2019 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 Friday, November 15? You’re in luck.
Here are the first NCAA DI Men’s Cross Country Regional Rankings of the 2019 season, which were released on Monday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). Sixteen of those 18 teams, including each of the nine regional champions, that punched automatic tickets to NCAAs last year are expected to make a return trip in 2019 when the meet is held at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Indiana.
SEE ALSO: Preseason Women’s Regional Rankings
Great Lakes Region
Wisconsin bounced back in a big way last year to win its second regional title in the past three years. The Badgers are projected to continue their run at the top of the Great Lakes Region and enter the season ranked No. 1 for the 10th time in the past 11 years. Wisconsin returns four of its top-5 runners from that regional championship team, led by Olin Hacker (5th) and Oliver Hoare (6th). The Badgers also add Jackson Sharp, who was the 2017 Australian U18 cross country champion.
Notre Dame opened a lot of eyes last year with its runner-up finish at the regional meet and enters the 2019 season ranked in the same place. The Irish, who own their best preseason ranking since at least 2009, return each of its top-5 runners from last year. Yared Nuguse is the leader of the pack as he had an outstanding sophomore campaign with a third-place finish at the regional meet, anchored the Notre Dame DMR team to the national title indoors and won the 1500 crown outdoors.
The preseason top-5 is rounded out by Indiana and Michigan as well as Purdue.
There is a pretty clear-cut top-2 in the Mid-Atlantic Region to begin the 2019 season.
Princeton and Villanova, the top-2 teams at last year’s regional championship meet, enter the season ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
The Tigers return all seven of its runners from last year’s regional title-winning team. Princeton had a strong afternoon in State College, Pennsylvania, as Matt Grossman, Conor Lundy and Gannon Willcutts all finished in the top-10.
The Wildcats also return a healthy number of those athletes who competed at the regional meet last year. Defending individual champ Casey Comber and Andrew Marston (fifth place) lead the way for six returners for Villanova.
The preseason top-5 is rounded out by Georgetown, Penn and Temple.
For the second year in a row, Iowa State leads the charge into the season as the No. 1 team in the Midwest Region. The Cyclones return a wealth of talent, which includes three of its top-5 runners from a team that won the regional title last year led by individual champ Edwin Kurgat, who also placed third at the NCAA meet one week later. Other returners include Chad Johnson and Milo Greder, among others.
Oklahoma State is ranked No. 2 in the preseason for the second year in a row. The Cowboys are ready to ride with Isai Rodriguez and Ashenafi Hatte leading the way. Rodriguez was a surprise fourth-place finisher at NCAAs last year after finishing runner-up at the regional meet, while Hatte was 27th overall following a fifth-place finish at regionals. Sukhi Khosla had a strong outdoor season with a PR of 14:18.92 over 5000 meters.
The preseason top-5 is rounded out by Tulsa, Minnesota and Bradley.
Northern Arizona is the No. 1 team in the Mountain Region until proven otherwise. The Lumberjacks own the top spot in the region for the 22nd consecutive week dating back to 2016. NAU might have lost three of its top runners from last year’s regional-winning and national title-winning team, but return three of its six All-Americans from 2018 – Geordie Beamish, Blasie Ferro and Luis Grijalva. The Lumberjacks also brought in several key additions.
BYU is ranked No. 2 to begin the season as it returns four of its top-6 runners from the regional runner-up last year. The Cougars welcome back Conner Mantz (sixth place), Clayson Shumway (15th place) and Jacob Heslington (18th) from that group. BYU has incredible depth, which is evident when you remember that they put six men into the 10,000-meter final at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
The preseason top-5 is rounded out by Colorado, Colorado State and Wyoming. This is the second year in a row that the Buffaloes have been ranked third, while the Cowboys have their best preseason regional rank since at least 2009.
Syracuse has been a mainstay atop the Northeast Region for quite some time. In fact, if you want to find the last time the Orange weren’t ranked No. 1 in the region, you’d have to go back to Week 6 in 2013. That trend atop the region continued in 2019 as Syracuse brings six athletes back from the team that won the regional title last year, including Aidan Tooker (6th), Dominic Hockenbury (7th) and Joe Dragon (8th).
