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. 7 men’s spot in DII goes to Augustana (S.D.), and here's why:
Probable Top Five:
SR Nick Larsen (8:36 3K; 50th at ’17 NCAA XC)
JR Aaron Runge (14:56 5K; 56th at ’17 NCAA XC)
JR Jesus Urtusuastegui (9:13 3K SC; 14:52 5K; 46th at ’16 NCAA XC)
SR Sean Heaton (9:21 3K SC; 94th at ’17 NCAA XC)
SO Alec Kray (14:46 5K; 104th at ’17 NCAA XC)
The Augustana Vikings lose just one member of their top seven from last season, and should be in line to improve on their eighth place NCAA finish because of that. And with four members of the current roster having finished inside of the top-100 at nationals in the last two years, Augie enters 2018 with an experienced group of proven NCAA entities. That’s usually a recipe for success in cross country.
The Vikings don’t have a clear number one, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for coach Tracy Hellman’s men. Any one of three runners— Nick Larsen, Aaron Runge, or Jesus Urtusuastegui— could be top dog for Augie on any given day, as each has top-60 NCAA finishes on their resumes. Urtusuastegui had a disappointing finish at nationals last year— he was 174th— but his 46th place showing as a freshman in 2016 is the best of any of the current Vikings. After a solid track season which featured several PRs, expect the junior to bounce back to his former ways.
This team won’t blow you away on paper with any one star, but what they lack in big name talent they have made up for with solid, accountable runners 1-5. Expect this perpetual top-10 team to be among the nation’s best once more in 2018.