Regionals Bubble Watch



Northeast

Top 4 teams in regional rankings (USFTCCCA):

1. Syracuse

2. Iona

3. Columbia

4. Army

On the surface this region may not appear to have many points at stake, but the 2nd place finisher will more than likely be dishing out a fair share of points thanks to Iona’s and Columbia’s performances at Wisconsin. Syracuse is the clear favorite in this region. They should have no problem finishing in the top two and will more than likely rest a guy or two because they have distanced themselves greatly from this field.

Behind them is perennial power Iona and Heps 2nd place team Columbia. After the Wisconsin Invite, most would have scoffed at the idea that Columbia could possibly sneak ahead of Iona, but after Columbia’s bounce back at Heps an upset can’t be ruled out. Iona, which has almost always finished in the top 10 at Wisconsin and NCAAs over the past decade, does not seem to be on the same track after a 17th place finish at Wisco (where Columbia was 33rd). More troubling is the possible lack of depth that we saw from their conference results. They appear to only go five men deep as they swept 1-5 at MAAC's, but their 6th man was a little further back in a conference not known for its depth.

The good news for Iona is that they return Gilbert Kirui to the lineup (who has not raced all year) and it looks like Chartt Miller is slowly rounding back into form after struggling at Wisconsin. Columbia will try to counter with a similarly strong top four led by Heps individual champ Ryan Thomas. The Lions put four in the top 10 at Heps and if they can shrink the difference between their 4th and 5th men and hope that one of Iona’s guys has an off day, an upset could be brewing. If this were to happen, Columbia would be giving away A LOT of points from their 33rd place showing at Wisconsin.

Mid-Atlantic

Top 4 teams in regional rankings (USFTCCCA):

1. Georgetown

2. Princeton

3. Penn

4. Villanova

Following Georgetown’s rough run at Pre-Nats, it became clear that there was really no longer a clear favorite in this region, and conceivably there are many different scenarios that could play out where several teams find themselves in one of the first two positions. Georgetown did bounce back with a win at Big Easts and still appears to be in the driver seat for the Mid-Atlantic Region. Led by possible individual champ Jon Green and filled with a slew of talent, the Hoyas have the greatest allowable margin of error which makes them the safest bet to get an auto berth.

Before Heps, most would have thought that Penn would be the 2nd place team in this region followed by Princeton in 3rd. However, after Princeton’s dominant run at Van Cortlandt Park, these teams have most certainly flip flopped. With Conor Lundy (3rd at Mid-Atlantic Regionals last year) leading the way, the Tigers have developed depth. Both Garrett O’Toole and Noah Kauppila have transferred success on the track over to the grass. If they can keep their pack compressed and running well then they should finish in the top two, but if the 10k distance proves too much for a team with more miler type runners, then they could lose out on a berth to Nationals.

Penn was 24th at Wisconsin so if they do get an auto berth a fair share of teams will happily take some points because of them. With Kevin Monogue and Chris Luciano leading the way, this team has some experienced distance runners who have had success over 10k. However, the Quakers did not run as well as many expected at Heps and will need a bounce back performance to finish in the top two.

Both Villanova and last year’s second place team Navy cannot be discounted, but ultimately this may end up being the most difficult region to predict because most of these teams have not yet run up to their preseason expectations. Instead, they have struggled at different times during the season.

Great Lakes

Top 4 teams in regional rankings (USFTCCCA):

1. Michigan

2. Michigan State

3. Wisconsin

4. Purdue

The top of the Great Lakes region will pretty much be a rematch of the Big Ten Meet as it tends to be. If those results hold true and Michigan and Michigan State take the top two spots, then very few points will come out of this region. The results at Big Ten's, however, do suggest that an upset could be in the works. The culprits most likely will be the Wisconsin Badgers.

After a 25th place showing at their home invite and confirmation that Morgan McDonald would be redshirting all in the same weekend, many wrote off these Badgers and said they would most likely miss NCAA's for the second time in three years. Although Wisconsin may not have the points to get an at-large bid (depending on the scenario), they cannot be discounted as a possible top two team in this region. At Big Ten's, Wisconsin was led by a 1-2 finish from Oliver Hoare and Joe Hardy which was good enough to lead their team to a third place finish, just six points behind 2nd place Michigan State.

Michigan and Michigan State are experienced teams led by seasoned cross country runners such as Ben Flanagan and Clark Ruiz, respectively. Both programs appear to have the depth to run past the Badgers for the auto berth spots, but if Hoare and Hardy run like they did at Big Ten's and one of the other young, talented Badgers step up, then we could see Wisconsin sneak ahead of either Michigan or Michigan State. If that were to happen, the Badgers would give out a lot of points to the teams that beat them at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational.

Southeast

Top 4 teams in regional rankings (USFTCCCA):

1. Furman

2. Virginia Tech

3. NC State

4. Virginia

The Southeast region over the past few years has always been filled with a number of high quality teams and this year is no different. Furman looks like a solid bet to finish in one of the top two spots and earn and auto berth to Nationals. After them, it's the next three teams that all have a great deal of intrigue.

Virginia Tech, which has had a few very good individuals and a great middle distance program on the track, have put together a formula for success in cross country. As a result, they have become one of the biggest surprises in the NCAA this season after their 4th place finish at Pre-Nats. It will be interesting to see how this team handles the move up to the 10k as they still have a number of more miler types on the roster.

Both NC State and Virginia could become viable challengers at regionals after they both finished within 30 points of Tech at ACCs. NC State has shown to have a strong and tight pack through five runners this 1-5 this year which gives them more of a margin for error as their depth makes up for off races. With that in mind, they may lack the low-stick necessary to place in the top two.

Virginia, on the other hand, was highly ranked to start the year, and ran okay early, but really had a tough day at Wisconsin placing 30th. The Cavaliers bounced back well at ACCs as Brent Demarest and Lachlan Cook finished 2nd and 5th respectively. If Chase Weaverling can join those two up front and give UVA a lethal trio, then that could pack a punch at regionals and allow them to possibly take down their in-state rivals. If the Cavaliers can get solid performances from the rest of their pack and earn an auto berth, then a lot teams that beat them at Wisconsin will happily accept the points coming their way.

Although they are not ranked in the top four in the region, both Campbell and Eastern Kentucky cannot be underestimated in this region. Campbell finished 8th at Pre-Nats even though their fifth man finished 251st (and they only ran five guys). They were able to put four guys in the top 40 which helped them to avoid finishing any lower. Led by low-sticks Amon Kemboi and Lawrence Kipkoech, the Camels will most likely put a few guys near the top at regionals and if their fifth man can improve, then they could challenge for a top two finish.

Eastern Kentucky had a somewhat disappointing finish at Wisconsin with Erick Rotich leading the way in 23rd and no one else place in the top 80, which led them slipping down the leaderboard. Based on conference results, it looks the Colonels have the potential to compress their 1-5 gap a bit more. If they can accomplish that, then they will definitely have the talent to surprise for an auto berth and give the teams that finished ahead of them at the Wisconsin Invite some Kolas points.

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