Updated: Oct 29, 2019
The regular season is now complete and with conference championships fast approaching, we thought it would be fun to do something different for the postseason...so we did a fantasy cross country draft (because we don't have social lives).
However, instead of selecting individual runners (which we will do before the national meet), we opted to draft teams instead. Before we get into the actual draft, here are some of the quick details that you may want to know...
*Women's picks coming tomorrow*
How This Works
Each writer picks five teams.
Snake draft order is determined by random selection.
Scoring determined by placement at Nationals. If a team does not qualify for Nationals, then the team scores 32 points. Lowest point total wins.
If a team wins their regional meet in a region that sends less than four teams to Nationals, then the writer who drafted that team gets a one point reduction.
If a team wins their regional meet in a region that sends four or more teams to Nationals, then the writer who drafted that team gets a two point reduction.
If a team wins their conference meet in a conference that sends less than three teams to Nationals, then the writer who drafted that team gets a one point reduction.
If a team wins their conference meet in a conference that sends three or more teams to Nationals, then the writer who drafted that team gets a two point reduction.
Round One Selections
Michael: Picking NAU here is a no-brainer in my opinion. So far this season, NAU has consistently proven themselves as the top team in the nation and I would be surprised to not see them bring home their fourth consecutive title.
Logan: Taking BYU over Stanford might shock a few people, but BYU returns four men from the top 65 of last year's national meet. BYU is almost guaranteed a podium finish, and quite frankly, I think they have enough to overtake Stanford. With Mantz as a key low-stick runner and Heslington on the rise, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them give Stanford a run for their money.
Garrett: I can understand why BYU went before Stanford, but I just think that there is too much firepower for the Cardinal to not be on the podium. I think they’re the closest thing to a lock for the podium outside of NAU. I also think their depth will be better than what we saw last year. There's just too much good to not take them at #3.
Ben: I am going with Iowa State for a few different reasons. One, I think they are really, really good and deep. Behind Edwin Kurgat and Addison DeHaven, the Cyclones have plenty of options to fill out the next three scoring spots. Additionally, this is a team that should easily win a BIG 12 conference title as well as the Midwest region. Subtracting two points off of Iowa State’s NCAA finish pushes them ahead of a team like Colorado (in terms of draft value) who will face Stanford at PAC-12's and NAU and BYU in the Mountain region.
Brian: Colorado fell to #5 which is nice for a team I see making podium, so this was a no-brainer pick. This team had an “average” performance at Pre-Nats in my eyes and they still took 2nd in a close race. I see Klecker sliding up and competing with the top guys in the country and thus leading the team as the low-stick. My only worry about this pick is not getting the point reduction because the PAC-12 is very competitive.
Sam: Right now, Portland sits at #8 in our team rankings so this might be considered a surprise pick, but if anyone knows how to surprise at NCAA's, it’s Rob Conner and the Pilots. Sure, they were only 9th at Nuttycombe, but some guys had less than stellar days and I think they’re going to show up when it matters most. George Duggan had a much better race at Dellinger than Nuttycombe and I would expect him to run better at WCC's and the West Regional Championships. I also wouldn’t sleep on former Minnesota man Joey Duerr.
Maura: As the season has progressed, the Washington men are progressing as well. The men are starting to put things together when it begins to matter. Andrew Jordan, a transfer from Iowa State, has proved his presence on the team and is helping lower the score after his top 10 performance at Pre-Nationals. I’m still waiting for Talon Hull and Tibebu Proctor to get into top form, but with PAC-12's up next, these men have a chance to prove why the Huskies are a national contender this fall.
Round One Discussion
Garrett: Already a few surprises...but the biggest one definitely being Washington. I still think that they can put together a good performance on the right day, but it’s surprising to see them go in the first round. I’m just not very high on them despite their firepower. I don’t like their consistency.
Ben: I agree, the point incentives have already influenced a few decisions, but it was interesting to see a team that likely won’t earn any reductions because they are in the same conference as BYU and the same region as Stanford.
Michael: Overall, nothing surprised me too much in this round. We all have a pretty good idea of who the top teams will be, so where the surprises come is the actual draft order itself. Logan taking BYU over Stanford may come as a bit of a surprise, but I like that pick and probably would have gone the same way.
