PAST RANKINGS THIS SEASON
-The big story at Beantown was obviously Justyn Knight and the Syracuse domination that took place. However, there are some very interesting performances to look at and Dartmouth was one of those performances. Curtis King led Big Green to the runner-up title with his 8th place finish. Their pack stuck together extremely well and put all five of their scorers in the top 20. If I'm Coach Harwick, I'm pretty proud of that tight spread. A close pack usually means consistent success so hopefully that is the case with Dartmouth. Still, I'd like to see them take down some bigger names before I continue to let them progress in the rankings.
#23 Furman Paladins (-2/21)
-If we're being honest here, I actually picked the Paladins to upset UVA at the Panorama Farms Invite...that turned out to be a bad decision. While UVA took the title, Oklahoma surprised the nation by defeating Furman and bumping the Paladins to 3rd place overall. The great pack running that Furman is typically known for became very segmented throughout the race. Hinkle and Lara placed 9th and 11th while Reeder and Brickell finished 19th and 20th. Fifth man Kyle Polman ended the scoring at 31st place. Clearly, there were too many gaps between the scorers and it showed in the team standings. I still have a plenty of faith and hope in this squad and I believe they will succeed. They have the talent and Coach Gary knows what he's doing. Still, you have to wonder how much they can close the gaps between in their top five.
-The Rams had a disappointing 5th place finish at Roy Griak this past weekend despite Jefferson and Mock going 1-2. That's not a very encouraging sign with you think about their whole pack. However, it seems that they missing some experienced guys like Grant Fischer and Adam Hartman who were in my projected scoring five. The entire pack consisted of freshman so when you think about, a fifth place finish for the team is actually pretty solid. Still, it's unsure how much of an impact have Fischer and Hartman would have made. That uncertainty puts the Rams higher on the list, but not completely off.
#21 Oklahoma Sooners (Wasn't Ranked)
-The Sooners earn a spot on this list for upsetting Furman and placing second overall at the Panorama Farms Invite. Brandon Doughty led the Sooners with his third place finish which was relatively expected from him. However, the real x-factor that made the Sooners a contender was the excellent running from Jacob Burcham who surprised everyone by placing 4th overall. Having two low-sticks is a huge plus for a team that was typically just relying on Doughty. The rest of the pack had a decent showing by going 13th, 18th, and 22nd. There was no one who really ran up the score which can typically be a major problem for teams throughout the season. However, those last three scorers are going to need to tighten it up a bit. I'll be interested to see how that pack responds in bigger meets with larger fields.
#20 Southern Utah Thunderbirds (Wasn't Ranked)
-I'm not at all surprised that the Thunderbirds quickly made it into the rankings. I overlooked them in my preseason rankings and I suppose I'm making up for my error now. The Thunderbirds placed 2nd overall at Roy Griak in a very deep field. Southern Utah was led by Hayden Hawks' 10th place and the rest of the pack stayed very close. The Thunderbirds took four spots throughout the 10th and 20th positions, and their fifth man ended the scoring in 28th place. I'm not surprised at all by the close-knit group that the Thunderbirds have. It's how they've succeeded without an elite low-stick (no disrespect to Hawks). The next thing I'll be watching from this team is if that pack can stay close together in a much faster race and it Hayden Hawks can become a consistent low-stick (I think he can). If all of these go right, then we could be the Thunderbirds in a much better position than 20th.
-Wow. Unbelievable performance from the Spartans that not only surprised, but shocked the nation by winning Roy Griak with a 74 point score. TJ Carey and Ryan Robinson let everyone know who they were by going 7th and 8th and giving the Spartans two low-sticks. Very close behind those two was another duo Sherod Hardt and Max Benoit who placed an outstanding 13th and 14th. The only down-side of the race for Michigan State was that their fifth man (Collier) dropped all the way to 32nd. Still, the top four were extremely close and it catapulted the Spartans to get the win. Now although the Spartans got a big win, how is ranking them at 16th justified? Caleb Rhynard. That's how. One of the top runners in the NCAA did not run for the Spartans this past weekend and they still took care of business. If you replace Collier with Rhynard and assume Rhynard could place 5th (which is very realistic), the score drops to an even more impressive 47 points. That's why Michigan State gets such a great ranking. Watch out Wisconsin. You might have your hands full...
