Iowa State Cyclones (52)*

3. Texas Longhorns (52)*

*= tie-breaker

BIG East

Analysis

Admittedly, the BIG East conference doesn't seem quite as strong as it has in the past. Georgetown and Villanova are both seeing down-years while Butler is still trying to trend upward. However, the individual side is still relatively strong. Jonathan Green has appeared to be the favorite while Andrew Marston (Villanova) and Euan Makepeace (Butler) look like potential upset picks. This matchup will give us a great idea of just how good Marston and Makepeace are. Can they at least make Green work for the win?

As I mentioned above, Georgetown and Villanova haven't exactly been super competitive this season. That said, the Hoyas should still walk away with a relatively easy win. Their depth mixed with the best low-stick in the field has me believing that they will defend their conference title. Villanova has a respectable squad, but their scorers have been way too scattered this season to make me think that they can really battle with Georgetown.

Individuals

1. Jonathan Green (Georgetown)

2. Euan Makepeace (Butler)

3. Andrew Marston (Villanova)

4. Casey Comber (Villanova)

5. Spencer Brown (Georgetown)

6. Reilly Bloomer (Georgetown)

7. Barry Keane (Butler)

8. Jack Van Scoter (Georgetown)

9. Paul Power (Villanova)

10. Alec Miller (Marquette)

Teams

1. Georgetown Hoyas (33)

2. Villanova Wildcats (46)

3. Butler Bulldogs (60)

COMING ON THURSDAY...

PAC 12

Mountain West

BIG 10

West Coast

BIG Sky

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