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: Chris Fox (9th Season)
2012 National Finish- 15th
Key Returners from 2012
- Martin Hehir (So., 8:00 Open 3k, 13:53 5k, 29:35 10k)
- Joe Whelan (Sr., 8:53 3k Steeple, 55th NCAAs '12)
- Ryan Urie (Jr., 3:49 1500m, 14:29 5k)
- Reed Kamyszek (Jr., 8:09 Open 3k, 14:25 5k, 29:45 10k)
- Griff Graves (Sr., 14:18 5k, 71st NCAAs '12)
- Robert Molke (Sr., 8:13 Open 3k, 14:13 5k, 29:35 10k)
- Max Straneva (Jr., 8:22 Open 3k, 14:20 5k)
- Andrew Palmer (Jr., 14:15 5k, 30:07 10k)
- Dan Lennon (So., 2nd USATF Jr. 10k '13, 14:24 5k)
- Kevyn Hoyos (Redshirt Frosh, 4:12 1600m, 9:01 2 Mile, 6th US Jr. 5k '13)
- Nick Ryan (Fr., 4:05 1600m, 8:55 3200m, 3 X NXN Qualifier- 15th '13, 5th '12, 28th '11)
- Shawn Wilson (Fr., 4:11 1600m, 9:04 3200m, FL Finalist '12- 23rd)
For Syracuse and Coach Chris Fox, this could be the year. With the horde of talented athletes that are returning from 2012s Big East Championships winning team and a good recruiting class, the Orange might finally break the curse of finishing somewhere around 15th at NCAAs every single year.
After pulling a few string with the NCAA and some very good returners, Syracuse has 10 guys that could find themselves in their top seven at any point during the season.
The Orange's no. 1 returner, although just a freshman last year, is Martin Hehir. Coming out of no where and winning the Big East individual title as a freshman, Hehir is now an experienced and accomplished athlete that is ready to tack on All-American to his list of accolades. Running 13:53 for 5k on the track this past spring is a good indication of his progression. Hehir is a top-40, if not better, caliber talent and will be a critical low-stick for Syracuse.
Joe Whelan is actually the no. 1 returner from NCAAs (Hehir was for the majority of the year though) in Louisville last year. After a sub-par track season, Whelan will be looking to get back to his fitness from 2012 and find himself pushing Hehir up front.
Griff Graves was able to get a medical redshirt year back and makes Syracuse that much better with him in the top five. Graves was a vital scorer for the Orange throughout his career and if fit, he is also a guy that is capable of pushing Hehir and Whelan in the front of the pack.
There are a slew of quality athletes that return for Coach Fox and that will be battling it out for a spot in the top seven throughout the season. Andrew Palmer is generally very good early on in the season, but needs to find a way to keep the wheels from coming off. His 59th place finish at Wisco Invite in 2012 is solid, but 210th at NCAAs is pretty mediocre. He is a talented athlete that if he can keep it together during the championship portion of the season, Palmer will be an important piece to the puzzle.
Robert Molke, MJ Erb, Reed Kamyszek and Ryan Urie all have some pretty good track PRs from various times of the career at Syracuse. Most of these guys seem to be pure distance/xc guys that will be icing on the cake for Coach Fox if they are able to find a place for themselves in the top seven at some point during the season. Dan Lennon is currently getting ready to represent the United States at the Pan-Am 10k. If he can get fit in time (maybe redshirt though) that kind of big-level experience really broadens the horizons of many athletes. Lennon is another possible scorer for the Orange in 2013.
Beyond the returners from 2012, Chris Fox and Brian Bell have done a great job recruiting the past few years and have some good young talent coming into Syracuse. Nick Ryan, Kevyn Hoyos and Shawn Wilson all are very talented athletes from the prep ranks. Nick Ryan is a three time NXN finalist and finished top-30 all three of those years. Ryan has the best track PRs of the bunch and is capable of placing top 75 at NCAAs if he can stay healthy, fit and enthused about running.
Kevyn Hoyos has had quality experience running at the national junior level in cross country and on the track. Shawn Wilson is a Foot Locker finalist and might redshirt, but if not he is another harrier to throw in the mix of runners looking to crack the top seven or even the travel squad (Syracuse is so deep).
The Northeast Regional looks to be all but theirs in 2013. Columbia and Iona are talented, but on paper, Syracuse is the class of the region. If Fox can time things right and cruise through the regional, Syracuse could be looking at a top-10 finish for the first time, in a long time.