Weekend Recap: Wisconsin adidas Invitational and More
Wisconsin adidas Invitational
With an enormous field of 28 teams either ranked in the top-30 of the National Coaches’ Poll or receiving national votes and a race that didn’t truly get underway until two kilometers left, the Wisconsin adidas Invitational was predictably unpredictable.
As predicted, the No. 2 Syracuse men won their second consecutive Wisconsin adidas Invitational title in convincing fashion, scoring 102 points to win by 85 points over No. 9 BYU at 187.
No. 8 Michigan wasn’t far behind at 221, neither were No. 7 Virginia at 240 or No. 5 Iona at 270.
The Orange went 2-4-6 in a barnburner of a finish with Justyn Knight finishing runner-up to overall winner Marc Scott of Tulsa, All-American Martin Hehir fourth and breakthrough performer Colin Bennie sixth.
Syracuse, despite a 62nd-place finish from 2014 near-All-American Dan Lennon, came in as the top-ranked team in the field and left it the same way.
That, it turned out, was a rare feat today as only two other teams exactly matched their pre-meet rank among teams in the field (each of the 36 teams ranked in order of their National Coaches’ Poll position/vote totals, with the eight unranked teams tied at 29).
Who made the biggest gains? Who took the biggest steps backward? We’ll go good news, bad news, and incomplete news below for the biggest six storylines.
The Good: Unranked Tulsa Finishes Eighth
No team made a bigger statement than the Golden Hurricane, which came in as the 22nd-highest ranked team in the field and finished eighth for a meet-best improvement of 14 spots.
Marc Scott was phenomenal on the final straightaway to overtake Syracuse’s Justyn Knight and Stanford’s Sean McGorty for the win late, but Tulsa also got top-50 efforts from Benjamin Preisner in 27th and Luke Traynor in 50th.
They came in ranked fourth in the Midwest Region but toppled second-ranked Oklahoma (23rd) and third-ranked Iowa State (28th) convincingly. Can they take down Oklahoma State later this year? Time will tell.
The Bad: No. 19 Ole Miss Disappoints in 25th-Place
Much hype surrounded Mississippi this preseason with a seemingly loaded roster of proven cross country studs (MJ Erb and Sean Tobin) and promising mid-distance runners (Craig Engels, Craig Engels, Robert Domanic), but for the second consecutive outing these would-be breakthrough star Rebels underwhelmed in 25th place after coming in as the 11th-highest ranked team.
In a race that played out as a sit-and-kick affair – sit for 6K and kick for 2K – that should have favored the Rebels, only Tobin and Erb in 33rd and 47th notched top-50 finishes. In fact, only 142nd-place Domanic joined them as top-150 finishers.
Much time still remains between now and November 21 at the NCAA Championships in Louisville to right the ship, including a shot at their first-ever SEC title.
The Incomplete: No. 4 Stanford Finishes 21st
Yes, the Cardinals were running without a trio of past/present/future All-Americans in Jim Rosa, Joe Rosa and Grant Fisher, but the news about those who did run was mixed at best – a sort of microcosm of the theme of this article.
On the plus side, Sean McGorty was sharp in a third-place finish that was decided by a kick at the end, and Garrett Sweatt turned in an improved performance from his top-70 effort at NCAAs a year ago with a 25th-place showing.
However, Jack Keelan took a step back after a top-10 finish at Washington two weeks ago to finish 96th, while 2014 All-American Sam Wharton was 200th overall.
We should see Stanford in its final form for the Pac-12 and/or West Region Championships.
The Good: No. 9 BYU and No. 8 Michigan Exceed Pre-Meet Ranks
BYU, in particular, was strong with 187 points to finish runner-up after entering as the sixth-highest ranked team in the field. The Cougars were one of only two teams with three top-30 finishers (Syracuse was the other, with four) in 16th-place Dallin Farnsworth, 18th-place Aaron Fletcher and 26th-place Connor McMillan. All five scorers finished in the top 100 with a spread of only 31.2 seconds between No. 1 and No. 5.
Only two teams topped that spread, one of which was Michigan at 26.7. Though Mason Ferlic didn’t live up to his lofty expectations with a 13th-place finish, the Wolverines still finished third after coming in as the fifth-ranked team in the field with five finishers among the top 65 – a feat matched only by Syracuse. Ben Flanagan was 29th for U of M.
