Regular Season Finale Revamps NCAA DI Men’s National Poll

By Kyle Terwillegar, USTFCCCA

October 20, 2015   

NEW ORLEANS – Are the mighty two-time defending NCAA Division I men’s cross country champion Colorado Buffaloes not as invulnerable as previously thought?

At least one voter in the National Coaches’ Poll believes so, as the Buffaloes – decisive winners at the Pre-National Invitational – went from unanimous No. 1 to simply No. 1 in an upheaved week-five edition of the poll announced Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

It was a poll in which 25 of the 30 slots were occupied by different teams from a week ago with seven new top-30 teams (and seven corresponding poll dropouts) and 17 total teams moving five or more spots. The women’s poll was even more eventful with all but No. 1 New Mexico moving around from the previous poll (read more here).

This is the final poll of the regular season, with the next edition set for the first week of November following conference championships.

National PDFs: Top 30 Summary | Week-by-Week 2015 | Week-by-Week All Time
Regional Rankings: Summary | Men’s Recap | Women’s Recap
MORE: NCAA DI Polls & Rankings Home | Women’s National Coaches’ Poll

NCAA Division I National Coaches Poll Top 5 – Men

1)Colorado 2)Oregon 3)Oklahoma State 4)Syracuse) 5)Villanova
Colorado Syracuse Oregon BYU Michigan
View Complete Men’s National Coaches Poll

Colorado lost one of the 12 first-place to No. 2 Syracuse, which posted an equally impressive victory against a deeper field at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational the day prior to CU’s Pre-Nats win over No. 3 Oregon.

The loss of a single first-place vote is hardly a vote of no confidence in the Buffaloes, but Saturday’s Pre-Nationals victory over Oregon, 89-151, did expose some potential blemishes in CU’s armor. Despite some early-race jostling, Pierce Murphy came through in fifth-place overall, followed by Connor Winter in 9th and Ammar Moussa and Morgan Pearson in 14th and 15th.

That group of four All-Americans performed in line with expectations, but notable in his absence was two-time top-10 NCAA finisher Ben Saarel, who has not yet donned the black and gold jersey this season. Without Saarel, who did compete unattached earlier this year, CU had to wait until 46th place for frosh John Dressel to come through as the No. 5 Buffalo.

Against a deeper field at Wisconsin – 17 of last week’s top-30 teams toed the line in Madison – Syracuse runners crossed the finish line early and often with runner-up Justyn Knight, fourth-place Martin Hehir and sixth-place Colin Bennie, scoring a 101-186-218 victory over No. 4 BYU and No. 5 Michigan.

The Orange weren’t without their own depth issues to be sorted out as Dan Lennon, nearly an All-American a year ago, was 61st overall.

No. 4 BYU and No. 5 Michigan broke into the top five for the first time this season after strong runner-up and third-place finishes at Wisconsin, respectively. For the Wolverines, this is the highest rank for the program since 2004 but they will hope for a different end result; U of M was 26th at the NCAA Championships that season.

Those two were followed by the stationary duo of No. 6 Oklahoma State and No. 7 Virginia, but from there on each and every team was in a different spot that in the previous poll.

Arkansas moved up five spots to No. 8 with a third-place show at Pre-Nationals, while No. 9 Iona dropped four to No. 9 after finishing fifth in that deep Wisconsin field.

Making the biggest move of any team ranked inside the top-30 a week ago was Furman, up 14 positions to an all-time program-best No. 10 rank. The Paladins were sixth at Wisconsin, just one point ahead of No. 12 NC State (up five spots from the last poll).

Sandwiched in between those Southeast Region rivals was No. 11 UTEP, up two spots after a fourth-place finish at Pre-Nationals.

In at No. 13 was Tulsa, the highest-ranked of seven teams that either returned to or debuted in the national top 30. The Golden Hurricane, returning to the top 30, followed National Athlete of the Week Marc Scott to an eighth-place finish at Wisconsin.

Also returning after previous top-30 appearances this year were No. 16 Boise State, No. 20 Washington, No. 22 Eastern Kentucky and No. 24 Providence. For Boise State, this is the program’s best-ever rank.

Joining the polls for the first time this year were No. 18 Virginia Tech and No. 29 Penn. Virginia Tech came just one position shy of tying its best rank in the USTFCCCA archives (Dating back to 1995), while Penn made its first-ever top-30 appearance.

No. 17 Columbia also made a significant leap with an 11 spot improvement from last time. The Lions were 10th overall at Wisconsin.

While most of the aforementioned teams had strong weekends in Madison or Louisville that propelled them up the poll, that certainly wasn’t the case for a number of teams that struggled this weekend.

Three preseason top-10 squads find themselves in the bottom third of the top-30 after disappointing outings: No. 23 Stanford (preseason No. 2), No. 25 Villanova (preseason No. 7) and No. 27 Wisconsin (preseason No. 4).

