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TSR's 2021 D1 Winter XC Top 50 Individuals (Men): Update #3


Additional contributions by Garrett Zatlin


Any athlete who competed (attached) during cross country at least once this year, regardless of whether or not they competed at the cross country national meet, was eligible to be listed in these rankings.


KEY NOTE: Theses rankings are based on how an athlete fared throughout the entirety of a season, not just how they ran at the NCAA XC Championships.

 

KEY

(Unranked):

Was not ranked in our last update.

(#/#):

First number indicates how much the athlete has moved in the rankings.

The second number indicates where the athlete was ranked in our last update.

 

50. Christian Ricketts, Senior, Southern Utah (Unranked)

We'll be honest, it was not the best season for Ricketts. The Southern Utah veteran just didn't have the same spark that we've seen from him in previous seasons. In past years, his best performances have come at races like Nuttycombe or Pre-Nationals, but his results at the FSU Winter XC Classic and Battle Born XC Challenge (amongst others) weren't great.


Of course, a 31st place finish at the NCAA XC Championships changes things quite a bit.


That was a huge performance and it is far more indicative of his actual talent than any of his results from this year would suggest. So how do we balance that? Well, we opted to give him the last spot in our rankings. It still rewards him for his clutch result in Stillwater, but it also reflects a few of his other results from earlier in the year.


49. Abdirizak Ibrahim, Sophomore, New Mexico (Unranked)

The transfer from South Plains CC has left us scratching our heads a bit. He was a respectable talent at the JUCO level and posted a decent 10th place result at the Mountain West XC Championships. However, the New Mexico sophomore then came out of nowhere to finish 35th overall at the NCAA Championships and earn All-American honors.


Outside of that national meet finish, it's hard to really find a spot for Ibrahim in our rankings. However, the arguments for other athletes aren't all that extensive or convincing. For that reason, we've added the newest Lobo talent to our TSR #49 spot.


48. Josh Methner, Freshman, Notre Dame (Unranked)

The Fighting Irish freshman has had an interesting year. He placed 11th at the ACC XC Championships which, for a rookie, was pretty decent. However, his 29th place finish at the Silver State XC Challenge was flat-out bad.


Methner became one of six Notre Dame runners to earn All-American honors last Monday. He showed tremendous poise for someone who is so inexperienced. His other results didn't necessarily create a ton of excitement, but it's not like Methner ran poorly this year. For that reason, he sneaks into one of the last spots in our rankings.


47. Ryan Smeeton, Senior, Oklahoma State (Unranked)

The Oklahoma State senior has been solid all year, but I'm not sure we expected him to earn All-American honors and place 26th at the national meet. However, that is exactly what happened as the Cowboy veteran knew how to navigate his home course.


Admittedly, his past results from the fall, while far from bad, weren't exactly Top 50 caliber. Luckily, a top finish at the NCAA Championships changes how we view his overall resume. We just need to balance out the results, so we gave him a TSR #48 ranking.


46. Scott Beattie, Senior, Tulsa (-24 / 22)

Is an 89th place finish at the NCAA Championships bad? No, not really. It's a fairly solid result and it doesn't necessarily suggest that someone crumbled on the big stage. However, I'm sure Beattie was interested in a higher finish based on his regular season performances. He was runner-up at the American Athletic Conference XC Championships and later finished 3rd in a top-heavy field at the OSU Winter Open which was essentially a battle between Tulsa and Oklahoma State.


Beattie was primed to be an All-American this year, but that just didn't happen. Regardless, he's still plenty talented and this breakout year was enough to keep him in our rankings.


45. Luke Meade, Senior, Arkansas (Unranked)

The graduate transfer from Furman has been quietly great over the past year, specifically when you look back at the fall months. Meade didn't always standout amongst his teammates, but he did finish 7th at the Blazer Classic and 6th at the SEC XC Championships.

Were those jaw-dropping results? No, not really, but they did show that he was entering a nationally competitive tier and we saw that last Monday when Meade finished 38th overall to earn an All-American finish at the national meet.


Consistency and peaking for championship meets makes it hard to leave a guy like Meade off of our list. His progression during his final days at Furman and his most recent performances at Arkansas have led us to believe that he'll be a problem for his competitors in the spring.


