Unanimous No. 1 Colorado Men Lead Preseason DI Men’s Cross Country National Coaches Poll

Courtesy: Dennis Young, USTFCCCA

August 26, 2014   

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association preseason NCAA Division I Cross Country national coaches’ poll is out, and there’s no doubt who’s sitting on top: defending champion Colorado received all twelve first place votes. 

With all seven harriers from last year’s national champs plus Jake Hurysz back, Mark Wetmore’s Buffs are the first unanimous preseason No. 1 since Oregon in 2009.

National PDFs: Preseason Top 30 Summary | Week-by-Week 2014 | Week-by-Week All Time
Regional Rankings: Preseason Summary

NCAA Division I National Coaches Poll Top 5 – Men

1)Colorado 2)Northern Arizona 3)Oregon) 4)Oklahoma State 5)Stanford
Colorado Northern Arizona Oregon Oklahoma State Stanford
View Complete Men’s National Coaches Poll

Dating back to 1998 (the first year of preseason polling data in the USTFCCCA archive) only six out of sixteen preseason No. 1s have won nationals.  However, the poll’s track record is a little better for unanimous No. 1s: out of the four consensus picks, two (Oregon in ’08 and Stanford in ’03) have finished the season on top.

Since 2001, only Colorado, Stanford, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Oklahoma State have men’s titles.  In fact, going all the way back to 1975, only eight teams have won nats—the other three are Arkansas, Iowa State, and UTEP. 

Preseason No. 2 Northern Arizona looks to become the ninth member of that club.  With Futsum Zienasellassie, Matt McElroy, and Louisville transfer Tyler Byrne, the Lumberjacks have three of the top eighteen returners from last year’s NCAAs. 

Though Colorado won with 149 points last year, that was the highest winning score in NCAA history. In the 75 years of NCAA meet results (there was no meet in 1943) that Kirk Reynolds has in his fantastic archive, the average winning score is 70.9 points, and the median is 68. All of this is to say: history tells us that if NAU has 30 points or so from its top three returners, they’ll need to hold their last two sticks under 40-50 points—not the 120 that would have been adequate in 2013.

No. 3 Oregon features defending individual champ Edward Cheserek. The individual champion has led his team to a title sixteen times total, but just three times since Joe Falcon and Arkansas did it in 1987.  The last such duo, of course, was Galen Rupp and Oregon in 2008; Ed Cheserek will look to lead the Ducks to their sixth title this fall.  Adding outdoor 5k 5th placer Eric Jenkins for his first XC season since 2011 may make the difference.

Preseason No. 4 Oklahoma State’s best returner is Craig Nowak, who finished 62nd in Terre Haute last fall.  That’s second lowest top returner in the top 10, but with top-three finishes each of the last five years, the pollsters clearly have respect for Dave Smith and the Cowboys’ ability to get it done in late November.  It’s extremely rare for a DII transfer to play a large role on the DI national level, but Norwegian and 2013 DII XC runner-up Vegard Olstad might become the exception after transferring from Western State to OSU.

No. 5 Stanford may have constructed the most intriguing roster in the nation.  They have two of the top four returners in Maksim Korolev (transferred from Harvard) and Jim Rosa, and Jim has never lost to his twin and teammate Joe in a cross-country race.  They also return track All-American Michael Atchoo and sophomore Sean McGorty, who has a nearly identical high school résumé to his classmate and 2013 eighth-placer Ben Saarel of Colorado.

A preseason No. 6 slot for Indiana is their highest cross country ranking in any week, ever.

Six teams enter the national rankings despite not qualifying for last year’s national meet, and they’re ranked Nos. 24-29 in this order: UCLA, Florida State, Iowa State, Washington, Oklahoma, and Georgetown

That pack is replacing last year’s national qualifiers Air Force, Notre Dame, Dartmouth, Columbia, Florida, Harvard, and Georgia. At nine slots lower than its national finish—from 14th to No. 23—Texas took the biggest drop among teams that stayed in the poll.

