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October 15, 2017

What happened in cross country this weekend? Wisconsin & Pre-Nats

This weekend’s cross country action at the Wisconsin Invitational and Pre-Nats certainly did not disappoint so let’s get right to it.

We’ll start in Madison since Wisconsin is one of my favorite places in the United States…

2017 Wisconsin Invitational

In the Friday morning edition of Takes Like Coffee, I put together a short preview of the meet and predicted that Justyn Knight and NAU would claim the individual and team titles. I was right but honestly, don’t give me any props because I’m sure a lot of people saw that one coming. Knight took the victory in 23:38.5, which was .5 seconds ahead of Grant Fisher. We did not see Wisconsin’s Morgan McDonald because he will be red-shirting after a very long summer of racing in Europe.

I was talking to someone over the weekend who mentioned to me that they would pick Fisher for the win in Louisville because it seems like he puts together the better races at a championship. Given how close it was on Friday, I can’t say that he’s wrong and I can’t say that he’s right. It’s going to be a very close one, if everyone manages to stay healthy. For those who don’t remember, Fisher took the 5,000 meter title over Knight at June’s NCAA Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field. I’m inclined to say that Knight is a much stronger runner since then but we still have a month to go until the big show.

You can’t just focus on the two big names at the top of the results because NAU put the next three men across the finish line with Andy Trouard, Tyler Day, and Matt Baxter going 3-4-5.  They could’ve held hands or coordinated something because there was a little bit of time before sixth place came through. NAU looked great and I certainly think that the Wood Report this week is going to reflect that. Last year, they won the university’s first NCAA title and it’s looking like they could add their second this year. They finished with a team score of 50, which is the lowest in the history of the Wisconsin Invite. The Lumberjacks won in 2016 with 78 points and then went on to win the NCAA title.

Here’s how their team looked:

1      3  Andy Trouard         SR   23:40.9
  2      4  Tyler Day            JR   23:41.9
  3      5  Matthew Baxter       JR   23:42.0
  4     17  Geordie Beamish      SO   24:00.4
  5     21  Luis Grijalva        FR   24:04.8
  6   ( 43) Peter Lomong         JR   24:17.3
  7   (203) Ryan Wolff           JR   25:40.0

They’re scary.

Now one team that others should be fearing – the Portland Pilots. Twitter blew up about this or it might be just because the CITIUS MAG account happens to follow the likes of Scott Olberding, Scott Fauble, Stephen Kersh, Woody Kincaid, Cody Barton and other former Pilots.

Former Stanford star Chris Derrick handled it perfectly…

We probably shouldn’t be all too shocked about this. Portland was 13th at last year’s NCAA championship. They were ranked No. 25 by the USTFCCA going into Wisconsin. Isaac was a little more optimistic about them before the season and had them at No. 18. They were led by Jeff Thies (8th, 23:52.8), Nick Hauger (9th, 23:53.2) and Emmanuel Roudolff-Levisse (11th, 23:53.7) as their top three.

I decided it would be interesting to try and run down who the heck these guys are:

Thies: He was Portland’s No. 2 guy behind senior Brady Johnson at last year’s NCAA championships when he finished 70th overall. He’s got personal bests of 13:40.73 for 1,5000m, 14:05.14 for 5,000m outdoors (his indoor PR is a second faster) and 9:20.59 for the steeplechase. He’s run 29:58.0 for XC in the 10K.

Hauger: He was Portland’s seventh man at NCAA’s last year and finished 154th overall. He has a 14:03.18 personal best for 5,000m.

Roudolff-Levisse: There isn’t a whole lot of information on Roudolff-Levissee that is in English on the internet and that’s because he’s a French import. He competed for France at World Cross in March. One of his most notable accomplishments on the track was winning a bronze medal in the 10,000 meters at the U23 European Championships in July before heading to the U.S. He has a personal best of 29:08 on the track for 10,000m.

Logan Orndorff: Looks like he’s primarily been a 1,500 to 5,000m guy for the Pilots in the past two years. He has personal bests of 3:46.92 for 1,500m and 14:19.30 for 5,000m.

Caleb Webb: He was super close to breaking 14-minutes for the 5,000m at Oxy in May. His 24:22.9 at Wisco appears to be a personal best for 8K in cross country.

They’ve come a long way since Pete Julian being their first All-American under Rob Connor in 1992. Before the meet, he told Portland’s athletic website that their top 25 ranking was probably for their B-team and that he’s “been known to have an ace up my sleeve and I have one this time.” We should’ve listened.

Behind Portland, we saw Syracuse and Stanford perform as well as we expected as a team. Furman continues it’s strong running with Josh Brickell’s 13th place finish and Aaron Templeton cracking the top 20 leading the way.

Isaac hinted at throwing in Washington State into his next rankings and they’ll 100% be in for the next one since they were among the better performing teams at Wisconsin. They took 13th.

