Unanimous Favorite Emerges in NCAA DI Men’s National Poll
NOTE: A previous version of this story mistakenly listed Eastern Washington as the No. 27 team in the country. The correct team at No. 27 is Eastern Michigan, which is now reflected in the story below.
NEW ORLEANS – Depending who you asked prior this this past weekend’s NCAA Division I Men’s Cross Country regular-season finale, you might have received five different answers to the question, “Who’s the No. 1 team in the country?”
According to the newest National Coaches’ Poll with the Nuttycombe Wisconsin and Pre-Nationals invitationals in the rearview, there is now a singular answer to that inquiry.
Northern Arizona emerged as the unanimous favorite in the poll announced Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), with only conference and regional championships remaining prior to the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana, on November 19.
The Lumberjacks, who claimed a decisive win at Wisconsin, separated themselves from a group of four other teams in the previous poll that received first-place votes – five total, the most in any poll dating back to the mid-1990s.
The unanimous No. 1 billing is the first in NAU’s program history.
Wisconsin Invite runner-up Stanford moved up nine spots to No. 2, followed by Pre-Nationals champion No. 3 Oregon. No. 4 BYU dropped a spot from last time, while Arkansas held steady to round out the top five.
The two most recent national championship-winning programs – Syracuse and Colorado – slid to No. 6 and No. 7, respectively.
No. 8 Iona, No. 9 Oklahoma State and No. 10 UCLA rounded out the top 10. Making its first top-10 appearance since 2014, the Bruins improved 17 spots from last time.
Northern Arizona conquered the regular season’s most impressive field at Wisconsin with relative ease en route to this week’s status as the unanimous national favorites. Led by individual runner-up Futsum Zienasellassie, the Lumberjacks scored 78 points to top Stanford (118), BYU (144) and Syracuse (167).
Leading essentially from wire-to-wire, NAU put four runners inside the top 20; no other team had more than two. From Futsum through their No. 5 runner, only 31 seconds separated all five Lumberjack scorers.
Stanford debuted its 1-2 punch in Grant Fisher and Sean McGorty, who finished fourth and sixth, respectively.
Oregon got the win at Pre-Nationals behind the individual champion Edward Cheserek, who will be shooting for a historic fourth consecutive national title on the same course on November 19. The Ducks scored 85 points to top Arkansas (110) and Colorado (124).
In addition to Cheserek’s win, Matthew Maton broke through with a fourth-place overall performance. The Ducks also have some other pieces to add to the line-up, including 2015 NCAA scorers Travis Neuman and Jake Leingang, both of whom were top-50 at nationals a year ago.
BYU once again showed its depth at Wisconsin, with Nicolas Montanez finishing ninth to lead a pack of six runners who finished top-60. The Cougars also got encouraging results in the “B” race, as Daniel Carney and Dallin Farnsworth – last year’s No. 1 runner at NCAAs for the Cougars – went 1-2.
Arkansas got a strong run from Pre-Nationals runner-up Frankline Tonui and a pair of top-15 efforts from Jack Bruce and Alex George. The Razorbacks could potentially add another strong runner to the mix later this season in Andrew Ronoh.
Defending national champion Syracuse was led by Wisconsin winner Justyn Knight, but didn’t have the depth on Friday to make a run at the top three spots. Cuse matched Stanford and BYU with four runners inside the top 40, but an 86th-place finish from its No. 5 illustrated the Orange’s current depth issue.
Colorado may have finished third at Pre-Nationals, but a tight 12-second scoring-lineup spread between 15th-place Ryan Forsyth and 30th-place Zach Perrin shows the best may be yet to come for the Buffaloes.
Beyond the top-10, several teams made emphatic moves up or into the poll.
No. 15 Washington State rejoined the top-30 at its highest position since the 1998 preseason. No. 27 Eastern Michigan made its first top-30 appearance since the 2006 season.
No. 20 Southern Utah also rejoined the poll, while No. 28 Air Force made its 2016 poll debut.
It was also a good week for teams donning various shades of blue and yellow. Beyond the big move by No. 10 UCLA, No. 14 Michigan made the biggest jump of any previously ranked team with a six-spot improvement.
For every team that goes up in the poll, however, there must be at least one that goes down.
Four teams dropped out of the top-30 altogether, including a former top-10 squad in Eastern Kentucky.
