NCAA Top 50 Review & Discussion

By: Garrett Zatlin

Well ladies and gents, the NCAA Top 50 List is finally complete with in depth analysis on each runner. It was surprisingly more effort than I expected it to be and I now have a new-found appreciation for the rankings that Etrain puts up every year. Recently, the blog has experienced some very nice growth after being mentioned on LetsRun and gaining a solid amount of followers on Twitter (@TheRealTrain11). I’ve had a lot of feedback from you guys and have had some excellent debates, which is awesome so keep it coming!

Here is a list of the Top 50 names with links to the article they were mentioned in. Feel free to review and lend your feedback.

47. Jake Leingang, Junior, Oregon                                    22. MarcScott, Senior, Tulsa
44. Chartt Miller, Junior, Iona                                            19. Joe Rosa, Senior, Stanford
43. Sam Wharton, Junior, Stanford                                   18. Thomas Awad, Senior, Penn
40. Mike O’Dowd, Senior, Iona                                          15. Connor Winter, Senior, Colorado
39. Kyle King, Senior, Virginia                                           14. Martin Hehir, Senior, Syracuse
38. Dan Lennon, Senior, Syracuse                                     13. Erik Peterson, Senior, Butler
37. Brian Barraza, Junior, Houston                                   12. Matt McClintock, Senior, Perdue
35. Sam Parsons, Junior, NC State                                10. Mason Ferlic, Senior, Michigan
33. Amos Bowen, Senior, Wyoming                                    8. Ammar Moussa, Senior, Colorado
32. MJ Erb, Junior, Mississippi                                           7. John Mascari, Senior, Indiana St.
30. Joel Hubbard, Junior, Syracuse                                    5. Ben Saarel, Junior, Colorado
29. Joe Hardy, Sophomore, Wisconsin                               4. Patrick Tiernan, Junior, Villanova
27. Craig Nowak, Junior, Oklahoma St.                            2. Futsum Zienasellassie, Senior, N. Arizona
26. Kevin Dooney, Senior, Yale                                           1. Edward Cheserek, Junior, Oregon
After it was all said and done, I began to reconsider some of my picks. Here are some of the names that I believe could’ve been more accurately placed…

Under-ranked (actual place/more accurate placement)
Jordy Williamsz, Senior, Villanova (49th/46th)
Matthew Schwartzer, Senior, Indiana (41st/36th)
Amos Bowen, Senior, Wyoming (33rd/27th)
Chris Walden, Senior, California (23rd/20th)
Marc Scott, Senior, Tulsa (22nd/18th)
John Mascari, Senior, Indiana St. (7th/5th)

Over-ranked (actual place/more accurate placement)
Chartt Miller, Junior, Iona (44th/50th)
Mike O’Dowd, Senior, Iona (40th/45th)
Kyle King, Senior, Virginia (39th/42nd)
Joel Hubbard, Junior, Syracuse (30th/33rd)
Fabian Clarkson, Senior, Oklahoma St. (28th/34th)
Pierce Murphy, Senior, Colorado (20th/22nd)

Multiple Runners By Team (Team score for number of individuals on list)
5 individuals
1. Colorado (72)
2. Stanford (128)
3. Syracuse (166)

3 individuals
Mississippi (125)

2 individuals
1. Louisville (33)
2. Wisconsin (35)
3. Oregon (48)
4. Villanova (53)
5. Oklahoma St. (55)
6. Colorado St. (65)
7. Iona (84)
8. NC State (85)

On that note, I will leave you all with some questions…

-Who do you think was over or under ranked?
-Which of the four sophomores will have the best year? (Knight, Hardy, Mock, Bennie)
-Who is your favorite to win the Great Lakes region? West region?
-What are your top 10 teams looking like? My top teams list will be up in a couple of weeks…

Discuss away!


P.S. I will begin my PA alumni Top 20 and NCAA Top Teams list within the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

NCAA Top 50 List: #10-1

By Garrett Zatlin

Reminder of the list so far...