44. Shea Foster, Junior, Southeastern Louisiana (-1 / 43)

Was a 45th place finish ideal for the Southeastern Louisiana ace? No, not quite. We're sure he wanted All-American honors, but if this is his worst race of the year, then we can't be too disappointed. He finished 7th at the FSU Winter XC Classic earlier in the winter and has simply never faltered in pretty much any race he has toed the line for this year.


Foster will eventually be taking his talents to Oklahoma State as a graduate transfer next year and when he does, he'll be giving the Cowboys yet another lethal weapon in their arsenal that they call a distance roster.


43. Victor Shitsama, Rs. Freshman, Oklahoma State (Unranked)

We were very high on Shitsama this year. We loved the breakout performances we were seeing and we were even more impressed that he was consistently posting respectable results. However, some of his finishes, when you factor in everyone else from around the NCAA, were just barely not enough to crack our rankings.


That, of course, all changed after a 34th place finish at the national meet. The Oklahoma State junior knew how to perfectly navigate the course and was able to carry over some of the momentum that we saw from him earlier in the year.


42. Barry Keane, Junior, Butler (-2 / 40)

41. Simon Bedard, Senior, Butler (0 / 41)

This Butler duo finished 2nd and 3rd at the BIG East Championships, giving us reason to believe that they could be All-American contenders in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Sure enough, we saw Bedard place 37th while Keane barely missed the top-40 with a 43rd place finish.


Overall, there's not much to say here. We've seen these two men make quietly great progress over the past few seasons and their recent results are fairly accurate indicators of their overall talent levels. However, it may be fair to argue that Keane and Bedard are at their best when they are on the track.


40. Jonathan Davis, Senior, Illinois (-10 / 30)

It has been a bounce back season for Davis who has struggled with injuries throughout his career. He capped the year off with his first All-American finish in cross country as he crossed the line in 39th place in Stillwater.


While he only raced once on the grass this winter prior to the national meet (in what was a thrilling race against George Kusche), Davis looked primed for the tough Oklahoma State course. He slowly passed runners throughout the second-half of the race and showed his strong kick as he held off Gilbert Boit and Mitchell Day to earn that all-important All-American honor.


This was a key redemption result for him which will hopefully lead to equally exciting results later this year.


39. Brandon Garnica, Junior, BYU (-19 / 20)

It was a heartbreaking Monday for Garnica who recorded a DNF despite being in 13th place through 9k. One bad final kilometer does not invalidate a whole season that saw the Cougar junior emerge as one of the breakout runners of the year. After his surprise 42nd place finish last year, no one would have been surprised to see him better that result in Stillwater.


Garnica was as consistent as they come throughout the regular season, giving BYU a top scorer to pair with Clinger and Mantz. The tough course got the better of him on Monday, but it is clear that he is now at a different level than he was a year ago.


38. Jackson Mestler, Senior, Oregon (-20 / 18)

After a strong season on the cross country course, Mestler did not have his best day in Stillwater as he finished 81st overall. The Oregon veteran moved up well in the beginning of the race before fading in the last few kilometers. It wasn’t a terrible result, but after his 3rd place run at the PAC-12 XC Championships, it looked like the Duck was headed for his first All-American finish.


Overall, it was still a very impressive year for the senior who led Oregon on the grass as they were without many of their top runners throughout the season. He recorded a few top finishes and quietly took down some respectable talents.


37. Waleed Suliman, Senior, Ole Miss (-16 / 21)

It wasn’t the best finish at the NCAA Championships that we've ever seen from Suliman, but it was a solid result nonetheless as he earned a 50th place finish in Stillwater. Bouncing back after finishing 3rd in the mile at the NCAA Indoor Championships was impressive, especially on the hilly and difficult grass course in Stillwater.


He wasn’t able to earn his third All-American XC honor, but that was about the only thing wrong with Suliman’s performance. Otherwise, he is someone who usually peaks perfectly. The only difference is that this year, he used his peak at the indoor national meet.


