With nine days left in the 2018 Division I NCAA cross country season, only a handful of athletes remain undefeated this fall; in fact, just five runners who competed through conference weekend are without a blemish on their records.
Two of those athletes—NCAA superstars Grant Fisher and Morgan McDonald—are national title contenders who have collected a bounty of All-American honors throughout their storied careers. Neither requires a formal introduction.
1. Grant Fisher, SR (Stanford)
Wisconsin XC Pre-Nationals Invitational - Cardinal Race ( (23:48 8K)
PAC-12 Championships (23:09 8K)
2. Morgan McDonald, SR (Wisconsin)
Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational (23:17 8K)
Big 10 Championships (23:26 8K)
But the three other names are much less well known, and will collectively enter the NCAA championship portion of the season as wildcards among more established veterans. Their spotless records in 2018 can be partially attributed to light competition thus far, so it’s worth looking into the resumes of Nadeel Wildschutt, Martha Bissah, and Alex Masai to predict how they might measure up on the national stage.
3. Nadeel Wildschutt, SO (Coastal Carolina)
Coastal Carolina Invitational (14:58 5K)
adidas Winthrop Invitational (24:08 8K)
High Point University Vertcross (24:11 8K)
Sun Belt Conference Championships (24:05 8K)
Wildschutt, a sophomore from South Africa, rattled off four consecutive wins this fall just like he did in 2017, a season that culminated in an impressive 28th-place finish at NCAAs in Louisville. He’s a proven entity at this point, even despite the fact that he once again faced minimal competition throughout the regular season. Based on his NCAA showing last year and the consistency he’s shown, a top-15 finish in Madison could be in the cards for him on November 17.
Nadeel isn’t the only under-the-radar Wildschutt at Coastal Carolina—his brother, Adriaan, finished second behind him at every meet so far this season.
4. Martha Bissah, SO (Norfolk State)
Virginia Duals (14:21 4K)
George Mason Invitational (21:41 6K)
ECU Pirates XC Invitational (20:51 6K)
MEAC Championships (18:02 5K)
Bissah is an 800m specialist who had a solid 2018 season on the track as she finished sixth in the NCAA final in June. Her mid-distance pedigree has been evident for several years, as a 16-year-old Bissah won the 2014 800m Youth Olympics title in Nanjing, China.
Bissah is much less proven on the grass—she has never even competed at regionals—but there are signs she can be a force this fall. In her season-opening win at the Virginia Duals, she beat Virginia super frosh Abigail Green by 10 seconds; Green just finished ninth at ACCs on October 26.
The sophomore from Ghana won her second straight MEAC title two weeks ago by 40 seconds.
5. Alex Masai, JR (Hofstra)
Stony Brook University Wolfie Cross Country Fall Invitational (25:14 8K)
Colonial XC Championships (24:00 8K)
Masai is the younger brother of 2008 and 2012 Kenyan Olympian Moses Masai, which suggests he can be an even more tantalizing prospect than his 14:00 5K PR suggests. The junior from Eldoret, Kenya, has very little Division I cross country experience—Friday’s Northeast regional meet will be just his third XC race for Hofstra—but in a weak region, he has a great shot at advancing to Madison as an individual.