Follow our 2019 FloXC Countdown, where FloTrack ranks the top 10 cross country teams in NCAA DII/DIII this season. The 2019 NCAA Cross Country Championships will be LIVE on FloTrack for all three divisions. And be sure to watch our LIVE FloXC Podium Reveal Show Monday, Aug. 26, at 10 AM CT. The No. 5 DII men’s spot goes to Sioux Falls, and here's why:
Projected Top Six:
SR Mason Phillips (3:47 1500; 14:17 5K; 7th at ‘18 NCAA XC)
SR Zach Lundberg (3:46 1500; 14:18 5K; 50th at ‘18 NCAA XC)
SR Steven Brown (14:36 5K; 29:54 10K; 51st at ‘18 NCAA XC)
SO Shodo Mahamed (91st at ‘18 NCAA XC)
SR Daniel Armstrong (146th at ‘18 NCAA XC)
SR Billy Beseman (3:50 1500; 203rd at ‘18 NCAA XC)
The Sioux Falls men underwent a remarkable transformation in 2018, going from 27th at nationals the year prior to a program-best fifth last fall. With six of their top seven returning this season, the Cougars will be in podium or bust mode in 2019.
Spearheading the team’s turnaround over the last two seasons has been No. 1 runner Mason Phillips, a two-time XC All-American who was seventh in Pittsburgh last December. Phillips may be more of a mid-D guy on the track, but his exploits in cross-- back-to-back top 15 NCAA finishes-- show him to be one of the favorites to win it all in 2019.
Behind Phillips, Steven Brown has the potential to do much more than he’s shown at nationals. The senior-to-be was only 51st at NCAAs last fall, but he actually won the conference title over Phillips just under a month prior. Unfortunately, Brown has a history of running well in the early part of the season before struggling when the distance moves to 10k, but he is bursting with All-American talent. The same is true for senior Zach Lundberg, who beat Brown by a place at NCAAs in 2018.
The Cougars round out their top six with three runners-- Shodo Mahamed, Daniel Armstrong and Billy Beseman-- who ran at nationals last year. Mahamed’s 91st place finish as a freshman in 2018 was a shock considering he was just 94th at the regional meet. Whether that was a fluke or not is still to be determined, as the rough conditions in Pittsburgh led to unpredictable results.
After making program history in 2018, the Sioux Falls men will want to do the same this year. Cracking the top four and beating one of the DII heavyweights ahead of them is dependent on at least two other men joining Phillips as an All-American in 2019.