36. George Kusche, Junior, Nebraska (-25 / 11)

After going out hard, Kusche struggled at the NCAA Championships, failing to finish within the top-half of the field. The Cornhusker ace was coming back from running the mile in Fayetteville two days earlier and looked gassed after competing multiple times in four days.


Despite this poor result, Kusche still had a very strong performance back in late January when he won BIG 10 title on the grass. However, he began to falter on the indoor oval. Kusche didn't win a title like we thought he could at the BIG 10 Indoor Championships and struggled at the indoor national meet as well. That bad luck followed him to Stillwater on Monday and it seems like he was just in a rut of some not-so-great performances.


35. James Mwaura, Junior, Gonzaga (-25 / 10)

Last Monday was a tough one for Mwaura who went out aggressively, but struggled to maintain the pace throughout the rest of the race. This was a surprising result because the Gonzaga junior had run so well at the West Coast Conference XC Championships a few weeks ago where he finished 2nd overall, beating top talent Casey Clinger.


The Gonzaga junior has yet to put it together at the NCAA Championships, but after another experience on the biggest stage, we should expect Mwaura to be a top-tier All-American candidate next season. There is no question that he's talented, but it seems like his understanding of positioning and making certain moves is still in development.


34. Morgan Beadlescomb, Senior, Michigan State (Unranked)

After not racing a single time on the grass this year, Beadlescomb showed no rust as he crossed the line in 33rd place in Stillwater. Of course, this also came after he ran 13:29 in the 5k to finish 3rd at the NCAA Indoor Championships a few days earlier.


The Spartan senior was clearly peaking at the right time and Michigan State should be given plenty of credit for qualifying for the NCAA Championships without their star front-runner and even giving him this opportunity. Beadlescomb continues to be one of the most underrated distance talents in the country and this weekend proved that he should be seen as a legitimate contender on the outdoor track.


33. Alex Masai, Senior, Hofstra (-6 / 27)

It really seemed like Masai had found the perfect cross country race for him. With Wesley Kiptoo taking the race out quickly, the Hofstra senior could get out of the pack and run in space as he tracked the Cyclone.


This plan worked terrifically as he was within the top-six for 9000 meters, but the last kilometer hit Masai hard. Despite dropping 26 places, he still finished 32nd and earned his first All-American honor.


The Hofstra product is so clearly talented and his potential was on full display as he ran with Mantz, Wildschutt and Kiptoo for long stretches on Monday. He is close to being a true star on the NCAA scene. If he is able to further refine his championship racing skills, then Masai can end up being a lot better than some people think.


32. Ian Shanklin, Senior, NC State (-18 / 14)

It wasn’t Shanklin's best race on Monday, but it wasn't necessarily bad, either. He finished 54th overall, just missing out on his second All-American honor in cross country, but the Wolfpack ace continues to be a consistent performer on the NCAA stage.


In his four years in Raleigh, he has never finished worse than 75th in four attempts at the National Championships on the grass. Could he have been better? For sure, we know that he's capable of more, but we'll take the consistency that he has shown throughout his career.


31. Jake Renfree, Rs. Freshman, Notre Dame (Unranked)

30. Andrew Alexander, Senior, Notre Dame (Unranked)

Two of the most surprising results of the national meet came from Andrew Alexander and Jake Renfree when they crossed the line in 21st place and 22nd place, respectively. Both were aggressive early-on to put themselves into All-American contention before moving up in the latter parts of the race.


For Renfree, this is an incredible performance in his first-ever NCAA Championship and he needs to be seen as one of the best up-and-coming talents in the country. As for Alexander, he improves on his 67th place run last year in Terre Haute and his ability to hang with the hot pace early is a big reason why Notre Dame pulled off the surprise 2nd place finish. This race played into his strengths and it showed in the results.


29. Isaac Akers, Junior, Tulsa (Unranked)

Akers ran one of the best races of his life to give Tulsa three men within the top-20 at Stillwater. The junior thoroughly improved upon his 100th place finish in 2019 as he crossed the line in 19th placce on Monday.


Like his teammate Peter Lynch, the Golden Hurricane runner started conservatively, but quickly moved through the field every kilometer. Overall, this was an excellent race for Akers, but this was completely out of nowhere. We knew he was a respectable talent, but this was the kind of result that we thought Scott Beattie would have, not Akers.


