XC Top 25: Week 4 (10/1)


KEY

(Unranked)Was not ranked the week before.


(#/#)

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

The second number indicates where that team was ranked the week before.

25. Texas Longhorns (-13 / 12)

Bad. Simply bad. There's no other way to describe the performance we saw from them this past weekend. The Longhorns finished 22nd at Nuttycombe despite high expectations from fans around the country (as well as myself). Sam Worley was their top scorer in 71st while Alex Rogers finished 83rd. John Rice, Garek Bielacyzc, and Jake Johnson rounded out the top five by placing 106th, 117th, and 177th. Where was Connor O'Neill? Eric Kroon? Why did Mills struggle?


This wasn't a great showing for Coach Watson and his new Texas team in their first test of the season. I still believe that this squad can be one of the best in the nation and I'm sure that they will prove themselves over the next two months.


24. Arkansas Razorbacks (-3 / 21)


23. Michigan Wolverines (Unranked)

In our preview for Nuttycombe, John Cusick made a point in saying that Michigan could surprise a few teams this year. The Wolverines may not have finished top 10, but placing 13th in this field was pretty impressive, especially after losing four veteran scorers from last year.


The interesting thing about Michigan is that they didn't have any low-sticks jump off the page. We're used to seeing guys like Mason Ferlic, Ben Flanagan, Connor Mora, and Aaron Baumgarten put together some strong performances and lead this team from the front. Instead, Big Blue opted to use a pack-running racing style which clearly worked in their favor.


Sophomores Jacob Lee and John Aho led the team with finishes of 58th and 61st overall. Not far behind were Isaac Harding and Ben Hill, finishing 89th and 90th, respectively. Closing out the scoring (and providing some depth) were Jordan Hewitt and freshman John Tatter. They ended the day with finishes of 100th and 101st.


I'm not sure how far Michigan can go without a true ace, but their team structure and racing style has been successful with plenty of other teams (such as NC State and Furman).


22. Virginia Cavaliers (-4 / 18)

21. Oregon Ducks (-4 / 17)


20. Eastern Kentucky Colonels (+4 / 25)

It feels like the Eastern Kentucky men should be moving up more than just five spots. However, with this weekend being their first true challenge, it's hard to justify anything other than 20th.


It's hard to live up to so much hype, but Sugira had no problem in the first big race of his collegiate career. He finished 4th overall at Nuttycombe to lead his team and establish himself as one of the top runners in the NCAA. Jaime Romo had a nice race as well, finishing 41st overall. That gave the Colonels the 8th best 1-2 punch of the meet.


Senior David Corrales was a nice surprise in 71st. He helped bring some stability to EKU's score in the team standings. Fredrick Kanda and Zach Stewart rounded out the top five by finishing 129th and 132nd overall.


Improvements need to be made and their depth needs to develop, but EKU could be the Southeastern champions in 2018 after a lack-luster weekend from their regional rivals. Don't be surprised if they have a repeat of 2013.


19. Washington State Cougars (Unranked)

The Cougars began the season ranked 25th in our preseason rankings. After a few weeks of competition, they were forced out of our Top 25. However, Washington State was able to claw their way back after finishing 11th at the Nuttycombe Invite this past weekend. Chandler Tiegen ran like the veteran we expected him to be with a 28th place finish. The rest of their scorers were sprinkled throughout the field as Nathan Wadhwani finished 57th while redshirt freshman Amir Ado was 69th. Paul Ryan and Justin Janke closed out the scoring with finishes of 91st and 99th. Having two experienced upperclassmen at the tail end of your top five is incredibly helpful at these larger meets.


Other than Tiegen, they didn't have too many guys jump off the page or have wildly great races. Still, their entire top five was consistent and reliable. Sometimes, that's all you can ask for.


18. Southern Utah Thunderbirds (Unranked)

After graduating Tate and Wright and deciding to redshirt Knevelbaard and Collins, the Southern Utah men were essentially left without their top four runners from last year. That, however, didn't stop the Thunderbirds from posting an excellent 10th place finish at Nuttycombe.


Both Christian Ricketts and Aidan Reed had breakout races, placing 22nd and 27th. Sophomore Nate Osterstock had a strong performance of his own, finishing 51st overall. The final two scorers were Sean Newcomb (115th) and George Espino (128th). There weren't many people who thought Southern Utah would be a national qualifying candidate in 2018 after losing so many key scorers. Naturally, those people (which includes us) were wrong.


17. Ole Miss Rebels (-1 / 16)


16. Purdue Boilermakers (Unranked)

It was no secret that Purdue had some serious talent on their roster and they showed that this past weekend at the Nuttycombe Invite. Jaret Carpenter showed that he is a legitimate ace after finishing 16th overall while Curt Eckstein wasn't too far behind in 32nd. Brody Smith, a transfer from Utah State, proved to be the game changer for this team as he finished 50th overall to keep their team score low. After Smith, gaps began to form. Theo Burgwald placed 87th while freshman Kyle Griffith was 142nd.


