Thursday, August 1, 2013

NCAA XC Top 31 Countdown: Men's #22- Auburn

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: Mark Carroll (5th Season)
2012 National Finish- N/A

Key Returners from 2012
  • Niklas Buhner (Sr..,3:45 1500m, 8:02 Open 3k, 14:07 5k)
  • Kane Grimster (Jr., 3:45 1500m, 8:14 Open 3k)
  • Samuel Mueller (Sr., 14:29 5k, 29:49 10k) 
  • Griffin Jaworski (Jr., 14:16 5k, 30:11 10k) 
Impact Recruits/Transfers
  • Ty McCormack (Jr., From Clemson, 3:45 1500m, 13:52 5k, 8:50 3k Steeple)
Season Preview

After a few years building the foundation of a national qualifying team, it appears as if Coach Mark Carroll has finally done it. Carroll is an accomplished coach and is proving his ability to recruit and develop with the solid team that Auburn brings back for 2013. 

Auburn's Men's Cross Country team has not been relevant since 2009 and if it is going to be this year it is going to rely on veteran athletes that must stay healthy in order for the team to reach its potential and qualify for NCAAs. 

The Tigers are led by no. 1 man from 2012 Niklas Buhner, whose ability to translate his great track ability to the xc course is something he must teach to his teammates in 2013. Buhner had a good cross season in '12 and ran well on the track. As the man with the most quality cross country experience on the squad, he must rise up and lead this team as its lowest point scorer. 

Kane Grimster is a good track guy with excellent wheels (3:45 1500m PR). It will be essential that Grimster has a good summer, stays healthy, and really puts in the miles to be able to lengthen his range and be a contributor in cross country. His talent level is there, he only needs to prove that he can do it in an actual race. 

Samuel Mueller seems like the one real true cross country guy on Auburn's squad and will be counted on to push the pace up front with Buhner. Mueller had a very good track season with a nice 10k PR of 29:49. Mueller finished 5th at the SECs 10k and will need to play a significant role in Auburn's return to NCAAs. 

Griffin Jaworski and Francisco Hernandez are both capable xc runners and anything that they can do to help keep the spread close will be much needed. 

The final piece to the puzzle that will help Auburn make NCAAs is the Clemson transfer Ty McCormack. McCormack is one of the most up-and-coming Steeple guys in the country. He has the ability to run 3:45 for 1500m and 13:52 for 5k. This track ability must translate to the cross country course. McCormack should be competing with Buhner for the no.1 spot and to be honest if he is not the low-stick for the Tigers, they will have a hard time making it out of the regional. 

Unfortunately for Auburn is that the South Region is generally not as deep as some of the other regions in the NCAA, but this year it is. Florida, Florida State, and Georgia are all very quality programs that should make the meet. With this being said, the Tigers have an excellent 1-5 and if they can stay injury-free throughout the 2013 season, they will punching their ticket to Terre Haute.  

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