UPDATED XC Top 25 Teams: Week 5 (10/3)



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. Mid. Tenn. St. Blue Raiders (-5 / 20)

After finishing 6th at Louisville this past weekend, the Blue Raiders drop to the final spot in our Top 25 teams. Their overall performance wasn't horrendous, but they only beat Purdue by one point and their final two scorers didn't have great finishes (65th and 70th in the team scoring).

24. Eastern Kentucky Colonels (+1 / 25)

The EKU men got the job done at Notre Dame this past weekend by defeating an array of top-tier teams and walking away with a 5th place finish. Their performance was solid, but their 3rd, 4th, and 5th scorers were spread out quite a bit. They'll need to tighten that pack, but let's also keep in mind that this team typically puts together strong races in the postseason. This is a squad that could only get better with time.

23. Wisconsin Badgers (-13 / 10)

One of the most surprising results this weekend was seeing the usually-dominant Wisconsin Badgers falter to 8th at the Greater Louisville Classic. However, rumors (and only rumors) suggest that Olin Hacker is done for the season with an injury while Morgan McDonald is redshirting 2017 to preserve eligibility for next year. If that's true, then Wisconsin is in jeopardy of not qualifying for NCAA's...an extreme historical rarity.

22. Illinois Fighting Illini' (Wasn't Ranked)

After a strong showing at Beantown, I questioned how well the Fighting Illini' would be able to perform when racing back-to-back weekends. That, of course, didn't seem to be an issue after they finished 5th at the Greater Louisville Classic (one spot ahead of Middle Tennessee state). Sophomore stud Jonathan Davis had a great performance by finishing 13th in the team scoring while the rest of his teammates placed 26th, 27th, 37th, and 51st.

Much like Air Force and Oklahoma State, there is some weakness at their 5th scoring position. Still, Illinois looks like they have a roster that holds all of the necessary pieces to be an NCAA qualifying team this year.

21. Mississippi Rebels (Wasn't Ranked)

Despite losing a slew of talented individuals to graduation last year, Mississippi is keeping themselves relevant. The Rebels finished 2nd overall at the Cowboy Jamboree (which was expected), but they were only two points off from beating top-ranked Oklahoma State (which was not expected). Sean Tobin is still looking like a true ace and the group behind him isn't showing as many signs of weakness as I initially thought they would. In fact, Ole Miss put all seven of their runners across the line before Oklahoma State's 5th man. If depth was ever a worry in the preseason, it certainly isn't now.

20. Michigan Wolverines (Wasn't Ranked)

At Notre Dame, we saw Michigan finish just two points off of Air Force to finish 4th overall. The good news for the Wolverines is that Connor Mora has returned to the lineup for his final year of eligibility. The bad news is that Aaron Baumgarten had an ugly season opener.

This wasn't the best race ever from Michigan, but we do know that they can be a lot better after seeing Connor Mora place 30th and Aaron Baumgarten place 55th. However, until I see them actually make progress, I'm not ready to rank this squad higher than 20th.

19. Air Force Falcons (Wasn't Ranked)

Wow! Who would have thought that Air Force would be the 3rd best team at Notre Dame this past weekend? Thanks to a great effort from Andrew Johnston (10th) and a breakout performance from Micky Davey (15th), the Falcons are back in the NCAA qualifying conversation. Their 5th man was a bit far back in 59th place, but I believe Jacob Bilvado is much better than what his 32nd place finish might indicate.

18. UCLA Bruins (+1 / 19)

17. Michigan State Spartans (+1 / 18)

16. Oklahoma State Cowboys (-4 / 12)

Oklahoma State's 'A' team made their debut this past weekend at the highly anticipated Cowboy Jamboree. Despite Barus and Abdi taking the top two spots, the Cowboys narrowly escaped an upset by finishing only two points ahead of a graduation-depleted Ole Miss team (42 to 44). Oklahoma State still won, but the absence of Cerake Geberkidane is making things very difficult on a team that needs to find a more reliable 5th man.

15. Iowa State Cyclones (+2 / 17)

14. Boise State Broncos (0 / 14)

It was an excellent start to the season for the Boise State Broncos who finished 4th overall at the Greater Louisville Classic this past weekend. Yusuke Uchikoshi is performing at the level of a veteran low-stick while Miler Haller continues to complement him at the #2 spot. Michael Vennard wasn't unbelievably good, but he ran well enough to give his team the boost they needed. That said, I would like to see that top five close their gaps and minimize their time spread.

13. Virginia Tech Hokies (Wasn't Ranked)

I tried to hold back my Virginia Tech bias, but the Hokies simply ran too well at Louisville this past weekend to ignore them any longer. VT placed 3rd overall and beat out a field of grade-A teams like Boise State, Illinois, and Middle Tennessee State. Their pack is coming together really nicely and they even have support at the 6th and 7th spots. They may not be the flashiest team, but the Hokies are proving that they are just as dangerous in cross country as they are on the track.

12. Colorado State Rams (+3 / 15)

11. Virginia Cavaliers (0 / 11)

10. Oregon Ducks (-2 / 8)

It's not fair to penalize the Ducks for not racing Maton. In fact, it's not fair to penalize Oregon for not racing James West or Levi Thomet. However, it is fair to penalize the Ducks for (technically) running an 'A' squad and STILL losing to Stanford who sent their 'B' team. Let's also keep in mind that this race was on Oregon's home course. I'm sure this will be a different story when Maton and company enters the lineup, but it's not a great sign when you're focusing solely on OU's depth.

9. Colorado Buffaloes (-4 / 5)

When was the last time we saw Colorado run this poorly? Then again, is it really fair to say that 2nd place at Notre Dame is a poor performance? The Buffaloes still had a strong day with a score of 101 points, but some of their key individuals fell off from the top pack as Dressel finished 20th while Zach Perrin was the team's 5th scorer in 43rd. The powerhouse Buffs will need to be better, but we have learned not to doubt or second guess this program. They will be back when the postseason rolls around and they will be much, much stronger.