Iona is ranked No. 2 in the preseason for the sixth time in the past seven years. The Gaels return all but one of the runners from their top-7 last year that propelled them to a runner-up finish at the regional meet. Ehab El-Sandali is the top returner for Iona, as he finished fourth at the regional meet and clocked a PR of 26:19.15 over 10,000 meters outdoors.
The preseason top-5 is rounded out by Army West Point, Harvard and Dartmouth. This is the best preseason ranking for the Black Knights and Crimson since at least 2009.
For the fourth time in the past five years, Ole Miss begins the season ranked No. 1 in the South Region. The Rebels return six of their top-7 runners that made up their regional-winning team last year, including Farah Abdulkarim (3rd place) and Waleed Suliman (6th). Suliman had a tremendous sophomore year for Ole Miss as he placed 36th at NCAA XC and turned in a PR of 3:38.72 (1500) on the track this past outdoor season. Look out for Mario Garcia Romo, as well, after he finished 13th in the region as a freshman and hit 14:28.91 on the track in the 5000.
Florida State is ranked No. 2 to begin the season, which is the same spot it finished in the region last year. This is the first time the Seminoles have been ranked No. 2 in the preseason since 2016. Florida State returns a strong core, led by rising sophomore Caleb Pottorff (9th place last year) and added two transfers in the offseason in Kasey Knevelbaard (Southern Utah) and Silas Griffith (Lipscomb).
The preseason top-5 is rounded out by Alabama, Middle Tennessee State and Georgia Tech. The Crimson Tide and the Blue Raiders could both make a lot of noise as the season progresses.
South Central Region
There have only been two times in the past seven years that the Arkansas Razorbacks weren’t ranked No. 1 in the South Central Region. This is not one of those two times. Arkansas enters the 2019 season atop the South Central Region for the 48th time in the past 50 weeks. The Razorbacks must replace a few pieces, but return three of its top-5 runners from last year’s regional title-winning team, including Gilbert Boit (5th place) and Ryan Murphy (12th).
Texas is ranked No. 2 to begin the season for the seventh year in a row. The Longhorns return three of its top-4 runners from last year, including John Rice (6th) and Sam Worley (9th). Rice and Worley both had strong track seasons, which saw them finish ninth in the 1500 at NCAAs and PR in the steeplechase at 8:38.29, respectively.
The preseason top-5 is rounded out by Texas A&M, Rice and North Texas. This is the best preseason ranking for the Owls since at least 2009.
For the first time since 2014, NC State is the preseason favorite in the Southeast Region. The Wolfpack won the regional title last year and return four athletes who finished in the top-25 of the 2018 regional meet. NC State also added Will Anderson, a transfer from Bradley, who finished 33rd in the Midwest Region last year.
Virginia is ranked No. 2 to begin the season for the fourth year in a row. The Cavaliers return four runners who finished in the top-25 of the regional meet last year and are hungry to make a return trip to NCAAs after missing out last year.
The preseason top-5 is rounded out by Eastern Kentucky, Virginia Tech and Furman. This is just the second time in the past five years that the Colonels have been ranked in the top-3 during the preseason (No. 1 in 2016).
Welcome to the No. 1 spot, Washington!
For the first time in recorded history, the Huskies are ranked No. 1 in the West Region. Washington had a remarkable run in 2018 – its first season under the direction of Andy Powell – and ended up finishing runner-up at the regional meet and sixth at NCAAs.
The Huskies return two athletes who finished with All-Region honors last year – Talon Hull (12th place) and Tibebu Proctor (24th place) – and a plethora of athletes who starred on the track circuit. Proctor and Gavin Parpart are two of those athletes who impressed on the oval with 10,000-meter PRs of 28:54.33 and 29:17.39, respectively.
Two-time defending regional champion Portland starts the season ranked No. 2. The Pilots lost five of its top-7 runners from last year’s team that also finished third at NCAAs – but it’s more of a reload than rebuild. Portland does have two-time All-American Emmanuel Roudolff-Levisse (21st in 2018) and three athletes who went sub-29:20 on the track for 10,000 meters outdoors (Evert Silva, Michael Teran-Solano and Caleb Webb).
The preseason top-5 is rounded out by Oregon, Stanford and UCLA. This is the first time since the 2013 season that the Cardinal has not been ranked in the preseason top-3.