Over the next couple days, I’ll crank out a couple blog posts on why X team will win or not win the 2017 NCAA Cross Country Championship on Saturday. On Wednesday, I will be taping a podcast with Chris Chavez previewing all of the action for Saturday so if you have any questions or comments, send them my way by tweeting at me: @Wood_Report
The case for New Mexico
I think the Lobos have the possible individual champion in Edna Kurgat. They’ve got the best freshman in the country with Weini Kelati. Couple those two with the experience of Alice Wright and Charlotte Prouse and then you have four women that could be in the top 10 of 15 together. If you put four in the top 15, all you need is for your No. 5 to be remotely OK and you should win. They haven’t had a consistent No. 5 to come through for them in the biggest moment. That calls on Alondra Negrón Texidor, Kieran Casey or Alex Buck to be capable of possibly finishing in the top 60 to 70 to seal up what could happen if the other four women score something like 25 to 30 points together. That’s assuming a scenario like Kurgat wins and then they go 4-7-9. That No. 5 would need to have a great say. Negrón showed she was capable of it at Wisconsin, where she finished 60th overall. If she can duplicate that, then they could be in good shape to win.
The case against New Mexico
It’s a lot of the same as what I just mentioned with that big question mark at No. 5. Every year, it feels like there’s one team that’s complete but doesn’t have the fifth. The main case that this reminds me of is when Providence had four really good women and just managed to win over the likes of N.C. State, Butler and Michigan. Those other teams were also “almost-complete” but lacked the low sticks. This New Mexico team has four women that are phenomenal but it’s the fifth woman who isn’t at that level and makes the Lobos a little vulnerable.