TSR's 2020 Rankings Update #1: D1 XC Top 25 Teams (Men)

The Stride Report has opted to only rank teams that have competed this season (i.e. results are posted on TFRRS). We will not be doing "mid-season" individual rankings for the altered 2020 season, although we may opt to do season-ending individual rankings. That is still TBD.

25. Florida Gators

Facing Florida State and Georgia Tech at the Mountain Dew Invitational forced the Gators to settle for 3rd in their season opener. They later came back to the Florida State Invitational where they finished 4th overall. However, they had a very solid top three in that race as Trevor Foley, freshman Ethan Geiger and Angel Vicioso finished 7-9-11.

Unfortunately for Florida, their final two scorers finished 33rd and 36th in the team scoring.

If the Gators can replicate that front-running and adjust the backend of their lineup, they could end up being more competitive with teams like Florida State and Georgia Tech.

24. Kansas Jayhawks

23. Kansas State Wildcats

Iowa State has gotten the better of both Kansas State and Kansas in their two encounters so far this season, but when it comes to a Kansas State vs Kansas, it's the Wildcats who are up 2-0 on the Jayhawks.

You could make the argument that Kansas' Ben Butler is the better individual between both teams, but Kansas State has simply been too good at keeping a tight pack of scorers and putting a good portion of their men ahead of Kansas' middle-lineup contributors.

22. Texas A&M Aggies

The Aggies were soundly defeated by the likes of Arkansas and Ole Miss at the SEC Preview, but they rebounded at the Gans Creek Classic the other weekend, finishing only six points behind a respectable Missouri team. Not only that, but they did it without top scorer Eric Casarez, an individual cross country national qualifier from 2019.

They still have a lot to prove, but there a few respectable distance talents on this team.

21. Army Black Knights

The Army men have been worked by Syracuse in their last two races and without seeing any other results, it's hard to really criticize the Black Knights for those losses. They lost a ton of key scorers from last year, but they're probably good enough to be Top 25 team during this weird, altered 2020 cross country season.

20. Navy Midshipmen

Navy's win over the Pitt Panthers at a duel meet was a respectable result, especially since we like to think of Pitt as a distance program that is slightly better than some people give them credit for (at least on the track).

Julian Perez took down an individual cross country national qualifier (Marc Migliozzi) for the win while the rest of the Navy men simply overwhelmed Pitt with their depth.

We're not 100% sure how to rank Navy, but we think this is an appropriate spot for them.

19. Georgia Tech

Florida State beat an Andrew Kent-less Georgia Tech team (soundly) at the Mountain Dew Invitational. However, Georgia Tech then beat Florida State by one point at the Florida State Invitational. Regardless of who is ranked ahead of who, there isn't exactly a wrong order.

Overall, Andrew Kent looks like he'll be translating his success from the 2020 indoor track season to the grass after narrowly settling for 2nd at the Florida State Invitational the other weekend. The rest of this lineup is still trying to find its identity, but it's good enough to keep them competitive during an altered 2020 cross country season.

18. Florida State Seminoles

The Seminoles started off their season with a dominant display of fitness at the Mountain Dew Gator Cross Country Invitational, but struggled a bit on their home course at the Florida State Invitational.

Paul Stafford has been a bright spot for this squad as has freshman Gabriel Curtis, but the rest of their lineup needs to bridge the gap between those two and their three other scorers. There are a few other names who could post respectable results moving forward (such as All-ACC performer Caleb Pottorff), but it's tough to say when/if we'll see that.

17. North Carolina Tar Heels

It's hard to get a gauge on the UNC men. Thomas Ratcliffe had a not-so-great season opener and then didn't run in their second race of the season. Freshman Patrick Anderson has now recorded a DNF in two straight races. Veteran Alex Milligan has not yet raced this season and fellow 4:03 miler Jesse Hunt was sidelined this past Wednesday as well.

That said, freshmen like Will Coogan and Max DiMuccio have held their own in the first few races of their rookie seasons. It's also fair to assume that this team will be so much better when they have everyone together and racing at full strength.

However, until we see that, we opted to rank this UNC team at TSR #17.

16. Missouri Tigers

The Tigers have been a pleasant surprise as they have been competitive in each race they have toed the line for this season. The immediate impact of freshman William Sinclaire has been promising as he was the top Missouri runner at the Commodore Classic and was their second scorer at the Gans Creek Classic.

Kieran Wood has been the expected front-runner for this squad while Martin Prodanov and Marquette Wilhite have been key contributors at the backend of the lineup. With Wood being the only senior, the Tigers are building a team that could be competitive at the SEC Championships and the Midwest regional meet for years to come.