28. Rohann Asfaw, Junior, Virginia (-2 / 26)

Unfortunately, we did not get to see Asfaw run at the NCAA Championships after his breakout season in the fall. Due to COVID-19, Virginia were only able to send two men to Stillwater.


27. Ehab El-Sandali, Senior, Iona (+21 / 48)

It can’t be said that El-Sandali lacks courage. The senior hit the front of the race and was running with Conner Mantz and Wesley Kiptoo after the first kilometer before (smartly) slowing down and maintaining a position in the top-30.


The Gael low-stick crossed the line in 29th place, earning his first All-American honor after missing out on that same distinction by a single place last year. Arkansas has to be excited about adding El-Sandali to their lineup as he'll give this team even more firepower, consistency and experience. Few athletes bring the same value to a team like El-Sandali does/will.


26. Caleb Garnica, Junior, Utah State (+24 / 50)

The Aggie junior continued his ascent to the top of the NCAA ranks as he finished 28th overall on Monday. After his impressive (but narrow) win at the Mountain West XC Championships, we guessed that Garnica was peaking at the perfect time. That speculation proved to be true as the Utah State star had the best race of his career in Stillwater.


Garnica started the race conservatively, but rapidly worked his way into All-American position, establishing himself as a true low-stick and giving his resume the consistency that a team needs out of a true front-runner.


25. Jack O’Leary, Senior, Iona (+24 / 49)

O’Leary continued his progression at National Championships, improving upon his 66th place performance in 2019 as he finished a shockingly strong 25th place in Stillwater. The Iona senior has been very good all year, but we had not seen him against top competition until the NCAA Championships.


His experience at the top stage clearly benefitted him, but maybe we should've been higher on O'Leary ever since he started dropping some lethal fast times on the indoor oval in 2020. On paper, it looks like those results translated to the grass fairly well.


24. Devin Meyrer, Senior, Michigan (+12 / 36)

Like many others within these rankings, Meyrer has consistently been great at the NCAA Championships and backed up his 16th place finish from the 2019 national meet with another strong performance on Monday.


Running without the rest of his team, the Michigan veteran was aggressive in Stillwater and it paid off in a big way as he crossed the line in 24th place. This was all the more impressive when you consider that Meyrer was coming back from running the 5k in a personal best time of 13:40 at the NCAA Indoor Championships.


Despite not being able to run at the BIG 10 XC Championships due to Michigan’s decision to suspend athletics due to COVID-19, the Wolverine ace made the most of this weird winter season and earned another All-American finish. He validated his breakout performance from last year and continues to solidify himself as one of the more consistent distance talents in the NCAA.


23. Alex Maier, Sophomore, Oklahoma State (Unranked)

It was Maier’s first time at the NCAA Championships, but no one would have known it by the way he ran. The sophomore ran like someone who knew the course like the back of his hand. He started in 89th place after the first kilometer, but worked his way throughout the race before finishing 17th overall.


After a fall that saw the Cowboy sophomore hold his own, it is not shocking to see him run well on his home course. However, a top-20 finish was shocking from an underclassman who really didn't have many/any collegiate results suggesting that he would be this good.


Maier was a star at the high school level and finally seems to be delivering on that promise and potential during his second year in the NCAA.


22. Zach Facioni, Junior, Wake Forest (+6 / 28)

Unbelievably, this was Facioni’s first NCAA XC Championship and he made the absolute most out of it. The Demon Deacon started out conservatively before expertly moving through the field. In the end, he crossed the line in 27th place and was the perfect low-stick for his Wake Forest team as they finished 15th overall.


After coming back to the U.S. in the winter, Facioni has looked like an improved runner in both of his races on the grass. The first being his 4th place run at the FSU Winter XC Classic and the second being his impressive effort in Stillwater.


In the end, it was a perfect short season for Facioni who will now put his improved fitness to the test on the outdoor circuit. His times while staying in Australia suggested that he would be this strong this year and that was surely the case. He seemed to finally peak for the postseason after not making it to the national meet in prior years.