-The Cavaliers showed why they are ranked Top 10 in the nation by winning the Panorama Farms Invite that is hosted by UVA. The men packed nearly their entire team into the top 20 and not only won the title, but made an argument that they might have some of the best depth in the nation. They took spots 5th, 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th...but they didn't stop there. The Wahoo's crammed their 6th, 7th, and 8th men into the top 20. It was a dominant display of talent. However, I've lost a lot of hope on Kyle King. He was their 6th man at PF and it looks like he just can't seem to find the spark he had in 2013. UVA may need to find a new ace if they are going to contend for the podium. There are plenty of guys that can be the low-stick, but the question of who that will be remains up in the air.
#08 Oklahoma State Cowboys (0/8)
-The Cowboys started out their season at their annual Cowboy Jamboree they host each season. Although new names like Kentucky and NAU showed up, the Cowboys took care of business and grabbed the win without Fabian Clarkson and having Craig Nowak run unattached. There's not much to take away from this except that Cerake Geberkidane seems to be rounding into another top-tier talent for Coach Dave Smith and that the Cowboys will continue to be dangerous. It's just a shame that we probably won't see them race against top programs until the post-season.
#04 Wisconsin Badgers (0/4)
#03 Stanford Cardinals (-1/2)
-The big news of the week was Grant Fischer's excellent first collegiate race (he placed 2nd behind his teammate Sean McGorty*). There is a lot of speculation about whether or not Coach Milt will redshirt the freshman prodigy. If he does, it leaves the door open for Syracuse to rank ahead of them and essentially shuts down any chances of Colorado being upset (but let's be real those chances were minuscule to begin with). Until then, we will have to wait and see what happens.
*Keelan, Sweatt, Wharton, and the Rosa's did not run.
#02 Syracuse Orange (+1/3)
-After such a dominant display at Beantown, it's hard not to place the Orange ahead of Stanford considering Stanford probably won't run a full squad for a while. Knight took the individual title in Boston with a big win over All-American Matt McClintock. Knight has shown that last season was just a fluke and that he should be considered as a top ten threat at nationals. Bennie has surprised many with his tremendous improvement (he is often left out of the spotlight thanks to Knight) and played a crucial part of Syracuse's 24 point victory after he placed 3rd. Hehir finished 4th overall while Hubbbard and Lennon placed 7th and 10th. The experienced veterans mixed with young talent moves Syracuse up in the rankings and may keep them there for a while.
#01 Colorado Buffalos (0/1)
California Golden Bears
Eastern Kentucky Colonels
Minnesota Gophers (Last ranked 23)
Cornell Bears (Last ranked 22)
Florida State Seminoles (Last ranked 20)
Dartmouth Big Green
Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State Spartans
-Eastern Michigan gets bumped only because there were other teams that needed to get in the rankings. They have yet to race in a major meet, but I assume we will see them next week at Notre Dame Invite.
-Eastern Kentucky placed 6th overall at the Panorama Farms Invite, but that was because they were missing a heavy portion of their scorers. Watch for them to race a full squad soon.
-Texas is my sleeper pick right now. They cruised through the Texas A&M invite and although they don't have a star like Craig Lutz, they have a very underrated pack that could surprise a lot of people. Watch out for them.
The crew and I will be doing a variety of Paul Short preview pieces in anticipation of the big day, but I wanted to give you guys the opportunity to enter into a prediction contest! The rules are outlined below.
Top 25 on ET Top 50: 3 points
Top 50 on ET Top 50: 2 points
Honorable Mention ET Top 50: 1 points
Other: 0 points
Top 10 on ET Top 10: 2 points
Honorable Mention on ET Top 10: 1 point
Other: 0 points
Jack Carmody (0)
Eric Kersten (0)
Matt D’Aquila (0)
Zach Lefever (3)
Jeff Kirshenbaum (3)
Matt Kravitz (3)
PJ Murray (0)
Gabriel Allgayer (0)
Rahi Shah (0)
Colin Wills (0)
Sean Rahill (0)
-Nice win for him at the Texas A&M Invite. He won a fast race by four seconds and seems to be in great fitness. There wasn't any truly notable names he beat, so that's why he stays where he's at. Still, I'm eager to see him race against the some of the best in the NCAA. He could be the individual sleeper of 2015.