Purdue has a number of talented names throughout their lineup, but they'll need to tighten things up in the final few varsity spots. Regardless, this was a huge race for Purdue. With other Great Lakes teams earning potential Kolas points, Purdue won't have to do too much at their regional championship to qualify for Nationals.


15. Washington Huskies (0 / 15)


14. UCLA Bruins (-3 / 11)

They had a nice race at the Stanford Invite finishing runner-up to a Stanford team that didn't have their top three runners. UCLA was also without their low-stick after they entered Brandt (who won) as an unattached athlete. Does that mean the Bruins top scorer will be redshirting this season? If so, don't expect UCLA to keep their spot in our top 15.


13. Indiana Hoosiers (Unranked)

Some people may be scratching their heads with this ranking. How could Indiana be ranked the 13th best team in the nation when they were only 14th at Wisconsin? The answer lies with the guy who didn't even run: Ben Veatch.


Instead, it was Kyle Mau leading the way with a strong 24th place finish. Freshman Dustin Horter was a nice #2 man in 73rd while Bryce Millar was close behind in 81st. The other two scorers were a bit spread out after their top three as freshman Arjun Jha placed 102nd and Kyle Burks finished 134th. Indiana has a deep roster, but some of these guys are still super young or are more oriented towards track than they are cross country.


If Ben Veatch were to reenter this lineup, the Hoosiers could theoretically drop 100 points from their team score this past weekend. That would put them at (roughly) 9th overall. If Coach Helmer chooses not to redshirt Veatch, this team could be very good this fall.


12. Air Force Falcons (+12 / 24)

I admit, we overlooked Air Force by total accident during our preseason rankings. That was our fault and they made us pay this weekend with a strong 7th place finish at Wisconsin. Mickey Davey is as good as we thought he was after finishing 20th this past weekend. Trevor Siniscalchi and Jacob Bilvado had clutch performances of their own, placing 43rd and 44th overall. The loss Andrew Johnston was tough, but Siniscalchi has effectively replaced him in the lineup. He is an absolutely crucial scorer to have this season.


Nathan Thomas was 67th while Scott Johnson was 103rd. This team still has plenty of potential and I think Bilvado can close the gap between him and Davey. There is a lot to like about this team in 2018.


11. Colorado State Rams (+3 / 14)

Their overall team ranking may not have improved much, but that's because our preseason rankings were the closest out of any other (don't worry, we had other bold picks that didn't work out). Everyone seemed to assume that Colorado State couldn't be a top 15 team this year after losing Jerrell Mock, Grant Fischer, and Wayde Hall. Obviously, they were wrong. The Rams finished 6th overall in a loaded field at Nuttycombe.


Cole Rockhold continues be one of the more underrated runners in the NCAA after finishing 9th. Eric Hamer looks like someone who could threaten for a Top 50 spot later this season after he finished 22nd. There was a notable gap after their second man as Hume (60th), Powell (78th), and Brueckman (92nd) closed out the scoring.


The good news is that there is still plenty of room for this team to grow. With depth that was close behind their top five (Caldwell in 93rd and Barton in 104th), there is plenty of stability at the backend of their lineup. They still have a lot of work to do, but much like Boise State, they can only go up from here.


10. Boise State Broncos (0 / 10)

There may not have been a better Week 3 ranking for the Boise State men. They finished 5th as a team at Nuttycombe thanks to a wide-array of strong performances spread throughout the field. Uchikoshi had a great race to start his season, placing 14th overall while Miler Haller was 26th. We saw 2017 All-American Addison DeHaven place 37th, while Jeff Laughtenslager finished 45th.


However, what really kept this team competitive was their depth. Their fifth and sixth scorers (Elijah Armstrong and Ahmed Muhumed) were 48th and 49th, respectively. With depth through six runners, the Broncos can only go up from here.


9. Alabama Crimson Tide (-3 / 6)What is going on in Tuscaloosa? The Alabama men didn't even field a full team at Nuttycombe, entering just four individuals in the race. Chelanga and Kigen had a strong performances (finishing 10th and 12th), but we didn't get to see Kiprop or their new recruits. Are they healthy? Why did they not race?


Whenever you have to speculate, it's usually not a good sign. Additionally, the other two men who are expected to make up the rest of Alabama's top seven struggled on the big stage. They finished 174th and 215th overall (out of 224 runners). This team is still capable of being on the podium , but I'm staying cautious for now.


8. Syracuse Orange (+1 / 9)


7. Colorado Buffaloes (0 / 7)

Overall, it was a very solid race for the Buffaloes at Nuttycombe. Colorado finished 8th in the team standings behind Air Force (7th) and in-state rival Colorado State (6th). Some may argue that Colorado isn't the best team in their state right now, but we have to keep in mind that they didn't race their top runner (Joe Klecker). Instead, we got to see John Dressel lead the team with as strong 11th place finish. He was followed by teammate Eduard Herrera in 18th. Ryan Forsyth had a nice race of his own, finishing 34th. However, the second half of their lineup had some issues, placing 84th and 140th.