Stanford finished 21st at Wisconsin, but with the significant caveat that the Cardinal have perhaps not yet run a squad that would even count as an “A” team for NCAA at-large qualifying purposes (four of seven runners who end up running at the NCAA Regional Championships). Sean McGorty has been exceptional for Stanford in 2015, with the quartet of All-Americans Jim and Joe Rosa, frosh phenom Grant Fisher and transfer Colin Liebold yet to run alongside him.

This is the lowest rank for the program since they were No. 29 just before Pre-Nats in 2013.

Villanova was runner-up to Penn at the Princeton Invitational this weekend, despite a 1-2-3 sweep from the trio of Patrick Tiernan, Jordy Williamsz and Rob Denault. Depth continues to be an issue for the Wildcats, as six of Penn’s runners came through before Nova’s No. 4 man.

Similar to Stanford, Nova last found itself ranked this low midway through the 2013 campaign.

Wisconsin, however, is not used to this position in the poll. Dating back to 1995, the Badgers had never been ranked lower than No. 20, and since 1996 have not finished outside the top-10 at NCAAs.

UW is set up front with top-10 adidas Invite finishers Malachy Schrobilgen and Morgan McDonald, but the Badgers only managed one more runner inside the top 150 (Russell Sandvold, 80th) as they finished 17th overall.

Big Ten rival No. 28 Indiana tumbled 12 spots from last time with a 16th-place finish at Wisco, while No. 30 Colorado State dropped seven with a ninth-place Pre-Nationals finish.

But at least those teams stayed in the top 30. The same can’t be said for former No. 17 Louisville, former No. 19 Ole Miss, former No. 21 Oklahoma, former No. 25 Southern Utah, former No. 26 Iowa State, former No. 27 Princeton and former No. 30 Texas. Only Oklahoma and Southern Utah continued to receive votes this week.

The 2015 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships will be held Saturday, November 21, at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer Park in Louisville, Kentucky.


Men’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll

2015 Week #5 — October 20

next poll: November 3
Rank Institution (FPV) Points Record Region Conference Cross Country Coach (Yr*)
Last Week
1 Colorado (11) 359 42-0 Mountain Pac-12 Mark Wetmore (21st)
2 Syracuse (1) 349 55-0 Northeast ACC Chris Fox (11th)
3 Oregon 328 50-1 West Pac-12 Robert Johnson (4th)
4 BYU 324 42-3 Mountain West Coast Ed Eyestone (16th)
5 Michigan 305 52-3 Great Lakes Big Ten Kevin Sullivan (2nd)
6 Oklahoma State 301 27-0 Midwest Big 12 Dave Smith (10th)
7 Virginia 285 47-3 Southeast ACC Peter Watson (4th)
8 Arkansas 272 53-2 South Central SEC Chris Bucknam (8th)
9 Iona 269 51-4 Northeast Metro Atlantic Ricardo Santos (8th)
10 Furman 245 47-7 Southeast Southern Robert Gary (4th)
11 UTEP 243 57-3 Mountain Conference USA Paul Ereng (13th)
12 NC State 225 47-7 Southeast ACC Rollie Geiger (38th)
13 Tulsa 207 41-8 Midwest American Steve Gulley (14th)
14 Georgetown 201 54-4 Mid-Atlantic Big East Michael Smith (1st)
15 UCLA 190 34-11 West Pac-12 Mike Maynard (7th)
16 Boise State 153 41-15 West Mountain West Corey Ihmels (3rd)
17 Columbia 152 43-12 Northeast Ivy Dan Ireland (2nd)
18 Virginia Tech 149 64-14 Southeast ACC Ben Thomas (15th)
19 Michigan State 137 45-11 Great Lakes Big Ten Walt Drenth (12th)
20 Washington 115 28-17 West Pac-12 Greg Metcalf (14th)
21 California 102 58-10 West Pac-12 Tony Sandoval (24th)
22 Eastern Kentucky 95 47-23 Southeast Ohio Valley Rick Erdmann (37th)
23 Stanford 83 34-21 West Pac-12 Chris Miltenberg (4th)
24 Providence 81 37-25 Northeast Big East Ray Treacy (32nd)
25 Villanova 68 33-2 Mid-Atlantic Big East Marcus O’Sullivan (16th)
26 Air Force 67 40-11 Mountain Mountain West Ryan Cole (2nd)
27 Wisconsin 65 33-22 Great Lakes Big Ten Mick Byrne (8th)
28 Indiana 64 29-15 Great Lakes Big Ten Ron Helmer (9th)
29 Penn 45 27-10 Mid-Atlantic Ivy Steve Dolan (4th)
30 Colorado State 41 68-13 Mountain Mountain West Art Siemers (4th)
Others Receiving Votes: Florida State 28, Portland 13, Illinois 7, UC Santa Barbara 3, Oklahoma 3, New Mexico 1, Southern Utah 1
Dropped Out: No. 17 Louisville, No. 19 Mississippi, No. 21 Oklahoma, No. 25 Southern Utah, No. 26 Iowa State, No. 27 Princeton, No. 30 Texas
Win-loss record reflective of results in varsity competition versus DI opponents starting September 25
(* year as effective coach of that team in men’s cross country)