Better late than never! We previewed and predicted FOUR of the biggest meets in the nation this weekend. Check it out below...
Bill Dellinger Invite
Rory Linkletter (BYU), Clayson Shumway (BYU), Casey Clinger (BYU), Sam Prakel (Oregon), Reed Brown (Oregon), Troy Fraley (Gonzaga), Steven Fahy (Stanford), Colby Gilbert (Washington)
With Matthew Maton (TSR#17) not entered to race, Rory Linkletter (TSR#19) will be the heavy favorite as we head into Friday. However, Linkletter will be pushed by Sam Prakel (Oregon), the 2016 defending champion. Troy Fraley (Gonzaga), Steven Fahy (Stanford), and Colby Gilbert (Washington) are other names that will be on my radar as they attempt to establish themselves as legitimate All-American contenders in 2017.
I am also a big fan of BYU's Clayson Shumway. He had an outstanding spring track season in the steeplechase and showed lots of promise at BYU's home meet two weeks ago. Watch out for Shumway to make some noise this weekend.
Oregon Ducks, BYU Cougars, Washington Huskies, Stanford Cardinal, Portland Pilots
With the BYU Cougars looking as strong as they did in their season opener and Oregon not entering low-stick Matthew Maton (TSR#17), this race is the Cougars to lose. The Ducks will still be formidable opponents, but they may not have the firepower to match what BYU has.
The Washington Huskies will be bringing a full squad into this meet as they attempt to redeem themselves from a sub-par 2016 season. Can Colby Gilbert reestablish himself as one of the top distance runners out west? He will have his hands full in his season debut.
Neither the Portland Pilots nor the Stanford Cardinal are fielding their 'A' lineups this weekend. However, this should be a good opportunity to see what their young talent is capable of.
The Gonzaga program may not be as prestigious as some of these other squads, but they have a few strong individuals that have put this team on the map. Don't be surprised if you see a few Bulldog jerseys in the top pack on Friday.
Questions We Need Answered
- Are the Oregon & BYU freshmen as good as we think they are?
There has been a lot of hype about the incoming recruits for both of these programs. Could Cooper Teare, Reed Brown, and Casey Clinger be varsity scorers for their respective squads this fall?
- What should we expect from the Washington Huskies?
After a disappointing 2016 campaign, Colby Gilbert and co. will look to make the 2017 season their rebound year. They have the pieces to be successful, but we also said that last year...
1. BYU Cougars
2. Oregon Ducks
3. Washington Huskies
4. Stanford Cardinal
5. Gonzaga Bulldogs
6. Portland Pilots
1. Rory Linkletter (BYU)
2. Sam Prakel (Oregon)
3. Clayson Shumway (BYU)
4. Troy Fraley (Gonzaga)
5. Steven Fahy (Stanford)
6. Colby Gilbert (Washington)
7. Jonathan Stevens (Washington)
8. Travis Neumann (Oregon)
9. Daniel Carney (BYU)
10. Casey Clinger (BYU)
11. James West (Oregon)
12. Connor McMillan (BYU)
13. Blair Hurlock (Stanford)
14. Blake Haney (Oregon)
15. Jake Perrin (Gonzaga)
16. Isaac Cortes (Stanford)
17. Andrew Gardner (Washington)
Gilbert Kirui (Iona), Chartt Miller (Iona), Sydney Gidabuday (Adams State), Jonathan Green (Georgetown), Bryan Kamau (Georgia), Azaria Kirwa (Liberty), Zach Long (Tennessee), Dillon Maggard (Utah State)
There is a lot of underrated talent in this field and it should be a very exciting match-up when these teams toe the line this Friday. Leading the charge will most likely be Dillon Maggard (TSR#8) and Jonathan Green (TSR#9). These two could potentially give us the most exciting head-to-head battle of the week. Maggard will look to redeem himself after taking a loss at BYU to Rory Linkletter while Green is looking to prove that he can stay competitive after missing the 2016 with an injury.
In the next tier, I see the Iona duo and Sydney Gidabuday fighting for positioning throughout the race. Gidabuday has proven that he can hang with the big boys of Division One while Kirui and Miller have the experience and seniority advantage on this course.
Other individuals like Bryan Kamau, Zach Long, and Azaria Kirwa all had excellent track seasons this past spring and it wouldn't be crazy to think that at least one of them can translate that fitness to the grass.
Iona Gaels, Adams State Grizzlies, Georgetown Hoyas, Georgia Bulldogs, Utah State Aggies, Penn Quakers ----------------------------------
Thanks to some movement from other top teams around the nation, the Iona Gaels have moved up to 9th in our TSR rankings. The Gaels have two front runners, depth, the age advantage, and plenty of experience on this course. What more could you ask for?