50. Graham Crawford, Senior, NC State
49. Jordy Williamsz, Senior, Villanova
48. Wes Gallagher, Senior, Mississippi
47. Jake Leingang, Junior, Oregon
46. Grant Fisher, Freshman, Stanford
45. Ryan Walling, Senior, Mississippi
44. Chartt Miller, Junior, Iona
43. Sam Wharton, Junior, Stanford
42. Colin Bennie, Sophomore, Syracuse
41. Matthew Schwartzer, Senior, Indiana
40. Mike O’Dowd, Senior, Iona
39. Kyle King, Senior, Virginia
38. Dan Lennon, Senior, Syracuse
37. Brian Barraza, Junior, Houston
36. Brandon Doughty, Senior, Oklahoma
35. George Parsons, Junior, NC State
34. Jerrell Mock, Sophomore, Colorado St.
33. Amos Bowen, Senior, Wyoming
32. MJ Erb, Junior, Mississippi
31. Jefferson Abbey, Junior, Colorado St.
30. Joel Hubbard, Junior, Syracuse
29. Joe Hardy, Sophomore, Wisconsin
28. Fabian Clarkson, Senior, Oklahoma St.
27. Craig Nowak, Junior, Oklahoma St.
26. Kevin Dooney, Senior, Yale
25. Caleb Rhynard, Senior, Michigan St.
24. Morgan Pearson, Senior, Colorado
23. Chris Walden, Senior, California
22. Marc Scott, Senior, Tulsa
21. Justyn Knight, Sophomore, Syracuse
20. Pierce Murphy, Senior, Colorado
19. Joe Rosa, Senior, Stanford
18. Thomas Awad, Senior, Penn
17. Ernest Kibet, Senior, Louisville
16. Edwin Kibichy, Junior, Louisville
15. Connor Winter, Senior, Colorado
14. Martin Hehir, Senior, Syracuse
13. Erik Peterson, Senior, Butler
12. Matt McClintock, Senior, Perdue
11. Jim Rosa, Senior, Stanford

Here are the best of the best...

10. Mason Ferlic, Senior, Michigan

He's a bit inconsistent, but when he's on, he's ON.”- Alex Fox. That was really the best reason to put Ferlic at the 10th spot here on this list.

Fox couldn’t have been more correct. Ferlic has been an animal in his past two years at Michigan. The two-time All-American has established himself as one of the best runners in the loaded Great Lakes region. He has dominated at big invitationals by grabbing two consecutive 12th place finishes at Wisconsin and winning the prestigious Notre Dame invite in 2014. Ferlic is a lethal competitor, but hasn’t found the same success in the post season against his BIG 10 rivals. He placed a respectable 4th at BIG 10’s this past year and followed that up with a less impressive 7th place at the Great Lakes regional. At that point, it seemed like Ferlic had peaked mid-season. Where was the guy who won the Notre Dame invite by nearly 10 seconds? Ferlic answered that question by ending his season on a high note and placing 13th at the national meet.

There’s every indication that Ferlic could have a top 5 finish at NCAA’s this year. He dominated at Notre Dame’s extremely fast course, which could be a good sign for him considering NCAA’s are on a hill-less course this year. However, his inconsistent performances in the post season is the only that worries me and has made me put him in the 10th spot.  

9. Sean McGorty, Junior, Stanford

When you live in Virginia for 9 months out of the year, you begin to get to know the state and the people around there. Having met multiple people from Chantilly high school, I had to ask if they knew Sean McGorty. I was told, “Of course I know him! That kid is a legend in Virginia!” at least five times.

The rising junior has had solid success so far in his career but is just as inconsistent as Ferlic. McGorty’s first ever collegiate race (according to TFRRS) was at Pre-Nats in 2013 where he placed an unsuspecting 5th and leading the Stanford team. His stunning take down of top runners in their prime made McGorty the new name to watch. He would end up finishing a very solid 12th at regionals (West), but failed to make a good impression at nationals when he placed 161st. McGorty would lay low for the 2014 season making his first appearance at PAC 12’s (13th) and skipping over regionals to race at nationals. This time around, McGorty would have experience and use it to claim an All-American spot by finishing 20th.

I’ll acknowledge that McGorty doesn’t have the cross-country resume to earn a top 10 spot. But when you look at the bigger picture, McGorty hasn’t had the easiest way to the top. He has to face the best conference and region in the NCAA every year and has gained experience from that. He hasn’t had a regular season of cross country since his freshman year and his track times show that he is a top 10 talent (3:40 1500, 7:54 3k, 13:37* 5k). I’m not hoping McGorty shows up this fall, I’m expecting it.

