Will Kaitlyn Mooney of Coast Guard bounce back and race like we think she can?
Hannah: When Mooney did not race for six weeks, I started to lose hope that she would return, but I was wrong as she raced in the New England regional meet last week. Less than 20 seconds back of some really talented women is not bad, but Mooney is capable of more. I am not sure that one week is enough time for her to challenge for a top 10 spot, much less a national title.
Brett: It was great to see Mooney make a return to racing at the New England regional meet. Even though she was just off the leaders, the main goal was clearly to qualify for Nationals (and she did that relatively easily). I wouldn’t put a ton of stock into her finish last weekend. I think she’ll be ready to bounce back and compete for a top five finish.
Does Paige Lawler repeat as the individual champion?
Brett: I think she will. After debuting mid-season, she has looked incredible and has been getting better with every race she runs. There are some women who will certainly challenge her, but I think she will take home the title once again.
Hannah: After watching her calmly dismantle the Midwest region, I would have to say yes. I don’t think it will be a blowout, but she should be able to do it.
Genny Corcoran vs. Parley Hannan: Who Come Out on Top?
We’ve seen a new star in Parley Hannan from Ithaca battle a seasoned veteran in Genny Corcoran from SUNY-Geneseo all season long.
Here are their match-ups from earlier in the year...
Yellowjacket XC invitational: Corcoran 21:50, Hannan 21:59
Mike Woods Invitational: Corcoran 21:19, Hannan 21:52
Regionals: Hannan 21:01, Corcoran 21:06
Hannah: I gotta go with Corcoran on this one. Hannan does seem to be peaking at the right time, but Corcoran has National Championship experience that I think will be super valuable.
Brett: I’m gonna take the other side of the ball with Parley Hannan. The regional "upset" should give her a lot of confidence heading into Nationals after beating one of the best names in D3.
Which women will end up in the top five?
Hannah: I would say at least 10 women could make the top five, but realistically, it’s between Genny Corcoran from SUNY Geneseo, Parley Hannan from Ithaca, Paige Lawler from Wash. U, Izzi Gengaro from MIT, and Isabel Cardi from Dickinson.
Brett: There are a lot of women who I think could end up in the top five, but I think Paige Lawler, Genny Corcoran, Parley Hannan, Kaitlyn Mooney from Coast Guard, and Kassie Rosenbum from Loras will end up in the top five.
How many All-Americans will Johns Hopkins have?
Brett: A lot! Seriously though, either four or five. I think the main question is...who will start? There have been a lot of different names who have contributed to the scoring lineup for the Blue Jays, so it’ll be interesting to see which seven names toe the line.
Hannah: More than anyone else. I would say four for sure, possibly five or six on a great day.
Is there anyone who can seriously challenge Johns Hopkins for the team title?
Hannah: Wash U. is such a good team, but this year I don’t think anyone will be able to compete with Johns Hopkins' firepower and depth. But let’s not forget that it was Wash U. who surprised Johns Hopkins with a one point win last year. Does history repeat itself?
Brett: Wash U. has proven themselves yet again to be a very good team. Out of the whole field, they are definitely the closest to Johns Hopkins for the win. However, the Blue Jays are just so good and so deep this year that I don’t think they’ll get too close, but they could certainly surprise us.
Did the Loras women get robbed of a chance to run at the National Championships?
Brett: To make a long story short, Loras ran their best race of the season to get 3rd at the Central region over St. Thomas and St. Olaf, two teams that had great seasons and could have likely received national bids. However, the selection committee did not select any of those three teams for at-large bids to Nationals. Ultimately, it is up to the committee to decide, but I think that Loras and St. Thomas should have been in contention for spots in Louisville.
Hannah: I think every year a team feels like they should be racing for one more week. Unfortunately, this year it was Loras.
Is Ryan Cox back?
Hannah: Yes, and as a Ryan Cox stan, I would like to say I was right all along. Starting the season as Williams' #10 runner, Cox has come a long way from the injury that derailed his indoor and outdoor track seasons. At the New England regional meet, he finished 2nd overall to teammate Aidan Ryan. This would indicate that, yes, Ryan Cox is indeed back. Follow up question: how high can he finish?
Brett: I don’t doubt that he’s back. He’s been slowly creeping up Williams’ lineup like Hannah mentioned, and his finish at their regional met was very impressive, even if Aidan Ryan was holding back. I’m not sure if he’s at the caliber that he was when he took 6th last year, but Cox should be a strong #2 man for Williams. I would say he could finish in the top 20.
In a similar vein, is Lucas Mueller back? Where will he finish this weekend?
Brett: To an extent, yes he is. He’s been getting better and better each race, and at the MIAC Championships, he was within 22 seconds of teammate Matthew Wilkinson. If he can close that gap to Wilkinson, he should have no problem of finishing in the top 30.
Hannah: He is definitely better than he was at Eau Claire’s Blugold Invite when he finished 111th. He has bounced back some, but I don’t think he is at the fitness he was when he finished 2nd in the 10k last spring. Even though Mueller is getting better, 22 seconds is a long ways to be behind Wilkinson. I am going to say top 30, but not much higher than that.
Which duo will have the highest finish?
Brett: I’m going to go with Joshua Schraeder and Tyler Nault from UW-La Crosse. Both of these guys have had their moments this year: Nault winning Pre-Nats, and Schraeder topping the WIAC. These two have been consistently near each other over the last month of racing, and I think they each have a shot to place in the top five individually.
Hannah: I would say Matt Osmulski and Alec Beutel at full strength from North Central. Beutel has looked off over the past couple of weeks. He did not run the CCIW Championships and was NC’s #7 man at their regional meet. It's possible that he was taking it easy, so if he's able to rebound and race at full strength, then NCC will have a dangerous 1-2 punch.
Is there a clear favorite for the men's individual title?
Brett: I don’t really think so. I think it’s going to be a very open race between a lot of guys.
Hannah: I don’t think so either. I think there are six or seven guys who have a shot and it will depend on the day.
Follow up: Who has a chance to win it all?
Hannah: Josh Schraeder from UWL, Ryan Cutter from Chicago, Patrick Watson of Stevenson, and Aidan Ryan from Williams.
Brett: Oh gosh, there are a lot of names. Tyler Nault, Joshua Schraeder, Ryan Cutter, Patrick Watson, Aidan Ryan, Matthew Osmulski, Nick Matteucci, Jared Pangallozzi, even guys like Matthew Wilkinson and David Fassbender have shots at taking the title.
Does NCC achieve the four-peat?
Brett: With a great, good, or okay day, North Central will take home their fourth straight title. Similar to Johns Hopkins for the women, they’ve had a multitude of guys who have shown up at some point this season who could earn All-American finishes. If Alec Beutel is up there with Osmulski again, that would help their chances by a lot. Like I’ve said earlier this year, you can never count out North Central.
Hannah: I think they will. Long Live Al Carius.
Which teams have a shot at beating NCC?
Hannah: I think Williams will be closer than some people realize and they might have the only legitimate chance at the upset. Carnegie Mellon, CMS, and PP will be left to fight it out for the last two podium spots.
Brett: I agree with Hannah. Williams will probably be the only team that could get pretty close to North Central this year. However, I think that there are a lot of teams who could challenge for the remaining podium spots: Carnegie Mellon, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Pomona Pitzer, Wash U, UW-La Crosse, or Wartburg could find themselves earning a team trophy.