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XC COUNTDOWN: #5 Oklahoma State Men

XC COUNTDOWN: #5 Oklahoma State Men

Head Coach:
Dave Smith (9th Year)

Last Year:
1st Big 12
1st Midwest Regional
3rd NCAA 

Probable Top Five:
SR Kirubel Erassa (3:42 1500m; 7:49 3k; 13:27 5k; 29:02 10k; 83rd NCAA XC '13)
JR Vegard Olstad (3:43 1500m; 8:04 3k; 14:17 5k)
SR Shane Moskowitz (7:57 3k; 14:13 5k; 141st NCAA XC '13; 53rd NCAA XC '12)
FR Cerake Geberkidane (4:06 1600m; 8:50 3200m; 4th NXN '13)
JR Brian Gohlke (8:09 3k; 14:11 5k; 29:17 10k; 91st NCAA XC '13)

Impact Freshman/Recruits:
Fabian Clarkson - back on team (3:59 Mile; 7:53 3k; 29:09 10k; 8:43 3k Steeple)
Cerake Geberkidane - Denver East, CO (4:06 1600m; 8:50 3200m; 4th NXN '13)
Chandler Austin - Boone, IA (4:09 Mile; 8:51 3200m; 29th NXN '13)
Vegard Olstad - From Western State (3:43 1500m; 8:04 3k; 14:17 5k)
Anthony Armstrong - Kamiakin, WA (8:11 3k, 9:00 3k Steeple)

The Cowboys lost some good pieces from last year's 3rd place team, and it's on the strength of their newcomers that they get a lofty 5th place preseason rating in our Flotrack Poll. Coach Dave Smith has established himself as a proven recruiter and a guy who can get his people to run fast when it matters. Once again, he has the recruits, and it is fairly certain that he will coach this bunch into a hunt for the win in Terre Haute.

Let's start with the new guys.

Norwegian Vegard Olstad might be as impactful a transfer as there will be in the country this year. He was second in the NCAA Division II National Cross Championships while running for Western State last year. He won the very tough Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships in cross country, defeating the talented Adams State crew. He has wheels too with a 3:43 for 1500m. Great recruit number two is Cerake Geberkidane from Denver East High School in Colorado. A national presence for two years, Geberkidane took down some serious course records last fall in Colorado, including one set by Adam Goucher when he was the top high schooler in the country. His 8:50 for 3200m and his 4th place at the Nike National Cross Meet show his capability. He will be battling for the top freshman honors this fall. Chandler Austin of Boone, Iowa, has proven cross country chops, winning the Iowa State meet in the fall and following that up with a win in the 1600m at state in 4:09. His 8:51 for 3200m ranked him highly in the country last spring.

So those three are outstanding recruits, and will be play a big part in Coach Smith's present and future. He returns some quality talent though, and his youngsters will need to hustle to break into this group.

Returning to the team is Fabian Clarkson with his 7:53 3k and 29:18 for 10k. Nice returnee for the Stillwater crew. And back to do more damage this year is a very tough Kirubel Errasa, who wasn't super impressive on the grass with his 83rd place finish last year, but his 13:27 5k opened some eyes last spring. Look for him to be the number one for the Pokes this fall. If Shane Moskowitz can run more like his 53rd in 2012 instead of his 141st from 2013, Smith will be smiling. Moskowitz has a 7:57 3K to his credit so he has the speed to get it done. We don't want to leave out what might be the Cowboy's 5th, Brian Golke. The senior was a solid 29:17 10K guy who managed a nice 91st place last year.

One other name to remember is Craig Nowak who was 62nd at NCAAs last season, but struggled through an injury this past spring and did not compete on the track. Nowak will most certainly be in the top-5 if he can recapture the form he showed at the end of last season. Justin Vilhauer, who made the World Juniors team a few years ago, has run 8:04 for 3k, 3:45 for 1500m, and 2:23 for 1k. If he can translate that great turnover onto the grass, he could have a chance to do some damage. 

Smith has won 4 National Coach of the Year awards in the past and he is still a young coach. Don't count out the Cowboys for any spot worst than 5th either. They are capable and they know the way to the podium. The Cowboys are a rough and tumble bunch. Don't expect anything less in Terre Haute from this Oklahoma State version.

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