15. Virginia Tech Hokies

A 3rd place result on their home course in a season opener against NC State and Duke may not have been a totally ideal result, but the Hokies were only seven points behind Duke and didn't run Bashir Mosavel-Lo who may have been enough to get the edge on the Blue Devils if he had run.

Other than that, we like Fitsum Seyoum as the front-runner of this team and they have depth that is slightly better than some people may gave Virginia Tech credit for.

Although we have Virginia Tech at TSR #15, we think it's very possible that they are better than that. The mixing and matching of results between SEC teams this season ultimately forced us to push the Hokies (and the Blue Devils) back a few spots. A ranking closer to TSR #12 or TSR #13 was originally considered for this group and we don't think that would've been wrong.

14. Duke Blue Devils

Don't overreact to the 4th place result from the Wolfpack Invitational, that wasn't Duke's varsity squad. The Blue Devils's varsity group debuted at the Virginia Tech Invitational where they (and the Hokies) were trounced by NC State.

Even so, CJ Ambrosio is a nice piece at the front of this lineup while the rest of their scorers have been tightly packed and not far behind. In theory, that lineup structure would benefit them at larger invitationals. I suppose we'll just have to wait until the ACC Championships to see if that's true.

Just like we mentioned with Virginia Tech, we think there was strong potential for Duke to be a couple places higher in these rankings. We opted to put Tennessee ahead of them based on how close they were to Kentucky and we opted to put Georgia higher as well based on their encouraging win over FSU and Georgia Tech.

That said, you could have ranked Duke at TSR #12 or TSR #13 and we wouldn't have argued.

13. Tennessee Volunteers

The Volunteers had a strong debut at the Live in Lou Cross Country Classic, finishing 4th overall and only six points behind a strong Kentucky squad. George Goodwyn was a surprise front-runner and will give this team a tremendous boost if he can continue with his current form. Meanwhile, Karl Thiessen has returned to his freshman year fitness and looks to be a top contributor for Tennessee.

Although Alex Crigger did not have his best race in Louisville, he will likely be a key front-runner for this squad in the future. Others such as Riley Bucholz, Conner Hawkins, Eli Nahom and Mike Griffin give the Volunteers some young depth and they will likely develop into top scorers in the years to come.

The Volunteers have a good chance to finish towards the top-half of the SEC this season and even higher in the future.

12. Georgia Bulldogs

A quietly impressive win at the Florida State Invitational caught our eye as the Bulldogs took down Florida State and Georgia Tech by over 15 points each. Sam Bowers taking home the individual win in that race was very encouraging and Chase Condra placing 5th was a nice result as well.

As for the rest of their scoring lineup, they were good enough to fend off a typically strong Florida State team and a Georgia Tech squad that has a few solid pieces.

We're not quite sure what we should expect to see from this team moving forward, but we liked what we saw from them in their season opener.

11. Kentucky Wildcats

A win at the Commodore Classic followed by a close 3rd place finish at the Louisville Cross Country Classic (where they were just three points behind Charlotte) has left us quietly impressed by the Kentucky men.

Matt Duvall looks like a true front-runner as only a freshman while Dylan Allen and fellow freshman Ethan Kern have also helped with the scoring at the second and third scoring spots of this lineup. The rest of this varsity group is also incredibly young and there is still a ton of room for improvement.

Who knows? Maybe we will see this Kentucky team at the national meet in a year or two from now.

10. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

The Wake Forest men have only raced once this fall, finishing 2nd to a UVA team that has turned out to be much stronger than we realized. In that race, the Deacons scored a total of 49 points, falling 23 points behind the Cavaliers.

However, the Deacons didn't have top ace Zach Facioni at that meet and his presence in that race could have dramatically altered the results (or at least made them a lot closer). Jack Tiernan (2nd) and Carter Coughlin (3rd) looked strong in that season opener, potentially giving Wake Forest a respectable 1-2-3 punch in the future.

That said, just like last year's ACC Championships, the last few scoring spots of this lineup will determine how far this team goes.

9. Charlotte 49ers

The 49ers were a team that we thought could be sneaky-good this season and so far, that seems to be the case. They cruised to a victory over App State and Western Kentucky to start their season and later went to the Louisville Cross Country Classic where they finished 2nd overall, three points ahead of Kentucky (and 41 points behind Ole Miss).

Paul Arredondo looks like a true low-stick and the rest of this squad, despite their youth, looks to be full of promise and potential. In fact, according to one source, the Charlotte men were without a plethora of lineup options at the Louisville Classic, leading us to believe that they may have a few more weapons that they could utilize in the future.

