Editor’s note: Cross country needs a Peter King-type figure who just gathers all of the weekend’s action and then dishes out some analysis, insight and takes on the hot topics within the sport. We’ve decided to let Isaac run wild with a column. Grab some coffee or seltzer and nerd out on the latest from the jam-packed cross country weekend.
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New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon Are The Ones To Beat
These three teams have it all. They have low sticks. They have depth. They’ve proven that they’re the best ones in the field. Chris made it a point in his column that Oregon and Colorado’s first or second place finish at Pre-Nats is more impressive than New Mexico’s victory at Wisconsin.
Allie Cash hasn’t even run for Oregon yet. If they get her fit and healthy for Nationals, that could be the difference among them. The Ducks would be tough to catch. It’s a move that could push Emma Abrahamson down one spot from their top 5 and she was 30th at Pre-Nats.
Alice Wright on the No. 2 role
I think Alice Wright has done a great job of taking on to the No. 2 role for the New Mexico Lobos after being their star last year. Sometimes it’s hard for someone to adapt to that role when they’re no longer the top runner but those who manage to do it well are those who are happy that they’re team is doing well. Those who do it wrong are the ones who get frustrated that they’re teammates are beating them.
Going off of that, she’s also had to put up with the addition of a major transfer. Charlotte Prouse was a huge addition out of Washington. Big get for the Lobos.
Weini Kelati is also making that whole squad better. Wisconsin was only her second major race and that’s a setting where sometimes it’s easy for freshmen to get caught up in the atmosphere. She ran very well and that’s bode well for her down the road. Having that under her belt will make her even better and that makes New Mexico my favorite for the team title.
It’s hard not to take New Mexico, if Allie Cash does not run for Oregon. If Allie Cash runs for Oregon, I think the Ducks will win. I know what we just said about comparing their wins this weekend but think about how New Mexico will probably put four in the top 30 with potentially the winner. It’s really on the fifth runner for the Lobos (and yes, the same could be said about Oregon and Colorado but it’s especially the case here.) Alondra Negron, a true freshman from Puerto Rico, was 60th overall and 46.1 seconds behind the No. 4 runner for them. That was her first big race. Again. Wisconsin is a proving ground for your first big race and I think she handled it well.
Colorado’s Legit 1 to 5
Dani Jones is the last person that you want to have on your shoulder with 400 meters to go. Her kick is deadly. Purrier and Schweizer were smart to get away from her a little bit.
Maddie Boreman was been impressive and she’s finally making the adjustment to the next level. She ran well in the steeplechase last year with a personal best of 9:46 so I think she’s ready to take on the role of a critical player on their team. I think she’ll get better as the season goes on.
The Individual Crown
I thought Karissa Schweizer was untouchable but she lost by a second to Eleanor Purrier. I think the course was a little better suited for Purrier because she might have a little bit better closing speed as an athlete. I’m curious to see how Katie Rainsberger of Oregon finds a way to battle back since I don’t think she had her best stuff at Pre-Nats. She’s another one that would be in contention when the kicks have to go with 400 meters to go. I might be a little bit biased here because of what I was able to see at the Bill Dellinger Invite. She was so good and unbelievable. I think Pre-Nats maybe wasn’t the perfect representation of where she’s at.
Edna Kurgat has been untouchable so far this season but if Allie Ostrander doesn’t trip and fall at the start, maybe that changes things. Ostrander closed big time in that race.
The women’s individual race is probably more enticing to watch than the men’s side, which could just shake out to be Justyn Knight vs. Grant Fisher vs. The Alabama Crimson Tri vs. Rory Linkletter (I believe in him – start printing the shirts: Rory Linkletter vs. The World). I’d say this probably the best race since that Jordan Hasay, Abbey D’Agostino and Sheila Reid span of years. This year’s class probably even has more people that are in that realm of stars.
It’s a good year to be a Charlotte
There’s three women who share a first name and are dominating on the NCAA cross country scene right now. Charlotte Taylor of San Francisco, the aforementioned Charlotte Prouse and Charlotte Imer of Eastern Kentucky.
Now sometimes people are inclined to think that the women’s outdoor 10,000 meter champion would be a favorite for the individual cross country crown and so that would put the eyes on Taylor right now. I don’t think that’s totally the case this year. As of right now, she hasn’t shown that one moment during the cross country season, albeit she’s raced sparingly, that screams “she’s the favorite.” You could make the case that since it’s a shorter course, maybe that favors Schweizer, Purrier or Grayson Murphy. (Murphy is money and has done a lot for that Utah program) I think Taylor is someone who may be biding her time. She hasn’t made any massive moves in races but she did when she was on the track in the NCAA 10,000 meter final. I wonder if she’s saving that Nationals to really just go for it. I wonder how many times does the body have that burst in the race where you’re running on empty but then get that last boost needed to push it at the end. I think you can only do that a handful of times in a season. Maybe she’s saving that? She’s a different runner from someone like Molly Seidel, who could do it multiple times in a year. I think Taylor has a very powerful stride. The Louisville course is a little deceivingly more difficult than you think due to the footing not being great. What I’ve realized from running on the course a few times (quite slow), the course is hillier and more challenging. I’m curious to see who that favors because it could play a factor for those who were at Wisconsin and don’t know that yet.
Sidenote: San Francisco’s women are very good and a podium team, in my opinion.
Not to be lost in the Charlotte love, it’s also a good year to run for Charlotte – especially on the men’s side. Shout-out to Alex Gibby for getting that program running.