Friday, October 19, 2012

The Wood Report - Week 3

Last weekend's report on the Men's Top 30 Cross Country Teams in the NCAA. Once again, the top 5 individuals not on a top 30 team are highlighted at the end of this post.

Oklahoma State's Shadrack Kipchirchir

1. Oklahoma State-
10/13- Overview: Oklahoma State went down to Arkansas this weekend for the Chile Pepper Invitational. After one of the nation’s best, Kennedy Kithuka of Texas Tech, crossed the line the Cowboys went 2-6, and 10 (Girma Mecheso, Kirubel Erassa, Shadrack Kipchirchir, Shane Moskowitz, Fabian Clarkson, and Craig Nowak). OK State had a team average of 30:20 for 10k. 

Outlook: The Cowboys look dominant right now and will look to prove their dominance next at the Big 12 Conference Championships. Oklahoma and Texas are formidable foes and will prove to be this team’s first big test. 

2. Colorado-
10/13- Overview: Colorado looked amazing this weekend at the Pre-Nationals invitational in Louisville Kentucky, finishing 1st overall with a dominant 72-127 win over #3 BYU. Jake Hurysz was the real deal running with the leaders the entire race and finishing well in 4th place.  Blake Theroux and Hugh Dowdy looked good finishing in 11th and 12th. Colorado's depth was unreal as they placed all 7 of their runners in the top 35. 

Outlook: Things are looking real good for Colorado and should move up to the number 2 ranking behind Oklahoma State this week. Jake Hurysz is legit and with some nice depth and improvement from Theroux and Dowdy along with Pierce Murphy and Medina looking sharp these Buffaloes are a scary team. If they use Joe Bosshard at the end of the season and he is fit, it will make for a very, very competitive national meet. 

3. Stanford-
10/13- Overview: Stanford was the biggest surprise of the week after winning the absolutely loaded Wisconsin Adidas Invite. The biggest surprise within the Cardinal team were the Rosa twins, who finished 17th and 19th. What is most eye-opening about the win this weekend was the 16 second spread from 1-5, without Erik Olsen in the mix.

Outlook: Pac-12 Championships are going to be fun with Colorado, Oregon, and UCLA all looking good right now. Stanford will need to keep the tight spread and hope their depth will prove solid enough to overcome Colorado’s unreal depth they showed at Pre-Nats. Also Oregon’s low sticks will be another challenge to overcome, but with they way they looked at Wisco, Stanford is going to give Colorado a run.

4. Iona 

10/13- Overview: A 2nd place finish at a better than Pre-Nats field at Wisconsin this weekend gives Iona the edge over BYU in the rankings this week. Iona has 4 very talented runners in Goose, Gillespie, Bayley and Clorley, but lack a 5th. Iona’s top 4 placed 3, 8, 26, 27, but their 5 was 81st. A 3rd place finish from Gillespie is very promising for Iona considering that Bayley had a mediocre day.

Outlook: MAAC championships are up for Iona and the Gaels could run their 8-14 runners and still stomp on the field. Their next big test will be the NE regional when they will compete against Columbia who is currently ranked #10.

5. BYU-   

10/13- Overview: BYU competed at the Pre-Nationals meet in Louisville Kentucky this weekend, getting their first chance to look at the course for Nationals in a month. Without All-American Rex Shields, BYU was topped for the first time this season, losing to Colorado 72-127. Top runner Jared Ward had a solid race for the Cougars finishing 8th overall. BYU basically had 5 in the top 40, (5th man Steve Flint was 41st), but it wasn't good enough to hold off a very strong performance from Colorado.

Outlook: BYU will next race for the West Coast Conference title against only real contender, Portland at Portland in two weeks. The Cougars will look to rebound from a less-than great performance at Pre-Nationals. Look for a healthy Rex Shields to help BYU and a tighter pack up front. 

6. Oklahoma-  
10/13- Overview: The Wisconsin Invite was a good proving ground for the Sooners as they ran well placing 3rd in the competition. Normal number one man, Bill Kogel, was their 5th placing 48th overall. Patrick Casey ran big for the Sooners finishing 7th overall and stepping up from his normal comfortable mile distance to 8k. 