21. Yared Nuguse, Senior, Notre Dame (-5 / 16)

Like Jacobs, it was not surprising to see Nuguse cross the line in the top-25. After a terrific 2020 of racing, the Notre Dame senior did not run much in 2021 leading into NCAA Championships. He did not have his best day the Silver State XC Challenge, but that didn't alter his approach at Nationals.


In Stillwater, Nuguse went straight to the front and was in the top-15 for a majority of the race before fading a bit, but still crossed the line in 23rd place for his best ever finish at the NCAA Championships. The miler proved once again that he has terrific range and can be counted on to help Notre Dame in anything from the 800 meters to the 10k.


20. Dylan Jacobs, Rs. Sophomore, Notre Dame (+9 / 29)

After a poor race at the Silver State XC Challenge where he finished 23rd overall, Jacobs bounced back in a huge way to help lead the Irish to a runner-up finish in Stillwater.


The Notre Dame runner had a strong fall, so it was not shocking to see him improve upon his 29th place finish from the 2019 National XC Championships. What was shocking was seeing him lead a pack of four Irish runners across the line in the top-25.


This was an outstanding race for the redshirt sophomore, but it also allows us to look at his prior race in Las Vegas and dismiss that as a rare "off" day. Jacobs has been running like a veteran despite his relative inexperience and it's hard to dislike how well he has been running in the postseason throughout his short career.


19. Eduardo Herrera, Senior, Colorado (-12 / 7)

It was not the best day for Herrera at the NCAA Championships where he finished 107th, but that result does not invalidate the terrific season that the veteran Buffalo had. The PAC-12 champion was in good position early in Stillwater, but the pace and the difficult course seemed to catch up with him as the race progressed.


Even with a lower result than expected at Nationals, it is clear that Herrera has established himself as one of the best distance runners in the country. He was super consistent throughout the year and was taking down some big-time names on a fairly consistent basis. He stepped up his game during the 2020-21 academic calendar and it showed in the results.


18. Danny Kilrea, Junior, Notre Dame (Unranked)

Another runner who had the race of his life was Notre Dame’s first finisher, Danny Kilrea. The junior has traditionally run well at Nationals, finishing 33rd as a freshman and 50th as a sophomore. However, a jump into the top-10 was not at all what we expected.


Kilrea was 7th at the ACC Championships and 9th at the Silver State XC Challenge against a top-heavy field. He was a bit under the radar and was having very solid cross country season coming into NCAA Championships, but even those results didn't suggest that he was going to be 10th at the national meet.


17. Aaron Bienenfeld, Senior, Cincinnati (+29 / 46)

After skipping NCAA Championships in 2019, Bienenfeld made his presence known in Stillwater. He was aggressive from the start before slowly moving up throughout the race and that plan seemed to workout for the Cincy veteran.


The Bearcat star has been on the money the entire year, whether he races on the grass or on the track. His 3rd place performance at the American Conference XC Championships looks even better after Dever, Lynch and Akers all finished in the top-20 on Monday.


Oregon has to be very excited about next year when they get to pair Bienenfeld, who finished 16th in Stillwater, with their top scorers (depending on who returns).


16. Mario Garcia Romo, Junior, Ole Miss (-3 / 13)

Capping a superb year, Garcia Romo crossed the line in 30th place at Stillwater. The Rebel low-stick had not run on the grass since his SEC victory in the fall, but didn't show many signs of rust as he earned his first All-American finish on the grass.


This performance was especially notable since he doubled in the DMR and 3k in Fayetteville a few days earlier. It is a little early for predictions next fall, but it is not hard to imagine Romo slotting into the top-10 in Tallahassee. He was on fire during the fall and probably had the most momentum of anyone on the grass at the end of October. We shouldn't discount that fact when evaluating these rankings.


15. Cole Bullock, Sophomore, Ole Miss (+10 / 25)

Like his teammate, Bullock finished his breakout season on a high note, earning an 18th place finish on Monday. He had the luxury of not doubling at the NCAA Indoor Championships and looked fresh in Stillwater as he steadily progressed through the field.


After struggling with in his first experience at Nationals in 2019, it was great to see the sophomore build on a successful fall season and stake his claim as one of the best underclassmen in the country. That consistency is something that we weren't sure if we were going to see out of this sophomore, but Bullock never faltered and only got better every time he toed the line.


