UPDATED XC Top 25 Teams: Week 12 (11/23)



KEY

(Wasn’t Ranked): Was not ranked the week before.

(#/#):

First number indicates how much the team has moved in the rankings. A plus (with green) means they have improved in the rankings. A minus (with red) means they have regressed in the rankings. Colors may not show on mobile.

The second number indicates where they were ranked the week before.

25. NC State Wolfpack (Wasn't Ranked)

NC State was a big question mark team (at least in my eyes) as they entered this season. They lost a great low-stick / leader in Sam Parsons and didn’t seem to have an established identity. Then again, maybe that’s why the Wolfpack was the best kept secret in the NCAA this year. Yes, much like UVA, the start of their season was slow with a 9th place finish at Notre Dame. Still, things began to progress. They were 15th at the Wisconsin Invite, snuck into 3rd at ACC’s, and finished 4th overall in a very deep and underrated Southeast region. To cap it all off with a 17th place finish at Nationals? That is something that that Coach Geiger should be very pleased with.

24. Virginia Cavaliers (Wasn't Ranked)

You have to respect how far this Virginia squad has come when you look at where they once were earlier this season. After an atrocious finish at the Wisconsin Invite where they placed 30th out of 35 teams, many fans of the sport (including myself) dismissed the Cavaliers for the rest of the season. ACC’s wasn’t much better as they dropped to 4th overall behind Syracuse, Virginia Tech, and NC State. Just when things looked like they wouldn’t get any better, the Cavs came out of nowhere to beat NC State and give Virginia Tech a brief scare in the Southeast region. UVA would finish 3rd overall and get pushed into NCAA’s. The Cavs ended their season by placing 16th thanks to a huge breakout performance from Brent Demarest who tore apart the competition to place 19th as an individual. I suppose the old saying is true, it doesn’t matter where you start, it’s all about where you finish.

23. Texas Longhorns (-6 / 17)

Well this was…disappointing. What happened to the Longhorns? They looked so good all season. They had consistent performances, established a few low-sticks, developed plenty of depth, and actually beat a few decent teams. Unfortunately, their Cinderella story ended at NCAA’s as they fell to 30th overall, ahead of only Navy. What ever happened to Sam Worley who was unable to finish at the South Central Regional Championships and didn’t even run at Nationals?

22. Alabama Crimson Tide (Wasn't Ranked)

Throughout the season, I looked over the KOLAS projections time and time again. I tried to find a way that Alabama could make it to NCAA’s. It was possible, but I still found that it would be incredibly tough. Of course, as fate would have it, Alabama was granted the final qualifying spot to NCAA’s.

Once at Nationals, the conversation about Alabama’s effectiveness as a team drastically changed (from a numbers perspective). When you look at the impact of the top three, not only did they keep things competitive, but they CARRIED the team. The Crimson Tide had the 2nd worst #4 man and the 4th worst #5 man (both in team scoring). But from the top three? Only NAU and Stanford had a better top three in team scoring. The Crimson Tide scored a mind-boggling 41 points with their top three runners while the meet average for a team’s top three was ~182 points.

In layman’s terms, Alabama’s top three was 4.44 times better than the average top three of any other team at this meet. That is how you get 14th at Nationals.

21. Washington Huskies (-2 / 19)

This Washington squad reminded me a lot of their 2015 team. They had an unexciting regular season, but came out of nowhere for a monster performance at NCAA’s. Sure enough, that was exactly what happened in 2017. In fact, Washington was only two points away from upsetting Portland in the West region. Unfortunately, they couldn’t replicate that same success at Nationals after finishing 22nd overall. Still, the future is bright for the Huskies. Of their the top seven who ran at Nationals, three were freshmen, one was a sophomore, one was a junior, and two were seniors.

20. Boise State Broncos (+3 / 23)

The Broncos are resilient. No matter what was thrown at them, they found a way to stay competitive and stay in the mix of any race. Their biggest challenge this season was dealing with the struggles of established ace, Yusuke Uchikoshi. Almost all of Boise State’s lineup had a respectable showing at Louisville, but faltered at Wisconsin with a finish of 21st. After a solid runner-up finish in the Mountain West conference and wrestling with the titans of the West region, Boise State found themselves owning one of the 31 spots to Nationals. Once there, Addison DeHaven (a transfer from Wisconsin) and Miler Haller led the way with huge finishes of 31st and 36th respectively. True freshman Ahmed Muhumed held his own with a 113th place finish. Unfortunately, the final two scorers saw a rather notable drop with finishes of 189th and 196th. Boise State ended the day in 19th overall. Was it the finish they were looking for? No, probably not. But they could at least take solace in the fact that they had two individual All-Americans.

19. Mississippi Rebels (+2 / 21)

It was an up and down season for Mississippi. They started out strong by finishing only two points off Oklahoma State at the Cowboy Jamboree and later finished 5th at Pre-Nats. SEC’s, however, was a different story. Ole Miss struggled to gather their depth and not only lost to Arkansas, but also fell to Alabama (by one point). The Rebels would rebound at the South Regional Championships by placing 2nd overall, but the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders still got the best of the Rebels. NCAA’s was a slightly better result as Sean Tobin carried the squad to an 18th place finish in the team standings thanks to his 12th place individual finish. It wasn’t always pretty, but for a team that lost almost the entirety of their 2016 squad, Mississippi handled the big stage relatively well.

