Sunday, August 4, 2013

NCAA XC Top 31 Countdown: Men's #19- Iona

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: Ricardo Santos (6th Season)
2012 National Finish- 29th

Key Returners from 2012
  • Matt Gillespie (Sr., 3:58 Mile, 8:00 Open 3k, 14:10 5k)
  • Jake Byrne (Jr., 14:01 5k, 30:40 10k)
  • Daniel Clorley (Sr., 8:02 Open 3k, 14:03 5k 
  • Andrew Kowalsky (Jr., 14:06 5k, 29:35 10k)
  • Kieran Clements (Fr., 14:11 5k)
Impact Recruits/Transfers
  • Daniel Galford (Fr., NXN Nats Individual Qualifier '11- 48th)
Season Preview

Going into the 2012 NCAA Cross Country Championships, Iona was ranked #2 and was thrown in the mix of teams that could possibly challenge Oklahoma State and Wisconsin for a national title. Things could not have gone any worse for the Gaels in Louisville. The lone bright spot was Mitch Goose having an All-American day. Everyone else struggled and their consistent no. 2 runner, Matt Gillespie, DNF'd. 

Considering all of that, there is no lack of motivation for this Iona squad to prove their legitimacy in 2013. The good news for the Gaels is that they return many of the athletes that helped them reach so high in the rankings in 2012. 

If Iona is to improve upon their NCAA finish from 2012, a lot will ride on the shoulders of Matt Gillespie. A sub-4 minute miler, Gillespie DNF'd at NCAAs last year and will be looking to redeem himself. Gillespie has good range (he was an East Regional Qualifer in the 5k) which will help him as the races move from 8k to 10k, he should be able to out kick many of his contemporaries which will help out in the final scoring situation. 

Jake Byrne, who did not compete outdoors in 2013, is riding off of a good summer where he finished 15th overall at the European U23 Championships in the 5k. This kind of caliber experience is always helpful for someones confidence as they enter a new season. Byrne will be counted on to provide veteran leadership experience for the Gaels up-front. 

Daniel Clorley and Kieran Clements are both capable 5k runners who also made the East Regional in the 5k and will prove to be very solid 3-5 runners for the Gaels. Andrew Kowalsky had a good track season in 2013 where he PR'd nicely in the 10k running 29:35 and qualifying for the East Regional as well. 

Iona has had a quality distance program for many many years now and this will not change in 2013. The returning Northeast Regional Champions will have their hands full with a very good and deep Syracuse team and Columbia reloading as well. If these Gaels can stay healthy and stay focused through the end of the season, they could creep on many of the teams that will be previewed here after in Terre Haute. 

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