Monday, July 29, 2013

NCAA XC Top 31 Countdown: Men's #25- Columbia

Editor's note: For the next month, The Wood Report will be counting down projected team finishes in this year's NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, IN.

Head Coach: Willy Wood (20th Season)
2012 National Finish- 17th

Key Returners from 2012
  • Jake Sienko (Sr., 14:20, 29:55)
  • Daniel Everett (Jr., 3:42, 13:57)
  • Nico Composto (Sr., 14:13, 29:42)
  • Byron Jones (Sr., 3:45, 14:41)
  • John Gregorek (Sr., 3:42 1500m, 8:52 3k Steeple)
  • Joe Kotran (Sr., 8:11 Open 3k, 8:55 3k Steeple)
Impact Recruits/Transfers
  • Jack Boyle (Fr., 2 X NXN Nat'l Finalist, 8:55 3200m)
  • Max Norris (Fr., Foot Locker Finalist '12 (17th), 4:12 1600m, 8:25 Open 3k)
Season Preview

At first glance the reigning Northeast Regional runners up do not look like they should be that good in 2013. Only three of their top seven return from their 17th place team at nationals (program's all-time best) and two of the three were their no. 6 and 7. But after reading the load of guys coming back in the "key returners" section above, one can see how they could be just as good if not better than the 2012 team.

Somehow, especially recently, Willy Wood has done an incredible job putting together quality cross country programs, and now with experienced xc runners Nicole Blood and Delilah Dicrescenzo (that names sounds familiar) as volunteer coaches, they will bring even more insight and experience to add to an already solid coaching staff. 

Jake Sienko is the returning top dog for the Lions and is going to be a good no. 1 runner in his senior year. Sienko was a proven 1-3 man for Columbia last season and always ran well when it mattered. 

Daniel Everett did not have the most amazing xc season in '12, but turned it around in track where he ran very good PRs of 3:42 1500m and 13:57 5000m. If these times can translate to solid cross country performances, Columbia all of a sudden has a good 1-2 punch. 

Tack on a slew of other veteran runners with good track credentials and this team could be one of the most underrated teams in the country going into the 2013 season, especially as depth is concerned. It will be interesting to see how John Gregorek and Joe Kotran do in xc coming off of the best track seasons of their careers. Nico Composto is a veteran xc runner and will be needed to solidify their 1-5 pack. 

To add to this already deep program are a ton of good prep runners coming to the Big Apple to compete for Columbia. The best of these is Jack Boyle who is a sub-9 minute 3200m kid (8:55) and was the no. 1 runner on one of the country's perennial powers Christian Brothers Academy. This kind of of quality post-season high school cross country experience will aid his ability to be a scorer for the Lions.

Considering all of this it seems likely that Columbia could prove this #25 ranking as way too low and make big jumps in the rankings as the season wears on. The only thing holding them back is the likelihood of a tough, tough Northeast Regional with Syracuse and Iona returning many of their big guns. Columbia barely beat out Syracuse for the auto-qualifier in 2012 and will need to have a very good regional to make the Big Dance automatically. 

But do not doubt these Lions, they are re-loaded and very dangerous. 

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