14. Cole Sprout, Freshman, Stanford (+10 / 24)

In a world without Nico Young, Cole Sprout would be getting plenty of publicity as a freshman finishing in the top-15 in his first-ever NCAA Championship.


Stanford has to feel like they have found their next Grant Fisher. Like Fisher, Sprout came to Palo Alto after a record-breaking high school career. The new Cardinal star bettered Fisher’s first performance at Nationals by two places and now looks primed to continue his ascent to the top of the NCAA picture.


Even if he never reaches the highs that Fisher did, Sprout looks like a foundational piece for Stanford over the next four years who could lead them to monumental success. His poise this year in a variety of meets, despite his youth and inexperience, is super rare.


13. Charles Hicks, Rs. Freshman, Stanford (+2 / 15)

Like his freshman teammate, Hicks made the most of his first chance at the NCAA Championships on the grass, crossing the line in 14th in Stillwater. The redshirt freshman has been remarkably consistent this cross country season, culminating with a runner-up finish at the PAC-12 Championships and this recent NCAA performance.


What was so impressive about his run on Monday is that he was aggressive and put himself in the front pack from the start in a field that he had to know was beyond elite. He was able to hang with the hot pace and difficult course and still finished in the top-15.


In more ideal race settings, Hicks could actually be more than dangerous than he was this year. Realize it or not, his ceiling is higher than what this season showed us.


12. Peter Lynch, Senior, Tulsa (+11 / 23)

Lynch shows up in the clutch. Once again, the Tulsa senior had his best race of the year at the NCAA Championships. Last year he was 13th and on Monday, he bettered that mark by a spot, crossing the line in 12th place. His huge performance, along with Akers and Dever, gave the Golden Hurricanes one of the best top trios in the country.


Lynch ran like a true veteran and paced himself perfectly, starting in 98th place before moving up almost 10 spots every kilometer. He is not the front-runner that his teammate Dever is, but Lynch has proven that he doesn’t need to do that in order to be one of the best in the nation.


11. Casey Clinger, Rs. Sophomore, BYU (-6 / 5)

In his first cross country season after coming back from his mission, Clinger earned a strong finish, crossing the line in 13th place. While this is an impressive result, it seemed like the Cougar was headed towards a top-five (or at least top-10) finish when he opened up his season in the fall, finishing behind Mantz and Grijalva at the Oklahoma State Invitational.


Still, Clinger was a consistent low-stick for BYU throughout the year and delivered a top finish like many of us thought he would on Monday. He's still a tier away from contending for a national title, but when you consider that he was out of competition for so long, it's hard not to be impressed by what he did this year.


10. Amon Kemboi, Senior, Arkansas (+2 / 12)

After coming off of a tough 5k/3k double on his home track at the NCAA Indoor Championships, Kemboi produced once again for the Razorbacks, finishing 11th place overall in Stillwater. He was the perfect low-stick for Arkansas and showed why he was one of the biggest transfers in the nation last year.


After this performance, Kemboi now has four All-American finishes on the grass, including three finishes in the top-11. He is easily one of the best postseason runners in the country and few men have been as consistent on the national stage (on the grass) than he has.


9. Isai Rodriguez, Senior, Oklahoma State (-1 / 8)

After a tough finish to his 2019 campaign, Rodriguez was as consistent as they come, only losing to title contenders this year. He has certainly delivered on the promise he showed when he finished 4th at the 2018 NCAA Championships. Running on his home course, the Cowboy star stayed with the front group for the entirety of the race before passing Luis Grijalva in the final kilometer.


Crossing the line in 8th place validates an extremely good year for Rodriguez who put himself back amongst the best in the country with his performances this season. We weren't sure if his 2018 national meet performance was a fluke, but after seeing how he performed throughout the year, that suspicion doesn't seem to hold much merit.

8. Blaise Ferro, Senior, Northern Arizona (+11 / 19)

We don’t think enough can be said about Ferro’s performance at the NCAA Championships, and really, at every meet this year. It is hard to label this year as a breakout season for someone who has finished 26th at Nationals before, but the consistency that the Lumberjack showed was top-notch.