18. UCLA Bruins (-4 / 14)

After losing a key piece of last year’s squad to graduation (Ferdinand Edman) and a change in the coaching staff, the Bruins desperately needed a low-stick. Luckily, a top-level ace just happened to land in their lap. Cal transfer Robert Brandt was a huge pickup for the Bruins this season as well as the rise of #2 man Garrett Reynolds. These two helped UCLA stay competitive with a 3rd place finish at Roy Griak, an 9th place finish at Wisconsin, 3rd at PAC 12’s, and a 4th in the West region (without Brandt). Unfortunately, the team was simply underprepared for the wave of talent that consumed them at Nationals. The Bruins would end their season 21st overall in the NCAA. The good news? Four of their five scorers are set to return next year.

17. Virginia Tech Hokies (-6 / 11)

It wasn’t quite the day that the Hokies were looking for. They had great performances from Seufer (45th) and Joseph (52nd), but the drop off after them was sub-par to say the least with the final scorers placing 119th, 163rd, and 190th. Their finish of 20th place at NCAA’s doesn’t speak justice to the work that Virginia Tech has put into this season. It may not have been the best finish, but they at least proved that they are more than just a middle distance / track school.

16. Michigan State Spartans (-4 / 12)

A small home meet at Michigan State showed a little bit of shakiness, but consistent performances of at Roy Griak (2nd), Wisconsin, (11th), and Great Lakes (1st) really catapulted this team to the top of the rankings. Unfortunately, a large field of top-tier talent was too much for the Spartans to handle. Michigan State fell to 25th overall with Morgan Beadlescomb ending the day as the only Spartan finisher in the top 100 (91st).

15. Iona Gaels (+9 / 24)

It was an ugly start to the season for Iona, mainly at Wisconsin. Chartt Miller struggled in his season debut, Gilbert Kirui was nowhere to be seen, and the depth failed to produce anything of importance. Yet, Iona is naturally a strong team in the postseason. At conferences, Kirui was back in the lineup. At the Northeast region, they actually kept things competitive with a talented Syracuse team. And at NCAA’s? They came away with a big 12th place finish. Had they not had those early season struggles, they would have been much closer to the top 10.

14. Air Force Falcons (+2 / 16)

It was a really solid season for the Falcons who not only made it back to NCAA’s for the first time since 2013, but they thrived while they were there by placing 15th overall. Mickey Davey proved that he was the real deal with his monster 18th place finish while Andrew Johnston continued to be a key scorer for this squad by finishing 59th overall. The Falcons slowly improved throughout this season and to place 15th even when one of their key low-sticks (Jacob Bilvado) faltered is super impressive to me.

13. Southern Utah Thunderbirds (-3 / 10)

You have to give a lot of props to the Thunderbirds who placed 11th at NCAA’s and put up strong results throughout this season. They really stepped up and took a few teams by surprise, especially when they upset Colorado at the Notre Dame Invite. Admittedly, they began to fade in the later portion of the season, but they still put up respectable performances throughout 2017 thanks to the development of low-sticks, consistency from their middle scorers, and a slew of depth that began to show a lot of maturity.

12. Michigan Wolverines (+1 / 13)

It was a solid season for Big Blue. They had a respectable performance at Wisconsin by placing 10th overall and followed that up with a BIG 10 title. They did, however, fall to Michigan at the Great Lakes region which pushed them back a bit. Still, a 10th place finish at NCAA’s is a heck of a performance. If I could rank this team in the top 10, I would, but the other teams ahead of them just simply accomplished more.

11. Furman Paladins (-4 / 7)

Flat-out bad. That’s the best way to describe Furman’s performance at NCAA’s where they finished 26th overall and had no one in the top 120. Their day in Louisville may not have been what they were hoping for, but their season just goes to show that this program is legit. They placed 6th at Wisconsin and dominated the Southeast region. They may have had a rough day at Nationals, but their development this season has been nothing short of spectacular. Templeton became the much needed low-stick that this team needed while the rest of the scorers were able to sustain their pack-running ability.

10. Oregon Ducks (+8 / 18)

The Oregon men started off the season strong with a 3rd place finish at Pre-Nats without Matthew Maton. Of course, Matthew Maton wouldn’t be seen in the lineup for the entire season. An explanation as to why is still unclear. The Ducks then entered PAC 12’s (4th) and the West region (5th) where they were upset by UCLA (in both races) for the 2nd straight year. With a freshman as the Ducks top runner and no super-star (i.e. Maton) to lead the team, I was skeptical as to how Oregon would fare on the big stage, especially with a young squad. At NCAA’s, my concerns were quickly put to rest as Oregon executed one of the smartest race plans of any team in the meet with superb pack running and conservative race tactics. Anderson and Teare slowly moved their way up throughout the race with finishes of 41st and 44th respectively. Their three bottom scorers also made some serious moves in the 2nd half of the race with finishes 78th (Brown), 81st (Tamagno), and 84th (Haney).

