2018 NCAA DI Men’s Cross Country Regional Rankings – Preseason
NEW ORLEANS – Every year 18 men’s teams automatically qualify for the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships by finishing in the top-2 at their respective regional meets.
Want an idea of what could happen come November 9? You’re in luck.
Here are the first NCAA Division I Men’s Regional Cross Country Rankings of the 2018 season, released Monday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). Eleven of those 18 teams that made it to the NCAA Championships last year are expected to make a return trip in 2018 when the meet is held in Madison, Wisconsin.
Week-by-Week Ranking Charts
Remember: USTFCCCA Regional Cross Country Rankings are determined subjectively by a single member coach in each respective region. The regional representative is tasked with weighing returning teams’ strength with current season results (if applicable) in determining a predicting finishing order at the NCAA Regional Championships.
Great Lakes Region
Michigan State, the defending champion in the Great Lakes Region, is expected to reach NCAAs once again – but not as a repeat champ. Instead, that distinction belongs to Wisconsin.
The Badgers, who are ranked No. 1 in the preseason for the eighth time in the past nine years, have a wealth of talent. Morgan McDonald returns to the roster and he’ll be joined by Olin Hacker, Seth Hirsch and Noah Jacobs. McDonald finished seventh at NCAAs in 2016 and won the Big Ten individual title that same season.
The Spartans come in at No. 2 with their best preseason ranking since 2010. Michigan State lost its No. 2 and No. 3 runners from last year’s regional meet, but return Morgan Beadlescomb – who finished fifth at the regional meet last year – and welcome prized international recruit James Uhlenberg (New Zealand) to the roster.
Michigan, Indiana and Purdue come in at third, fourth and fifth, respectively. This marks the ninth year in a row that the Hoosiers have been ranked in the preseason top-5 of the Great Lakes Region and the eighth consecutive time for the Wolverines.
Princeton entered last year ranked third in the Mid-Atlantic Region and won the title. This year the Tigers are expected to repeat and are ranked first for the first time since 2013. A strong season on the outdoor track should propel Princeton into the cross country circuit. Conor Lundy should be the star of the team after earning Second Team All-America honors in the outdoor 5000 this past June.
Coming in at No. 2 is Villanova, a team that finished third in the region last year. The Wildcats return their entire lineup from last year and added several new faces, including World Junior Cross Country qualifier Josh Phillips and Iowa State transfer Nathan Rodriguez. This is the fifth time in the past nine years that Villanova has been ranked in the top-2 of the Mid-Atlantic Region to begin the season.
Georgetown, Navy and Penn State come in at third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
The changing of the guard is complete in the Midwest Region.
After winning the regional title last year and finishing seventh at NCAAs, Iowa State unseats Oklahoma State as the preseason favorite. This is the first time in program history that the Cyclones have been ranked No. 1 in the preseason and justifiably so. Iowa State returns just about every single runner from its roster, including Dan Curts (third at the regional meet last year) and Andrew Jordan (fourth).
How about this for a fact: This is only the second time in program history that the Cowboys have been ranked No. 2 in program history. The last time it happened was Week 6 of last year. Oklahoma State is champing at the bit to prove themselves once again, but will have to do so without its top-2 runners from last year.
Illinois, Minnesota and Bradley come in at third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
The Mountain Region is absolutely stacked this year.
In other news, water is wet.
Northern Arizona comes into the season ranked No. 1 after a dominant run to the regional title and national title last year. The Lumberjacks return four of their top-5 runners from NCAAs and added a host of talent, including top recruit Brodey Hasty.
BYU is ranked second and welcomes back six of the seven runners who competed at NCAAs last year. The Cougars also have several top runners who starred during the outdoor season at 5000 and 10,000 meters ready to make some noise in cross country.
Colorado, Colorado State and Southern Utah come in at third, fourth and fifth, respectively. This is the highest preseason ranking in program history for the Rams.
Syracuse and Iona: Name a more iconic duo in the Northeast Region.
The Orange and the Gaels have been ranked first and second – in some order – in the preseason in six of the past eight years. Last year it was Syracuse sitting at No. 1 and Iona at No. 2: This year is more of the same.
Noah Affolder, Aidan Tooker and Iliass Aouani are expected to lead the Orange to another regional title as they transition to life without Justyn Knight, while the Gaels return four of their top-7 runners from last year and hope to hold them off.
Stony Brook, Providence and Boston University come in at third, fourth and fifth, respectively. This is the first time in program history that the Seawolves have been ranked in the preseason top-10 in the Northeast Region.
Alabama is ranked No. 1 in the South Region for the first time since 2010 – and for good reason. The Crimson Tide returns the talented trio of Alfred Chelanga, Gilbert Kigen and Vincent Kiprop, and also added a few new faces that have the chance to make as much noise on the NCAA scene as Chelanga, Kigen and Kiprop did last year.
Middle Tennessee comes in at No. 2 as it returns its top-2 from last year and adds a talented transfer in Thobile Mosito. Here is a crash course on Mosito: He pulled off an incredible triple last year at the NJCAA Outdoor Championships where he won individual titles in the 5000 and 10,000 and also placed third in the steeplechase.
Ole Miss, Florida State and Tennessee come in at third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
South Central Region
There is a perennial power and a budding upstart in the South Central Region. It’s only right that they sit No. 1 and No. 2 in the preseason.
You guessed it: Arkansas is the perennial power. The Razorbacks have won each of the past five regional meets, but will have to replace some talent. Arkansas lost three of its top-5 runners, yet has Cameron Griffith (86th at NCAAs last year) and Matt Young (116th at NCAAs) ready to go, among others. This is the 34th time in the past six years that the Razorbacks sat atop the South Central Region.
Texas is No. 2 in the preseason, a place it has been eight of the past nine years. The Longhorns, who are under the direction of former Virginia coach Pete Watson, return their top-6 runners from last year, including Sam Worley, Alex Rogers and John Rice. Worley was a First Team All-American at 1500 meters this past outdoor season after finishing fifth.
Texas A&M, UT Arlington and McNeese State sit third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
Look out for Campbell.
The Camels hold down the top spot in the Southeast Region for the first time in program history. Campbell, which was previously ranked as high as fourth in Week 5 of 2017, returns a full roster from a team that finished fifth in the region last year and added more talent in the offseason. It was a strong effort for the Camels at the regional meet last year as they placed four in the top-25.
Virginia is ranked No. 2 to begin the season behind Campbell. The Cavaliers have six of their top-7 back from last year and was the top finishing team in the region at the NCAA meet in 16th place.
NC State, Furman and Charlotte sit third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
Take your pick in the wild, wild West Region.
Portland is the No. 1 team to begin the season as the reigning region champs return a plethora of talent that are seasoned at 10,000 meters. The Pilots put three in the top-5 of the regional meet last year and six in the top-70 of NCAAs, of which four come back for another shot.
Stanford is a healthy No. 2 with a loaded roster. The Cardinal has an individual championship contender in Grant Fisher and two other athletes who finished in the top-20 last year (Alex Ostberg and Steven Fahy). Don’t forget about Thomas Ratcliffe, either, who is coming off a redshirt and finished eighth at the Pac-12 Championships as a freshman in 2016 and was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.
Oregon, Washington State and UCLA sit third, fourth and fifth, respectively. This is the first time since 2013 that the Ducks have been outside of the top-2 in the West Region to begin the season.