Friday, October 12, 2012

Wood Report Week 2

New this week is a breakdown of the top individuals on teams not in the top 30.

1. Wisconsin- Going into the 2012 season, the Badgers are looking to pull from their depth solid 4 and 5 runners to step up in the now absence of Elliot Krause and Ryan Collins. This will probably not be hard for a team with a well of talent such as Wisconsin has every year. Although, Mick Byrne’s Badgers lost 2 quality runners, he's bringing back 3 of the best in the NCAA. Mo Ahmed, the team's top returner, comes back to Madison from a summer spent training and racing in the London Olympics. Mo is the 2nd best harrier returning from the NCAA meet last November. The bad news for Wisconsin is there has been much talk concerning the possibility of a redshirt. If this is the case, then Coach Byrne will have to hope that Alex Brill, Michael Brice, Alex Hatz, or, whomever else, will step up. The most likely candidate is Brill, after his 8:37 Steeple this past spring. Alex Hatz ran 4:01 in the Mile last Indoor season. A surprise is senior Rob Finnerty who, on September 15, finished with the top of the Wisconsin pack in the Wolfie Invitational. Finnerty ran 3:38 for 1500 last summer and ran in the Olympic Trials. Neal Berman, a junior, is also another name to remember as someone who can fill that 4 or 5 spot. Up next for the Badgers is the Greater Louisville Classic, which will give them a chance to see the course for the NCAA Championships this year.

9/30- The Badgers competed at the Sean Earl Lakefront Invite this weekend without Ahmed, Connor, or Darling -- essentially transforming the meet to a tryout for the traveling team this year. Junior Alex Brill led the way as Wisco held out everyone that will round out their top 7, besides Brill. This marks Wisconsin’s 9th straight win. Next up: The Wisconsin Invite.

2. Oklahoma State- Just as the way the 2011 season finished, once again the Cowboys find themselves behind Wisconsin, ranking second in the country. Don’t let the number two ranking fool you; these Cowboys are just about as good as, if not better than, Wisconsin. Losing their top two runners from NCAA’s last year will hurt ( Fernandez and Lowe),  but Okey State has reloaded. Tom Farrell (31st finish in 2011) is the team’s top returner, alongside Shadrack Kipchirchir (50th place finish in 2011) and Joseph Manilafasha (96th place in 2011). From Dave Smith’s second place team last year, he has two outstanding athletes who didn’t run for him in 2011, and they will be strong forces up front. Girma Mecheso redshirted in 2011, but, in 2010, he was the Big 12 XC Champ and was 7th in the national meet. Mecheso also owns personal records of 13:34 for 5,000 and 28:16 for 10,000. His fellow Ethiopian Kirubal Erassa will not be far behind in this legitimate Cowboy front pack. Erassa also didn’t compete in 2011 at the NCAA’s but has solid pr’s of 7:59 for 3,000 and 13:47 for 5,000. Also coming back from their second place team is their seventh man Fabian Clarkson who placed 233rd in the national meet. Don’t let his poor NCAA finish in the 2011 XC meet fool you; Clarkson was an All-American in 2012 with his 8:45.96 3000 Meter Steeplechase. Along with some legitimate depth at the top, Dave Smith has a quality crop of young talent with three outstanding incoming freshman: Craig Nowak from Texas, Anthony Armstrong, and Korey Krotzer from Washington. They could very well assert themselves into the Cowboy top 7. Oklahoma State will open up their season running their top group at the Cowboy Jamboree this upcoming weekend.

9/30- The Cowboy Jamboree opened the country’s eyes and legitimized the Cowboys #2 ranking. Shadrack Kipchirchir rolled by Anthony Rotich of UTEP to snatch the win by .09 seconds. Oklahoma State’s depth was doubtless as they went 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10. Granted, UTEP was the lone contender in a rather weak field. Craig Nowak is shaping up to be the real deal finishing 5th overall running unattached. This team might be better than Wisconsin, with or without Mo Ahmed. OK State is scheduled for Pre-nats in two weeks.