Additionally, his ability to run with Grijalva, Nur and Young throughout the entire race in Stillwater was the x-factor that clinched Northern Arizona's fourth title in five years.


Ferro's 6th place finish really shows the rest of the country how talented he is when he's healthy and is able to put together a full block of training. Yet, even then, I'm not sure we expected him to be this good.


7. Luis Grijalva, Senior, Northern Arizona (-4 / 3)

Grijalva entered Stillwater not in top form, but that simply did not matter. He still crossed the line in 9th place which, after the fall season he had, would have come as a surprise. However, as Coach Mike Smith has mentioned many times, NAU runs for the team and not individual glory.


No one seemed to encapsulate that better than Grijalva who likely had plans of capturing the individual title after he beat Conner Mantz at the Oklahoma State Invitational in October. But instead of chasing that title, he worked with his teammates to create a pack of four runners who all finished within the top-10.


His absence earlier in the winter suggested that Grijalva had a hiccup that interrupted his training or racing plans, but that doesn't make him any less talented. When he's at his best, Grijalva is a true title contender and we think most people recognize that.


6. Abdi Nur, Rs. Sophomore, Northern Arizona (0 / 6)

One of Northern Arizonas most consistent performers over the fall and winter has been Abdi Nur who capped his great season with a 7th place run at the NCAA Championships. The Lumberjack has led this team at times while also being a consistent low-stick behind (and sometimes alongside) Nico Young and Luis Grijalva.


Despite his relative inexperience compared to some of his teammates, Nur has churned out so many bi-time results over the last few seasons that he seems like a top-10 lock for years to come. His consistency is unmatched and he is beginning to realize that he can be an elite low-stick.


5. Patrick Dever, Senior, Tulsa (+4 / 9)

Like his teammate Peter Lynch, the NCAA Championships brings out the best in Dever as he had another spectacular race last Monday. He was terrific as he crossed the line 5th place and passed two people in the last kilometer as he made a hard charge to the finish.


There isn’t too much more to say about Dever. He has been an absolute stud on the grass throughout the last two years. He has given Tulsa a consistent low-stick who they can depend on without fail every week.


4. Nico Young, Freshman, Northern Arizona (0 / 4)

The most talked about freshman coming into this year fully delivered on the hype as he crossed the line 4th place in his first NCAA Championship. Young worked together well with his Lumberjack teammates before making a strong push to pick up a few places over the last stages of the race.


It is difficult to not be blown away by what this young NAU runner has done in his first year in Flagstaff. And it's also hard to find a ceiling on Young’s potential moving forward. Next year promises to be a stacked National Championship once again, but it is scary to imagine what this Lumberjack can do after another year in the program.


3. Wesley Kiptoo, Junior, Iowa State (-2 / 1)

Kiptoo went out and did exactly what he has done the entire year: push the pace early. After going out in a mind-boggling 2:31 through the first kilometer, the Cyclone star settled in a bit before opening up a sizable gap against the rest of the field. However, unlike every other race that we've seen him in this year, he did not have the luxury of keeping his lead while he slowed throughout the race.


Once Mantz and Wildschutt caught him, Kiptoo was in uncharted territory. Although he was unable to stick with the two of them, he did not collapse and hung on to a very good 3rd place finish.


It will be fascinating to see if this result changes Kiptoo's tactics moving forward. He has had great success with his front-running, but after Mantz was able to beat him by almost 30 seconds, I wonder if we will see a different Kiptoo in the future when it comes to approaching race tactics.


2. Adriaan Wildschutt, Junior, Florida State (+15 / 17)

Whoa! We could see that Wildschutt had improved during his time in Tallahassee, but I don't think anyone expected to see him finish 2nd at the NCAA Championships on Monday. The Seminole was aggressive throughout the entire race and with Conner Mantz working with him, he was able to make a nice push to catch up to Wesley Kiptoo after he got away from the field early in the race.


We could see the signs of improvement after his wins at the Florida State cross country meets and his 5k at the NCAA Indoor Championships, but his poor run at Terre Haute at Nationals in 2019 left some of us unsure about him going into Monday.