Ben: I agree, I think the top five went in about the order I expected. It will be interesting to see how things diverge from this point on.
Sam: The only real “shock” pick would maybe be taking Iowa State before Colorado, but I do see the upset with Kurgat leading the way.
Logan: Honestly, I really chose BYU over Stanford just to stir things up early. I do think Stanford is the better team right now, but come time for Nationals, I think BYU will peak and overtake Stanford.
Maura: BYU is a solid choice for upsetting Stanford. Conner Mantz is a guaranteed low-stick for the Cougars and Jacob Heslington made a statement after finishing 4th at Pre-Nationals.
Brian: Iowa State over Colorado surprised me as well as Washington this early. I’m happy with my pick so hopefully a get a couple more steals down the line.
Round Two Selections
Maura: Between Jaret Carpenter, Brody Smith, and Curt Eckstein, the Boilermakers have a great top trio. The men of Purdue had a breakout season last year after Smith transferred in and that success has rolled over to this fall. Their 6th place finish at Nuttycombe prepares them well to take on tough competition at BIG 10’s. The only concern for Purdue is how far back their #4 and #5 runners are from the leading trio. If the back-half of the team can close their gap, big things could happen for Purdue and the team will get their redemption after faltering last fall at NCAA's.
Sam: My entire contingent may just be “sleeper” teams. Tulsa has this habit of showing up when things matter most, which usually means sneaking through the regional meet and then overperforming at NCAA's. This year, they have already put down a massive statement performance at Nuttycombe with their 3rd place run and I would be surprised if they don’t crack the top 12 at NCAA's. While I don’t necessarily see this team as a huge threat to make the podium, I can see them somehow finishing between 7th and 15th - likely on the higher end.
Brian: I love Iona at #10. This is a team that has been flying under the radar this season and had a sizable 3rd place finish at Pre-Nats. Usually a pack-running team, this squad has two strong front-runners in Ehab El-Sandali and Johnjack Millar. Also, Iona is a lock to win the Metro Atlantic, so you might as well subtract a point right now.
Ben: It was a tough decision picking between Ole Miss and UCLA. I think UCLA will ultimately finish higher than the Rebels, but the possible two point reduction for Ole Miss was too much to pass up on. They are heavy favorites in the SEC and the South region. Plus, this is a team that finished 2nd at the Joe Piane Invitational and they have a very strong top five led by Waleed Suliman. They are a high-upside team that, on a good day, have a great chance at finishing in the top 10 at NCAA's and that potential is why they earned my second round pick.
Garrett: It’s understandable why teams like Ole Miss, Iona, and Purdue were taken before UCLA. Those teams can all post a good finishes as Nationals AND win their respective regional/conference meets. However, I’ll still take the potential 6th or 7th place finish that UCLA could earn at the national meet despite being in loaded conference and regional meets.
Logan: I went with Indiana for a few reasons, the first reason being I thought they were the next best team available. Mau and Veatch have turned out to be absolute studs for the Hoosiers, and from here I think they only get better. Unfortunately, I don’t see Indiana getting me a point reduction as they have Purdue in their conference, but nonetheless, I think they can have a stellar race at NCAA’s.
Michael: I think Michigan is an underrated team this year. They might not be the favorite to win the BIG 10 or the Great Lakes region which means I could lose out on the reduction points, but I think the Wolverines could surprise some people, especially at NCAA's. They’ve flown under the radar this season and their depth will take them far.
Round Two Discussion
Garrett: When teams like Iona and Ole Miss went off the board, I was a bit surprised, but the possible point incentives they could get from their regional and conference meets is fair to think about. I also LOVE the Michigan pick. They won’t put up a flashy finish at Nationals, but they won’t have a bad race due to their incredible depth and pack-running. They’re a safe pick, props to Michael.
Sam: If Maura hadn’t taken Purdue, I definitely would have. Them (or Tulsa) may be the best team in the NCAA with no “big name” superstar. I realize Carpenter is very, very good, but I don’t consider him a household name like say Oliver Hoare or Edwin Kurgat.