The biggest disappointments of the meet could be Illinois and Virginia. Illinois was ranked 16th coming into the race and finished 28th. Virginia was 18th and took 30th. Not good.

On the women’s side in Wisconsin, the individual and team wins went to the New Mexico Lobos. Ednah Kurgat continues her tear as she won in 19:32 and was pretty much solo for a chunk of the race. If you’re curious where course-record holder Allie Ostrander finished, she was ninth in 20:00.2. The Lobos scored a total of 87 points, which isn’t as dominant as their famous 2015 squad that scored 32 points before winning the national championship later that year but they’re certainly among the favorites next month.

How the Lobos won Wisconsin: Kurgat was No. 1. Alice Wright did Alice Wright things to take fourth overall in 19:45. Charlotte Prouse, who made waves for her transfer from Washington back in July, finished seventh in 19:54.3. Freshman sensation Weini Kelati was 15th overall in 20:07.5. Freshman Alondra Negron was about 46 seconds back for 60th place.

That gap after Kelati may need to get a little tighter before they really think of taking down the likes of Colorado and Oregon.

San Francisco, which entered ranked No. 6 in the country, took second thanks to a 3–5 finish by NCAA 10,000m champion Charlotte Taylor and Weronika Pyzik. The other big performance from a team was the Furman women, because I guess there’s something in the water in Greenville. Allie Buchalski led the Paladins (bet you didn’t know that was their team name) with a sixth place finish. The sophomore duo of Savannah Carnahan and Gabrielle Jennings went 32/33 for the big points.

Stanford slightly underperformed since they entered ranked No. 5 in the country and finished eighth overall. Fiona O’Keeffe and Vanessa Fraser managed to crack the top 20 but then there was a gap when Abbie McNulty took 38th and when Jessia Lawson and Jordan Oakes would go 106 and 118.

Unlike some of the men’s ranked teams, the women’s ranked teams didn’t have any real alarming tanking or breakout. Keep your eyes peeled on that Michigan State that crept into 11th place. Maybe we’ll ask our resident Spartan expert Nicole Bush if she knows what’s going on there.

2017 Pre-Nationals

This week’s Wood Report column by Isaac should be a good one since it’s very difficult to hide how good BYU actually is this year and he’ll have to share some thoughts on the big win in Louisville. (Follow Isaac on Twitter and ask him for his thoughts: @Wood_Report.) The Cougars continued their proxy race with NAU by trying to put together as impressive of a victory. Rory Linkletter, last year’s NCAA 10,000m runner-up and the Blue Jeans Mile world record holder, was the top guy in their 1-6-7-12-15 finish. In the previous column by Isaac, he said that the depth is just ridiculous because of who could be their top guy. It was Linkletter at their home meet and then Clayton Young at Dellinger. He hinted at Connor McMillan being the top dog at Pre-Nats and wasn’t far off on his prediction. Had it not been for Linkletter, McMillan was their No. 2 in sixth place overall. Freshman Casey Clinger was just one place and four seconds behind him. They scored a total of 41 points for the dominating victory and you can already hear Scott Olberding punching his calculator to stack up NAU vs. BYU.

Colorado was second with Joe Klecker only finishing ninth overall and the team didn’t have John Dressel, who was seen around the course in a boot. Losing him for the season would be a big blow for the Buffaloes.

It’s not looking too hot for our pre-season pick Arkansas. They finished in ninth place. Not totally sure what happened there since they had Alex George and Jack Bruce go 16-18. Cameron Griffith was 76th but then came the major drop off and Ethan Moehn finished 40 places and 17 seconds back. Austen Dalquist raced but dropped out because he wasn’t feeling too well.

One team that surprisingly finished ahead of them and maybe wasn’t expected? Texas. The Longhorns had a very solid pack led by freshman Sam Worley in 31st. Alex Rogers was 39th. John Rice, a fellow alum of Xavier High School in NYC, was 57th and Eric Kroon was 82snd. That’s a formula that’ll get you to nationals. The Wood Report had them as one of the last teams in but this should help solidify their case.

Oregon took the win over Colorado, which could shake up the national rankings and swap their spots at No. 2 and No. 1 respectively. Oregon won 63 to 91.

Oregon’s Katie Rainsberger led the way as the Ducks were able to get all their scorers in the top 30. Now that helps make their win a little bit more impressive than New Mexico’s just because of that gap after Kelati that we discussed. You cold even make the case that Colorado’s runner-up finish was more impressive since their No. 5 was Madison Boreman, who finished 36th overall.

As far as the individual race went, we probably didn’t see Karissa Schweizer dropping this one but Eleanor Purrier put together a great finish for the 19:28.5 win. Schweizer was leading for most the race and lost by just a second. Dani Jones rounded out the podium with her third place finish overall.

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