2020 NCAA DI Men’s Cross Country Regional Rankings – Week 4
NEW ORLEANS – We’re less than six weeks away from the 2020 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in Stillwater, Oklahoma, which were postponed until March 15 from their original date of November 21 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Even though there won’t be Regional Championships to decide which teams automatically advance to the meet, we figured it was high time to release the first edition of the NCAA Division I Men’s Cross Country Regional Rankings for the 2020 season to see how things are shaping up.
NOTE: Only those teams who competed and/or have the intention to compete prior to the completion of the season are eligible for ranking.
Great Lakes Region
Wisconsin and Notre Dame sit No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
The Badgers opened their season this past weekend at the Big Ten Championships and handled business as usual. Wisconsin won its 51st conference title in program history, beating Indiana by 11 points, 40-51. Rowen Ellenberg and Jackson Sharp led the Badgers in third and fourth place, respectively, while Charlie Wheeler also finished in the top-10 in sixth place.
The Irish went undefeated through the fall segment, which included a 14-point win over NC State at the ACC Championships. Notre Dame returned to the course earlier this week at the Silver State Collegiate Challenge and finished fourth in the team standings.
The aforementioned Hoosiers sit third, followed by No. 4 Purdue and No. 5 Michigan State.
Villanova and Georgetown sit No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
The Wildcats are defending regional champions, having won the 2019 title in a rout. Josh Phillips and Haftu Strintzos finished third and fourth at the regional meet last year, respectively, and will look to lead Villanova once again when it opens the spring segment at the BIG EAST Championships on March 5 in Cary, North Carolina.
The Hoyas finished runner-up in both the BIG EAST and the Mid-Atlantic Region last year. Georgetown welcomes back leading returners Rusty Kujdych and Price Owens as well as a few new transfers and athletes coming off redshirt, so spirits are high for the program.
Navy comes in at No. 3, followed by No. 4 Temple and No. 5 Penn State.
Tulsa and Oklahoma State sit No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
It’s hard to put the Golden Hurricane anywhere else than No. 1 since it was the regional champion and the top-finishing program at the NCAA Championships in 2019. Tulsa returns its top-2 runners from NCAAs in 2019 – Patrick Dever (11th) and Peter Lynch (13th) – and added even more depth in the offseason and will focus on cross country this spring.
The Cowboys raced three times in the fall and looked strong each time. Oklahoma State won the Cowboy Jamboree over Iowa State, finished a close runner-up to Northern Arizona at the OSU Invitational and then won the Big 12 title in a tie-breaker over the aforementioned Cyclones.
Iowa State comes in at No. 3, followed by No. 4 Kansas State and No. 5 Kansas.
BYU and Northern Arizona sit No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
The defending national champion Cougars showed their strength this past weekend at the Silver State Collegiate Challenge in Las Vegas, as they put four athletes in the top-10 and notched a five-point win over the shorthanded Lumberjacks. This was the second matchup of the season between the two programs as NAU got the better of a shorthanded BYU squad back in October at the OSU Invitational in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Freshman Nico Young led the Lumberjacks this past weekend in Las Vegas, finishing second individually. Young is part of a talented group of newcomers who will look to mesh well with the returners in advance of the NCAA Championships in less than six weeks.
Colorado, which hasn’t raced this season, comes in at No. 3, followed by No. 4 Utah State and No. 5 Southern Utah. The Buffs are expected to be strong once again, paced by Kashon Harrison and Eduardo Herrera, while the Aggies and the T-Birds went 1-2 at the Dixie State Invitational just a few weeks ago.
Iona and Syracuse sit No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
The Gaels might be the team to watch this season as they return all seven runners from last year’s squad that finished 12th at NCAAs. The first time that Iona takes the course this season will be at the MAAC Championships on March 5 in Galloway, New Jersey.
The Orange raced three times during the fall segment, scoring a pair of dominant wins at a dual against Army and then again at the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown. Syracuse struggled at the ACC Championships in late October, though, finishing sixth.
UMass Lowell comes in at No. 3, followed by No. 4 Stony Brook and No. 5 Providence.
Ole Miss and Georgia sit No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
The Rebels came out ready to run in the fall segment. Perhaps the crowning moment for Ole Miss was its 1-2-3 finish at the SEC Championships with individual champion Mario Garcia Romo, individual runner-up Cole Bullock and Waleed Suliman. While Ole Miss ended up finishing second to Arkansas in the team standings, the program carried a lot of confidence into the winter and now into the spring.
The Bulldogs only competed twice during the fall segment, but made them count. Georgia won the Florida State Fall Invitational by 17 points over rival Georgia Tech and then took third at the SEC Championships for its best finish at the meet since 2013.
Tennessee comes in at No. 3, followed by No. 4 Lipscomb and No. 5 Florida State.
South Central Region
Arkansas and Texas sit No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
The Razorbacks unveiled their new-look roster in the fall to rousing success. Arkansas went undefeated in three meets with better performances each time, taking home team titles at the SEC Preview Meet (eight points over Ole Miss), Blazer Classic (21 points over Ole Miss) and finally at the SEC Championships (24 points over Ole Miss).
The Longhorns competed twice in the fall, nearly sweeping the Arturo Barrios Invitational to start things off in mid-October (Texas scored 18 points). Then at the Big 12 Championships, the Longhorns finished a clear third, 19 points in front of fourth-place Kansas State.
Lamar comes in at No. 3, followed by No. 4 Southeastern Louisiana and No. 5 Rice.
NC State and Wake Forest sit No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
The Wolfpack had the luxury of competing four times this fall, notching its biggest win at the Virginia Tech Invitational over regional foes Duke and Virginia Tech and then racing Virginia hard at the Wolfpack Invitational two weeks later. NC State eventually finished runner-up at the ACC Championships to Notre Dame after putting four runners in the top-15.
The Deacons impressed through the fall campaign, winning a triangular meet against North Carolina and NC State, and then taking third at the ACC Championships. Carter Coughlin and Jack Tiernan have been the top runners for Wake Forest so far this season.
Virginia comes in at No. 3, followed by No. 4 Furman and No. 5 Charlotte.
Portland and Oregon sit No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
The Pilots recently opened their season in a dual meet against Seattle this past weekend and dominated. Despite holding out many of their top runners, Portland put eight runners ahead of the Redhawks’ No. 1 and won going away. The Pilots plan to race three more times this spring before the NCAA Championships, including a strong meet this Friday at Oregon.
Speaking of the Ducks, they return six of the top-7 runners from last year’s ninth-place team at the NCAA Championships. Oregon mid-distance and distance athletes definitely proved their strength this past weekend on the track as they demolished the collegiate record in the DMR and put up several strong marks in the 3000. How will that translate to the grass circuit? We’ll find out when the Ducks make their season debut this weekend at a home meet.
Washington comes in at No. 3, followed by No. 4 Stanford and No. 5 Gonzaga. The Huskies just opened their season earlier this week at the Silver State Collegiate Challenge and finished third. The Cardinal won’t open the season until March 5 and will rely on a bunch of new faces to keep their tradition going, while the Bulldogs open this weekend.