Ben: I like the Purdue pick from Maura. They have a good chance at earning some point reductions and have such a solid top three which will, at the very least, put them in contention for a top 10 finish. A very safe, solid pick to pair with the high upside/low floor Washington pick
Michael: I KNEW Garrett was going to pick UCLA. They’re a sneaky good team and he has bet on their guys in these kinds of situations before and seen good results. Nice pick.
Logan: For some reason I had hoped no one would take Purdue, but there was little chance that would happen. I don’t know what to think about Purdue, do we consider them underrated or overrated? Obviously, the results this year show that they were definitely underrated at the beginning of the season, but after receiving their highest ranking ever this past weekend, I'm curious to see how they handle the postseason after struggling in 2018.
Maura: Purdue has proven to be the best team in the BIG 10 this fall. I don’t consider them underrated or overrated because they have put together solid back-to-back-to-back performances this season. Now, Michael’s Michigan pick surprises me. 2018 All-American Jack Aho has really struggled this season as he didn’t even score for Michigan at Nuttycombe. For their top five spread, I know 25 seconds is great, but Michigan just doesn’t seem like a national contender this fall.
Brian: I was either going with Iona or Tulsa in my position and I would have rather had Tulsa, but Iona was a great next option. This is a team favored to win their conference and maybe their region so that point deduction will lead to being a better pick than Washington in my eyes.
Round Three Selections
Michael: Wisconsin might not have the low-stick they had last year with Morgan McDonald, but Oliver Hoare has stepped up in a big way that could leave him not far from where McDonald finished last year. Hoare has a strong team behind him that could put the Badgers in the top 10 at NCAA's on the right day.
Logan: This might be a little bit of a bold pick, but I like bold. I honestly have no idea how they will perform at NCAA’s. In my opinion, they have under-performed this season and I think many others can agree. They started off the season on a good note, but last weekend’s Nuttycombe performance was a bit disappointing. Part of that obviously has to do with Affolder not racing. Their 1-2-3-4 are solid, but their #5 hasn’t performed well as of late. If Affolder is out for the season, that changes everything. All I can hope for is that their #5 runner steps up, and maybe they can have a "Tulsa at Nuttycombe" type performance in terms of the shock-factor. Who knows?
Garrett: There are rumors right now that JP Flavin is injured and could be out for the foreseeable future. When you factor that in with their very odd non-result at Nuttycombe, there is understandable concern with this NC State team. Even so, I just didn’t like any other team after them and their Joe Piane performance was too good to forget about.
Ben: If you would have told me a month ago that I could have Notre Dame in the third round, then I would have been ecstatic. A lot has changed in a month. I don’t feel great about this pick after the Irish’s last two races, but there is a reason why they were a top 10 team at the beginning of the year. They have a ton of talent and have a stud in Yared Nuguse and a breakout star in the making in Dylan Jacobs. If Danny Kilrea can get back into his form from last year, then they are in really good shape especially since Andrew Alexander has been a solid top four contributor all year. Plus, they could win the ACC team title.
Sam: Oklahoma State is not nearly as deep as they have been...BUT, Isai Rodrgiuez is an absolute game-changer. He can be a top five runner at NCAA's which is huge for their team points. I think both Quigley and Haines will improve by Nationals and they should make it out of the region based on Kolas points once their conference meet finishes.
Brian: MTSU felt like a stretch pick, but I love their two front-runners and I kept with the strategy of taking teams who are expected to win their conference. This team is far from proven, but they also have a high ceiling with their front runners in Jacob Choge and Kigen Chemadi. It will all depend on how their 3-4-5 do in the postseason.
Maura: Boise State is definitely an underdog heading into the postseason. Ahmed Muhumed has improved each season and he had himself a strong showing at Nuttycombe with a 23rd place finish. Behind him, Miler Haller and Logan Rees are there, but then the team drops off at their #4 and #5 runners. Boise State’s fate lies in their final two scorers closing the gap and finishing in the top 80 in the team scoring.
Round Three Discussion
Sam: I think Oregon may be the highest pick to really under-perform. Hot take: I don’t think they even finish in the top half of NCAA's. There. I said it.