Managing to stay inside the top-30 despite their stumbles were No. 21 UTEP (down nine spots), No. 29 Michigan State (down seven), and the trio of No. 19 Indiana, No. 23 Georgetown and No. 24 Boise State (all of which fell six spots, each).
See the full poll below.
Men’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll
2016 Week #5 — October 18
|next poll: November 1|
|Rank||Institution (FPV)||Points||Record^||Region (CR)||Conference||Cross Country Coach (Yr*)||
|1||Northern Arizona (12)||360||32-0 (17-0)||Mountain (1)||Big Sky||Eric Heins (10th)||
|2||Stanford||339||40-9 (15-4)||West (1)||Pac-12||Chris Miltenberg (5th)||
|3||Oregon||338||46-0 (10-0)||West (2)||Pac-12||Robert Johnson (5th)||
|4||BYU||322||41-2 (17-2)||Mountain (2)||West Coast||Ed Eyestone (17th)||
|5||Arkansas||306||53-1 (5-1)||South Central (1)||SEC||Chris Bucknam (9th)||
|6||Syracuse||304||43-4 (15-4)||Northeast (1)||ACC||Chris Fox (12th)||
|7||Colorado||285||37-2 (4-2)||Mountain (3)||Pac-12||Mark Wetmore (22nd)||
|8||Iona||278||51-4 (13-4)||Northeast (2)||Metro Atlantic||Ricardo Santos (9th)||
|9||Oklahoma State||266||19-0 (4-0)||Midwest (1)||Big 12||Dave Smith (11th)||
|10||UCLA||246||47-10 (14-10)||West (3)||Pac-12||Mike Maynard (8th)||
|11||Mississippi||241||37-1 (6-1)||South (1)||SEC||Ryan Vanhoy (4th)||
|12||Portland||230||55-7 (18-7)||West (4)||West Coast||Rob Conner (27th)||
|13||Iowa State||211||49-8 (16-8)||Midwest (2)||Big 12||Martin Smith (4th)||
|14||Michigan||192||62-7 (8-7)||Great Lakes (2)||Big Ten||Kevin Sullivan (3rd)||
|15||Washington State||182||43-14 (10-11)||West (5)||Pac-12||Wayne Phipps (3rd)||
|16||Virginia||173||23-4 (2-4)||Southeast (1)||ACC||Peter Watson (5th)||
|17||Colorado State||167||46-16 (11-16)||Mountain (4)||Mountain West||Art Siemers (5th)||
|18||Wisconsin||161||19-10 (6-10)||Great Lakes (1)||Big Ten||Mick Byrne (9th)||
|19||Indiana||133||41-4 (2-4)||Great Lakes (5)||Big Ten||Ron Helmer (10th)||
|20||Southern Utah||128||58-23 (8-20)||Mountain (6)||Big Sky||Eric Houle (25th)||
|21||UTEP||125||56-6 (4-6)||Mountain (5)||Conference USA||Paul Ereng (14th)||
|22||Tulsa||109||21-13 (4-13)||Midwest (3)||American||Steve Gulley (15th)||
|23||Georgetown||92||41-14 (3-14)||Mid-Atlantic (1)||Big East||Brandon Bonsey (1st)||
|24||Boise State||79||41-16 (8-16)||West (6)||Mountain West||Corey Ihmels (4th)||
|25||Washington||63||20-18 (2-18)||West (7)||Pac-12||Greg Metcalf (15th)||
|26||Virginia Tech||51||37-3 (1-3)||Southeast (2)||ACC||Ben Thomas (16th)||
|27||Eastern Michigan||48||29-28 (1-22)||Great Lakes (3)||Mid-American||John Goodridge (16th)||
|28||Air Force||38||52-14 (0-10)||Mountain (7)||Mountain West||Ryan Cole (3rd)||
|29||Middle Tennessee||30||42-1 (0-1)||South (2)||Conference USA||Dean Hayes (53rd)||
|29||Michigan State||30||40-21 (4-20)||Great Lakes (4)||Big Ten||Walt Drenth (13th)||
|Others Receiving Votes: Providence 20, Penn 13, Bradley 10, Texas 6, Florida State 2, Kentucky 1, Minnesota 1|
|Dropped out: No. 15 Eastern Kentucky, No. 24 Providence, No. 25 Penn, No. 29 Illinois|
|^ Win-loss record reflective of results in varsity competition of races 7500 meters or longer versus DI opponents starting September 9; records in () are results against ranked teams.|
|(* year as effective coach of that team in men’s cross country), CR – Coaches’ Regional Ranking|