Iona may be the favorites, but if they have an off day, Georgetown (TSR#21) and Adams State (D2 TSR#1) could be the teams that sneak into the top spot. Georgetown will be led by Jonathan Green, but the scorers behind him are still young and inexperienced. As for ASU, they have multiple weapons behind Gidabuday (like Lucio Ramirez and Chandler Reid) who could give their opponents some trouble throughout the race.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the Georgia Bulldogs and the Utah State Aggies. If either of these teams can put together a complete scoring five, then they could be very competitive.
Questions We Need Answered
- What kind of a jump in fitness can we expect from Georgetown's younger scorers?
This is a really talented group with an outstanding coaching staff. Still, this team is very young and some guys don't have a lot of big-meet racing experience. How good can they be on a stage like this?
- Can Utah State or Georgia put together a complete scoring five?
Utah State and Georgia have a lot of talent in the first four scoring spots of their lineup. If they can find a 5th man, then these are teams that could compete with some of the best in the nation.
1. Iona Gaels
2. Adams State Grizzlies
3. Georgetown Hoyas
4. Georgia Bulldogs
5. Utah State Aggies
6. Penn Quakers
1. Dillon Maggard (Utah State)
2. Jonathan Green (Georgetown)
3. Sydney Gidabuday (Adams State)
4. Gilbert Kirui (Iona)
5. Zach Long (Tennessee)
6. Azaria Kirwa (Liberty)
7. Chartt Miller (Iona)
8. Bryan Kamau (Georgia)
Greater Louisville Classic
Jacob Choge (MTSU), Yusuke Uchikoshi (Boise State), Jacob Thomson (Kentucky), Morgan McDonald (Wisconsin) (?), Vincent Kiprop (Alabama), Gilbert Kigen (Alabama), Alfred Chelanga (Alabama), Conor Lundy (Princeton), Peter Seufer (Virginia Tech), Tyler Day (NAU), Matt Baxter (NAU), Bryce Stroede (Oakland)
There are so many talented individuals that it would be impossible to mention them all. However, I suppose the best place to start would be with our top ranked individual, Morgan McDonald (TSR#3). Even if Wisconsin is in attendance, don't count on him racing. Coach Mick Byrne will most likely hold him back until the Wisconsin Invite because of his track season spilling into the summer for the World Championships.
This leaves the door open for the NAU duo to potentially take the win. Baxter and Day are composed and experienced racers who have had great success in larger meets like this one. They will fight for the top spot in this race no matter who they are up against.
Jacob Choge (TSR#12) had some success at this meet last year, but the 2017 field may be the toughest regular-season challenge of his career so far. How will the Blue Raider sophomore react to such elite competition?
Boise State Broncos, Furman, Illinois Fighting Illini', Kentucky Wildcats, Middle Tennesse State Blue Raiders, NAU Lumberjacks, Princeton Tigers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wisconsin Badgers ----------------------------------
My goodness, this field is INTENSE. When you look at the field, there are 6 D1 TSR ranked teams that will be looking to go for it all at the Greater Louisville Classic (GLC). Others like Virginia Tech, Kentucky, and Illinois are boarder-line teams in regards to our Top 25.
It would be impossible to do an entire write up on all of these teams, so let's combine the "Questions We Need Answered" and our "Notable Teams" all in one bullet point list...
Boise State Broncos (TSR#14): Very talented squad. One of the more complete teams in the nation. Can Michael Vennard return to his 2015 fitness? Can these guys all run well on the same day?
Furman Paladins (TSR#6): Arguably the deepest team in the field. They'll be one of the top performing teams, but who is going to step up as their low-stick this season?
Illinois Fighting Illini: It's difficult to know for sure if this team is racing or not after competing at Beantown this past weekend. However, if they are, expect a strong top two and a supportive group of scorers to keep the Illinois men in the hunt.
Kentucky Wildcats: Jacob Thomson is a stud who has a nice chase pack behind him. Can that pack keep their time-spread down and keep Thomson within their sights? If so, this team will most likely walk away with a few (projected) Kolas points.
MTSU Blue Raiders (TSR#20): They have an excellent top four, but their 5th man at the Commodore Classic showed that there could be a cause for concern.
NAU Lumberjacks (TSR#2): The clear and heavy favorites in this field. They should win relatively easily.
Princeton Tigers (TSR#24): They have a true ace in Conor Lundy, but there are a lot of unknowns in regards to the returners. Simply put, what does this team have and what are they capable of?
Virginia Tech Hokies: This squad looked strong at their home meet a few weeks ago. After a breakout spring track season, Peter Seufer could be the emerging low-stick that the Hokies need. They have a lot of talented individuals, now they just need to put it together.
