Saucony Flo50 XC Countdown: #13 Harvard Women

Saucony Flo50 XC Countdown: #13 Harvard Women
Check out the Saucony Flo50 XC Countdown, where FloTrack ranks the top 31 cross country teams in the NCAA this season. The No. 13 spot goes to Harvard this year, and here's why:

Probable Top Five:
SO Courtney Smith (15:46 5K; 32:08 10K; 60th NCAA XC '15)
SO Elianna Shwayder (16:40 5K; 34:40 10K)
RSFR Erin Dietz (16:33 5K; 2nd NBNO 5K '15; 1st Pan-Am Jr. 3K '15 *Redshirted 2015-2016 season)
FR Judy Pendergast via Naperville, IL (10:07 3200m; 8th NXN '15; 4th FL XC '15)
FR Brooke Starn via Danville, CA (4:49 Mile; 10:19 3200; 86th NXN '15)

Impact Freshmen/Transfers:
Judy Pendergast via Naperville, IL (10:07 3200; 8th NXN '15; 4th FL XC '15)
Brooke Starn via Danville, CA (4:49 Mile; 10:19 3200; 86th NXN '15)
Lisa Tertsch via Darmstadt, Germany, (9:39 3K; 16:39 5K)
Eliza Rego via Providence, RI (4:29 1500m; 10:33 2 Mile; 81st NXN '15)
Gillian Meeks via Palo Alto, CA (10:33 3200m; 46th NXN '15)

Analysis:
Harvard distance running is on the rise. Although they did not make the NCAA championship meet last fall, they have a massive amount of potential in their 2016 squad, so that's what we based this ranking on. Courtney Smith recorded one of the fastest NCAA marks in history last spring (32:08) before succumbing to injury before the Olympic Trials. As the lone NCAA XC qualifier in 2015, Smith will be looked upon to lead Harvard to NCAAs for the first time since 2012.

Sophomore Elianna Schwayder and redshirt freshman Erin Dietz should be a strong 2-3 for the Crimson. Schwayder recorded personal bests in the 5K (16:40) and 10K (34:40) during her sophomore campaign and was a solid No. 2 behind Smith last fall. Dietz is a different story. After a successful Massachusetts high school campaign, she did not compete for Harvard over the 2015-2016 season. Even so, she ran a new PB of 16:33 in the 5K and finished fifth at the U.S. Junior Championships in both the 3K and 5K this spring. She will be a welcome addition with a ton of potential.

Havard also brings in a stellar freshman class led by Foot Locker and NXN top finisher Judy Pendergast. She ran under 16 minutes at her Illinois state high school championship before contending for the win at both NXN and Foot Locker. Brooke Starn out of California and German triathlete Lisa Tertsch only add to the Crimson's potential. There may be some freshman struggles with the 5K to 6K adjustment, but if these three stay healthy through November, this team should be within reach of a top-two finish at the Northeast regional.

Previously:
#14 Georgetown
#15 Washington
#16 Princeton
#17 Penn State
#18 Iowa State
#19 Syracuse
#20 San Francisco
#21 Kansas
#22 Weber State
#23 Cal
#24 North Carolina
#25 BYU
#26 Virginia
#27 Villanova
#28 Vanderbilt
#29 Texas
#30 Florida
#31 Minnesota
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