Can NAU Keep The Win Streak Going? McNichols Invite Preview

null

After all the previews, prognostications, and polls, the NCAA cross country season begins in earnest on Saturday at the John McNichols Invitational. The race puts a bunch of top-10 teams together in Terre Haute — a course they will see again in November for the NCAA Championships. 

For the NAU men’s team, this is where their drive for a fourth straight title will commence

Geordie Beamish and Blaise Ferro won’t race, but the rest of the Lumberjacks core is expected on the start line. That means junior Luis Grijalva will be in the lineup, as will redshirt freshmen Theo Quax and Brodey Hasty. 

Quax and Hasty ran two weeks ago at a home meet in Flagstaff, but this will be their first major cross country meet in an NAU jersey. It is still very early days of the season, and many teams will hold out or hold back their top runners. Still, a solid run by the two freshmen this weekend will shore up one of the few questions that have been asked of NAU. Remember, their title run includes an overall win streak that dates back to the beginning of 2016. Even when they hold out runners (like they did last year at Nuttycombe when they sat Matt Baxter), they win. 

Watch the 2019 John McNichols Invitational Live On FloTrack

On Saturday NAU will get a glimpse at one of the few teams positioned to end their win streak and title run: the second-ranked team from Stanford. 

There’s an air of mystery around Stanford right now. A coaching change in the summer means we don’t entirely know what to expect of this incredibly deep and talented group. Even less is certain of their strategy for this first meet. Thomas Ratcliffe, Steven Fahy, and Alex Ostberg are all ranked individually in the top 25 and could make it hard for a short-handed NAU team on Saturday, if they run. 

Individually, Iowa State’s Edwin Kurgat is the favorite. The senior was third at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in 2018, making him the top returner in 2019. On this same weekend in 2018, Wisconsin’s Morgan McDonald cruised to victory at the Nuttycombe Invitational and never looked back in his senior season. Does Saturday start something similar for Kurgat?

As a team, Iowa State is the third top-five squad entered (behind NAU and Stanford). Indiana (#14) and Purdue (#19) will be looking for good early season efforts as well. 

Arkansas, Michigan, Stanford & Washington Clash In Women's Race 

The women’s race also features the top-ranked team in the nation. Arkansas rebounded from a disappointing NCAA appearance last November to put together strong performances indoors and outdoors on the track. 

This year, they are trying to win the program’s first women’s cross country title and, at the same time, hold all three national titles (cross country, indoor track, outdoor track) at once. Key to that effort is Taylor Werner. 

The senior was second at the indoor 3000m and second in the outdoor 5000m, making her one of the best individuals in the nation. Arkansas plans to sit Katrina Robinson and Lauren Gregory in this meet, so Saturday will be an early look at their depth. Werner, Carina Viljoen, and Devin Clark are proven, but how tight of a spread can they have from one through five? 

Fifth-ranked Michigan looked good at their opener. Freshman Ericka Vanderlende won the race by over 20 seconds and will have an immediate impact. Michigan typically runs full teams (or very close to them) so they will be in the hunt in Terre Haute. Anna West, Maddy Trevisan, and Camille Davre are all entered for Saturday. 

Like their men’s team, Stanford’s women’s squad will be one to watch. They are currently ranked sixth, led by senior Fiona O’Keeffe, and have several other potential All-Americans. Pac-12 rival Washington (#12) will be in the mix, as will fellow ranked teams Indiana (#22) and NAU (#23). 

The 10 Best Performances From The Weekend

Between more Mondo Duplantis' theatrics in Glasgow, a ridiculous road 5k world record in Monaco and plenty of excitement stateside, there was a lot to get excited about this past weekend in track and field.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Don't Look Now... The NAU Lumberjacks Could Win NCAA Indoors

With just two weeks left to qualify for NCAAs a majority of the top-16 fields are coming into form on the distance side. The NAU men are currently slated to qualify ten entries across three distance events.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Joshua Cheptegei Smashes Road 5k World Record In 12:51

A little over a month after Rhonex Kipruto took down Joshua Cheptegei’s road 10k world record, the Ugandan has answered back in a big way by running 12:51 on Sunday in Monaco to smash Kipruto’s 5k world record. Cheptegei cut a whopping 27 seconds off the 13:18 that the Kenyan ran on Jan. 12, a run that came en route to Kipruto’s 26:24 10k record.

Mondo Does It Again, Breaks Pole Vault World Record

null

Mondo Duplantis is ushering in a new era of the pole vault, one centimeter at a time. Just a week removed from his world record clearance of 6.17m, the 20-year-old vaulted 6.18m at the Muller Indoor Grand Prix in Glasgow.

U.S. Indoor Women's Preview: Can Purrier Chase Down Houlihan?

The most interesting match-up of the indoor season materialized quickly. Last Saturday evening at the Millrose Games, Elinor Purrier dropped a stunning 4:16.85 mile to break the American record and dispatch a stacked field in a race that turned into a festival of personal bests and national records. It was a career-defining race for Purrier. A run fast enough to legitimately raise the question if she could beat America’s best mid-distance runner, Shelby Houlihan. This weekend at the US Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, Purrier will have two chances (the 3000m on Friday and the 1500m on Saturday) to pull it off. 

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

2020 High School Track & Field State Championships Central

2020 High School Indoor Track & Field State Championships:

Weekend Watch Guide: Simpson, Jones Chase Fast 5k At BU

One of the busiest weekends of the 2020 indoor track season is upon us, and FloTrack has you covered with several live events across the country. Boston will once again host some of the top professional and collegiate distance runners in the U.S., including Jenny Simpson, Dani Jones and Tyler Day.

U.S. Indoor Men's Preview: Coleman Debuts, Engels Battles Thompson, Murphy

The stakes for the 2020 USATF Indoor Championships were dramatically reduced in the wake of World Indoors being postponed due to the coronavirus. But prize money and bragging rights are incentive enough for the world’s fastest man and several top domestic distance runners this weekend in Albuquerque.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

House Of Run: What Is Purrier's Best Chance For A Medal?

Kevin and Jason discuss Mondo Duplantis’ world record, the American records by Elinor Purrier, Donavan Brazier and Ajee Wilson at the Millrose Games, Brazier’s NFL ambitions, Purrier’s path to a medal, Galen Rupp’s return to racing, Usain Bolt’s takes and Kenya’s Olympic jerseys

22 All-American-Caliber NCAA Athletes Who Have Yet To Compete In 2020

With just three weekends left to qualify for the 2020 DI NCAA Indoor Championships, we take a look at some notable 'potential scorers' who have yet to debut in their collegiate jerseys this season.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In