Follow our 2018 FloXC Countdown, where FloTrack ranks the top cross country teams in the NCAA this season, which will be LIVE on FloTrack. The No. 9 men’s spot in DII goes to Stonehill, and here's why:
Probable Top Five:
SR Lucas Taxter (4:08 Mile; 69th at ’17 NCAA XC)
SR Riley Dowd (4:13 Mile; 89th at ’17 NCAA XC)
SR Larry Carney (8:42 3K; 163rd at ’17 NCAA XC)
SR Alex Demeule (3:54 1500; 8:40 3K; 170th at ’17 NCAA XC)
SR Chris Drace (3:56 1500; 178th at ’17 NCAA XC)
Stonehill College hasn’t finished in the top-10 at at NCAAs since 2006, but with five of their top seven returning from last year’s 16th place squad, the Skyhawks look ready to end that 12-year drought. All five of their top men will be seniors in 2018, including Lucas Taxter and Riley Dowd, who were the team’s top two finishers at nationals last November. Coach Karen Boen’s group is comprised primarily of middle distance runners, and yet with their heavy experience on the national cross country stage, the Skyhawks should excel over 10,000m this December in Pittsburgh.
Taxter and Dowd both finished inside the top-100 in Evansville in 2017, which were each impressive for separate reasons. Taxter’s No. 1 finish for the team at NCAAs came in his nationals debut, and marked just the second time all season the junior had placed first on the team. It was a big breakout race that showed Taxter had All-American potential. For Dowd, his 89th place finish was a huge improvement over his 159th place from a year prior at NCAAs, and it marked the second straight year he had improved at nationals. If both Taxter and Dowd keep getting stronger this fall, the Skyhawks might have two potential top-40 guys up front.
Cracking the top-10 at NCAAs last year required a score of 351 or better, so Stonehill must have better finishes out of their 3-5 runners than they did in 2017 when all three finished in the triple digits. But despite their projected No. 3, 4, and 5 guys have placed 163rd, 170th, and 178th, respectively, another year of experience will no doubt be critical for this veteran squad. Look for these seniors to do something special this fall.