3. BYU-  The Cougars come into the 2012 season with high expectations after a surprise fourth place finish in the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute last fall. BYU brings back five of their top seven, losing their first runner, Miles Batty and their seventh runner, Alden Bahr. Losing front-runner Batty will hurt the Cougars up front, but there are few teams in the nation as deep as BYU. Returning to lead the squad is Rex Shields and Jared Ward. Shields finished 21st at NCAA’s and Ward 58th. Ward had a strong Outdoor Track season, finishing in 5th place in the 10,000 at NCAA’s. Shields ran 7:53 indoors for 3000. Ed Eyestone has a plethora of solid athletes that are looking to make their top seven. The team’s fourth returner from Nationals is Tylor Thatcher, who is looking to step into the third runner role, and Jason Witt who was their fifth runner. BYU brings in one of the nation's top recruiting classes including 4:03 and 4:04 milers, Marcus Dickson, and Brad Nye, respectively. Also, 3rd place finisher from NXN SW Danny Carney and Erik Harris from Twin Falls, Idaho (4:08, 9:03) look to round out a nice recruiting class. Coming off of a mission, one that should help the Cougars is Tommy Gruenewald, who placed 54th in the 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championships. Having already raced the full team once at BYU’s home opener, BYU swept the top 9 spots and perfect scored #17 Minnesota. The Cougars will be at the Bill Dellinger Invite this weekend in Eugene.

9/30- Placing 10 before Oregon’s 5, BYU lived up to its billing this weekend as a contender for the National Championship, with Jared Ward leading the way with a 2nd place finish. Tylor Thatcher placed 5th as the Cougars’ number two man. Two surprises this year are BYU’s 3rd man, Junior Conner Peloquin, right behind Thatcher for 6th place, and Sophomore Steve Flint, who finished 9th. All-American Rex Shields rounded out BYU’s 5 placing 10th behind Flint. The good news is that the Cougars are running really well without Rex Shields as their #2 man. They also had a spread of 20 seconds from 1-5. If Shields can mimic last year by improving as the season marches on, BYU looks to have a solid 1-2 punch and possibly the deepest team in the country, to boot. BYU will meet up with #2 OK State in two weeks at Pre-Nats.

4. Oklahoma- With only two of their top seven returning from a 6th place national finish in 2011, at first glance one would believe this team would not be ready to contend for a national title in 2012, but don’t be deceived. Martin Smith has many talented athletes that are ready to roll for the 2012 season and be contributors off the bat. The Sooners top returners are Bill Kogel and Kevin Williams with 29th and 53rd national finishes respectively. Kogel had a solid Outdoor season running 28:39 for 10,000 and looks to lead this Oklahoma team into the 2012 XC year. Oklahoma has many athletes who transferred into the school too late to compete for them in Cross Country in 2011 but will be ready to roll for the 2012 season. Patrick Casey, a transfer from Montana State, is a sub-4 miler. Riley Masters, a transfer from the University of Maine, is also a sub-4 miler and is a 2-time America East Conference Cross Country Champion. Andy Weaver, a transfer from Delaware, who has solid pr’s of 14:09 and 3:49, could also contribute. Martin Smith’s Sooners have already raced a full team once this season and dominated a solid field including: Virginia, Arkansas, Michigan, Duke, and California. The Sooners placed five in the top 15 (2, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14). Having just run this weekend, the Sooners will be at Wisconsin for their nationally known Invitational on the 12th of October.

9/30- The Sooners didn’t compete this week, but will showcase their top-tier team in two weeks at Wisco.

5. Portland- Hopes were high in Portland right after the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships and a solid 8th place finish and with all but their number one runner back. Shocking news came to the program shortly thereafter with the sudden transfer of top returner Trevor Dunbar to Oregon. Notwithstanding that blow, the Pilots second returner, Joash Osoro, decided to transfer also. Even after these transfers, Portland returns some solid depth and one of the best recruiting classes in the country. Luckily for coach Rob Conner, David Perry and Scott Fauble had amazing improvements during the 2012 Outdoor Track Season. Fauble and Perry were Portland’s fourth and fifth runners at nationals last year respectively. David Perry ran a personal best 29:09 for 10,000 meters at Mt. Sac. Scott Fauble also ran 29:11, right behind Perry at Mt. Sac, but fared better at the NCAA Outdoor Championships finishing 11th. This team also brings back key contributors Lars Erik Malde and William (Woody) Kincaid. What will determine this team’s chances to place on the podium will be how their legitimate recruiting class steps up and competes for them at the college level. Jacob Smith and Danny Martinez look to be leading the way for the freshman class as they were Portland’s top freshmen in the first race of the season running a full squad at the WCC Preview. The WCC Preview was a solid opener for Portland as they finished 1st, 3rd, and 6th-9th. Scott Fauble led the way getting the win, with David Perry in 3rd. Not far behind them in 6th and 7th was Aiden Irish and William Kincaid, with freshman Smith and Martinez in 8th and 9th. Portland’s next race is at the Charles Bowles Invitational in Salem, Oregon on September 29th.

