Often times at TSR, we like to reminisce. We'll occasionally look back at old articles and either nod our heads in an expression of approval, or cringe at a dumb prediction or bold statement we made months (or even years) ago.
So we thought "eh, screw it, let's make this an article series" where we revisit some of our old content and react accordingly to what we said way back when.
42 Q's was an article that we wrote in June of last year which asked numerous questions about what we should expect during the 2018-2019 seasons of competition. With cross country and indoor track all wrapped up, we thought now would be the best time to answer our old questions.
Keep in mind that as of last June, we had not yet started covering women's distance running which is why the questions in this article are oriented towards the men.
2018 Outdoor National Championships
Which distance runner had the greatest upset of the weekend?
In retrospect, when we look back at this national meet, Ben Flanagan had the greatest upset. His final kick to take home the win was electric, especially since no one expected him to take home the title. Now that we've had some time to fully digest the performance, Flanagan's win still holds up as the greatest upset of that weekend.
Is Ben Flanagan's win the greatest underdog story in NCAA Championship history?
Back in June, that may have been the case, but the narrative has potentially changed since Geordie Beamish won the national title in the mile this past indoor season. The guy who never actually ran a mile faster than 4:06 won NCAA gold over one of the most dynamic distance running stars in recent memory. Between, Flanagan and Beamish, it's a tough decision to make.
Is Sean McGorty's win the greatest comeback story in NCAA Championship history?
For most people, it's hard to ignore what Morgan McDonald was able to accomplish this past fall. He essentially waited two years to win a national title on his home course. He may not have had to deal with the brutal injuries that McGorty had to endure, but McDonald came back in a big way after an extended absence to win with a fairytale ending.
Future National Championships
Does this mean Grant Fisher will be the favorite to win the 5k next year?
The answer to that would be no. After evaluating the past two seasons, it's hard to say that anyone but Morgan McDonald is favored to take home the 5k outdoor national title in 2019.
Is Obsa Ali automatically the favorite to win the steeplechase next year?
We still don't know the answer and it depends on who you ask. I think Obsa is someone you can consider as a favorite, but I don't think he's the favorite. There are too many guys who can contend with the nation's best. I think, much like last year, the men's steeplechase will be wide-open.
Or will guys like Rotich, Grannetia, the BYU men, and the Syracuse duo rise to the top?
I'm a big fan of Emmanuel Rotich, but he is someone that has yet to prove that he can run well on the national stage. As for Portland's Simon Grannetia, he's coming off of a stress fracture from the fall, so I'm unsure how he'll be able to rebound. However, I do like the BYU men and Syracuse duo of Tooker and Affolder. I think it is more likely than not that someone from BYU or Syracuse wins the national title in the steeplechase this spring.
Is Oregon the early favorite to win the indoor DMR title in 2019?
Nope! That turned out not to be the case. After losing Mick Stanovsek and a high school recruit who ran 1:47 during indoors (Hoey), the Oregon men were no longer in the conversation to win any national titles. However, they quickly silenced the doubters (including myself) by putting six men under the four minute barrier this past winter. Still, I'm not sure there were a ton of people saying that the Ducks were favorites to win the DMR national title due to their lack of an established 800 leg.
Is there any team that could realistically stop them?
I'm not sure many people thought Notre Dame could repeat their Cinderella story from 2018. Obviously, that was an incredibly poor assumption. Grant Fisher rebounded into a top-tier closer for Stanford and was able to make up for not having Sean McGorty on the relay. Those are the two clear examples. Plus, there were a ton of other teams that were simply more well-rounded than the Ducks were in the DMR this past winter.
Does Stanford's back-to-back 5k titles (with different runners) make up for the lack of a national title in cross country?
I remember happily typing this question and breathing a mental sigh of relief that I would never have to actually answer it. Looks like I played myself on that one.
As a fan of the sport, I can't help but think that Stanford should have done more with McGorty and Fisher on the same roster. Neither of them won a national title in the DMR and they were unable to secure a gold medal during cross country. They are both exceptionally talented, but in retrospect, I think they could've produced something special, especially when you look at the teams they were on.
