Florida State Or Oregon? Or Maybe A Darkhorse?
November 16, 2012
Will Florida State be able to get the monkey off their back? Will Oregon’s Jordan Hasay get a storybook ending to her career with both team and individual titles?
Or will a less sexy team like Iowa State – or even our darkhorse team Providence (who didn’t win their conference meet) – take home the title?
Those are the questions that will be answered tomorrow when the 2012 NCAA Women’s Cross-Country Championships are run in Louisville, Kentucky.
#1 Florida State
There definitely is a huge monkey on the back of Florida State.
Flordia State’s women’s cross-country coach Karen Harvey has built a powerhouse team at FSU. The one thing they haven’t been able to do is take home the title on the Monday before Thanksgiving (since NCAAs have been moved from a Monday to a Saturday, is that a good omen for the Seminoles?).
Harvey’s FSU teams are starting to remind us a bit of Jerry Schumacher‘s teams of the late 1990s/early 2000s. Schumacher, who now coaches for Nike, always had a great team that was in the hunt, often favored, but they had a real hard time getting the job done. Schumacher had 10 teams place in the top 5, but only earned one title.
Harvey fans take note, Schumacher broke through and got his first and only title in 2005, after three straight runner-up finishes, including a devastating loss in 2004 when Schumacher had a dream team of Simon Bairu (two-time NCAA XC champ), Matt Tegenkamp (eventual sub-13 guy), Chris Solinsky (eventual sub-13 and sub-27 guy), Tim Keller (a 13:47 guy), Bobby Lockhart (a 29:11 guy at the time), Josh Spiker (3:42), Tim Nelson (29:11) and Matt Withrow on the bench (FL National champ).
That scenario is basically the same as what FSU faces this year. After being runner-up in 2009 and 2010, FSU was heavily favored to win last year – so favored that we wrote in our preview: “it’s hard to see them losing quite honestly” – but came up short. Will history repeat itself and will Coach Harvey get title #1 after a devastating loss?
It’s certainly possible. The Seminoles are ranked #1 and are the favorites in our minds – but not overwhelmingly so.
The team most likely to beat them would be #2 Oregon and the Ducks and the Seminoles raced earlier this year at Pre-Nats and it was very close.
So close we thought we’d compare the Oregon and FSU top 7s side-by-side. We list the top 7 runners for each team in the order that they finished at their conference meets.
|Jordan Hasay – SR - 2:08/4:10/9:03 PRs. 2nd last year, 3rd in 2010. Prep Phenom. We needn’t say more.||Violah Lagat – SR - 2:04/4:13/9:22 PRs. 48th last year. Bernard’s sister. We needn’t say more.||Edge: Oregon but both should be in top 10 so it shouldn’t matter too much.|
|Alexi Pappas - GR – 4:44/9:14/9:55 St. Dartmouth grad. 3rd in NCAA steeple last year but only 20th at Heps XC.||Colleen Quigley – SO – 4:45/9:18/10:02 St. 79th last year.||Edge: Very even (maybe Oregon barely) Track advantage to Pappas but Quigley was top 80 at NCAAs last year whereas Pappas was 20th in Ivy League.|
|Allison Woodward – RS FR - 16:09/32:56 US Jr. champ in 5k was 5th at NCAAs as Frosh. 5th at Pac-12.||Kayleigh Tyerman – SR – 16:06/34:06. 108th last year||Edge: Oregon FSU’s Tyerman (and Winslow) beat Woodward at Pre-Nats but Woodward ran world juniors and was just getting started and seems to be coming on and have the edge in our minds.|
|Annie LeBlanc – FR - 2:03/4:15 as a prep in Canada. 17th at Pac-12.||Amanda Winslow – SR - 4:13/9:09/16:21. 34th last year.||Edge: FSU Winslow is a veteran who despite being only 11th at ACC has done it before and was third at the regional.|
|Sarah Penney – SR – 9:51/16:41. 19th at Pac-12, 22nd Regional.||Georgia Peel – FR - 2:05/4:16/9:35 as prep in UK. 14th ACC, 10th regional. Freshman seems to have hit her stride of late.||Edge: FSU|