Logan: Maybe Sam is right? But Oregon isn’t the only team that could really under-perform at NCAA’s. I took a shot with the Ducks because the potential is there. I definitely thought about this pick for a sec, but as I mentioned earlier, I like making bold picks, and hopefully this one pays off.
Ben: FIRE. I think they have too much depth to not make the top half of NCAA's even if their scoring potency doesn’t show up.
Garrett: I just...didn’t like any of the teams in this round. I think there are a lot of potential concerns with pretty much all of these teams, some more than others. I like Wisconsin’s experience in the postseason and I think that plays into their favor. Still, there are just way too many issues surrounding the depth of these groups.
Ben: There weren’t a lot of good options, I agree. Oklahoma State freaks me out. There is a good chance they don’t make NCAA's. If we are making hot takes, then put me down for the Cowboys finishing 3rd behind Tulsa and Iowa State at the Midwest regional meet and missing out on NCAA's.
Garrett: That is the coldest "hot take" ever.
Sam: Ironically, I agree with Ben. Except I think the magical committee of koalas will get them through (Editors Note: Sam is referencing the often auto-corrected "Kolas" qualifying system). Also, I agree with Garrett that this round felt like every team that I could draft should have been a fourth round pick.
Michael: A lot of these picks are bold and rely on a lot of things going right for these teams to secure low finishes at NCAA's. This includes my own pick, which makes me curious as to how the rest of the draft will go. If teams like Middle Tennessee or Oklahoma State don’t make it into NCAA's, this round could turn out to be a bust for some people.
Ben: Likewise, I am nervous about MTSU because they don’t have enough Kolas points to qualify if they are unable to beat Ole Miss or Florida State at the South regional meet who have both run well so far.
Maura: I’m a little nervous about Notre Dame. Their team went out hard at Nuttycombe and really fell apart. Yared Nuguse was the only athlete who paced himself well during that race, finishing 25th. However, behind him, things went south. Danny Kilrea hasn’t been at the same level he was on last fall. Andrew Alexander and Dylan Jacobs were back in the low 80’s and then their next two didn’t cross the line until 125th and 128th.
Brian: NC State looks like a reach in the 3rd round. Their team looks a little beat up with injuries and without some of their guys like JP Flavin. I don’t see this team placing high.
Round Four Selections
Sam: So to be honest, I haven’t paid enough attention to the men and I purely picked Syracuse because they were ranked highly in our rankings and no one had picked them yet. That is literally my entire reasoning for that pick. Oh, and I guess they’re usually good so that helps.
Brian: Gonzaga finished in 16th place at Wisconsin and was only one point behind Notre Dame. I think at this stage in the draft, this was a solid pick. Led by James Mwaura who placed 15th individually, this team runs as a pack through their bottom four scorers and if they can move up slightly, they have a good chance to upset some teams come NCAA's.
Ben: I am going with Princeton even after a less than stellar performance at Nuttycombe. They still should be the favorite to win the Ivy League and the Mid-Atlantic region, so that will help. This is also a very deep team who will hopefully give their top studs, Lundy and Grossman, some more support in the postseason.
Garrett: Princeton was my first choice, but Florida State just felt like a relatively comfortable choice. A great low-stick. Solid supporting pieces. Respectable-enough depth. Experience on the national stage...what’s not to like? I just don’t see many weaknesses with this group.
Logan: I like this pick. Villanova seems to be the team that stays quiet throughout the year. You don’t hear much about them, but they’re always there. They had a solid performance at Pre-Nats, taking home an 8th place finish without Casey Comber and Andrew Marston. If they take a top two spot in their region, this will turn out to be a great pick.
Michael: Southern Utah is an admittedly risky pick here given their inconsistencies. However, after a solid finish at Nuttycombe, I am confident that they can make it to the national meet if things don’t go horribly wrong.
Round Four Discussion
Ben: This is definitely the part of the draft where there are a lot of underwhelming options. I think Utah State could be a nice surprise pick. I was torn between Florida State and Princeton, but the Tigers felt like the safer pick.
Logan: I have to agree with Ben, this part of the draft held a lot of underwhelming options. I was really torn on who to pick, but with who was left I felt like 'Nova was a good upside choice.