8. Southern Utah Thunderbirds (+13 / 22)

Upset of the year? It just might be after seeing the Thunderbirds walk all over a Notre Dame field that held Colorado, Air Force, and Michigan. Led by Tate and Knevelbaard, Southern Utah took spots 5, 6, 17, 21, and 23 in the team scoring for a total of 72 points. They easily defeated powerhouse Colorado who scored 101 points for 2nd.

We knew Southern Utah was good, but this level of fitness is unprecedented. Sure, Colorado had a bad day, but even if they were at the top of their game, I don't know if they would have been able to defeat SUU. A lot of things can change between now and the Mountain Region Championships, but if we learned anything from this past weekend, it's that the Thunderbirds are legit.

7. Iona Gaels (+2 / 9)

6. Furman Paladins (0 / 6)

Everyone knew that the Paladins were talented, but my biggest concern was seeing whether or not they could establish a low-stick on a team that was filled with depth. Sure enough, Aaron Templeton took on the role and placed 7th overall to help Furman finish 2nd in the team standings after taking spots 7-14-18-20-22. Trademark depth, a tight pack, and (now) a top-tier individual makes Furman an awfully good squad.

5. BYU Cougars (+2 / 7)

Oregon may not have run Maton (as well as West or Thomet) at Bill Dellinger, but the Cougars still put four across the line before anyone else finished. The results at Bill Dellinger were impressive and you can't deny how fit the Cougars are right now. Linkletter is a true ace, Clinger has been the best performing freshman in the country, and their depth is arguably the best we've seen out of any NCAA program (maybe ever). It's hard to dislike the position BYU is in right now.

4. Stanford Cardinal (0 / 4)

Despite the Cardinal only running a 'B' team at Bill Dellinger this past weekend, they still did very well by defeating a Maton-less Oregon squad by two points (Oregon also held out James West and Levi Thomet). This doesn't tell us a lot about the Stanford scorers, but it does let us know that they have plenty of talented individuals in their reserves if injuries ever become an issue.

3. Arkansas Razorbacks (0 / 3)

It was an easy win for the Razorbacks at the Chile Pepper Festival after scoring 23 points to take the win. No one is really surprised, but it's nice to see that they can still put together a score like without Andrew Ronoh or Christian Heymsfield competing. There is still plenty of firepower on this Arkansas roster that we haven't seen yet.

2. Syracuse Orangemen (-1 / 1)

1. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (+1 / 2)

It was a display of absolute dominance from the NAU Lumberjacks who took the top four spots at the Greater Louisville Classic this past weekend. Freshman Luis Grijalva rounded out the scoring five by placing 11th overall while teammate Peter Lomong was 12th. Northern Arizona finished the day with an incredible score of 20 points against a stacked field. With this in mind, it makes you question whether or not Syracuse could've done the same thing. Based on that performance alone, NAU has proven that they deserve the top spot in our rankings.

ADDED

#22 Mississippi Rebels

#21 Illinois Fighting Illini'

#20 Michigan Wolverines

#19 Air Force Falcons

#13 Virginia Tech Hokies

KICKED OFF

Princeton Tigers (Formerly #24)

Tulsa Hurricanes (Formerly #23)

Georgetown Hoyas (Formerly #21)

Washington State Cougars (Formerly #16)

Alabama Crimson Tide (Formerly #13)

JUST MISS (in no order)

Campbell Camels

Alabama Crimson Tide

Washington State Cougars

Georgetown Hoyas

Princeton Tigers

Bradley Braves

Purdue Boilermakers

Utah State Aggies

Texas Longhorns

WHO TO WATCH (in no order)

Washington Huskies

NC State Wolfpack

Indiana Hoosiers

Penn State Nittany Lions

Tulsa Hurricanes

Portland Pilots

Columbia Lions

Butler Bulldogs

Eastern Michigan Eagles

SURPRISE OF THE WEEK

Southern Utah Thunderbirds: If I told you that Southern Utah would walk into Notre Dame, score 72 points, win the meet, and defeat Colorado by almost 30 points, I would have been laughed at (and rightfully so). No one expected the Thunderbirds to come out with the firepower they did. They looked incredibly strong and have now positioned themselves as a potential podium team.

TEAM OF THE WEEK

NAU Lumberjacks: Taking the top four spots at the Greater Louisville Classic is no joke. I didn't think this team could be better than last year and now I am eating my words. Is it too far out to say that they are a lock to win the national title?

NOTES

- Despite Alabama finishing 1-2-3, they finished 8th at Notre Dame with a score of 200 points. They have been pulled out of our rankings mainly because three of their top five scorers can literally not improve their score at all. Their 4th man was 73rd in the team scoring while their 5th man finished 121st. Admittedly, the smaller meets will benefit this gap, but the meets that truly matter typically hold a field of 200+ individuals. For reference, Notre Dame only had 172 finishers.

- What a pleasant surprise from Purdue. Jaret Carpenter ran well and his teammates were close behind. If the Boilermakers can simply shift that pack up a few spots, then they could be in play to qualify for NCAA's with a few Kolas points.

- Utah State had a very nice race at Paul Short by soundly beating Georgetown and an Adams State squad that didn't run Sydney Giduabuday. However, before giving them a spot in our Top 25, I would like to see how the Aggies perform in a larger field.

- Georgetown proved that experience matters at bigger meets, Tulsa and Washington State faltered with the loss of key low-sticks, and Princeton would have still struggled even if Conor Lundy had run.

#rankings #ncaa #gzatlin #Top25 #analysis #XC