*Thank you to the commenter who corrected this stat.

8. Ammar Moussa, Senior, Colorado

When I first told the writers that I had created a (rough) top 50 list, Fox began asking where I had placed certain individuals on the list. Eventually he asked where I would be placing Moussa on the list. Now at this point in the process, I had done very little research on him and only remembered his 2013 season where he placed 27th at regionals and 95th at nationals. After telling him that Moussa was at 21st, Fox politely commented, “You’re crazy. He’ll be top five again.” which really means “Check his results and don’t be an idiot”. Point taken.

I am unfair to a lot of runners, but Moussa might be the most poorly treated by me in my rankings. I always felt like Moussa was injured or not meeting expectations. I knew the guy had talent, I just never saw it…Then I checked his stats. Moussa never placed over 9th the entire season. His final stretch of last season was ultra impressive with an 8th place finish at Pre-Nats, 6th at PAC 12’s, and 9th at regional. Colorado entered NCAA’s last year as the overwhelming favorites. All the Buffs had to do was run a conservative and solid race and they would be the champion. Moussa did that and more by acting as the nail in the coffin for any other team’s title hopes by placing 5th at NCAA’s.

7. John Mascari, Senior, Indiana St.

John Mascari is the next man on our list and takes the 7th spot in my rankings. The rising senior is a standout talent who has competed against the best guys in the nation. Mascari attends Indiana State which is not an established program. For that reason, many people may overlook him…which would be a big mistake.

Mascari is a two-time All-American during cross and adds another All-American honor during the 2014 outdoor track season. What makes him such a threat is the fact that every race last year was a top 10 finish (just like Moussa). His ability to consistently perform at the top level on the big stage is absolutely amazing. Those top 10 finishes included 3rd at Notre Dame, 5th at Pre-Nats, a gold medal at Great Lakes (second regional title), and 8th at NCAA’s. That’s some flat-out excellent racing.

Obviously Mascari is the best in the business, so to put him at 7th was tough for me to do. Unfortunately, Mascari can only improve so much and the guys above him either have too much potential or a national championship. I wont expect Mascari to improve his place at every meet this year. If he can do the exact same thing as last season, then I’ll move him down to the top five.

6. Malachy Schrobilgen, Junior, Wisconsin

I’ve been waiting to put Schrobilgen down for a while now. Malachy Schrobilgen takes the title as my favorite runner because, c’mon…how can you not love that name? Besides his name, the Wisconsin Badger had some pretty excellent performances last fall, which made me even more of a fan.

Schrobilgen cruised through the first meets with his teammates by treating them like workouts. It was at the Louisville Classic where Malachy asserted his dominance by crossing the line as the top D1 finisher (2nd behind Silos Too of Shorter University). In that race, he would beat out names like Kibet, Kibichiy, Gallagher, and teammate VanVoorhis. Malachy race his first big meet of the season in his own backyard. It was there that he placed a respectable, but unexciting 20th place. As BIG 10’s fast approached, Schrobilgen was overshadowed by names like McClintock, Ferlic, and Rhynard. By the end of BIG 10’s, everyone knew who Malachy was after he grabbed the BIG 10 title. Schorbilgen headed into Great Lakes with massive confidence and used that confidence to be the regional runner-up behind Mascari.  Schrobilgen ended his on a high note with an excellent 10th place finish at nationals.

Schorbilgen had an outstanding breakout season, becoming the ace that the Badgers desperately needed. He has entered the upper echelon of the NCAA’s best. Now, I expect him to continue his success as well as improve on his Wisconsin Invite and national races. Hopefully, he wont let me down.

5. Ben Saarel, Junior, Colorado

Saarel is the fifth and final Buffalo to make the list (and for good reason). Since joining the legendary program, Saarel has made an argument to be considered as a top 5 best runner in school history. It also helps that he’s never had a truly terrible race.