Garrett: I REALLY wanted Princeton. Despite their less-than-stellar performance at Wisconsin, the point incentives they offer for their regional and conference meets was tempting. I also like their depth as well as their mix of youth and experience.
Brian: Syracuse was a surprise pick for me at this point in the draft. They looked great early on, but without a strong front-runner in Tooker, I don’t see this team placing high in the postseason. I thought about picking Princeton, but Gonzaga beat them at Wisconsin and I think they have a lot of exciting potential.
Michael: I wanted Princeton or Florida State this round and figured I would be safe getting one of them...but unfortunately not. Two solid picks that look really good for winning conference and/or regional titles.
Round Five Selections
Michael: I think the Virginia men have a strong shot at winning the Southeast region, and at this point in the draft, scoring a team that could earn a reduction point (or two, the ACC could be up in the air) could be big. Virginia had a disappointing finish at Nuttycombe, but if they can bounce back, I would consider them essentially a lock to make Nationals out of a middle-of-the-road region and beat some teams.
Logan: I admittedly didn’t want to draft Texas, but I wasn’t sure who else to draft. So I went with the Longhorns. Don’t get me wrong, Texas is a solid team. I just felt like there was a better team out there that I'm missing. But looking back, I’m kind of glad I went with them. The Longhorns had a great performance at the Bill Dellinger Invite, out performing teams such as Villanova and Air Force. With the Longhorns, I’m preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best. A 25th place finish or better is fine with me.
Ben: Eastern Kentucky should have enough Kolas points to make NCAA's. Despite their poor showing at Nuttycombe, they are Top 25 team and should have a good chance at winning another OVC title. They could even compete with NC State for the Southeast title if the Wolfpack are a little off.
Sam: At this point, I’m simply looking for teams to make Nationals and I think the Razorbacks should do that. Heck, they can get last, but it still earns points. Could they be top 20? Probably not, but I’m drafting them because they will make the meet and then whatever happens, ya know...happens.
Garrett: I had to go with my Hokies! It may seem like a bit of a homer pick, but I just like what they have. Seufer is a stud and they have some very solid pieces who are quietly underrated. They are more than capable of supporting the middle of their lineup. They aren’t the flashiest team, but they will get the job done, and I think they’ll sneak into the national meet if ACC’s goes well.
Brian: At this point in the draft, you are looking for steals and I think I found one in Furman. Usually a team that peaks late in the season, this team placed 19th at Wisconsin and they are a fringe NCAA team. In my eyes, they were the best option still on the table. Also, I fully expect the Furman men to win the Southern Conference title.
Maura: Georgetown doesn’t have a ton of firepower up front, but the Hoyas are still respectable and could give Villanova a challenge at the BIG East Championships before challenging Princeton at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships.
Round Five Discussion
Maura: The Razorbacks will no doubt qualify for Nationals due to being in a fairly weak South Central region. It is difficult to gauge where Arkansas will finish, but there are definitely points to pick up there.
Sam: Yeah, at this point if a team is essentially guaranteed points, I consider it a huge win. Honestly, if Arkansas wasn't on the board, I was going to take South Dakota State #GoJacks.
Ben: I really wanted Texas for that exact reason. They are guaranteed a spot to NCAA's and should be able to earn one reduction point by winning the South Central region.
Logan: I was simply looking for teams to just make Nationals at the very least. Texas is a team that is guaranteed a spot at the NCAA's which is better than taking a risk on a team that has the potential to not make it which would result in 32 points for me. Even if the Longhorns get last, that’s one less point than a team who didn’t make it and for anybody who’s into fantasy knows that every point matters.
Michael: We saw a lot of teams from the Southeast go this round...my guess would be that they don’t all make NCAA's. Who knew the fifth round would end up being so exciting?
Garrett: I thought the exact same thing, Michael. Four teams from the Southeast region are all in the final round. That could be the make-or-break round for this draft. It just shows how much up in the air that region is when it comes to national qualifying.
Brian: At this point in the draft, it’s NCAA's or bust. I think I picked a good one in Furman, but a lot is going to ride on this final round.