9/30- The Pilots scored 16 points on a weak field at the Charles Bowles Invitational this weekend without many of their top runners (Perry and Fauble).  Lars Erik Malde led the way, winning the race by 10 seconds. The pilots will be seen next at Wisco.

6. Texas- Texas seems to be the most popular team in the country, having received many transfers this off season, and is the talk of Letsrun as the team to beat this year. The entire roster is back from an 11th place national finish. Craig Lutz leads the way alongside Ryan Dohner, who had a fantastic 2012 Outdoor Season finishing 6th in the 10,000. Those two harriers are just the tip of the iceberg for John Hayes’ Longhorns. The best of the transfers are Kyle Merber from Columbia who ran 3:35 for 1500 this spring, and Trevor Van Ackeren, also an Ivy-League transfer from Princeton, who has run 3:44 for 1500 (4:01 for a converted mile). The Longhorns also have a great recruiting class that dominated its first race of the season in a dual meet against UTSA. Daniel Vertiz lead the way with Brady Turnbull placing second and Nate Moore in third. Texas will open up the season running its top runners at the Greater Louisville Classic on September 29.

9/30- Without possibly their top runner, Ryan Dohner, the Longhorns were upset this weekend at the Greater Louisville Classic. Rory Tunningley was Texas’ number one runner on the day finishing 11th. Craig Lutz struggled finishing in 22nd and Patrick MacGregor was third on the team finishing in 25. Van Ackeren also struggled in his debut as a Longhorn, finishing 49th overall. Luckily, Texas will have Ryan Dohner, Joe Stilin, and Kyle Merber next time they toe the line. Did this race expose Texas as being overrated? Maybe. But with the Dohner, and Merber rolling at Wisconsin, the true tale will be told.

7. Colorado- If Joe Bosshard is healthy, these are some Buffs you don’t want to mess with come NCAA’s in November. Wetmore always gets his boys ready to roll, and if Bosshard can get over his torn hip labrum, and Ammar Moussa progresses the way he should, he will have a solid 1-2 punch up front. Also, transfer Jake Hurysz will need to step up in the absence of Bosshard. Hurysz had a solid 2011 season running 3:45 and 8:01. Aric Van Halen also had a good 2011 track season running an 8:42 3000 Steeplechase. In their only race of the season, interestingly enough, none of those top names placed in the top 3 at the CU Time Trial. Morgan Pearson finished 2nd overall with Conner Winter placing 3rd. Pearson is a transfer from Duke with a 5000 P.R. of 14:02. Conner Winter is a redshirt freshman, having been slated as "one of the greatest prep runners in Colorado history" according to The Buffs will next be seen at their home meet, the Rocky Mountain Shootout in Boulder on the 29th of September.

9/30- Jake Hurysz rolled to an easy win at the Rocky Mountain Shootout this weekend in his debut for the Buffs. Hurysz won the race by 34 seconds with teammates Blake Theroux and Martin Medina both clocking in at 25:01. Colorado breezed to a perfect score in a weak field. With a nice low stick in Hurysz, the Buffaloes need to close the gap from their 1 to the rest of their team to be much of a player this season. With a low-key meet such as this, the Buff’s #7 ranking will be first legitimately challenged at Pre-Nats in two weeks.

8. Iona- The Gaels come into the 2012 season as a big unknown. All that returns from a 9th place finish from XC nationals last year is third-man Matt Bayley, and six and seven runners Andrew Kowalsky and Jake Byrne. From the first team results of the 2012 season it looks as though they do have Chris Stogsdill who will step up in their top 5. He placed third in the Meet of Champions at Van Cortlandt. Ricardo Santos’ full team will open up at the Greater Louisville Class on September 29.

9/30- Perhaps the biggest surprise of the weekend was #8 Iona. The Gaels cleaned up at the Greater Louisville Classic -- knocking off #6 Texas, placing 3 in the top 5 (Goose, who got a 5th year, Bayley, and Matt Gillespie, who wasn’t mentioned in their preview). The Gaels looked like the real deal with some nice depth placing their five in the top twenty. The question is if the field was really that good, and what winning this meet meant. Iona’s #1 was 1:10 seconds behind the winner Lawi Lalang. Iona’s next showing will be at  Wisconsin --  a nice proving ground for the underrated squad.

