9 Thoughts About The Team Races

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by LetsRun.com
November 23, 2013

Terre Haute, Indiana – Hopefully, by now, as a loyal letsrun.com reader, you’ve read our 6 thoughts about the men’s individual race at the 2013 NCAA Cross-Country Championships. Now that our plane has landed and we once again have internet access, below, we give you nine quick thoughts about the team competition.

1) History Repeats Itself - Colorado Wins In The Slop Again In Terre Haute

Colorado was down at 8k and yet won the men’s title over the last 2k in sloppy conditions in Terre Haute. Sound familiar? It should, as that’s exactly what Colorado did in sloppy conditions in 2006 (and we think 2004 as well).

2) Take That, NCAA – Ray Treacy And Providence

This week we were holding off on writing our women’s team preview until the NCAA press conference because we wanted to talk to the coaches of the leading three teams, just like we did on the men’s side. One small problem. The coach of the #1 team in the land, Providence, wasn’t there.

After today’s win, we asked him why and he surprisingly said he wasn’t invited. Treacy went even as far as having his Sports Information Department call the Indiana State organizers who told him his services weren’t warranted. Someone clearly messed up because only a fool would invite the coaches of the #2, #3, #4, #5 and #6 teams in the land but not the #1 team.

And remember last year? The NCAA incorrectly prematurely announced that Treacy and Providence had won the NCAA title when they had actually finished second.

You can watch our post-race interview with Treacy below.

3) Biggest Surprise Women – Butler

The Bulldogs came in ranked 13th and left 3rd. Kudos to them and coach Matt Roe. We spoke to Roe after the race (interview embedded below) and he said he thought they could finish as high as third. He thought Providence and Arizona were a level above everyone else and would really have to screw up .

Butler was led by junior Mara Olsen, who earned All-American honors (top 40) by finishing 26th. The only downer on the day was second runner Katie Clark, a senior, having the agony of finishing 41st – just one spot out of AA honors.

Mike Rae and Butler

Matt Roe and Butler.

4) Biggest Surprise Men - Indiana 

Indiana stunned everyone at Big 10s but still came in only ranked 20th. They proved that they weren’t just a one hit wonder as they ended up eighth. Honorable mention goes to Iona, which came in 15th but ended up sixth.

5) Biggest Flop Women – Arkansas

Last year, they bombed and finished 18th – a showing which Arkansas coach Lance Harter called on Friday the “worst performance in school history.” They had used that disappointment to motivate themselves to have a fine track season, which in turn had led to a great cross-country season – until Saturday. Ranked third and expected to battle Providence and Arizona for the title, they ended up 15th.

Harter may have to re-evaluate his “worst performance” criteria, as for a top team with a lot of firepower, Arkansas was pretty bad with only two women in the top 100.

6) Biggest Flop Men – Stanford And Tulsa (Tie)

The Cardinal came in ranked fourth but ended up 19th. Last year, they bombed as well, as they came in third but ended up 16th.

Tulsa, on other hand, was really good last year but not so much this year. Last year, the Tulsa men were fantastic as they came in 12th and finished seventh. Today was the opposite.  The Tulsa men came in 9th and ended up 27th.

Honorable mention goes to Columbia. They came in 12th but ended up 25th.

7) At Least They Tried – Georgetown Women

The Georgetown women went out hard and had the lead at 4k and yet they didn’t even finish on the podium (they were 5th). How is that possible? Every single member of their top five lost at least 10 spots over the last 2k.

8) Thank You, NCAA – BYU Men

The Cougars squeaked onto the podium in fourth with 267 points, just 7 ahead of #5 Oregon. The Cougars got fourth in large part thanks to the fact that the NCAA reversed course last week after a public outcry and declared Jared Ward eligible. Ward was BYU’s number two man in 32nd. Had Ward not run, BYU would have scored 70 more points. Showing you how super-competitive NCAA cross is, those 70 points would have dropped them all the way to 11th – just behind New Mexico.

We felt like Ward should have been allowed to run and pushed for it and are happy for the Cougars.

That being said, we know there are some coaches who don’t like how BYU is often a team full of 23- to 25-year-olds thanks to the Mormon Mission rules (Ward is 25). When Ward was made eligible, we did think to ourselves, “They’ll probably make the podium, which they deserve, but some other team won’t make it by definition, which sucks.”

The team kept off the podium by BYU? Oregon.

And that was only fitting. If you’d asked the NCAA coaches which team was most deserving of being knocked out by BYU, the #1 response would have been Oregon. It’s very popular for coaches to complain about the age advantages BYU enjoys, but they also love to complain how they think Oregon benefits from Nike/Track Town USA advantages.

9) Most Under-Appreciated Performance – Cornell Women

(Disclosure: LetsRun.com co-founder Robert Johnson coached the Cornell men for 10 years and is great friends with Cornell women’s coach Artie Smith).

The Cornell women came in ranked 24th and left with a 23rd-place finish. So what’s the big deal? Well, they were without their #2 runner Emmy Shearer, who missed the meet as she opted to interview for a Rhodes Scholarship in New York (didn’t get it). The team looked into renting a private plane to shuttle her back, but it logistically was impossible. If you take a strong #2 away from a ranked team, it should cost you over 100 points and drop you into the 29-30-31 range. But the Big Red got a huge boost by the surprising 14th place finish by now 4-time All-American Rachel Sorna.

The weird thing about the women’s team scores was that there was a big gap in the scores between 20 and 21, so Shearer’s absence didn’t cost them much in the team placing, as there was no way could they have cracked the top 20 even if she’d run.

Do you have a similar, unnoticed great story that is buried deep in the results? We want to hear it, so email us.