|Katie Conlon – RS SR – Former NAIA star is facing big improvement in quality. 10:25 steeple. 23rd Pac-12.||Jennifer Dunn – SR – 16:33/34:19 – 10:14 steeple. Was running JV for them earlier. Coming on. 24th at ACC.||Edge: Very even/slight Oregon. 23rd at Pac-12 has to be better than 24th at ACC.|
|Abbey Leonardi – FR - 9:47. Big step up from Kennebunkport Maine HS phenom days. 24th at Pac-12.||Jessica Parry – SR - 4:17/9:21/16:12. 25th ACC. 13th regional.||Edge: Very even. 24th at Pac-12 has to be better than 25th at ACC but Parry is much older and experienced.|
|Conclusion: The more we look at this, the more we think Oregon is slightly the team to beat as it seems like they have a sure fire real strong top 3 (assuming Pappas holds on to a breakthrough XC season). Oregon definitely seems to have the advantage up front and may have a big advantage at #3. If Woodward runs way up there (say top 20), then FSU is in real trouble. On the other hand, FSU likely likes their #4 a lot more than Oregon as Winslow was 34th last year. Both teams have to be very unsure of themselves at #5. It should be interesting to say the least.|
So there you have it. Expect a really good team battle between #1 FSU and #2 Oregon.
But we’re not done quite yet.
A few other teams have a tiny outside shot, including #3 Iowa State.
At Pac-12, Oregon scored 57% of Stanford – 47 to 82. Well, at the Wisconsin Invite earlier this year, Iowa State won with 60% of the score of Stanford – 109 to 181.
Iowa State has an unreal top two.
Betsy Saina has run 15:36 and 31:15.
Meagan Nelson has run 32:14.
Their three, four and five have been running well but don’t have anything close to the track credentials of the Oregon/FSU runners.
Crystal Nelson is having an fantastic true frosh campaign. The 4:55/10:36 prep from Virginia was 26th at Wisconsin and 8th at Big 12.
Samantha Burke (16:47 5ker) was 30th at Wisco and 9th at Big 12.
Katy Moen (16:45 5ker ) was 47th at Wisco and 14th at Big 12.
We don’t expect them to win but you’ve got a shot if you put two in the top 10.
One other team could win and it’s not #4 Stanford, #5 Arizona, or #6 Michigan.
If you are looking for a real darkhorse, we say look at Ray Treacy‘s Providence Friars, who are ranked #7.
They went 2-4-6-8 at the NE regional and are real solid through #4. They were only third at Big East but last year’s 3rd place team at Big East, GTown won NCAAs last year. Providence would have won Big East this year had Emily Sisson not collapsed at the end of the race. Here is their top 4 from Regionals.
Sarah Collins – The 9:26/16:41 frosh from Ireland/Switzerland (went to school in Switzerland but is Irish Jr record holder) was 6th at Wisco, 2nd at Big East and NE.
Laura Nagel – The 16:25 runner was 16th at Wisco, 4th at Regional.
Emily Sisson – She collapsed at the end of the Big East meet but was 6th at the Regional. Who else in the country has a 15:34 #3?
Shelby Greany – What other team has a #4 who was once 12th at NCAAs (in 2010) ? One could argue she’s not running as well as she used to, but she was 5th at Big East and is a former (maybe current?) world junior record holder in the steeple. 16:10 5k best.
Providence may have the best top 4 in the country, but you score 5 in XC. Their fifth woman at Wisconsin and Regionals was Grace Thek (16:54 5k PR), where she was 99th and 24th respectively. She didn’t show up in the Big East results (another reason why they didn’t win there). If she’s not the #5, then it’s likely to be Samantha Roeker (16:43 5k PR) who was 102nd at Wisco and 24th at Big East.
Prediction: Let us sleep on it. We are currently working on our individual women’s preview and are tempted to go with the Hasay/Oregon sweep. We’ll let you know.
Meanwhile, check out the LetsRun.com Fan Polls Predictions. All 32 teams ranked by you and the top 70+ individuals.