9. Stanford- The Cardinal return 3 of their top 7 from a 5th place (just short of the podium) finish at the NCAA Championships last November. The loss of NCAA standout Chris Derrick is devastating. Not only has Stanford lost Derrick, but they lost second man Jake Riley, and Brandon Gregg, and J.T. Sullivan. The good news for the Cardinal is the outstanding track performances from some of their underclassmen that look to make strong contributions to newly hired Chris Miltenberg’s team. Miles Unterreiner heads that list, having run 28:49 for 10,000 on the track. The team opened up at the University of San Francisco, scoring 19 points with a strong pack up front. Tyler Stutzman, Michael Atchoo, alongside solid steepler Ben Johnson, with Riley Sullivan, round out their top 5. Next up for the Cardinal is their home Invitation on September 29.

9/30- Placing 4 in the top 10 clinched a Stanford win at their home invitational this weekend. Adams State scored 40 to Stanford’s 34 which might raise some eyebrows. However, to Stanford’s credit, Adams State is a perennial D2 powerhouse. Joe Rosa was Stanford’s first scorer, placing 3rd overall. Miles Unterreiner ran right behind Rosa in 4th and Ben Johnson rounded out the top 3 in 6th place. As is the case for many of the schools in the top 30, the Cardinal will prove where they belong at Wisconsin in two weeks.

10. Florida State- After placing 12th at NCAA’s last November, Bob Brahman’s Seminoles round out the top 10. FSU’s top return man is David Forrester, who placed 16th at Nationals last year. The only other returners on this team are their 4th and 6th runners from last year, Jakub Zivec and Wesley Rickman, respectively. Transfer from Dublin City University Breandon O’Neill should also be a factor up front for the Seminoles. In their opener, without top man David Forrester, the Florida State routed the competition, placing 6 in the top 9. Their top 3 were all foreigners with Zak Seddon, a freshman from the U.K., leading the way, with Zivec and O’Neill right behind him. FSU will be at the Notre Dame Invitational on September 28.

9/30- At Notre Dame, the Seminoles were led by Junior Jakub Zivec who placed fourth overall, running the best race of his career. Finishing a mere 7 seconds behind Chris O’Hare, Zivec and Breandon O’Neill (9th overall) were the lone bright spots on a tepid day for the Seminoles. Florida State was the highest ranked team at the meet, but ended up 4th, beating #11 NC State who was without Andrew Colley once again. If they can get fit, David Forrester and Wes Rickman are both coming back from injuries and should be a significant factor up front for FSU in the future. The Seminoles will be at Pre-Nats in two weeks.

11. NC State- Without their top runner, Andrew Colley, the Wolfpack started off the 2012 season with a perfect score at their home meet, the Adidas XC Challenge. Their trio at the front finished together including: Patrick Campbell, Brian Himelright, and Matt Sonnenfeldt. Those three, along with Colley, are their top four returners from last year’s 10th place team. Next up is the Great America Cross Country Festival in Cary, North Carolina this weekend.

9/30- The Wolfpack will definitely be moving down the charts this week after a disappointing 10th place finish at Notre Dame. NC State was without Andrew Colley, who has yet to open up his season. Last season, Colley did not race until the ACC Championships, and maybe that is the plan for this year (unless he is hurt). Rollie Geiger’s one lone bright spot was Cody Pelliccioni, who placed 14th overall, while the rest of their depth was not close enough to the front to really help them much. The next four scored 43, 50, 62, and 68 points. The Wolfpack will have a nice low stick when Colley finally races, but until then things are not looking good for NC State.  

12. Indiana- The Hoosiers started the season competing in the Indiana Intercollegiate Meet. Scoring 49 points, Ron Helmer’s Hoosiers won the meet, while holding out top athletes Andrew Bayer and Zachary Mayhew. Evan Esselink led the way finishing sixth overall. Next up for Indiana is the Rim Rock Farm Classic at the University of Kansas this weekend.

9/30- Indiana’s nice low sticks ran well for the Hoosiers at Rim Rock, but it was not enough to hold off a surprising Kansas team. Mayhew and Bayer went 1-2 but Kansas placed 5-9 with an 8 second spread from 1-5. This race was an eye-opener in the fact that it showed Indiana’s lack of depth up front after Bayer and Mayhew. This team should also fall in the rankings this week, but will be able to prove if they belong at Wisconsin in two weeks.

