Wednesday, August 14, 2013

NCAA XC Top 31 Countdown: Men's #13- North Carolina State

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.

North Carolina State
Head Coach: Rollie Geiger (36th Season)
2012 National Finish- 26th

Key Returners from 2012
  • Andrew Colley (Sr., 3:44 1500m, 8:02 Open 3k, 13:44 5k)
  • Graham Crawford (So., 3:43 1500m, 14:06 5k)
  • Michael Mansy (Jr., 4:08 Mile, 14:24 5k)
Impact Recruits/Transfers 
  • Jacob Thomson (Fr., 4:06 1600m, 8:48 3200m, 14:34 5k, 2 X FL Finalist-5th '12)
  • Sam Parsons (Redshirt Frosh, NXN Qualifier 2012, 4:12 1600m, 9:00 3200m)
  • Sam Roberson (Fr., 14:12 5k, NXN Qualifier)
  • Craig Engels (Redshirt Frosh, 3:45.51 1500m, 4:03 Mile (In HS), 8:55 3200m)
  • Nick Link (Fr., 4:15 1600m, 9:06 3200m, 11th NXN '12)
Season Preview

In 2012, NC State squeaked into the NCAA XC Meet and performed about as well as they could considering losing Ryan Hill and other solid contributors from the year before. Although, many seniors are gone (Sonnenfeldt, Himelright, et al.) the Pack is actually better than they were last season and have a lot of incoming athletes that should prove to push them to another level in 2013. 

Rolllie Geiger has been around quite a while and obviously knows what he is doing. His last few recruiting classes have been outstanding and will be the reason why they make such a huge improvement in 2013. 

The face of this program is Andrew Colley who has been one of the best cross country runners in the country the past few seasons. Colley, who spent the beginning of the 2012 season hurt, was able to get back in time and get fit enough to lead NC State in Louisville. Colley has been All-American in back to back seasons and is a shoe in to do the same in 2013. He also has some very good PRs on the track and is through and through one of the best returning harriers in the NCAA. 

Graham Crawford had a very useful Regional in 2012 that showed what he is truly capable of. Beating some of the better athletes in their region proved his ability as a competitor and was followed up with a very good track season in 2013. Crawford qualified for the East Regional outdoors this past spring in both the 1500m and the 5000m and will be a very good no. 2 runner for the Wolfpack. 

Michael Mansy and Mitch Mallory will provide some leadership in their front group with the opportunity they had to run at NCAAs last season. There is no experience that can compare with the lessons learned from the National Championship race, and besides being quality athletes themselves, that is what Mansy and Mallory bring to the table. 

Many of these athletes have spent the summer training in Boulder and the outstanding base they will have because of their experience there will be of great benefit to them and their program as a whole in 2013. 

Along with this experience comes some top-tier recruits and redshirt freshman that will be spiking up for NC State. Jacob Thomson is one of the best incoming freshman in the country and is "instant offense" for Geiger's Army. Thomson has quality experience not only on the cross country course, but equally as good on the track. His PRs are the envy of the majority of high school harriers in the country. 8:48 3200m and 4:06 1600m are top-notch PRs and his ability to convert those into cross, will prove extremely valuable to the Wolfpack. Thomson is a guy that can step right in and be the no. 3 man (challenging many of the veterans returning). 

Sam Parsons is another high school stud from Delaware, who redshirted all of 2012-2013. If his base is as good as it should be, he should be looking at a break-out season in 2013. Just like they say,  "the bigger the base the bigger the peak" and that should definitely be the case for Parsons. 

The other Sam, [Roberson] is a very capable cross country guy who ran a nice 5k PR of 14:12 unattached in 2013. If this can equate to good 8k and 10k stuff on the cross country course, he also provides a very quality runner in the front back. 

Nick Link is an additional quality incoming freshman, who, although may not have the accolades of Thomson, could be potentially as good his first season. He has proven himself on the XC course at NXN and has good track PRs. 

Craig Engels appears to be the wildcard of the group because of his upper-echelon track work. 8:55 3200m and 4:03 1600m PRs as a prep are somewhat comparable to Thomson and if he can turn his speed into strength he is a darkhorse that could come to light this season. 

NC State is much better than the majority of the NCAA is thinking going into 2013. If everyone can come together and a few of these freshman grow up real fast, they will be a team that will creep up on many of the perennial powers in 2013. 

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