2017 NCAA DII Cross Country Men’s National Coaches’ Poll – Preseason
NEW ORLEANS – A year ago, Adams State’s men’s cross country squad ran away with the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championship in Saint Leo, Florida.
After almost a year, things may not be much different in 2017.
With an arsenal of talented athletes returning to defend its title, the Grizzlies garnered all eight first-place votes to lead the pack in the first week of the NCAA Division II Men’s National Coaches’ Poll, announced the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Wednesday.
Adams State returns six of seven from its national championship squad from a year ago, including five All-Americans. Of those five, junior Sydney Gidabuday is poised to improve on his fourth-place finish at the national meet a year ago. Showing up will be half the battle for the product from Orange, California, as the three who finished before him have either graduated or transferred. Lucio Ramirez (ninth-30:36.0) also finished in the top-10 for Adams State a year ago.
Damon Martin’s program has now been ranked first in the preseason poll on 10 occasions. The head coach hopes history is on his side this year, as the Grizzlies have won five titles after beginning the year at the top of the polls.
The Grizzlies will be tested, of course, and no team should factor more heavily into dethroning Adams State than Grand Valley State, who ranks second to open the season. The Lakers return three top-50 finishers from a runner-up performance at the national meet a year ago in Zach Panning, Trevor Sharnas and Wuoi Mach.
Colorado Mines, Chico State and Alaska Anchorage come in at third, fourth and fifth, respectively to round out the top-five. Colorado Mines returns five top-60 national finishers from last year when it finished third overall, while Chico State welcomes back Kyle Medina, the 11th-place finisher at the national meet last season. Alaska Anchorage doesn’t return its top runner, but does possess a trio of athletes – led by Edwin Kangogo – who finished in the top-60 in 2016.
Southern Indiana, who wrapped up the national meet in 13th, jumped to sixth in the poll to tie a program-best start, despite losing its top two runners from a year ago. The 2017 NCAA Division II Indoor Mile Champion, Bastian Grau, will be featured by the Screaming Eagles this season.
CSU-Pueblo (seventh), Cal Poly Pomona (eighth), Saginaw Valley State (ninth) and Missouri Southern (10th) wrap up the top-10, which is unsurprising seeing that all four squads finished in the top-10 in St. Leo, Florida in 2016.
Mount Olive (16th) and American International (17th) finished 25th and 22nd, respectively, last year, but boast impressive rosters that should help them upset some this season. In addition to their big jumps, UC San Diego comes in at a tie for 24th after missing a qualifying spot last year but just seven points at the West Regionals.