13. Syracuse- The Orange looked dominant amongst a solid field at the Toledo Bubble Buster this weekend. Opening up their top runners, Syracuse went 2-10, with freshman Martin Hehir leading the way along with Joe Whelan, the team’s top returner from a 15th place finish at nationals. Whelan was followed by fellow top returner Max Straneva. Hehir looked solid in his NCAA opener. Hehir is Syracuse’s top recruit having run 9:00 for 3200 and finishing in the top 15 at NXN last year.  The Orange will next be seen at the Wisconsin Invitational on October 12.

9/30- Syracuse did not run this past weekend and will not be seen again until the big Wisconsin Invite in two weeks. The Big East is strong this year with Georgetown, Villanova and Notre Dame looking good early.

14. Texas A&M- The Aggies opened up their season at the Rice Invitational in Houston, Texas. Henry Lelei, one of the nation’s best and their top-returner, stomped on the field by more than 25 seconds. This led to a first place team finish. Isaac Spencer, Stephen Curry, Maclean O’Donnell, and James Hodges rounded out the top 5. The Aggies will next be at Notre Dame this weekend.

9/30- Henry Lelei led the way for the Aggies at Notre Dame placing second overall and leading the way to a seventh place finish as a team. Lelei probably would have won the race had he not followed the lead cart incorrectly, but as the cart left the race path to allow the runners to finish, Lelei followed it until he was corrected, but it was too late. Chris O’Hare took advantage of his mistake and won the race. Texas A&M desperately needs their fifth runner to step up if they want to make an impact this season, as he was way back placing 91st in comparison to their 2-4 that placed 18th, 44th, and 47th. Don’t be surprised to see the Aggies tumble down the rankings this week as well. Next up: Wisconsin Invite.

15. Georgetown- Georgetown returns 5 of their top 7 from a 17th place finish at nationals last season. They also have one of the top recruits in the country in Darren Fahy, a World Junior Finalist in the 3000 Meter Steeplechase. In their season opener, where they ran the majority of their best individuals, they finished in 2nd place behind Princeton. The Hoyas 6th man from cross last year, Ben Furcht, led them in sixth place in this race with a solid pack behind him of veteran athletes, namely: Andrew Springer in 7th, and All-American Mark Dennin finishing 10th. Georgetown will next be competing at the Paul Short Invitational.

9/30- The Hoyas placed 3rd overall at Paul Short this weekend with top-runner Mark Dennin winning the race. G-town was only one point back from second place William and Mary who look to be much improved from where they have been in recent years. Andrew Springer and Ben Furcht went 2-3 and 13th and 16th overall respectively. The Hoyas have a strong 1-3, but through 5 they will need some guys to step up in order to beat Villanova and Syracuse at the Big East conference meet in a month. Next up: Pre-Nats

16. Minnesota- Steve Plasencia’s Gophers come into the season returning 5 of their top 7 from a 16th place finish at NCAA’s last year. Their top returner is Pieter Gagnon, who was 81st at Nationals. They opened their season up at the BYU Autumn Classic. The Gophers placed second overall, with their runners finishing 11th, 12th, 14th, 16th, and 18th. Andrew Larsen led the way alongside Pieter Gagnon. This definitely wasn’t an incredible showing and the Gophers need to show some stronger depth in order to compete against the best in the country. Minnesota will next be seen this weekend at their home meet, the Roy Griak Invitational.

9/30- The Gophers’ won an unusually mediocre Roy Griak this past weekend with their top man being John Simons in 8th place overall. The good news for Minnesota is that they have some solid depth, especially if regular number one runner Pieter Gagnon was their 5th man in 18th overall. A nice 14 second spread from 1-5 helped get their first win at their home meet in the history of the race. Next up: Wisconsin Invite

17. Arkansas- It can only go up from last year where the Razorbacks didn’t make the National Championships, putting a lasting ugly mark on this storied program. Junior College transfer Kemoy Campbell from Jamaica surprised a very strong field at the Virginia Invite this past weekend by taking the field and winning by seven seconds over one of the nation’s best, Bill Kogel of Oklahoma. Alongside Campbell, Solomon Haile and Eric Fernandez had nice performances finishing in the top 5 with Fernadez and Haile placing 3rd and 5th respectively. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the Chris Bucknam’s next runner came in 25th place and 28th, good enough for a second place finish and a 5 point lead over a good Villanova team. If Arkansas’ number 4 and 5 runners can step up, this team will make a run at an SEC crown over Texas A&M. Look for them to move up the charts this week. Next up: Wisconsin on October 12th.