8. Syracuse Orange

Syracuse's season has essentially been them cruising through an Army squad (twice) with relative ease. They also took down Boston College at the Battle in Beantown as well.

We haven't seen Aidan Tooker yet, but JP Trojan and Joe Dragon look like strong scoring options and the rest of this group hasn't been too far behind. Overall, there's not a whole lot to talk about with this squad, but they have looked solid so far.

7. NC State Wolfpack

To be clear, the NC State men didn't run poorly at Wolfpack Invitational. They put Flavin (2nd), Bistritz (3rd) and Shanklin (4th) behind the overall winner Rohann Asfaw of Virginia.

Even so, the backend of their lineup wasn't quite as strong as we expected it to be last Wednesday. They still have a plethora of scoring options, but they'll need to close the gap between their bottom two scorers and their top three in order to have a greater impact in these smaller fields.

6. Virginia Cavaliers

The Virginia men have been far better than we expected them to be this season. They won the Virginia Invitational on their home course over a Facioni-less Wake Forest squad and later went on to upset a loaded NC State team at the Wolfpack Invitational.

The UVA men lost a heavy portion of their varsity lineup from last year and had limited firepower coming into this season. They needed to rely on young and inexperienced members of their roster and simply find new scoring pieces for their top seven.

That's a lot to ask of any squad.

We figured they would be competitive, but not quite to this extent. Rohann Asfaw has emerged as a true low-stick, the underclassmen are racing at a high level and they have done all of this without Peter Morris.

Kudos to a Virginia team that is certainly performing above expectations.

5. Ole Miss Rebels

The Rebels have performed about as expected so far this season. With two races under their belt, a 2nd place finish at the LSU SEC Preview Meet and a victory at the Live in Lou Cross Country Classic, Waleed Suliman and company have proven their top-end quality and depth.

Mario Garcia Romo has been a big surprise this year and has replaced Farah Abdulkarim's scoring potency incredibly well. Sophomore Cole Bullock has stepped up as well and gives this team another potential low-stick (or at the very least, a solid middle-lineup scorer). As Cade Bethmann continues to round into fitness, he will add to the depth already provided by Michael Coccia and Dalton Hengst.

The Rebels still need to solidify their backend, but their front three look as strong as it has been in the past which raises their ceiling for the 2020 season.

4. Iowa State Cyclones

We had Iowa State ranked higher than Oklahoma State in our preseason rankings. However, the top-heavy field at the Cowboy Jamboree seemed to benefit Oklahoma State as they upset the Cyclones for the win.

In fairness, Iowa State didn't run Mitchell Day in that race, but he would have had to finish with the top individuals for the results to change. Still, we like the scoring potency that Wesley Kiptoo brings to the table and we still think that Iowa State has some of the best depth in the country. They'll continue to be a majorly competitive team moving forward.

3. Oklahoma State Cowboys

The Cowboys debuted on their home course and started out the 2020 season on a fantastic note by upsetting conference rival Iowa State. Isai Rodriguez and Ryan Smeeton led the team as expected, but Victor Shitsama stepped up in a big way to finish 3rd. His emergence as a potential front-runner raises Oklahoma State's stock significantly.

The immediate impact of freshman Ryan Schoppe and the improvement of sophomore Alex Maier gives this team five very strong scorers who will allow the Pokes to compete with nearly anyone in the country.

They have only raced once, and it was on their home course, but it was a promising start. Last year’s poor ending is in the past and the Cowboys look like they are back on track.

2. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

The Notre Dame men have only raced once so far this season which ended in an easy sweep of the Louisville Cardinals. However, other than that, we haven't seen a whole lot from the Fighting Irish and we won't see them race again until the ACC Championships.

That said, they seem to be going "all-in" on an ACC title this season given that they had freshman Josh Methner racing in their season opener as well as a few other key underclassmen. Even so, we had to bump them to TSR #2 simply because of their limited results.

1. Arkansas Razorbacks

The Razorback men have competed only once this season, but they look like the strongest team so far (at least on paper). They took down a strong Ole Miss squad (which has looked great so far this season) and did so with a few guys not having their best days. They also didn't run Amon Kemboi in that race and still won by eight points.

What's even more interesting is that we saw Furman transfer Krissy Gear make her season debut on the women's side the other weekend. So what does that mean for the men?

Well, it means that the SEC transfer bylaw that we were initially unsure about might not matter during this weird season, meaning that we might get to see Campbell transfer Amon Kemboi race this fall. That, however, is still very unclear.

We still need to see more from this group, but as of right now, they're the best team that has competed during the 2020 cross country season...so far.