Luckily, he proved that those concerns were unfounded and he now looks like someone who is entering a new stage of his career, one where he will be a favorite to win every race he toes the line for. He is tactically so much better than he was at Coastal Carolina and has masterfully found a way to incorporate is aggressive pacing tendencies into a well-executed race plan.


1. Conner Mantz, Senior, BYU (+1 / 2)

What an absolutely incredible performance from Mantz. The top returner from last year’s NCAA XC Championships proved that he deserved that national title as he earned a spectacular victory in Stillwater. His decision to lay off the hot pace set by Kiptoo after 3k was a brilliant move that required plenty of confidence in his ability.


Mantz, along with Wildschutt, made sure the gap did not grow before catching up to Kiptoo with about 3k to go. After that, it was a masterclass in running as Mantz hit the gas over the last mile to win his first NCAA title in convincing fashion.


For someone who likes to push the pace himself, it was incredible to watch Mantz lay off the pace early before accelerating and making a huge move later in the race. The BYU runner has looked beatable at times this year, but he ran this race to perfection and was rewarded justly.

 

ADDED

Morgan Beadlescomb (Michigan State)

Danny Kilrea (Notre Dame)

Jake Renfree (Notre Dame)

Andrew Alexander (Notre Dame)

Alex Maier (Oklahoma State)

Isaac Akers (Tulsa)

Christian Ricketts (Southern Utah)

Ryan Smeeton (Oklahoma State)

Victor Shitsama (Oklahoma State)

Abdirizak Ibrahim (New Mexico)

Luke Meade (Arkansas)

Josh Methner (Notre Dame)


KICKED OFF

Joe Dragon (Syracuse)

Duncan Hamilton (Montana State)

Yacine Guermali (Gonzaga)

Alec Hornecker (Colorado)

Haftu Strintzos (Villanova)

Clayson Shumway (BYU)

Alek Parsons (Stanford)

Ben Veatch (Indiana)

Jackson Sharp (Wisconsin)

Rowan Ellenberg (Wisconsin)

Talon Hull (Washington)

Curt Eckstein (Purdue)


JUST MISSED (in no particular order)

  • Sam Gilman (Air Force)

  • Nickolas Scudder (Charlotte)

  • Haftu Knight (Texas)

  • Daniel Bernal (Furman)

  • Brodey Hasty (Northern Arizona)

  • Festus Lagat (Iowa State)

  • Karl Thiessen (Tennessee)

  • Isaac Green (Washington)

  • Josh Park (Ohio)

  • Stefen Rasmuson (Southern Utah)

  • Ahmed Muhumed (Florida State)

  • Yacine Guermali (Gonzaga)

  • Alec Hornecker (Colorado)

  • Ky Robinson (Stanford)

  • Haftu Strintzos (Villanova)

  • Clayson Shumway (BYU)

  • Alek Parsons (Stanford)

  • Gilbert Boit (Arkansas)

  • Mitchell Day (Iowa State)

  • Camren Todd (Utah State)

  • Talon Hull (Washington)

  • Luke Houser (Washington)

  • Jamie Dee (Iona)


HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no particular order)

  • Nate Osterstock (Southern Utah)

  • Curt Eckstein (Purdue)

  • Ben Veatch (Indiana)

  • Carter Coughlin (Wake Forest)

  • Victor Ortiz-Rivera (Arizona)

  • Evert Silva (Portland)

  • Jackson Sharp (Wisconsin)

  • Ahmed Jaziri (Eastern Kentucky)

  • Rowan Ellenberg (Wisconsin)

  • Paul Arrendondo (Charlotte)

  • Alec Sandusky (Cincinnati)

  • Thomas Pollard (Iowa State)

  • Ryan Ford (Tennessee-Martin)

  • Matt Young (Arkansas)

  • Sam Bowers (Georgia)

  • Jacob McLeod (Arkansas)

  • Kieran Wood (Missouri)

  • Kevin Koski (Illinois State)

  • DJ Principe (Stanford)

  • Jacob McLeod (Arkansas)

  • Seth Hirsch (Wisconsin)

  • Remi Schyns (Butler)

  • Emmanuel Cheboson (Louisville)


Notes

- N/A

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