Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Preview of Top Men's University Cross Country Teams for 2014 Season in Indiana

I promised a preview of Indiana college cross country and here it is. But I am only including Division 1 and only teams that finished among the top 20 in the 2013 NCAA Great Lakes Regional Cross Country Championship {GLXC). At first thought, one might think that restricts us to only 2 or 3 Indiana universities, but not so. On the men's side there are six: Notre Dame (3rd), Indiana (4th), Butler (6th), Purdue (8th), IUPUI (11th), and Indiana State (16th). The women's side includes the same six, but in a slightly different order: Butler (2nd), Notre Dame (4th), Indiana (6th), Purdue (13th), IUPUI (18th), and Indiana State (20th). I will post the mens preview today and the womens preview later this week. Please feel free to comment below if there are mistakes or important missing information or if you like the article.

Let's start with the men. Because I am a Professor Emeritus at IUPUI, I follow the IUPUI Jaguars more closely than the other teams. So we'll start with the Jags and then take them in order from Notre Dame through Indiana State.

IUPUI finished 11th last year but is hungry for more and have some reason for optimism. Of their seven finishers in the GLXC there were no seniors and only one junior (who was their 5th man in). Furthermore they picked up a top runner in the off season. Tom Ohlman, pictured below, who ran for Xavier but missed his senior XC season due to injury, is starting graduate work at IUPUI and will be running for the Jags. If he can carve out the necessary training time from his graduate 

Tom Ohlman
program, stay healthy and resume the trajectory he was on, he is a threat for a top ten individual finish. He finished 20th at the 2012 GLXC. Here's a pic of the usual top 4 for IUPUI last year at their conference championships: from the left, Miguel Lozano, Ryan Cutter, Joey Zielinski, and Sam .

Roudebush. Damon Pruett, pictured below, broke into the Jags top 3 as a freshman at the GLXC. Peyton Reed was another freshman in the top 7 at the end of the year and

may be expected to improve. And there are several runners who were outstanding in high school, upper classmen who have yet to deliver on their promise as top HS XC runners and freshmen who will get their first chance this year. A top 10 finish at the GLXC is certainly possible and I am sure they have set their sights higher. Here's their team pic currently posted on the Jags XC website:Men's Cross Country

Now for the other top Indiana men's XC teams. Please keep in mind that I have no inside information on many of these teams; my comments are based on internet research only. If it's not posted on the internet,  I don't know about it.

Notre Dame finished third last year. Unlike most of the other teams considered here, Notre Dame relied on three seniors at the top of their order. They will need to replace Jeremy Rae, Martin Grady, and J.P. Malette who finished 5th, 6th, and 14th. This is a tall order and Notre Dame may be hard pressed to maintain a top 5 finish at the GLXC. But never count the Irish out. Presumably junior Michael Clevenger, 22nd last year, and senior Jake Kildoo, 27th, will lead the charge for the Irish.But they
Michael Clevenger
Michael Clevenger

 will need help from the likes of junior Timothy Ball who finished 66th.
Jake Kildoo
Jake Kildoo

Notre Dame, of course, has loads of runners in reserve who might have, but did not, run in the GLXC. Some who might contribute include junior Kevin Durham, who was a Foot Locker XC participant in HS, senior Jason Hoard who was a top distance runner at Brebeuf Jesuit prep school in Indianapolis, and sophomore Scott Milling.

Indiana finished 4th but had no seniors in their top 4 and only one in their top 6 so they have more proven strength returning. Of course, like Notre Dame, the Hoosiers are loaded with talent and it is

Evan Esselink
Evan Esselink
probably just a question of who else will step up this season. Their top returning runners are: Evan Esselink (11th), Jason Crist (13th), Carl Smith (15th),
Jason Crist
Jason Crist
Matthew Schwartzer (17th), and JR Ricker (19th). Aussie, Rorey Hunter, is also expected to be an impact runner for the Hoosiers this year.
Butler should be tough with their top 3 GLXC finishers from last year coming back.Tom Curr (16th), Erik Peterson (18th), and Harry Ellis (35th) should be leading the Dawgs this year. They will be hoping to move up in the GLXC, possibly on Notre Dame, but it is very tough to move up much with such tough teams ahead. Another big deal for Butler this year is that they are hosting the Big East conference championships at Northview Church in Carmel, IN. on October 31st. Here's a team shot:
 (Photo by John Fetcho)
Butler is now restocking their roster with a set of strong regional and national additions. Two of the three leaders noted above are from England; that has been the standard at Butler for the last decade or more. But this year their top recruits are from the U.S. One of them is probably being counted more for the track than XC but with a 4:10 1600m on the track and a 14:40 3 mile XC time in HS, Johnny Leverenz,will be a runner to watch. It will be interesting to see if Butler continues this transition towards national rather than international recruiting over the next few years.

Purdue has moved up since 15th place finishes in 2008 and 2009 to be a solid top ten team at the GLXC. But even with Matthew McClintock who finished 2nd overall, Purdue could only manage an
Matthew McClintock
Matthew McClintock

 8th place finish in 2013.  If McClintock can repeat at the top and their likely next two runners, Caleb Kerr (48th)
Caleb Kerr
Caleb Kerr

Jake Waterman
Jake Waterman

and Jake Waterman (53rd), step up big this season, Purdue can move up; otherwise they may be pressed to stay in the top ten.

Indiana State has all 7 of their finishers from last year's GLXC coming back so they will expect to move up. Like Purdue, they need their depth runners to close some of the gap to their top runner. Last year the Sycamores' John Mascari battled Purdue's McClintock to the wire, winning the
John Mascari

 championship by two seconds.  But it was nearly two minutes before the next Sycamore crossed the line and another minute before their third place finisher. If this is a real step-up year for Taylor Head,
Taylor Head
Taylor Head

 Andrew Krump and/or David Timlin, Indiana State could well do some damage to the list of teams
Andrew Kump
Andrew Krump

 in front of them.
David Timlin
David Timlin
Otherwise a finish in the middle of the second ten again seems likely.

USTFCCA pre-season regional rankings:
IU (1), Butler (4), Notre Dame (7), Purdue (8), IUPUI (11), ISU (13).

It should be a great season to follow the top university teams in Indiana. I'll be posting updates as the season unfolds.

Some key dates include:

August 30: Butler Opener at Northview Church in Carmel, IN. [Butler, IUPUI].

September 19: Indiana Intercollegiate Meet. Bloomington, IN. [all but ND]

October 3: Notre Dame Invitational [Butler, IUPUI, ND, Purdue]

October 18: ISU NCAA Pre-National Meet.  Terre Haute, IN. [all but ND]

October 31:
ACC Championship [Notre Dame]
Big East Championship. Northview Church. Carmel, IN. [Butler]

November 1
Missouri Valley Championship. Carbondale, IL. [Indiana State]
Summit League Championship. Fargo, ND. [IUPUI]

November 2
Big Ten Championship. Iowa City, IA. [Indiana, Purdue]

November 7 Hoosier Invitational. Bloomington, IN. [Butler, ISU, IU]

November 14 NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship. Madison, WI. [all]

November 22 NCAA National Championship. Terre Haute, IN. [qualifiers from Regional]

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