Tuesday, August 20, 2013

NCAA XC Top 31 Countdown: Men's #11- Princeton

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: Jason Vigilante (2nd Season)
2012 National Finish- 11th

Key Returners from 2012
  • Chris Bendtsen (Sr., 8:07 Open 3k, 13:57 5k, 29:32 10k) 
  • Alejandro Arroyo-Yamin (Sr., 8:12 Open 3k, 14:02 5k, 29:27 10k)
  • Tyler Udland (Sr., 8:12 Open 3k, 14:05 5k, 29:39 10k)
  • Eddie Owens (Jr., 8:53 3k Steeple)
  • Jonathan Vitez (Sr., 8:10 Open 3k, 14:09 5k)
  • Sam Pons (Jr., 8:12 Open 3k, 14:14 5k)

Impact Recruits/Transfers
  • William Paulson (Fr., 3:46 1500m, 8:24 Open 3k, 2nd Ireland U20 XC Champs '13)

Season Preview

Year in and year out, Jason Vigilante gets his guys rolling at a high level and racing well when it matters. He has an uncanny ability to motivate and plan the right training programs that prepare his athletes to perform at nationals. Last season's 11th place finish at NCAAs is proof of this. 11th is the best Princeton has ever finished at Nats and is looking to be just as good in 2013 as they were last year in Lousiville. 

The leaders of the Tigers are Chris Bendtsen and Alejandro Arroyo-Yamin. These athletes are absolute monsters in cross country and are pure cross guys (granted the had pretty good track seasons, to boot). Their 1-2 finish at HEPS in 2012 was outstanding and should be looking at a similar-type finish this year. 

Chris Bendtsen is returning for his senior season after the best year of his career. A near All-American finish in cross country and honorable mention honors on the track outdoors, sets him up for a potential All-American finish in 2013 in cross country. Bendtsen improved his 5k PR by 21 seconds on the track and as the leader of this team (once again) he will be counted on to push the pace up front with Arroyo-Yamin. 

Alejandro Arroyo-Yamin proved himself as a leader on this team last season as well, finishing 58th at NCAA in cross, 5th at the Mid-Atlantic Regional, and 10th at Notre Dame. As he rolls along with Bendtsen in 2013, they make a very good 1-2 punch and are both capable of top-40 finishes at NCAAs in cross. His less-than-stellar track season this spring is the motivation he needs to really bring it this upcoming season and to be the leader Vigilante needs him to be. 

Tyler Udland is a very good no. 3 runner for the Tigers and is just as capable as the previous athletes mentioned to lead this squad and will be looking to keep the gap as close as possible between him and Arroyo-Yamin and Bendsen. Udland had a similarly mediocre track season and will be looking to redeem himself at on the xc course. Udland is a very nice athlete to have in your top five and will be pushing in up-front in the Tigers pack in 2013. 

Sam Pons, Jonathan Vitez and Eddie Owens are viable options for scorers in Princeton's top five and have quality elite-level racing experience. These guys will be counted on to keep the spread from 1-5 as tight as possible. In fact, the spread for the Tigers should be very good this year and could be as close as :20 seconds in most of their races. By just looking at the track PRs of these athletes, they are all within similar ranges and could be scary good considering how close their spread will be. 

The wildcard for Princeton is big-time recruit from the U.K. William Paulson. A proven track and cross country athlete, Paulson is the perfect guy for Vig's system and should produce immediately. 

An 11th place ranking in the pre-season matches the way Princeton ended their season in 2012. To be honest, this seems a bit asinine by looking at how many guys return from their best season in school history last year. There are so many teams with top-notch athletes and recruits coming returning and coming for 2013. The Tigers are definitely capable of top-10, but will need to not be content to equal what they did last season. The NCAA is as deep as it has ever been this year and Princeton is among one of the most solid squads in the country, considering who they have returning from 2012. 

Princeton has a legitimate shot to win the Mid-Atlantic and HEPS (again) titles in 2013 and that kind of momentum just might push them over the edge and into the top-10 in Terre Haute. 

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