If Klecker had returned, Colorado is likely fighting with Wisconsin and Portland for a top three finish. The good news is that (based on social media posts) we know he's still training. The Buffaloes will need to improve their final scoring spots over the next two months, but don't forget that this team still has another low-stick who has yet to race.


6. Iowa State Cyclones (-2 / 4)

A 4th place finish at Nuttycombe is about what we expected from Iowa State. Edwin Kurgat had the race of his life, finishing runner-up to Morgan McDonald while Andrew Jordan had a slight off day, placing 32nd overall. Luckily, Festus Lagat compensated for Jordan's slightly underwhelming performance by finishing 23rd. With Curts placing 36th, the Cyclones appear to have a very solid top four. Milo Greder was their 5th scorer in 68th. That will be an area that this team needs to address moving forward.


Luckily, they have plenty of options. They didn't race Stanley Langat or Thomas Pollard, and they chose to enter Knownes in the "B" race where he finished 2nd overall. Coach Smith will likely experiment with this top seven as the season goes on.


5. Wisconsin Badgers (+3 / 8)

We knew Wisconsin was going to be good, but a runner-up performance at Nuttycombe was eye-opening. Morgan McDonald looks like a threat to win the individual national title while Hoare and Hacker appear to give the Badgers a lethal top three. Eidenschink had a respectable 33rd place finish while Miehe rounded out the scoring in 75th. There are still a few adjustments that need to made (mainly with their depth), but this is a very exciting team that has me eager to see what they do next.


4. Portland Pilots (+1 / 6)

I was really impressed with Portland at the Nuttycombe Invite this past weekend after they finished 3rd as a team (five points behind Wisconsin). Nick Hauger stepped up to grab a huge 6th place finish and establish himself as an elite ace. Caleb Webb also played a huge role for the Pilots, finishing 17th and earning himself a Top 50 spot in our rankings. Emmanuel Roudolff-Levisse struggled a bit with a 39th place finish. However, his overall fitness is likely much better than that. Stuart McCallum had a great race as well, finishing 40th overall and was closely followed by Noah Schutte in 46th.


Through five runners, this team has a lot of talent. The best part is that we haven't even seen Reuben Kiprono in their lineup! With Roudolff-Levisse capable of giving more and Kiprono's talent still under wraps, this Portland team could be much better than we initially thought.


3. Stanford Cardinal (0 / 3)

The Cardinal took home the win at the Stanford Invite without their top three runners. They were able to beat out UCLA who chose to not have Brandt officially listed in their lineup. Instead, he ran unattached and won. I'm not getting too excited about this race, but it's a nice display of depth for Coach Milt's group.


2. BYU Cougars (0 / 2)

The Cougars cruised to an easy win at Joe Piane, scoring 23 points and dominating 2nd place Wyoming who had 105 points. McMillan looked strong, Shumway looks like a respectable scorer, and Linkletter seemed just a bit rusty. Overall, this is still the 2nd best team in the nation (for now) and I think most people would agree with me.


1. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (0 / 1)

They won by nearly 100 points at Nuttycombe, placed four men in the top eight, and didn't have Matthew Baxter. What more do they need to do to? This the best team in the NCAA right now and it's not even a debate.

ADDED

Indiana Hoosiers

Purdue Boilermakers

Southern Utah Thunderbirds

Washington State Cougars

Michigan Wolverines


KICKED OFF

Furman Paladins

NC State Wolfpack

Charlotte 49ers

Campbell Camels

Georgetown Hoyas


JUST MISS (in no order)

Oklahoma State Cowboys

Michigan State Spartans

Campbell Camels

NC State Wolfpack

Furman Paladins

Villanova Wildcats

Charlotte 49ers

Georgetown Hoyas

Iona Gaels


WHO TO WATCH (in no order)

Columbia Lions

Florida State Seminoles

Temple Owls

Penn Quakers

Liberty Flames

Army Black Knights

Villanova Wildcats

Utah State Aggies

Wyoming Cowboys

Utah State Aggies

Princeton Tigers

UNC Tar Heels


SURPRISE OF THE WEEK

Southern Utah Thunderbirds

They didn't have four of their scorers from last year and they still finished as the 10th team at Nuttycombe. The only explanation for this is either good coaching or doping (hint: it's not doping). Now we have to think about how good this team will be in 2019...


TEAM OF THE WEEK

Northern Arizona Lumberjacks

Do I need to explain myself on this one? Probably not. At this point, we're way past the dynasty conversation. Now we need to start asking the question that no one wants to pose...is this the greatest team in NCAA history?


NOTES

  • If I had to choose a 26th team, it would likely be Campbell, followed by Oklahoma State, NC State, Iona, and Furman.


  • Maybe Furman isn't as good as we thought they were. They had a strong top three at Joe Piane, but then had a massive drop (by over 40 spots) between their third and fourth scorers. There is still plenty of talent on this team, but to finish 4th behind Wyoming and Notre Dame (two teams who have improved a lot) isn't great...


  • Charlotte had a rough day at Nuttycombe. They went 40-107-120-141-183 in the team scoring. This squad is better than that, but they'll need to step up later this season. They'll have their chance for redemption at Pre-Nats.