What does BYU need to do in order to avenge their struggles at NCAA's?
In retrospect, all they needed to do was just not perform poorly at the national meet. Prior to the start of this academic year, the Cougars had really only seen Rory Linkletter post a handful of All-American finishes. Luckily, they were able to remedy that issue by having four different men become All-Americans during cross country. This past indoor season, they had four All-American finishes from three different men (and none of them were named Rory Linkletter). The Cougars have come a long way and I think it's fair to say that they have avenged their struggles.
Despite not winning this past weekend, has Josh Kerr done enough to be considered the greatest collegiate 1500 runner ever?
He won two national titles in the 1500/mile distances, beat Edward Cheserek, and broke the collegiate national record for 1500 meters. I'm not sure what else he could have done. I don't think it's a wild statement to say that he is the greatest collegiate ever for that distance.
David Ribich is the greatest D2 runner in NCAA history...right?
Gosh, both Thomas Staines and Sydney Gidabuday have made this debate incredibly hard. Both of those men broke collegiate records this past indoor season and the number of titles they are accumulating is hard to fathom. I think there is a debate for any of these three men.
Or is it Thomas Staines after running 1:45 in early June?
Looking back, I feel dumb for not even mentioning Gidabuday.
By the way, does this mean Staines will go pro now?
Most of us knew that Staines wasn't going to turn pro last summer, but I would be shocked if he stayed in the NCAA after this year. He has nothing left to prove in the collegiate system.
What else is left for Kerr to do in the collegiate scene?
We mentioned this in the above question, but Kerr had nothing else left to accomplish. He had left his mark on the NCAA. Going pro was the right move to make.
If the answer is nothing, does this mean he'll go pro?
Will Isaiah Harris go pro after this season?
I was a bit more uncertain on this one than I was with a few others, but when Nike comes calling with a check and you already have a national title, it's hard to see a different outcome.
Will Michael Saruni go pro after this season?
I felt pretty confident that Saruni was going to turn pro, but it took him a lot longer to do it than I thought it would. He eventually signed with Adidas, but I felt almost completely certain that he would sign with Nike and train alongside former teammate Emmanuel Korir. Shows what I know...
If both go pro, who is the favorite to win the 800 title next year?
Bryce Hoppel may have won the national title this past indoor season, but I'm still not sure if we have a solid answer to that yet. It feels like anyone can win NCAA gold come outdoors, even after what we saw this past indoor season.
Will Coach Fox really leave Syracuse to start a group with Reebok?
You can tell by the way I phrased this question that I didn't really believe it would happen. Whoops...
If he did, would Justyn Knight actually consider joining that group?
As it turns out, Justyn Knight would actually consider joining Reebok. Who would've thought?
Next year uncertainties
How will Colorado State perform in 2018-2019 after losing both Mock and Fischer in a single year?
I'm still in shock at how well this team ran last cross country season. Colorado State lost Jerrell Mock, Grant Fischer, and Wayde Hall to graduation last year, leaving the Rams with significantly less firepower. To make matters worse, their star runner Cole Rockhold sustained an injury as they entered the postseason. Yet, somehow, this team was able to finish 9th in the country without four of their best runners from the year prior. Man, that was impressive...
How will Virginia Tech perform in 2018-2019 after losing Ciattei, Gourley, and Joseph in a single year?
At this point in the summer, Coach Thomas had not yet left the program. That would ultimately be the biggest factor in this whole conversation. So far, the Hokies have held their own in the ACC, but they haven't made much noise on the national stage outside of Peter Seufer.
How will Matthew Harding adjust to Virginia Tech after transferring from UNC-Asheville?
The transition seems to have gone smoothly, but it hasn't necessarily been exciting. He ran 1:49 this past indoor season and will likely want something faster this spring.
With an All-American finish now on his resume, has Robert Brandt validated his transfer from Cal to UCLA? Does he need to do more? If so, what exactly does he need to do?