Saarel was part of one of the best recruiting classes the NCAA has seen in a while. While most freshman took a year to adjust, Saarel powered to the front the rankings. He placed 9th at Pre-Nats, 5th at PAC 12’s, and 7th at regionals. While those are all incredible races, it was at national’s where he had his statement race by finishing 8th. After a year of success, many wondered if Saarel could match those performances. While his PAC 12’s and regional performance weren’t as good (8th and 13th) the sophomore answered the doubters with a 4th place finish at Pre-Nats and 7th at NCAA’s.

Saarel has never had a bad race in high entire XC career. Just as the Colorado program has been known for, he was surprisingly consistent despite his youth. The only reason he gets put at 5th is because he has not yet won a collegiate XC meet yet. If Saarel can get a win, then he’ll be able to contend with the men ranked better than him.  

4. Patrick Tiernan, Junior, Villanova
Patrick Tiernan is something else. Just like Saarel, Tiernan has had a massive impact on the Villanova squad since the day he entered the program. His wins and lack of poor races are what allow him to be in the top five.

Tiernan’s first seaon at Nova was impressive as he won invitationals like the Main Line Invite, Princeton Invite, Big East’s, and Mid-Atlantic regionals. Tiernan was taking the NCAA by storm and capped off that fantastic season with a 9th place finish at NCAA’s. The next year he didn’t slow down grabbing wins at the Washington Invite and repeating as the Big East champion. Tiernan did lose his title at regionals by placing second, but it was far from a poor race. However, Tiernan did have his first “bad” race at NCAA’s as he faltered to 18th in the race.

Although Tiernan’s second go at NCAA’s wasn’t as strong, this past season proved that he could consistently win against top runners like Awad and Peterson. Tiernan will have his arms full with those two individuals and the rest of his Villanova teammates. If he can fend them off, he will keep his spot in the top five.

3. Anthony Rotich, Senior, UTEP

You know that song “All I Do Is Win” by DJ Khaled? That song was actually about Anthony Rotich. All joking aside, Rotich is a winner as well as extremely durable when you consider how many races he has run in his career. A strong background and success in every season is what earns Rotich the honor of being in the top three.

The three-time XC All-American has countless conference titles as well as a regional title (Mountain) followed by two runner-up finishes. Did I mention that he’s also a four time national champion? (3xSteeplechase, 1xMile).

Trying to go through every race and stat that Rotich has would be impossible. All you need to know is that the guy has been absolutely killing it in nearly every race. The only thing holding him back are that his of his three NCAA All-American finishes, only one was in the top 10 (4th in 2012). Plus the two names ahead him are just simply too talented to be any higher.

2. Futsum Zienasellassie, Senior, Northern Arizona

What is there to say about Futsum Z? I could go on and on about his consistency. Or how he’s a three time All-American. Or maybe even how the fact that he only has one recorded win…

What I love about Futsum is that he has no fear. He runs against the toughest competition week in and week out. That experience against so many outstanding runners from all over the country (Tiernan, Rotich, Korolev, Cheserek, etc.) are what has allowed Futsum to improve each year at Wisconsin, regionals, and nationals. Yet, how could a guy who has never won a regional or national meet be ranked as the second best man in the NCAA? That’s because Zienasellassie’s lowest finish last year was 3rd place at nationals. The rest of Futsum’s races were where he placed 2nd or won his conference.

Futsum in my mind was the clear number two position. He has improved throughout each year in the post season and enters this season knowing what he must do if he wants to get a gold around his neck. Maybe a win at Wisconsin will give him the confidence to do just that…

1. Edward Cheserek, Junior, Oregon

Surprising, I know. If you’re reading this blog, you know who he is and why he’s at number one…but in case you forget, here’s a reminder.

2013 XC (freshman)                                              2014 XC (sophomore)
PAC 12’s: 1st                                                                       PAC 12’s: 1st                                                        
West Regionals: 1st                                                West Regionals: 2nd

NCAA’s: 1st                                                             NCAA’s: 1st

On the track
1xMile National titles
2x3000m National titles
2x5000m National titles
2x10,000m National titles

The Oregon Duck has already done all the talking I ever could.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the end of the Etrain NCAA Top 50 List! A review of the list will be coming soon! So tell me where I messed up and what guys you would’ve had where.

Your loyal ranker,