9/30- Arkansas was not in action this week, but could move up the charts due to some poor performances by schools ahead of them in the rankings.

18. Princeton- Losing Donn Cabral wasn’t too apparent in the Tiger’s domination of the field in their opener at the Spiked Shoe Invitational. With a score of 25 points, Princeton was led by Alejandro Arroyo Yamin. Yamin won the race (he didn’t compete on last year’s 19th place team), and top returner’s from that team, Eddie Owens and Chris Bendtsen, also led the charge up front. The Tigers next race is Notre Dame this weekend.

9/30- For the second race in a row Alejandro Yamin led the way for the Tigers in a nice 2nd place finish at the Notre Dame Invite. Chris Bendtsen was a solid number two runner placing 17th overall. Princeton held off Notre Dame by four points. Princeton will move up the rankings this week after beating several teams ranked ahead of them. Next up: Wisconsin Invite or Princeton Invite in two weeks

19. NAU- The loss of one of the nation’s best in Diego Estrada and also solid 2-runner Jordan Chipangama hasn’t really affected the Lumberjacks too much at the beginning of the season. NAU opened up at the Pac-12 Preview where they demolished the field. With it’s new look, Eric Heins’ harriers looked great. NAU added Oregon transfer Brian Shrader and Oklahoma State transfer Matt McElroy, along with two top recruits in Futsum Zienasellassie and Nathan Weitz. The Lumberjacks went 1-2 with Shrader and Futsum leading the way. This team is definitely much more deserving than it’s number 18 ranking and should move their way up the charts as the season goes on. NAU will be at the Grand Canyon Invite on October 6.

9/30- No news from Flagstaff, but they will bring their big boys at Wisco in a couple of weeks.

20. Tulsa- With 4 returning front men off of a 25th national finish, the Hurricane started their season off well with a strong showing at their home meet and a win at the Missouri Southern Stampede. Finishing second was sophomore Dennis Hodapp with newcomer to the top 7 Marc Scott in 5th. Top returner Andy Heyes didn’t compete and looks to add to Tulsa's solid depth when Tulsa next competes at Notre Dame this weekend.

9/30- The surprise of the week goes to the Hurricane of Tulsa winning a loaded Notre Dame Invite. After taking a break from XC last season, O’Hare is fit after a Indoor 1 Mile Championship at NCAA’s. He showed his fitness by placing first overall and beating one of the nation’s top returners, Henry Lelei of Texas A&M. O’Hare was fortunate enough that Lelei went off course right at the very end of the race, but nonetheless a win is a win. The rest of the Tulsa team ran great with Paulo Pinheiro stepping up to the number two spot, finishing 8th overall, and Dennis Hodapp taking the number three spot, finishing 13th. The good news for Tulsa is their top returner from last year was the fourth man. Tulsa’s fifth runner was way back (67th) and in bigger meets down the road that could be their Achilles Heel. Tulsa is a top 15 team and should be rocketing up the rankings this week after their big win. Next up: Pre-Nats  

21. New Mexico- The Lobos haven’t opened up any of their best runners so far this year but did race at the Kachina Invitational, placing third. You can count on seeing Ross Millington and Sean Stam, UNM’s solid 1-2 punch, at the front of the Notre Dame Invitational this weekend. They should help the Lobos improve from a last place finish at the national meet last year.

9/30- British transfer Luke Caldwell led the way for the Lobos at Notre Dame placing 12th overall and strongly contributed to a 6th place team finish. Patrick Zacharias, a transfer from Arizona, was second on the team placing 31st. Sean Stam was definitely rusty in his season opener placing third on the team and 33rd overall. If Stam can step up and run with Caldwell, and Millington runs this year, they will prove to be a nice 1-3 for the Lobos. UNM should stay right around where they are in the rankings this week. Next up: Wisconsin Invite

22. Villanova- 3 Wildcat harriers return from a 13th place national finish in 2011. Top athletes Mathew Mildenhall and Sam McEntee (he qualified for the final in the Indoor National Mile and ran a 3:36 1500, 10th fastest ever) showed their fitness at the Main Line Invitational with McEntee finishing 2nd overall and Mildenhall 6th. Villanova runners finished 2nd, 5th, 6th, and 7th. If Marcus O’Sullivan can find a 5th runner, the Wildcats will challenge Georgetown for a Big East title. Next up is Paul Short Run this Friday.