The Bad: No. 11 Wisconsin Finishes 16th, No. 16 Indiana 17th
There was much national debate about Wisconsin’s course-preview/workout at the Greater Louisville Classic two weekends ago – and whether they should have fallen from No. 4 in the National Coaches’ Polls because of it.
The debate this week will be about how much farther the host Badgers will fall.
Though All-American Malachy Schrobilgen finished fifth and Morgan McDonald was 10th after leading for stretches, the Badgers scored 460 points with only five runners to finish 16th overall. Russell Sandvold was 81st and Joe Hardy was 159th. Whether or not this ends up having four of their seven eventual Great Lakes Regional Championship runners will determine if the 15 teams ahead of them will earn at-large Kolas points for potential NCAA Championship qualifying.
Friday was also rough for Big Ten rival No. 16 Indiana, which finished just one point back at 461. The Hoosiers continue their up-and-down season after a disappointing Indiana Intercollegiate performance in September and a bounce-back win at the Princeton Inter-Regional Meet two weekends ago. Rorey Hunter (31st) and Jason Crist (49th) were top-50 finishers for IU.
The Good: Moving On Up
Aforementioned Tulsa wasn’t the only low-ranked team that made huge strides.
- Just ahead of Tulsa in sixth and seventh were No. 17 NC State and No. 24 Furman – both of whom scored 313 points with a tie-break win by NC State. The Wolfpack came in as the 10th-best team coming in, while the Paladins improved seven spots from their pre-meet rank of 14th among teams in the field.
- Alongside Furman, No. 28 Columbia made the biggest gain of any team already ranked inside the National Coaches’ Poll top-30. With a 10th-place finish behind 19th-place finisher Aubrey Myjer, the Lions improved from their position as the 17th-highest ranked team in the field coming in.
- Vote-receiving teams outside the top 30 availed themselves well. In addition to aforementioned Tulsa:
- Boise State came in ranked 20th among teams in the field and finished 11th
- Washington came in ranked 25th among teams in the field and finished 13th
- Eastern Kentucky came in ranked 21st among teams in the field and finished 14th
- Providence came in ranked 27th among teams in the field and finished 15th
With 2k to go in the Wisconsin adidas Invitational men’s 8K competition on Friday, it was anyone’s race. Nearly everyone in the field was within five or so seconds of the lead.
With the final straightaway in sight, it was down to half a dozen men.
With about a quarter mile to go until the finish line, it was down to Stanford’s Sean McGorty and Justyn Knight.
And then Marc Scott happened. From literally off screen to those watching the tracking side-profile shot of McGorty and Knight on the Flotrack Pro live stream of the race, Tulsa’s Scott powered into the lead and crossed the line in 23:35.0. Just .8 ahead of Knight and 1.2 clear of McGorty.
Cross country fans unfamiliar with the junior from North Yorkshire, England, get used to hearing his name. After finishing 14th at last year’s NCAA Championships, he’s now two-for-two in 2015 with wins here in Wisconsin and at the Arkansas Chile Pepper Festival two weekends ago.
All-Americans Martin Hehir of Syracuse and Malachy Schrobilgen of Wisconsin were fourth and fifth, respectively.
Two breakthrough performers in Colin Bennie of Syracuse – part of a 2-4-6 Syracuse sweep en route to the team title – and Izaic Yorks of Washington were sixth and seventh, rounding out a group all within five seconds of the winner Scott.
Chartt Miller of Iona, Henry Wynne of Virginia and Morgan McDonald of Wisconsin rounded out the top 10.
Former National Athlete of the Week Mason Ferlic of Michigan finished 13th overall.
After coming through the 2K, 4K and 6K markers with splits north of six minutes for each 2K segment (South Dakota State’s Trent Lusignan came through 6K in 18:16), Scott closed the final 2000 meters in just shy of five minutes and 30 seconds.
Women’s Team Breakdown
All eyes on Friday at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational were on top-ranked New Mexico.
Everyone wanted to know how the Lobos would respond to their first true test of the season against an absolutely stacked field in the women’s championship race. Counting New Mexico, there were 20 ranked teams in the mix including five in the top-10 from the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Coaches’ Poll.
After the final athlete crossed the finish line and the scores were added up, it was clear that this is the Lobos’ World and everybody else is just running in it.
New Mexico dominated its second consecutive meet and put its entire scoring lineup in the top-10. The Lobos tallied a meager 32 points, setting a record for the lowest team score in women’s championship race history.