Outlook: Next up is the Big 12's where they will have to battle top team in the country Oklahoma State. Oklahoma has some nice depth and room to improve. Bill Kogel had a side stitch at Wisconsin and did not run great, but when he is healthy the Sooners are a dangerous team at conference for the Cowboys of Oklahoma State.

7. Texas-
10/13-Overview: Led with strong performances by Craig Lutz, Rory Tunningley, and Ryan Dohner, the Longhorns looked better this week at Wisconsin placing 4th as a team. Craig Lutz asserted himself in the front of the pack from the gun and held on for a solid 12th place. Rock steady Rory Tunningley finished 20th and in his debut, Ryan Dohner, ran well finishing in 35th. Columbia transfer, Kyle Merber, looked rusty in his opener finishing in 93rd. 

Outlook: Texas will look to add to the heat of the Big 12 Conference Championships up next along with Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. This could be the strongest conference championship race in the country and will provide Texas another opportunity to improve. Ryan Dohner will run better with more races under his belt and so will Kyle Merber. Apparently some of the Longhorns fell at the Wisconsin meet and could have been the cause to some poor performances towards the end of their top 7. 

8. Oregon-
10/13: Overview: Parker Stinson looked much better this weekend at Pre-Nats than he did at Dellinger and really helped Dunbar and the Ducks up front for a 3rd Place finish behind BYU. Their 23:45 team average was actually better than BYU’s, but their lack of a 5th runner (the case for many teams) is Oregon’s biggest problem. DeJarnette continues to prove his legitimacy as Oregon’s next best guy behind Dunbar and Stinson.

Outlook: Pac 12’s are going to be a great challenge for Oregon, but with two nice low sticks, and an improving DeJarnette, if the Ducks can get their 4-5 to step up you never know what might happen this up coming weekend. Look for Dunbar for the win and Stinson a top 5 finish, that will definitely help Oregon’s chances for a Pac 12 Championship.

9. Arkansas-

10/13-Overview: Arkansas has 3 real solid runners up front leading the charge which led to a nice tie for 5th place finish with Columbia at Wisconsin. Solomon Haile is back looking like he did in 2010 and Fernandez is picking up from he left off the 2011 season, and with a nice addition from Jamaica Kemoy Campbell the Razorbacks have a solid top 3. The bad news for the Razorbacks is that their 4-5 are no where to be seen placing 118th and 150th.

Outlook: The good news for Arkansas is that their top 3 are so good that they should win the SEC crown easily over Georgia, but will come back to bite them at the national and regional level.

. Columbia-

10/13- Overview: Columbia continues to shock the nation with solid finishes at every race they have run so far this year. Tying a legit Arkansas team for 5th at Wisconsin, solidified their legitimacy as one of the top teams in the country. Mike Murphy this time led the way with a 22nd place finish. Every race this season Columbia has had a different number one and that is Jake Seinko and Mark Feigen who were the Lions’ 2-3 at Wisco. Leighton Spencer was also right behind Feigen in a solid 64th. The chronic plague of most teams is their 5 and Columbia is no different with their 5 finishing 104th.

Outlook: The HEPS Championships are next for Columbia where they will face off against Princeton. Princeton has not been as good as Columbia has been all season and the Lions depth should prevail over Princeton.

11. Michigan-

10/13: Overview: Michigan moved up 13 spots in the rankings this week after a nice showing at Wisco finishing behind Columbia and Arkansas in 7th. Dan Lowry is the real deal finishing 11th individually. After Lowry Michigan has a nice pack of runners had a 13 second spread between the 2-5 runners.

Outlook: This might be the year that Michigan finally beats Wisconsin at the Big 10 championships, if the Badgers decide to redshirt Ahmed and Connor. If that’s the case Dan Lowry will push the pace up front and the nice pack behind him will prove too much for Wisconsin.

12. New Mexico-

10/13-Overview: New Mexico had an even bigger jump than Michigan in the rankings moving 16 spots up from 28th. The Lobos’ nice couple of British transfers Caldwell and Bitchell along with former walk on Sean Stam looked nice up front for the Lobos and Arizona transfer Zacharias finished with a 6 second spread between the four. As has been the case for many teams, the Lobos do not have a solid fifth runner (140th at Wisco).