9. Iowa State Cyclones (+6 / 15)

Simply put, it was a beautifully executed race by the Cyclones. Andrew Jordan ran like an accomplished veteran (15th) while Stanley Langat held his own for 53rd overall. The rest of the group stayed together and never put themselves in a position that could damage the team score. Curts was 68th, Rodriguez was 97th, and Pollard was 98th. Having all five scorers in the top 100 (overall) was accomplished by only five teams: NAU, Portland, BYU, Oregon, and Iowa State.

8. Colorado State Rams (0 / 8)

Coach Art Siemers entered this Colorado State program in 2012 with very little to work with. In the past six years, he has turned average recruits into NCAA contenders. He has made a once average team into consistent national qualifiers in the toughest region in the nation. That why, as a fan of the sport, you can't help but feel bad for the Rams who were in a position to podium with just 2k to go. Unfortunately, Jerrell Mock fell from 10th to 167th and knocked the Rams back a few spots. While it is certainly disappointing, this is still CSU's best finish in program history since 1978. Props to Colorado State and Coach Siemers.

7. Syracuse Orangemen (-3 / 4)

It just wasn't Syracuse's day at NCAA's. Knight's win was huge, but having their 2nd man (Bennie) at 56th overall was far from the result they were looking for. 13th in the team standings may hurt, but this group was solid throughout the season and at least showed us that this program will be remembered for years to come.

6. Colorado Buffaloes (0 / 6)

You have to commend the Buffs for all that they accomplished this season. They lost to Southern Utah early in the season and lost John Dressel to an injury during the regular season. Still, Colorado made the necessary adjustments. They finished 2nd at Pre-Nats, lost to Stanford at PAC 12's by only six points, easily secured a spot to NCAA's, and finished it all off with an 8th place finish. Was it a perfect season? No, but when you consider that they did it without their top guy, then it's tough not to be impressed.

5. Arkansas Razorbacks (+4 / 9)

Despite an ugly 9th place finish at Pre-Nats, the Razorbacks kept their cool and rebounded. They dominated Alabama and Ole Miss at SEC's by 40 points, cruised through the South Central region, and walked away from NCAA's with a 5th place finish. Being outside of the podium spots for the 2nd straight year must definitely hurt, but when you consider their early season struggles, they came back pretty strong.

4. Stanford Cardinal (-1 / 3)

In regards to the overall team finish, I don't think there were too many surprises here. Fisher did what he had to do while Ostberg and Fahy stepped up in a big way by finishing 16th and 17th overall. Unfortunately, that youth and inexperience got the best of Stanford's freshmen. Tai Dinger (a junior) held his own and finished 83rd overall. However, it was the freshmen Callum Bolger and Alek Parsons that finished 138th and 145th overall.

3. BYU Cougars (-1 / 2)

2. Portland Pilots (+3 / 5)

I'll admit it, I still think BYU was the better squad throughout this season. They won Pre-Nats and fought off Colorado in the Mountain region despite not running two of their top runners. A lot of people will argue that BYU man-handled Portland at the West Coast Conference Championships, but clearly that doesn't matter when Portland emerges as the 2nd place team at Nationals. I'm not a fan of placing teams in the exact spot of their finish at Nationals, but Portland seemed to have a long-term plan that paid off. When it came down to the 10k, the Pilots were simply the better squad.

1. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (0 / 1)

Utter domination. When you have a lineup as talented as Northern Arizona, it's hard to see them losing. The 1-2 punch of Baxter and Day matched with the breakout performance of Peter Lomong (who placed 8th) was simply too much for BYU or any other team to handle. It was the best 1-2-3 finish since Wisconsin placed 2nd, 4th, and 5th at the 2012 NCAA Championships (where they placed 2nd overall). Having all five scorers become individual All-Americans is super impressive.

ADDED

Alabama Crimson Tide

Virginia Cavaliers

NC State Wolfpack

KICKED OFF

Oklahoma State Cowboys (Formerly #20)

Wisconsin Badgers (Formerly #22)

Utah State Aggies (Formerly #25)

JUST MISS (in no order)

Princeton Tigers

Illinois Fighting Illini'

Wisconsin Badgers

Utah State Aggies

Mid. Tenn. State Blue Raiders

Oklahoma State Cowboys

SURPRISE OF THE WEEK

Alabama Crimson Tide: For most of the season, a lot of people around the nation (including myself) were convinced that Alabama wouldn't make it to NCAA's. Yet, as of last Friday, they were the 14th best team in the nation. Credit where credit is due. Alabama got the job done.

TEAM OF THE WEEK

Northern Arizona Lumberjacks: All five scorers are All-Americans and they became the national champions. There isn't much of an argument here.

NOTES

- Just because a team placed well at NCAA's doesn't mean they will necessarily move up in the rankings. If other teams simply had better overall seasons, they will most likely get the better spot in our top 25.

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