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. 3 men’s spot in DII goes to Grand Valley State, and here's why:
Probable Top Five:
SR Zach Panning (13:52 5K; 29:05 10K; 2nd at ’17 NCAA XC)
SO Enael Woldemichael (13:54 5K; 6th at ’17 NCAA XC)
SO Abe Visser (14:22 5K; 34th at ’17 NCAA XC)
SR Josh Steible (9:06 3K ST; 14:39 5K)
JR Jacob Domagalski (4:11 Mile; 9:02 3K SC)
In senior Zach Panning and sophomore Enael Woldemichael, Grand Valley State will have arguably the best 1-2 punch in Division II in 2018. After finishing second at NCAAs for the second straight year, the Lakers will rely on their top dogs to contend up front to have any hope of finally breaking through with a title.
Panning and Woldemichael each ended the spring with a bang, going 1-2 in the NCAA 5K to give a little preview of what they might be capable of on the grass. Panning has finished in the top five at NCAA XC for three straight years— including last season’s runner-up finish— and his win on the track proves he’s in the best shape of his life. The match-up between Panning and Adams State’s Sydney Gidabuday for the individual title should be fantastic this December.
Woldemichael was one of the better freshmen in the country— regardless of division— and he’ll look to build on his sixth place showing from nationals last November.
GVSU does have another All-American returning in Abe Visser, who was 34th at NCAAs in 2017, but the loss of the rest of their top seven— including two top-30 finishers— will leave the Lakers with some question marks entering the fall.
A new wave of quality recruits will arrive like they always do, but unless another stud freshman of Woldemichael’s quality is waiting in the wings, Grand Valley State seems lacking in depth compared to the two teams above them. But there’s no doubt head coach Jerry Baltes should like what he has in his fearsome top-three.