Outlook: New Mexico will cruise to an easy victory at the Mountain West Championships. The Lobos need to get ready for a tough regional race in the Mountain region against BYU, Colorado, and top individuals Kithuka and Rotich.

13. Eastern Kentucky-

10/13-Overview: This weeks rankings are basically a combination of the results from Pre-Nats and Wisconsin as the next team behind New Mexico at Wisco, Eastern Kentucky are next up at 13th. Ben Toroitich has made nice strides this year alongside consistent Soufiane Bouchikhi and finished 10th and 13th respectively at Wisco. The bad news is you have to go pretty far down the list of results to find the Colonels 3-5 (97, 121, 138).

Outlook: The Ohio Valley Champs are next for EKU and they should roll on the field there. Hopefully they can find some other athletes to step up in the 3-5 roll so the Colonels can make a push for a nice finish at Nationals.

14. Florida State-

10/13-Overview: Florida State ran to a solid fourth place finish at Pre-Nats with Jakub Zivec leading the way with a nice 10th place finish. The 4th place finish is even more impressive when you factor in the absence of David Forrester and Zak Seddon. If they can be healthy they will help out an already solid pack of runners.

Outlook: The ACC championships got a little more interesting with Duke and Va. Tech running quite well at Pre-Nats. If Forrester and Seddon run and are healthy, the Seminoles should roll to an ACC Championships, but if not, they better be ready to hold off two teams with a lot of momentum and confidence in Duke and Virginia Tech.

15. UCLA-

10/13-Overview: Lane Werley and Dustin Fay were a nice 1-2 punch for the Bruins as they continue to run well and placed 10th as a team at Wisconsin. UCLA’s 3-4 look good and their 5 man Nohe Lema opened up at Wisconsin and will definitely improve as the season progresses. This is the best UCLA team in years.

Outlook: If Lema can step up and Fay run with Werley, this UCLA team might surprise some people at the loaded Pac 12 Championhips in the next weekend. The Pac 12 might be the best conference in the country, ok it is, and therefore UCLA will really be tested, but it will be much needed to help get them ready to compete for a spot at Nationals during the Regional meet in 3 weeks.

16. Syracuse-

10/13-Overview: A nice :23 second spread from 1-5 helped the Orange to an 11th place finish at Wisconsin. Sophomore Andrew Palmer led the team with a 56th individual finish.

Outlook: Next up for the Orange is the Big East Championships. Syracuse is the highest ranked team in the Big East, but will be pushed by Georgetown, Villanova and Notre Dame up front. Look for The Orange’s nice depth and spread to keep them in the hunt for the win.

17. Portland 

10/13-Overview: Portland finished 12th overall at the Wisconsin Invite this weekend. Scott Fauble and David Perry led the way finishing 32nd and 38th. Without solid 3rd runner Lars Erik Malde, things did not look great for the 5th ranked Pilots. Freshman Jacob Smith ran well followed by senior Jared Bassett in 92nd and 98th respectively.  

Outlook: Portland will next be at the West Coast Conference Championships and will look to knock off defending champs BYU. This will be a tough task for a young Portland team. Things will be better for them with Lars Erik Malde in the mix. 

18. Duke-

10/13- Overview: The Blue Devils may have had the most impressive run of the busy weekend placing 5th overall at the Pre-Nats Invitational. Duke’s top four went 39, 48, 50, 52 proving nice grouping, but their fifth was once again the factor for them placing back in 98.

Outlook: The ACC Championships are also going to be very competitive this upcoming weekend with Duke rounding into nice form late in the season, Florida State and Virginia Tech all in the mix. Duke should give Florida State a run for their money for the title, especially if they continue to run the way they did at Pre-Nats.

19. Tulsa-

10/13-Overview: Without top man Chris O’Hare the Tulsa still ran well this past weekend at Pre-Nats finishing 7th as a team. Andy Heyes stepped up as the team leader finishing 15th overall. Tulsa’s 5th man looked better and ran closer to the top 4 this week which is good news for Tulsa. At Notre Dame, Tulsa was great through 4 but lacked a 5, so if their 5 runs that well the rest of the season and O’Hare in the mix, this is a solid team, that might have a shot at a podium spot.

