2017 FloXC Countdown: #9 Iona Men

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Follow our 2017 FloXC Countdown, where FloTrack ranks the top 25 cross country teams and individuals in the NCAA this season which will be LIVE on FloTrack. And, be sure to watch our LIVE FloXC Podium Reveal Show Tuesday September 12th at 10AM CT. The No. 9 men's spot goes to Iona, and here's why:

Probable Top Four:

SR Gilbert Kirui (13:50 5K; 28:54 10K; 6th at '17 NCAA Outdoor 10K; 20th at '15 NCAA XC; 87th at '16 NCAA XC)
SR Chartt Miller (4:00 Mile; 7:57 3K; 13:49 5K; 6th at '17 NCAA Outdoor 5K; 43rd at '15 NCAA XC; 64th at '16 NCAA XC)
JR Liam Dee (3:58 Mile; 8:02 3K; 14:04 5K; 7th at '17 NCAA Indoor Mile; 117th at '16 NCAA XC)
SR Johannes Motschmann (8:07 3K; 14:14 5K; 8:46 3K SC; 93rd at '16 NCAA XC)

Fifth Man Battle:

SR Brandon Allen (8:09 3K; 14:21 5K; 8:42 3K SC; 192nd at '16 NCAA XC)
SO Jac Hopkins (8:08 3K; 14:24 5K; 170th at '16 NCAA XC)
SR Andrew Tario (14:17 5K; 29:49 10K)
FR Jack O'Leary (8:14 3K; 14:28 5K; 6th at '16 Euro Jr. XC)

Impact Freshmen/Transfers:

Jordan Brannan via Colts Neck, NJ (9:08 3200; 14:56 5K XC; 25th at '16 NXN)
Graham Baird via Canada (85th at '17 World Sr. XC)

Analysis:

Despite a roster practically bursting at the seams with talent, a national podium spot has eluded the Iona men since just after their Mick Byrne era in 2008. Nearly 10 years later, the Iona men will be looking to flip that script and capitalize on their abilities, with yet another top-ten finish looking likely.

The '17 Gaels may just be the most diverse group of athletes in the NCAA -- our projected top eight come from eight different countries (Kenya, Australia, England, Germany, Canada, Wales, USA, and Ireland). They lost their top '16 returner in Kieran Clements due to graduation, but that isn't saying much considering he was 'only' 44th. It's a rarity for a top-ten team to not have any All-Americans. But one man will be expected to surpass that placing and more than make up for Clements' absence in 2017 -- Gilbert Kirui.

Kirui has the most impressive distance track resume of the Iona squad, with a sub-29 10K best set just this year along with a sixth-place finish at outdoor NCAAs in that event. That finish wasn't even the best in a distance event at outdoor nationals for a Gael last year though -- fellow senior Chartt Miller is coming off an equal 5K best of 13:49 and an equal placing of sixth in that event at Nationals this year, and he'll also be contending for top honors.

The Gael with the greatest speed would be Liam Dee, who has the best mile PR of the contenders with his 3:58 this year and some decent 14:04 5K strength to back it up. Dee is the only other Iona man to boast a NCAA top finish in a track event this year, with his seventh-place All-American showing in the indoor mile. Dee has struggled at nationals his last two appearances without a top-100 finish to his name, but should he finally figure it out in 2017 his points difference could be huge for the team.

One thing going against the Gaels is that 2016 represented a career low at nationals for all but one of the five two-time returners -- all of Kirui (20th -> 87th), Miller (43rd -> 64th), Dee (110th -> 117th), and Allen (152nd -> 197th). That one exception would be senior Johannes Motschmann, who finished 209th in 2015 but improved upon that to a career-best 93rd-place finish in 2016. Coming off career bests in all the mid-distances and an impressive 8:46 steeplechase PR this year, Motschmann should be good for another big jump at NCAAs should he remain healthy.

There are a host of incoming freshmen/redshirt freshmen that could snatch the likely fifth spot should they compete, led by Jack O'Leary, Jordan Brannan, and Graham Baird. The coaching staff tells us that Brannan and Baird will redshirt, but if they give the green light to O'Leary he should be a force with his 14:28 prep 5K best, and perhaps more impressive his sixth-place finish at the European junior XC champs last year, beating some big names including Cheserek-dethroner Josh Kerr.

The material is there for Iona to at least match their eighth-place showing from last year, but with so much variability in the runners we could be looking at huge swing depending on how the team performs on the day. One thing that's certain is that Iona runs as a pack -- no two scoring Gaels were more than 24 spots apart last year -- so should Kirui and Miller lead the way with All-American finishes, the rest should follow nicely.

FULL MEN'S RANKINGS HERE

Bowerman Awards Photo Gallery

Johanna Gretschel 2017 Bowerman Award finalists

Last night, the USTFCCCA named Raevyn Rogers of the University of Oregon and Christian Coleman of the University of Tennessee as the 2017 Bowerman Award Winners. Rogers, the NCAA record holder for 800m, is the third women's winner from Oregon, and Coleman, the NCAA 60m and 100m record holder, is the first-ever winner for the Volunteers. Check out the photo gallery from the evening in Phoenix, Arizona below; watch interviews and highlights from the event here.

Christian Coleman Wins The 2017 Bowerman Award

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Tennessee’s Christian Coleman has been named The Bowerman award winner for the 2017 NCAA season.

Raevyn Rogers Wins The 2017 Bowerman Award

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Oregon’s Raevyn Rogers has been named The Bowerman award winner for the 2017 NCAA season.

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Nike Cross National champion Katelyn Tuohy has just one more 5K on her schedule, and that one will be the fastest of them all. On Saturday, January 20, LIVE ON FLOTRACK, she will toe the line at the VA Showcase in a special section of the 5K with the sole purpose of taking down Brie Oakley's 15:55 national record. 

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Image of Sport Fred Kerley

This week, FloTrack will introduce you to all six Bowerman finalists ahead of Friday's Bowerman Awards, which will crown one male and one female as the best track and field athletes in the NCAA for the 2017 season. You can watch the awards ceremony live from Phoenix on FloTrack here.

How Raevyn Rogers Could Win The Bowerman

Image of Sport Raevyn Rogers

This week, FloTrack will introduce you to all six Bowerman finalists ahead of Friday's Bowerman Awards, which will crown one male and one female as the best track and field athletes in the NCAA for the 2017 season. You can watch the awards ceremony live from Phoenix on FloTrack here.

How Christian Coleman Could Win The Bowerman Award

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This week, FloTrack will introduce you to all six Bowerman finalists ahead of Friday's Bowerman Awards, which will crown one male and one female as the best track and field athletes in the NCAA for the 2017 season. You can watch the awards ceremony live from Phoenix on FloTrack here.

Who's No. 1? FloTrack Tackles The Katelyn Tuohy vs Claudia Lane Debate

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If you've paid the slightest modicum of attention to high school girls cross country this season, you know the names Katelyn Tuohy and Claudia Lane. 

2017 Bowerman Blind Resume Test

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The Bowerman Award Ceremony will be LIVE on FloTrack this Friday, December 15, at 9 PM ET.