9/30- Three foreigners from Australia and New Zealand led a nice 1-3 punch for the overall team victory at the Paul Short Invite. Sam McEntee finished as the top runner on the team in 4th overall and Mildenhall and Williamsz (freshman from Australia) were 7th and 9th. The Wildcats 4 and 5 runners ran pretty well, but will need to step up to assure them a victory against Georgetown and Syracuse at the Big East Conference meet. Villanova will crack the top 20 this week. Next up: Pre-Nats

23. Oregon- Andy Powell’s new gig as the leader of this storied distance program hasn’t gotten off to much of a start yet this year. In the first race of the season at Portland's Pier Park, Oregon held out all of their big dogs in what seemed to be an audition for their 6 and 7th spot. The Ducks look to open up this weekend in their home invitational, the Bill Dellinger Invite. Look to see two of the nation’s best, Trevor Dunbar and Parker Stinson, pushing the pace at the front. Other harriers to not forget about are: Chad Noelle, Jeremy Elkaim and Ryan Pickering. Former prep star Mac Fleet could also be in the mix. You can never count Oregon out of the national picture with the incredible depth they have year to year. We’ll soon see if they are for real or not and deserve to rocket their way up the rankings this season.

9/30- Trevor Dunbar led his team to a second place finish at their home meet, Bill Dellinger Invitational, while picking up a first place individual finish. Ben DeJarnette was a nice surprise for the Ducks finishing 3rd and as their second man. Parker Stinson was their third man and struggled in 11th place. Oregon is definitely better than 23rd and with DeJarnette stepping up and Stinson running better, this is a much improved Oregon team from last years disappointment. Next up: Pre-Nats

24. Notre Dame- Coming off an Indoor National DMR win, Notre Dame looks like a much improved team from last year’s 24th national finish. The Irish bring back four of their top five including their top runner from last year, Jeremy Rae. He led Notre Dame in their first race at the National Catholic Meet. Even without their 2-3 runners, the Irish stomped on this weak field. Next up is their home meet this weekend. It will be interesting to see how they do with Martin Grady and J.P. Malette in the mix.

9/30-At their home invitational, the Fighting Irish ran a great race finishing 3rd overall. Jeremy Rae led the way as Notre Dame’s top runner, placing 6th overall. The Irish placed their 5 scorers in the top 40. An 8 second spread from 2-5 helped seal a top 3 finish. Notre Dame beat many schools ranked ahead of them and will most likely move up from their 24th spot. Next up: Wisconsin Invite.

25. Eastern Kentucky- 3 of the top 7 of a 26th national finish last year will help EKU this season, especially with the return of top harrier Soufiane Bouchikhi. This historically African-laden team is looking strong at the beginning of the season, having won their first two races without some of their top athletes. The most recent race run by Eastern Kentucky was the Commodore Invitational, where they took home top honors. Ben Toroitich led the way with a 3rd place finish. You could see some of the Colonels at Notre Dame or at the Greater Louisville Classic this weekend. With a solid low stick in Bouchikhi don’t be surprised to see Eastern Kentucky crack the top 20 at some point during the season.

9/30- Eastern Kentucky placed 5th as a team at Notre Dame beating Southeast Region number 1 NC State. This should move them to the number one spot in the region and things are looking good for the Colonels. Once again EKU was led by Junior Soufiane Bouchikhi, placing 7th overall, and Ben Toroitich ran well again for the second straight race finishing 11th. Eastern Kentucky has a nice 1-3, but they struggle with their 4th and 5th runners. Things are shaping up for an interesting Southeast Regional between EKU and NC State. Next up: Wisconsin Invite

26. Michigan- Transfer Dan Lowry will help fill the shoes of top runner Craig Forys who leaves the program as one of its best in a decade. In its opener, a surprise solid run from sophomore Mason Ferlic led the way with a 6th place finish at the Virginia Invite. The team finished fourth overall behind a good field of Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Virginia. Dan Lowry, in his opener as a Wolverine, finished 15th, good for 3rd on the team. Mark Beams moved up from his 6th spot on the team to second in finishing 12th. If Dan Lowry can reach the level he did last year, he will help this team improve upon its 20th place finish at NCAA’s in 2011. Michigan’s next race is Notre Dame this weekend.

