Some thoughts on the big NCAA XC weekend starting today:
First off, shout out to @kyleustfccca for the hard work that he puts into his “the warm up lap” because a lot of the tedious work that I normally do was cut out for me.
Coast to Coast Battle In Beantown- Men
This is a very exciting race from a team perspective for me, but my excitement differs from the majority of the other previews about this race. I’m really intrigued by Syracuse’s Men’s team and think they are very good. In all honesty, I know that I have Oregon ranked very high (#2) and they have all of the pieces to be that good at the end of the year, Syracuse always looks good pretty early and they should look good in Boston.
Here’s the deal with Syracuse. Martin Hehir was so underrated as a Freshman last year. His individual title at the Big East XC Champs is out of this world good for a guy at that age. You add a healthy Joe Whelan, a sixth year for Griff Graves and some very good incoming freshman/redshirt guys and you have a very good team.
Andrew Palmer looked very good early last year (especially at Wisco) and don’t be surprised to see him be Syracuse’s #3-4 this weekend. Kevin Hoyos is very talented and should be in the mix along with the rest of these possibles (this is how deep they are):
· Ryan Urie (Jr., 3:49 1500m, 14:29 5k)
· Reed Kamyszek (Jr., 8:09 Open 3k, 14:25 5k, 29:45 10k)
· Griff Graves (Sr., 14:18 5k, 71st NCAAs '12)
· Robert Molke (Sr., 8:13 Open 3k, 14:13 5k, 29:35 10k)
· Max Straneva (Jr., 8:22 Open 3k, 14:20 5k)
· Andrew Palmer (Jr., 14:15 5k, 30:07 10k)
· Dan Lennon (So., 2nd USATF Jr. 10k '13, 14:24 5k)
· Kevyn Hoyos (Redshirt Frosh, 4:12 1600m, 9:01 2 Mile, 6th US Jr. 5k '13)
· Nick Ryan (Fr., 4:05 1600m, 8:55 3200m, 3 X NXN Qualifier- 15th '13, 5th '12, 28th '11)
· Shawn Wilson (Fr., 4:11 1600m, 9:04 3200m, FL Finalist '12- 23rd)
With that being said, I definitely underrated Wisconsin early on in my preseason stuff (and felt the wrath of Derek Rubis because of it) and they will be right in the thick of things with the Orange of Syracuse. That grouping they showed a few weekends ago at the Sycamore meet proves they have the depth to get it done,
I’m curious to see if they have anyone else that will separate themselves from the main group with Rob Finnerty. If Drew Shields is healthy, I think he is the guy to get it done. Otherwise, Alex Brill and Alex Hatz are the next likely candidates to do so.
Now that Oregon has said that they will not be running Eric Jenkins this weekend (don’t blame them-that’s gotta be awkward), they will not be as good as they will be in Terre Haute. Regardless, Parker Stinson is the class of the field and alongside much improved from xc last year Jeremy Elkaim the Ducks will be fine without Jenkins for the moment.
I’m mostly really surprised no one has been talking much about the debut of the fab freshman from Oregon-Ed Cheserek and Jake Leingang. I’m really intrigued by how their initial races in uniform will be. Especially because I have Ches very high in my individual rankings (29th at the moment) that I am looking for some validation or a slap in the face- in terms of where he truly stacks with the rest of the NCAA.
Providence has Shane Quinn and a bunch of new athletes that I’ve yet to see really get after it, so I’m looking to see something solid out of them to put them in my rankings after this weekend. Transfer from Northeastern Brian Doyle (14:05 5k, 8:09 3k) adds to the Friar’s depth.
Also, Julian Saad a grad student transfer from Fordham is talented having run 3:48 and 14:13 for 1500m and 5k, respectively. Ben Connor, Harvey Dixon and newcomer Hugh Armstrong (2nd in Irish XC Champs) will also be in the mix.
Other invididuals of note:
James Randon (HS PRs of 3:49 1500m, 8:20 3k, 8:52 2-Mile)- Very talented young freshman for Yale. I’m interested to see where he finishes up in comparison to the other real good freshman in the field (Cheserek and Leingang)
Prediction: Syracuse is too deep and normally looks pretty strong early, they should win the team title. With Hehir, Graves and Whelan up front, they will be solid and through seven are one of the deepest teams in the NCAA. Parker Stinson will win the individual honors, but Hehir, Finnerty and Quinn will be in the mix throughout.
Coast to Coast Battle In Beantown- Women
I definitely think the team battle here will be interesting, but a lot of people are stressing over the final scores of a race that really does not a mean a whole lot to several teams that are all but “locks” to make the Big Dance. All that it will really prove is that Providence is very good (and have the best top three in the NCAA) and that Oregon is deep and adding Zrinyi and Crevoiserat make them that much better.
You cannot get too wrapped up in the early season stuff, because in the end all that really matters is what happens in Terre Haute in the middle of November.
With all of that being said, it is very fun to speculate (probably one of my favorite things to do) and so these results help us see where certain teams are at fitness wise, health wise, and the overall quality of the team as a whole.
I think Cornell is being greatly overlooked here and will be better than many think. They are a serious contender at being number nine in The Wood Report rankings and the USTFCCCA poll as well. Rachel Sorna and Emily Shearer will be right in the mix with the top girls for the majority of this race. Caroline Kellner, soon-to-be freshman star Taylor Spillane and Devin McMahon will follow them and if Oregon is not on their game, things could get real interesting.
Now like I said, in the long run none of that really matters (it does to some degree--pride, confidence, etc.), but it is fun to watch nonetheless.
Other individuals of note to watch for are:
Liz Westphal (9:26 3k, 16:22 5k) Boston College: her home turf, she will want to run well in what is sure to be her family and friends.
Morgan Mueller (9:44 3k, 16:31 5k, 10:13 3k Steeple) Boston College: the second part to BC’s pretty good top two. Mueller is in the same boat as Westphal, looking to run well in front of the home crowd, especially this being her senior year.
Gabi Anzalone (9:26 3k, 16:32 5k, 34:52 10k) Wisconsin: The finish of this spring’s track season was definitely not ideal for Anzalone (35th West Prelim 10k) and this meet will be her first chance to get back to where she was last year as an individual qualifier to NCAAs.
I’m a little confused on BC’s home page to the meet where it says that Syracuse’s women are going to be there when they also have entries into the Griak Invite as well. If the women of Syracuse do go to this meet, Brianna Nerud is another individual to keep an eye out for.
Prediction: Providence steam rolls close to home over Oregon. The top three of Sisson, Collins and Nagel are very good and the depth of Providence’s youth will come through for a smooth victory. Oregon’s women are challenged by Cornell very closely. Sarah Collins for the win.