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September 12, 2017

Wood Report: Syracuse’s Justyn Knight tops NCAA XC Preseason Rankings

100

Ryan Forsyth Colorado

8.5

99

Euan Makepeace Butler -Great Lakes

8.5

98

Finn Gessner Wisconsin

8.5

97

Aidan Tooker Syracuse

8.5

96

Levi Thomet Oregon

8.5

95

Clark Ruiz Michigan State

8.5

94

Andrew Rafla Boise State

9

93

Thomas Madden Virginia

8.5

92

Bryce Millar Indiana

8.5

91

Cooper Teare Oregon

8.5

90

Zach Long Tennessee -South

9

89

Hlynur Andresson Eastern Michigan

8.5

88

Timothy McGowan Penn State -Mid Atlantic

9

87

Jacob Bilvado Air Force -Mountain

9

86

Lachlan Cook Virginia

8.5

85

Sam Worley Texas

8

84

Jaret Carpenter Purdue- Great Lakes

8.5

83

Jacob Allen San Francisco -West

9

82

Gilbert Kigen Alabama -South

9

81

Antony Kosgei UTEP -Mountain

9

80

Reed Brown Oregon

8.5

79

Emmanuel Rotich Tulane-South Central

9

78

Brian Barraza Houston- South Central

9

77

Olin Hacker Wisconsin

8.5

76

Cerake Geberkidane Oklahoma State

9

75

Noah Schutte Portland

9

74

James West Oregon

9

73

Michael Ward Bradley

9

72

Troy Reeder Furman

8.5

71

Aaron Templeton Furman

8.5

70

Aaron Baumgarten Michigan

9

69

Travis Neuman Oregon

8.5

68

Garrett Corcoran California

9

67

Seth Hirsch Wisconsin

8

66

Steven Cross Florida State

8

65

Sylvester Barus Oklahoma State

9

64

Liam Dee Iona

9

63

Josh Collins Southern Utah

8.5

62

Geordie Beamish Northern Arizona

9

61

Troy Fraley Gonzaga- West

9

60

Bryce Stroede Oakland- Great Lakes

9

59

Austen Dalquist Arkansas

8.5

58

Azaria Kirwa Liberty- Southeast

9

57

Michael Vennard Boise State

9

56

Frank Lara Furman

8

55

Obsa Ali Minnesota

9

54

Gabe Arias-Sheridan St. Mary’s (Cal.) – West

8.5

53

Jonathan Green Georgetown

9.5

52

Cameron Griffith Arkansas

9

51

Ben Flanagan Michigan

9

50

Sean Tobin Ole Miss

9

49

Joe Hardy Wisconsin

8.5

48

Peter Seufer Virginia Tech

9

47

Thomas Ratcliffe Stanford

9.5

46

Chase Weaverling Virginia

9

45

Andrew Jordan Iowa State

8.5

44

Yusuke Uchikoshi Boise State

9

43

Iliass Aouani Syracuse

9

42

Daniel De La Torre UCLA

9.5

41

Cole Rockhold Colorado State

9

40

Kasey Knevelbaard Southern Utah

9

39

Brent Demarest Virginia

9

38

Sam Wharton Stanford

9

37

Philo Germano Syracuse

9

36

Michael Williams Washington State -West

9

35

Arsen’e Guillorel Samford -South

9.5

34

Thomas Pollard Iowa State

8.5

33

Jacob Thomson Kentucky- Southeast

9.5

32

Jacob Choge Middle Tennessee State- South

9.5

31

Tanner Anderson Oregon

9

30

Robert Brandt UCLA

9.5

29

Zach Perrin Colorado

9.5

28

Gilbert Kirui Iona

9.5

27

Jack Keelan Stanford

9.5

26

Grant Fischer Colorado State

9.5

25

Mike Tate Southern Utah

9.5

24

Amon Kemboi Campbell- Southeast

9.5

23

Andrew Ronoh Arkansas

9.5

22

Chartt Miller Iona

9.5

21

Andy Trouard Northern Arizona

9.5

20

Lawrence Kipkoech Campbell- Southeast

9.5

19

Jacob Burcham Oklahoma -Midwest

9.5

18

Colby Gilbert Washington

9.5

17

Colin Bennie Syracuse

9.5

16

Alfred Chelanga Alabama- South

9.5

15

Matthew Maton Oregon

9.5

14

Joe Klecker Colorado

9.5

13

Alex George Arkansas

9.5

12

John Dressel Colorado

9.5

11

Tyler Day Northern Arizona

9.5

10

Dillon Maggard Utah State- Mountain

9.5

9

Jonah Koech UTEP- Mountain

9.5

8

Jerrell Mock Colorado State

9.5

7

Hassan Abdi Oklahoma State

9.5

6

Matthew Baxter Northern Arizona

9.5

5

Jack Bruce Arkansas

9.5

4

Grant Fisher Stanford

10

3

Morgan McDonald Wisconsin

10

2

Vincent Kiprop Alabama- South

10

1

Justyn Knight Syracuse

10

Why is Justyn Knight our top dog?

I’m a Justyn Knight guy, I think when you can make the world championship final in the 5,000m, it opens your eyes to another level. It’s kind of like when a high schooler watches the college national championships for cross country or track and they make the realization that they want to be that guy. Justyn Knight is that guy. Once you get to the college level, if you’re really good then you can look toward making the Olympics or World Championships. Justyn has not only been on that elite level but he’s shown that he can hang with the big boys at that level. I think he’s at another echelon than the rest of the field just based off of what I saw at worlds.

How confident are you of Vincent Kiprop?