9/30- Only one top athlete from Michigan’s A team ran at Notre Dame. Brendon Blacklaws opened up his season placing 45th overall. Next up: Wisconsin Invite

27. Virginia- The Cavaliers made their way in to the top 30 this week after a strong showing at their home meet, the Virginia Invite last weekend. Transfer Zach Gates from William and Mary led the team with a 4th place finish, helping Virginia to a 3rd place team finish. Sean Keveran, the teams top returner from NCAA’s last year, closed well ahead of Oklahoma’s pack for a 7th place finish. This is a strong team that will be a player at the ACC Conference Meet this year. Next up: Wisconsin Invite.

28. Columbia- Losing 3:35 1500 man Kyle Merber will really hurt this team coming off of a 27th national finish in 2011. But, with 5 of their top 7 returning, Columbia could make another run at advancing to nationals. At a weak Vermont Invite to start the season, the Lions’ swept the field. Leighton Spencer led the way finishing first; he was their 5th at nationals last year. Columbia has good returning experience. Paul Short this weekend will be very revealing of where this team really ranks nationally.

9/30- Columbia surprised many of the schools at the Greater Louisville Classic placing 2nd as a team. The Lions beat some quality teams, especially Texas, but also Georgia and Missouri. Placing 4 runners in the top 25 proved Columbia’s nice depth. Leading the way was Jacob Sienko in 15th place and Leighton Spencer in 18th. Mark Feigen rounded out the Lions’ top 5 in 31st. Columbia looks like a solid team to contend with Princeton in the HEPS conference meet. Next up: Wisconsin Invite.

29. Washington State- WSU started its season at the Clash of the Inland Northwest Invite with Senior leader Andrew Kimpel leading the way with a first place finish. The Cougars destroyed the field with a perfect score. Washington State has some good experience coming back from a 21st national finish last year. The Cougars will show the country where they really belong at a loaded Notre Dame Invite this weekend.

9/30- The loaded field at Notre Dame proved to be a nice test for the Cougars. WASU placed 8th as a team and was led by senior Andrew Kimpel. Washington State’s normal number two runner Drew Jordan was 65th overall and was 5th on the team. If he can run better and Kimpel not be sick, Washington State will improve. Don’t be surprised to see them out of the top 30 this week after losing to some teams ranked lower than them. Next up: Inland Empire Classic on October 13th.

30. UCLA- The Bruins opened up their season at the Pac-12 Preview in Los Angeles. Coming from a team that didn’t have a single qualifier at NCAA’s last year, this team is much improved with some solid depth. Lane Werley and Dustin Fay led the way as UCLA’s 1-2, finishing 5th and 10th respectively. UCLA’s top five rounded out to place 12th, 15th and 16th, proving the Bruins’ depth. If Dustin Fay can stay consistent and race smarter, this team could do some damage at the Wisconsin Adidas Invite on the 12th of October.

9/30- UCLA finished 2nd at the Pac 12 preview meet with 58 points, ahead of Arizona State (66) and Cal Poly (87). But, NAU (23) had 5 runners in before UCLA's 2nd.

Top 5 Individuals:

1. Lawi Lalang-Arizona: The returning champ was back at it again this week winning the Greater Louisville Classic in front of teammate Stephen Sambu. Lalang won the race by 3 seconds in a course record 22:33. This was his seventh straight victory in Cross Country. Next up: Wisco

2. Stephen Sambu-Arizona: Overshadowed by his teammate, Sambu also ran a nice race at Louisville, also breaking the course record, running 22:36. Lalang and Sambu are a nasty 1-2 punch and are looking like a nice prediction for the top overall finishers at NCAAs this year. Next up: Wisco

3. Kennedy Kithuka-Texas Tech: The former two-time NAIA Cross Country Champion has been dominating this season and looked incredible at the Rim Rock Classic this weekend.  He defeated Zach Mayhew and Andy Bayer of Indiana (two legit runners) by 45 seconds and a minute. Next up: Chile Pepper Invite

4. Paul Chelimo- UNC-Greensboro: Chelimo is looking in nice form early this season after a third place finish at the Greater Louisville Classic behind Lawi Lalang and Stephen Sambu. Running 22:59 for 8K was good enough for 61 seconds in front of teammate Paul Katam. Chelimo couldn’t keep the pace with Lalang and Sambu this week, but ran really well considering he didn’t run for four days leading up to the race. Next up: Pre-Nats

5. Terefe Ejigu-Eastern Michigan: Rounding out an All-African top 5, Ejigu placed well this weekend at Notre Dame in 3rd overall and 6 seconds behind O’Hare. Ejigu finished in a time of 23:33 over 8K. Next up: Pre-Nats

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