Wisconsin Badgers (TSR#10): The scorers behind Morgan McDonald have now matured and they are getting better with each passing season. Still, how will the Badgers thrive in the post-Malachy Schrobilgen era? Also, will Mick Byrne run Morgan McDonald at this meet despite him racing all summer at the World Championships? My guess is no, but I've been wrong before...
1. NAU Lumberjacks
2. Boise State Broncos
3. Furman Paladins
4. Wisconsin Badgers
5. Virginia Tech Hokies
6. Illinois Fighting Illini'
7. Mid. Tenn. St. Blue Raiders
8. Princeton Tigers
9. Kentucky Wildcats
1. Matthew Baxter (NAU)
2. Jacob Choge (MTSU)
3. Tyler Day (NAU)
4. Jacob Thomson (Kentucky)
5. Yusuke Uchikoshi (Boise State)
6. Conor Lundy (Princeton)
7. Bryce Stroede (Oakland)
8. Peter Seufer (Virginia Tech)
Joe Piane Notre Dame Invite
Vincent Kiprop (Alabama), Alfred Chelanga (Alabama), Gilbert Kigen (Alabama), Euan Makepeace (Butler), Jacob Bilvado (Air Force), Andrew Johnston (Air Force), Joe Klecker (Colorado), John Dressell (Colorado), Zach Perrin (Colorado), Aaron Baumgarten (Michigan), Ben Flanagan (Michigan), Connor Mora (Michigan), Mike Tate (Southern Utah), Kasey Knevelbaard (Southern Utah), Michael Williams (Washington State)
The Notre Dame Invite will be a real treat for so many fans of the sport this weekend. We get to see two of the best trios in the country square off in one of the best head-to-head battle of the entire season so far. This Alabama trio hasn't really had a chance to really show what they are capable of doing on the Division One scene, but the hype surrounding them makes this group too exciting to ignore. As for Colorado's top three, they are experienced and have raced against this competition plenty of times before.
But what about the Michigan trio? If Connor Mora returns to the lineup like their website says, then the Wolverine's top three is arguably just as good as Colorado's or Alabama's.
Yet, if I had to focus on just one individual, I would suggest you keep an eye out for Euan Makepeace (TSR#38). The Butler Bulldog pulled off a major upset at the Commodore Classic a few weekends ago by defeating Jacob Choge for the win. I'm hoping that he can continue that magic at Notre Dame.
Southern Utah Thunderbirds, Eastern Kentucky Colonels, Alabama Crimson Tide, Colorado Buffaloes, Washington State Cougars, Michigan Wolverines, Air Force Falcons, Butler Bulldogs, Florida State Seminoles, California Bears, Texas Longhorns, NC State Wolfpack, Eastern Michigan Eagles ----------------------------------
Let's do the same thing we did with the Greater Louisville Classic preview...
Southern Utah Thunderbirds (TSR#22): A strong team with great front-runners and solid depth. They are talented, but they need to run as a pack if they are going to contend with the likes of Alabama, Colorado, etc.
Eastern Kentucky Colonels (TSR#25): They may have the most complete top five in the field, each with their unique accolade and achievement. However, after their top five is where things become a little unclear. Can they find some support if one of their scorers has a bad day?
Alabama Crimson Tide (TSR#13): They have a lethal top three that is scary good. However, they have a weakness at the four and five spot. Will that top three be enough to stay competitive?
Colorado Buffaloes (TSR#5): It's difficult not to like this team. They are now much more experienced and have rarely ever disappointed. The only question now is who will the last three runners in their top seven be?
Washington State Cougars (TSR#16): They have a great low-stick in Michael Williams and some young depth that will only improve from last year. However, they will need to get their pack tight and their time-spread low.
Michigan Wolverines: If Connor Mora does have eligibility, then the Michigan Wolverines will become contenders for the Great Lakes regional title. However, that uncertainty paired with inconsistency by their bottom few scorers (last year) has kept me cautious of this team.
1. Colorado Buffaloes
2. Southern Utah Thunderbirds
3. Alabama Crimson Tide
4. Eastern Kentucky Colonels
5. Washington State Cougars
6. Michigan Wolverines
7. NC State Wolfpack
8. Air Force Falcons
9. California Bears
10. Butler Bulldogs
11. Texas Longhorns
12. Eastern Michigan Eagles
13. Florida State Seminoles
1. Vincent Kiprop (Alabama)
2. John Dressell (Colorado)
3. Alfred Chelanga (Alabama)
4. Euan Makepeace (Butler)
5. Gilbert Kigen (Alabama)
6. Joe Klecker (Colorado)
7. Mike Tate (Southern Utah)
8. Aaron Baumgarten (Michigan)
9. Ben Flanagan (Michigan)
10. Michael Williams (Washington State)
11. Zach Perrin (Colorado)
12. Kasey Knevelbaard (Southern Utah)
13. Connor Mora (Michigan)