I consolidated this question to one line for the sake of simplicity. When I was writing this article, the answer was probably a no. Now, after back-to-back All-American finishes at the indoor national meet, I have to say yes. He has clearly become a national contender and can be a legitimate low-stick for the Bruins in the fall of 2019. Robert Brandt is likely better off at UCLA than he was at Cal.
Which JUCO & D2 stars will transfer to D1 this offseason?
Ashenafi Hatte from Oklahoma State was likely the biggest impact transfer in a sea of moving names. The JUCO product gave the Cowboys a lethal 1-2 punch when paired with Isai Rodriguez and he ended the cross country season as an All-American.
The Campbell men brought in a few new names to their roster, but as a collective group, the Camels struggled to put together a cohesive lineup.
What kind of impact will Arizona State's three newest transfers have?
Garrett O'Toole and Fearghal Curtin have been relatively quiet in terms of performances, but William Paulson has evolved into one of the best milers in the country. He ran 3:58 this past winter and finished 5th at the indoor national meet. Be sure to keep an eye on him this outdoor season.
Is Brody Smith, a transfer from Utah State, the missing piece Purdue needs to qualify for an NCAA Championship in cross country?
The answer to this question was a resounding YES. Purdue might have been good enough to qualify without him this past fall (emphasis on might), but Smith gave them an edge that they desperately needed. He was a crucial scorer in the middle of their lineup who provided consistent value and stability in every race he toed the line for. He was a key pick up for the Boilermakers this past fall.
How long should we give Solinsky until we expect to see progress with Florida's distance runners?
I still find myself asking this question. The men have struggled with Solinsky, making little to no progress in his two years with the program. The women, however, have made phenomenal improvements. The Lady Gators went from the bottom of the SEC to national qualifiers for cross country in basically a year. While there were a ton of factors to consider, Solinsky is likely a big reason why they've been so successful.
Who will take over as the coach for Washington?
The Powell's going to Washington may go down as one of the most Earth-shaking moves that the country has ever seen. They completely changed the coaching structure of the NCAA in a single summer.
Pete Watson taking over the distance program at Texas was an interesting move. I was super underwhelmed by the entirety of their cross country season, but we saw some pretty special things from Rodgers and Worley this past winter. In the long term, I think this will be a beneficial move for the Longhorns.
The Notre Dame athletic department made the right move to give Coach Matt Sparks the role of Director after Alan Turner departed from the program. He has done an incredible job with the women's program during his time there.
I was a bit critical of Eastern Kentucky hiring Cory Erdmann in place of his father, but the move turned out to be a great one. The Colonels were one of the best cross country teams in the Southeast region this past fall and have continued to make some noise on the track. It also helps that they have a superstar in James Sugira leading their program.
Will Greg Metcalf ever have a job in coaching again?
I find it hard to believe that Metcalfe won't be coaching again. Coaches at that level are often too connected to not find themselves back with a team. There are a few rumors floating around that tie him to certain assistant coaching positions, but none of that means anything until it happens.
Piecing Together Eligibility
Will Colorado's John Dressel be healthy enough to compete for the Buffs this fall?
He would! Not only would Dressel compete, he would finish 9th at the Cross Country National Championships and qualify for Indoor Nationals in the 5k. It was a great comeback season for the Colorado star.
Joe Klecker just ran 13:30 at the Portland Track Festival. Did his redshirt season mean he was saving eligibility or recovering from an injury? Both?
We don't have the answer to this, but it truthfully doesn't matter a ton. Klecker will be around for one more year after this where he'll be considered as the national title favorite in the eyes of many.
Will we ever see Soren Knudsen on the collegiate scene again?
WHERE IS MATTHEW MATON???
Why did Morgan McDonald use eligibility and run only one collegiate race (where he didn't qualify for NCAA's) at the end of the spring track season?
Sometimes we make mistakes. This was one of them. McDonald still had the eligibility of a junior last spring so him racing at BIG 10's was a moot point.
When will TSR start it's summer rankings?
We went on to post our recruit rankings a week after we posted this 42 Q's article. Those rankings, along with our Top 50 and Top 25, would give life to TSR and jumpstart our growth.