Outlook: Conference USA Championships are up next for the Hurricane where they will chill for an easy win and get ready to make a push up front against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the Midwest Regional.

20. Wisconsin-
10/12- Overview: Without top returner Mo Ahmed and number 2 Reed Connor, the Badgers were drilled at their home invitational this weekend. The one bright spot for Wisconsin was Maverick Darling who looked sharp finishing in 5th place right behind one of the nation's overall top returners Henry Lelei. 

Outlook: Without Mo Ahmed and Reed Connor, this is a totally different Wisconsin squad. It will take a very strong performance at the Big 10 Conference Championships to take home the title, especially with Michigan looking strong this weekend at Wisconsin. 

21. Virginia Tech-

10/13-Overview: Will Mulherin (13:41 5,000 pr) led the way for the Hokies in a solid performance at Pre-Nats surprising Tulsa and some of the best Big East schools finishing in 6th place overall. Mulherin contributed only 6 points to the scoring and the rest of the depth looked nice except for a 124 finish from their five. Leoule Degfae was also solid for the Hokies finishing 19th.

Outlook: Virginia Tech is looking in great shape coming into the ACC Championships and will probably have the lowest stick with Mulherin getting the win. If this is the case and Degfae runs well and the Hokies get an improved 5th runner, you may see a new ACC Champion this year, Virginia Tech.

22. Northern Arizona-

10/13-Overview: Brian Shrader and Futsum Zienasallassie were a strong 1-2 punch for NAU at Wisco taking 29th and 31st respectively. Futsum’s other freshman teammate Nathan Weitz was third on the team in 112th. Matt McElroy did not have a strong race and was most likely sick or hurt. With McElroy healthy they have a nice 1-3 up front. NAU placed 13th as a team.

Outlook: Big Sky championships at home are next for NAU and they should roll with little resistance and prepare to make a run for a strong Regional race, in two weeks, to make the National Championships.

23. Princeton

10/13-Overview: A disappointing 14th place team finish at Wisconsin puts Princeton at an interesting spot behind Columbia going into the HEPS championships. The Tigers had a nice performance by Alejandro Arroyo Yamin finishing in 29th overall and Chris Bendtsen was solid in 59th. Having two scorers in the 100’s hurt Princeton.

Outlook: Columbia has nice depth and should prove difficult to beat at HEPS, but with Vig at the helm, do not be surprised to see the Tigers coming around at the right time and look real nice this weekend in the conference championship.

24. Indiana-

10/13-Overview: Indiana may have one of the best 1-2 punches in the country with Andy Bayer and Zach Mayhew, but after that the team drastically drops off. Mayhew looked strong this weekend at Wisco finishing 6th individually and Bayer ran ok finishing in 23. The next placer was Adam Behnke in 124. A 1:06 spread is a pretty gap to overcome going into the Big 10 Championships.

Outlook: Look for Mayhew and Bayer up front at Big 10’s with Maverick Darling and Dan Lowry. If somehow the Hoosiers can close the gap from 2 to 3 they might have a shot to pull off an upset, but don’t count on it.

25. Villanova-

10/13-Overview: The Paul Short invite proved to be deceiving as the winner from that race, Villanova, went to Pre-Nats and finished a disappointing 8th overall as a team. Without leader Sam McEntee, who was out because of illness, Matthew Mildenhall led the way for the Wildcats placing 32nd overall. Freshmen Robert Denault and Jordy Williamsz ran well in the 2-3 spot finishing 53rd and 57th, respectively.
Outlook: With McEntee in the mix Villanova should be a strong contender for the Big East crown this weekend. Because their 5th at Pre-Nats was 130th with McEntee there, the Wildcats have a strong 1-5 and will pressure Syracuse and Georgetown at the Big East meet.

25. Iowa State-

10/13-Overview: Iowa State’s men’s team came out of nowhere and out of the shadow of their women’s team this weekend finishing in a solid 16th place as a team. Led by Alex Dillenbeck in 41st and Mohamed Hrezi in 50th.

Outlook: The Cyclones have a brutally tough Big 12 Championship race this weekend. If Dillenback and Hrezi can continually be solid and get some momentum from the women dominating the field, maybe the Cyclones get third, but probably not. Fourth place in a tough conference is definitely legit, especially in the Big 12.  

