2017 FloXC Countdown: #2 Syracuse 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. The No. 2 men's spot goes to Syracuse, and here's why:

Probable Top Three:

SR Justyn Knight (3:39 1500; 7:47 3K; 13:17 5K; 2nd at '16 NCAA XC; 3rd at '17 NCAA 5K; 2nd at '17 NCAA 3K)
SR Colin Bennie (7:54 3K; 13:38 5K; 28:52 10K; 17th at '16 NCAA XC; 8th at '15 NCAA XC)
SR Philo Germano (3:48 1500; 8:09 3K; 13:56 5K; 29:04 10K; 49th at '16 NCAA XC; 39th at '15 NCAA XC)

Fourth/Fifth Man Battle:

SO Kevin James (8:13 3K; 14:35 5K; 30:14 10K; 116th at '16 NCAA XC)
JR Iliass Aouani (7:57 3K; 13:55 5K; 29:57 10K; 128th at '16 NCAA XC)
SO Aidan Tooker (4:02 Mile; 14:04 5K; 8:39 3K SC; 21st at '17 NCAA 3K SC)

Impact Freshmen/Transfers:

Noah Affolder via Carlisle, PA (4:15 1600; 8:47 3200; 14:18 5K; 6th at '16 FLN; 15th at '15 FLN)
Stephen Schulz via Liverpool, NY (4:18 1600; 9:03 3200; 12th at '16 NXN)
Nathan Henderson via Lancaster, PA (4:11 1600; 9:01 3200; 39th at '16 FLN)

Analysis:

Can Syracuse make it three years in a row on the podium? After taking third last year -- just six points out of runner-up team honors -- and winning their first team title since 1951 in 2015, we're betting 'yes.'

Justyn Knight leads the squad again as the NCAA favorite to earn the individual crown after taking runner-up honors in 2016 and placing fourth in 2015. He leads five returners from 2016, including Colin Bennie, who finished eighth in 2015 and 17th last year, and Philo Germano, who placed 49th and 39th the past two years.

Behind the strong senior trio up front, there are several younger athletes fighting for a top-five spot. Sophomores Aidan Tooker and Kevin James have led the Orangemen in season opening races; Tooker clocked 8:39 and qualified for NCAAs in the steeplechase, plus clocked 14:04 for 5K as a true freshman, while James was the squad's No. 6 man at NCAAs last year in 116th place.

Iliass Aouani was Syracuse's No. 7 at NCAAs in 128th and has run 13:55 for 5K.

If he doesn't redshirt, Noah Affolder has the talent to contribute as a true freshman. The prep standout finished sixth and 15th the last two years at Foot Locker Nationals and enters college with PBs of 8:47 for 3200m and 14:18 for 5K.

FULL MEN'S RANKINGS HERE

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