His 10K PR of 28:19 is impressive but it’s more about the way that he ran that 10,000m at Mt. SAC. I watched it live and he was able to do that off of training alone. He was training at the Division II level with training partners that maybe weren’t pushing him to be his best. Now, he’s got the chance to run at Alabama with two other Kenyans who are probably pretty darn good. So he could rise up to be that next guy behind Knight. I kind of peg him as a Kennedy Kithuka-type. Kennedy was at an NAIA school before arriving at Texas Tech. More resources and opportunities helped him get to the top and so I see a similar case where that can play a factor and Kiprop could challenge Knight for the throne.

Morgan McDonald can still close the gap for No. 1

The hard thing about comparing cross country to track is that there’s never a direct crossover but you have to assume that if you can run under 13:20 for 5,000m then you’ll probably also be one of the best guys in the country, right? I lump him, Knight, Kiprop and Grant Fisher together but I just think that Knight is a shade better. They’re all really close. They’re the best four guys and for now, my heart tells me that I’m putting him at No. 3. Anything can happen between now and Louisville for me to change my mind.

Who is the top freshman?

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I won’t include BYU in these rankings and projections for personal reasons and to avoid any bias, but I will share a quick update. Casey Clinger has fit the part in his first few weeks of training but we’ll see how he does in his first meet. I will preface that in the list above, I will always be ridiculously conservative with freshman until I can actually see that they can run 8K. There is a significant difference between being a good high school miler and a good 5K guy and then a good 8K guy. You could be a good miler and still be a good 5K guy but it’s not an automatic that they’re going to succeed in the 8K. I’ve been really conservative with the incoming true freshman. I look forward to getting proven wrong really early and I’ll make some tweaks based on what I’ve seen.

What About Rory?

OK. So now, you’re curious about where I’d put Rory Linkletter. He was second in the NCAA 10,000m final in June. Rory has had a great summer. I have a lot of faith in his ability. He’s definitely a player. In fact, I would assume that people probably don’t realize how talented and how good he is.

The All-American Cut-off

Kasey Knevelbaard, Brent Demarest, Sam Wharton and Philo Germano sit on the last spots for All-American right now but the spots from 41 to 100 is really down to who is capable of closing on that day. I think the top 4 are pretty much listed. The difference between No. 5 and 10 is pretty small. The difference between 10 and 25 is pretty minimal. The difference between 25 and 40 is a little bit of a gap. I think the gap between 40th and 100th last year may have been around 15 seconds. It’s a small number. The difference is who has enough left in the tank to collect some scalps at the end.

Banking on a breakout from…

I think no one really got to see what Dillon Maggard of Utah State was really capable of because he had an unfortunate regionals race last year where it didn’t come together. He is very good. I’ve seen him here in Utah on a regular basis. He probably doesn’t get the hype that he deserves. I know he had a good summer of training. He’s a guy that can sneak into the Top 10 and maybe even run sub-13:30 on the track for 5,000m. He’s already got sub-four mile wheels but he’s starting to build that base and aerobic capacity. He’s going to show out.

Who May Have Been Knocked Down a Bit

Colin Bennie is at No. 18. He’s someone who has been better than that but I do think that the field has gotten a little bit better. This might be one of the better Top 10 fields that we’ve had in a while. I know we had Edward Cheserek and Patrick Tiernan recently but 1-6 is pretty dang deep this year. Joe Klecker, John Dressel and Jerrell Mock are studs but they’re also impacted by the likes of Vincent Kiprop or how well Morgan McDonald has been running.

Austen Dalquist at No. 59 is a major key

In last week’s rankings, we mentioned how close the team title may be between Syracuse, Arkansas and NAU. I picked Arkansas as my No. 1 team. Dalquist is at No. 59 now but he could be in the mid 60s for Arkansas to clinch that. I think Geordie Beamish needs to be in a  similar spot for NAU. In order to win the national championship, I think you need about three All-Americans and your fifth guy in the 60s to 70s range, you have a good chance.

OK, I messed up

Before you start ripping me on Twitter, I will recognize some of my mistakes. I didn’t even put Festus Lagat in the field and he’s probably an All-American for Iowa State so I’ll change that in my next rankings. He will be a factor. At the same time, a lot of people are sipping the Thomas Ratcliffe Kool Aid. I think he could move up a few spots higher than I have him. He’s the type of guy that I’m just waiting to see one more race to certify that he’s a bonafide stud. I’m never one to jump on a bandwagon too fast. I’ll stick to those who are more tried and true but that’s not always the best case.

Sorry Bobby Browning

Well actually, there’s good news and bad news here. Ever since I finalized and submitted these, I changed my mind and decided that Indiana isn’t going to make the meet. So the good news is that you won’t be in last. The bad news is that your team won’t be at nationals. I’m putting Washington State in as my last team.

In all honesty, when I make these predictions and projections I realize that someone has to get last. If you’re in the 200’s, I like to call them the 200 Club. Basically, you’re there because maybe you’re just hanging onto that seventh spot on a team that just barely got into nationals or something bad happened to you. Usually the 255th guy is someone that you don’t want to pinhole as dead last. It could be a 100-level guy that had something unfortunate occur in the middle of the race.

I know Spencer Brown is near last. That’s what’s hard. We have to pick someone to put there. Trust me, I don’t individually say, ‘He STINKS. I’m going to put him here.’ I give everyone a rating and kind of judge from there. Anyone from 180 to 255 is still a pretty talented guy to even get to nationals.

I can see why some others just post their top 50 as opposed to the entire meet. They might be afraid of making someone feel bad. I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad. I’m just trying to predict the meet to the best of abilities. So my message to the 200 Club, PROVE ME WRONG.


That’s all for now, if you have any questions about certain teams or individuals, please tweet at me @Wood_Report. I’ll respond. If you want to know where your respective school is projected to finish at its conference or regional meet, hit me up. Let’s make cross country fun. Send any longer inquiries or hate mail over to [email protected]

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