27. Georgetown-

10/13-Overview: Finishing a mere 13 points behind conference foe Villanova, Georgetown placed 9th overall at the Pre-National Invitational in Louisville Kentucky. All-American Andrew Springer ran a decent 32nd and former prep star Darren Fahy was 70th alongside teammate Miles Schoedler in 71st. This race was run without top Hoya, Mark Dennin, who was resting.

Outlook: Similarly to Villanova the top runner from G-Town did not compete at Pre-Nats. With McEntee in the front for Villanova and Dennin for Georgetown, the Big East championships will be a battle up front for individual honors.

28. Georgia-
10/13-Overview: Senior Matt Cleaver continues to lead the charge up front on this improving Georgia program. Cleaver finished 46th overall and helped the team to an 18th overall finish, 16 points behind defending national champ Wisconsin, at their home invite. Regular 2-man Brandon Lord struggled a bit to a 111st finish, but Lucas Baker ran well for the Bulldogs for a 74th finish. Georgia held off SEC foe Texas A&M by 7 points.

Outlook: The SEC championships are up for the Bulldogs and will have to run a fantastic race to give Arkansas a scare up front, and to hold off Texas A&M. The good news for Georgia is they do have a nice pack and with Lord running better, they should be headed for a second place finish.

29. Texas A&M-

10/13-Overview: Texas A&M finished just 7 points behind Georgia for a 19th team finish at the Wisconsin Invite. Senior stud Henry Lelei looked great finishing 4th individually. Coming off a 26th place finish last year Lelei seems to be in great shape heading towards the back end of the season.

Outlook: With Lelei looking so good, that will be good news for the Aggies as they will need him to continue to lead this team and have some help from James Hodges and Curry to solidify a nice pack behind him. The SEC Championships will be tough with Arkansas and Georgia, but look for the Aggies to give Georgia a run for the 2nd place team, especially with a nice low stick from Lelei, getting the individual victory.

30. Kansas-

10/13-Overview: After an impressive run at the Rim Rock Classic with a ridiculous 1-5 spread, the Jayhawks continue to have maybe the best spread in the country and proved it at the Wisconsin Invitational. Covering the course with all 5 scorers in 19 seconds of each other, Sophomore Reid Buchanan led the team in 71st and consistent man Don Wasinger and Gabe Gonzalez finshing in the top 100 in 91st and 96th, respectively.

Outlook: The good news is that this is the best Kansas team in years, the bad news is that they are in the Big 12. Look for their 1-5 spread to be something around 10 seconds, but not finishing higher than 5th at the Big 12 Championships this upcoming weekend.

Top Five Individuals- (not on a team in the top 30) 

  1. Lawi Lalang (Arizona): Lawi continues his dominance in NCAA Cross Country by winning the Wisconsin Invite, breaking his own course record of 23:10, running 23:03. That’s especially incredible, since the pack started out much slower this year than they did the year before. 
  2. Stephen Sambu (Arizona): Always under the shadow of Lalang, but ever as consistent Sambu also broke the course record behind Lawi, finishing in 2nd at Wisco in 23:07. This 1-2 (maybe the best ever) will have a nice push up front at the Pac 12 championships this weekend. Maybe Dunbar or Hurysz can give them a run. 
  3. Kennedy Kithuka (Texas Tech): Kithuka absolutely rolled at the Chile Pepper Invitational finishing the 10k race in 28:53, beating the next finisher by almost a minute and a half. Kithuka has been dominant all season and has now won 4 straight individual titles. Look for him to do the same thing he did to OK State at Chile Pepper at the Big 12 Championships. 
  4. Anthony Rotich (UTEP): Rotich looked really good, pulling away from legit Paul Chelimo at the Pre National Invitational, good enough for first running 23:01 for 8k. Rotich will dominate the Conference USA Championships with only competitor Chris O’Hare from Tulsa in the front with him. 
  5. Paul Chelimo (UNC Greensboro): Chelimo continues to look good, but not great this year, finishing second behind up and coming Anthony Rotich of UTEP at Pre-Nats. Chelimo and Rotich were side by side for most of the race until the UTEP star threw down a nasty surge and Chelimo did not respond. He still is a contender and will look better towards the end of the season, and especially by Nationals.

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