The biggest leaps were made by Stanford (covered above) who jumped 14 spots from 19th to No. 5, and Arkansas, who went from 28th to No. 15.

Some final notes:

  • Unlike DII and DIII, Division I uses an algorithm to calculate which teams receive at-large bids to the national meet.   A large factor in the algorithm (informally known as the Kolas calculator) is beating teams in the regular season; races start counting for Kolas purposes on September 26.
  • The Pac-12 and ACC lead the way with five ranked teams each; the top non-power conferences are the Mountain West and West Coast with two teams each.
  • Out of those eight schools who have won the last 40 years, only Colorado, Wisconsin, and Iowa State have not repeated at some point.  However, Wisconsin won in 1982 and then finished second in 1983 to a UTEP team that vacated its title due to rules violations.  Colorado looks to make ISU the only school in the champions club without some claim on repeating.

The NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships will be held on Saturday, November 22 on the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Indiana.  It will be the eleventh edition held at LaVern Gibson.

 

USTFCCCA NCAA Division I

Men’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll

2014 Preseason — August 26

next poll: September 16
Rank Institution (FPV) Points Region Conference Cross Country Coach (Yr*)
2013 FINAL
1 Colorado (12) 360 Mountain Pac-12 Mark Wetmore (20th)
1
2 Northern Arizona 339 Mountain Big Sky Eric Heins (8th)
2
3 Oregon 336 West Pac-12 Robert Johnson (3rd)
5
4 Oklahoma State 319 Midwest Big 12 Dave Smith (9th)
3
5 Stanford 307 West Pac-12 Chris Miltenberg (3rd)
19
6 Indiana 280 Great Lakes Big Ten Ron Helmer (8th)
8
7 Portland 276 West West Coast Rob Conner (25th)
7
8 Syracuse 271 Northeast ACC Chris Fox (10th)
10
9 BYU 250 Mountain West Coast Ed Eyestone (15th)
4
10 Villanova 249 Mid-Atlantic Big East Marcus O’Sullivan (15th)
18
11 Wisconsin 244 Great Lakes Big Ten Mick Byrne (7th)
9
12 Iona 222 Northeast Metro Atlantic Ricardo Santos (7th)
6
13 Arkansas 198 South Central SEC Chris Bucknam (7th)
12
14 Virginia 183 Southeast ACC Peter Watson (3rd)
13
15 NC State 179 Southeast ACC Rollie Geiger (37th)
28
16 Providence 161 Northeast Big East Ray Treacy (31st)
16
17 New Mexico 159 Mountain Mountain West Joe Franklin (8th)
11
18 Tulsa 149 Midwest American Steve Gulley (13th)
27
19 Princeton 126 Mid-Atlantic Ivy Jason Vigilante (3rd)
22
20 North Carolina 107 Southeast ACC Mark VanAlstyne (3rd)
17
21 Eastern Kentucky 106 Southeast Ohio Valley Rick Erdmann (36th)
15
22 Michigan 104 Great Lakes Big Ten Kevin Sullivan (1st)
21
23 Texas 101 South Central Big 12 Mario Sategna (2nd)
14
24 UCLA 93 West Pac-12 Mike Maynard (6th)
NR
24 Florida State 93 South ACC Bob Braman (15th)
NR
26 Iowa State 90 Midwest Big 12 Martin Smith (2nd)
NR
27 Washington 68 West Pac-12 Greg Metcalf (13th)
NR
28 Oklahoma 65 Midwest Big 12 Jim VanHootegem (2nd)
NR
29 Georgetown 35 Mid-Atlantic Big East Patrick Henner (16th)
NR
30 Colorado State 34 Mountain Mountain West Art Siemers (3rd)
26
Others Receiving Votes: Auburn 13, Columbia 13, Air Force 10, Butler 10, Lamar 6, William and Mary 6, Yale 6, Virginia Tech 5, Michigan State 4, Illinois 3, Notre Dame 1
(* year as effective coach of that team in men’s cross country)