In the early goings of Friday’s race, New Mexico let the rest of the field do the work and hung back. Then the Lobos packed up after the leaders broke away and finished 4-5-6-7 (the Formidable Four) and 10th (Molly Renfer). Their spread was 16.2 seconds.
If the race was run on paper, you’d expect No. 3 Providence, No. 6 Boise State, No. 8 Iowa State and No. 10 Washington to finish in order behind New Mexico. But it’s not and that’s why on any given Friday or Saturday, teams like No. 11 Arkansas, No. 17 Virginia and No. 12 North Carolina State can surprise.
The Razorbacks, who ran five underclassmen on Friday, finished second thanks to a third-place showing by senior Dominique Scott. Arkansas entered the meet as the sixth-ranked team in the field and improved on that standing by four spots.
Not to be outdone, the Cavaliers opened some eyes with a third-place team finish and a 34.9-second spread. Three runners from Virginia finished in the 20-28 range and the Cavaliers are more than likely going to improve on their national ranking come Tuesday.
Then there was the Wolfpack, who finished fourth despite a subpar race from standout freshman and two-time National Athlete of the Week Ryen Frazier. After running with the leaders for the first 3K, Frazier faded (38th) and Samantha George (13th) picked up the slack for NC State. A top-10 finish for Frazier would have put the Wolfpack ahead of third-place Virginia and right behind the runner-up Razorbacks.
The aforementioned quartet of Providence, Boise State, Iowa State and Washington were fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh. The Friars and Broncos both competed without a standout runner (Catarina Rocha and Annie Bothma, respectively), but were buoyed by a standout performance by another (Sarah Collins finished eighth and Allie Ostrander won the individual title).
Several other teams finished worse than their pre-meet rank – No. 13 Michigan State, No. 14 Wisconsin and No. 20 West Virginia. The Spartans, running without 2014 All-Americans Rachele Schulist and Lindsay Clark, entered the meet as the eighth best team in the field and finished 14th. The Badgers, who were without three of their top runners including 2014 All-American Sarah Disanza, took 25th (came in as the ninth best team). Finally, the grace period might be over for the Mountaineers, who ran everybody they could with the exception of Jillian Forsey and were 27th overall.
Conversely, No. 22 BYU, No. 25 Princeton and RV Columbia all exceeded expectations. The Cougars finished ninth behind strong running by Natalie Connolly and Yensenia Silva. The Tigers were 13th and put two runners in the top-30 (Elizabeth Bird and Emily De La Bruyere). The Lions topped No. 21 Vanderblit and No. 19 North Carolina.
Women’s Individual Breakdown
Welcome to the club, Allie Ostrander.
On a chilly day in Madison, Wisconsin, Ostrander became the third freshman to win a national-caliber meet this season – and did so in record time. Ostrander pulled away from a pair of NCAA champions down the stretch (Molly Seidel and Dominique Scott) and set a course record of 19:19.5 at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational.
“I was hoping beyond hope for a top-5 (finish),” Ostrander told FloTrack.com after the race. “It’s such a shock and so awesome to win today.”
With 2K to go, Ostrander found herself in the lead pack with Seidel and Scott – two runners she said after the race she looked up to growing up. If Ostrander was going to join two-time National Athlete of the Week Ryen Frazier and Notre Dame’s Anna Rohrer in the winning sorority, she needed to make a move.
Ostrander began to pull away down the stretch, but NCAA 10K champ Seidel was right on her heels. Scott, who won the NCAA indoors 3K title last year, faded. In the final 400 meters, Ostrander gradually put some distance between her and Seidel and won her first – but certainly not last – NCAA race. Both Ostrander and Seidel (19:22.4) eclipsed the previous course record set in 2013 by Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino (19:31) – but to the victor belong the spoils.
Finishing in order behind Ostrander, Seidel and Scott were New Mexico’s Formidable Four. Courtney Frerichs was fourth (19:39.3), Rhona Auckland was fifth (19:41.1), Calli Thackery took sixth (19:42.7) and Alice Wright finished seventh overall in 19:43.8.
Providence’s Sarah Collins, who held the lead several times in the race, finished eighth (19:50.8). William & Mary’s Regan Rome crossed the finish line next (ninth, 19:54.4) and the Lobos’ fifth runner Molly Renfer was 10th.
Frazier faded from the lead pack all the way back to a 38th-place finish.