ACCs Preview: Syracuse Men Are Set to Dominate; Florida State Goes for 7 Straight Against Tightly-Bunched Women’s Field

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By LetsRun.com
October 28, 2014

The team races at the 2014 ACC Cross Country Championships are a study in opposites. On the men’s side, #3 Syracuse appears to be head and shoulders above the rest after a dominant victory at the Wisconsin Invitational two weeks ago. The women’s race, on the other hand, features five teams ranked between #12 and #18 in the most recent USTFCCCA coaches’ poll, all of which will feel that they have a shot to take home the crown on Friday.

Details

Location: Panorama Farms, Earlysville, Va.
Start time: Friday, 10 a.m. ET
Streaming: Live on ESPN3.com or the WatchESPN app

Men’s Race

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The victorious Syracuse men at Wisconsin. (Photo courtesy of Syracuse Athletics)

Teams

2013 results

1. Syracuse, 64 points
2. North Carolina, 84
3. Notre Dame, 105
4. Virginia, 108
5. Virginia Tech, 120
6. Duke, 137
7. Florida State, 145
8. North Carolina State, 154
9. Georgia Tech, 256
10. Wake Forest, 274
11. Clemson, 341
12. Pittsburgh, 366
13. Boston College, 382
14. Miami, 409

(Louisville joined conference this season)

Ranked teams: #3 Syracuse, #13 Virginia, #15 Florida State, #28 North Carolina

Could Syracuse perfect-score ACCs? In all likelihood, no, but Syracuse faced three ACC teams at Wisconsin — #15 Florida State, #28 North Carolina and Notre Dame — and put five runners in front of each of their #1s. Virginia’s Kyle King (18th at NCAAs last year) and Tyler Udland (one second behind Syracuse’s #4/#5 runners at Wisconsin) could both break up the SU pack, but it’s unlikely that any squad will be able to challenge the Orange at ACCs.

The best bet for second is the Cavaliers, who beat #12 Washington at the Washington Invitational (yet are still somehow ranked behind them in the coaches’ poll). Washington in turn beat Florida State, the #2 ACC squad, at Wisconsin, suggesting that the Cavaliers would beat the Seminoles head to head. North Carolina (18th at Wisconsin, 160 points behind FSU) sits on the next level down and will likely take fourth. NC State was the top ACC team at Pre-Nats, but it only finished 13th in a relatively weak field (behind UC Santa Barbara and Eastern Michigan) and it’s not a real threat for top-three at ACCs.

One squad that won’t be contending at ACCs is Duke. The Blue Devils, who qualified for NCAAs two years ago, finished a staggering 41st at Pre-Nats. The women weren’t much better. In a span of 13 months, the Duke women’s team has gone from being ranked #4 in the country to finishing 35th at Wisconsin.

Individuals

2013 results

1. Andrew Colley, North Carolina State
2. Thomas Curtin, Virginia Tech (has not raced this season)
3. Martin Hehir, Syracuse
4. Shaun Thompson, Duke (has not raced this season)
5. Martin Grady, Notre Dame
6. Ryan Walling, North Carolina
7. Kyle King, Virginia
8. Robert Molke, Syracuse
9. Graham Crawford, North Carolina State
10. John Raneri, North Carolina

The favorite in the individual race has to be Syracuse’s Martin Hehir, who was seventh at Wisconsin, the highest finish by any ACC runner. He has been Syracuse’s #1 for some time (he won Big Easts in 2012) and he should claim his first ACC XC title on Friday. The rest of SU’s top five — Justyn Knight, Max Straneva, MJ Erb and Dan Lennon — won’t be far behind, as their #1 through #5 spread was just 14 seconds at Wisconsin (though if ACCs goes faster, that spread could widen). Udland, the first non-SU finisher at Wisconsin, will be in the mix, as will Louisville’s Edwin Kibichiy (15th at Pre-Nats, top ACC finisher) and Virginia’s King.

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Women’s Race

Liv Westphal is the individual favorite at ACCs

Liv Westphal is the individual favorite at ACCs

Teams

2013 results

1. Florida State, 52 points
2. Virginia, 65
3. Syracuse, 108
4. Notre Dame, 124
5. Duke, 130
6. Boston College, 151
7. North Carolina State, 183
8. Virginia Tech, 188
9. North Carolina, 204
10. Wake Forest, 246
11. Clemson, 336
12. Georgia Tech, 389
13. Pittsburgh, 399
14. Maryland, 404
15. Miami, 447

(Louisville joined conference this season)

Ranked teams: #12 Florida State, #13 Virginia, #15 North Carolina, #16 Syracuse, #18 North Carolina State, #30 Boston College

Florida State has won the last six ACC titles (seven if you count its vacated 2007 title) but that streak is very much in jeopardy in 2014 as the Seminoles finished just one place ahead of Virginia at Wisconsin. Since Wisconsin featured five of the six ranked ACC teams (NC State was fifth at Pre-Nats), we re-scored Wisconsin, removing all non-ACC runners. Here’s what we got:

1. Florida State, 60 points
2. Virginia, 68
3. North Carolina, 71
4. Syracuse, 75
5. Boston College, 98
6. Notre Dame, 127
7. Duke, 191

As their proximity in the coaches’ poll indicates, there isn’t much between the top ACC squads. Florida State, as the six-time defending champions and top team from Wisconsin, must be the favorite and though the Seminoles may have disappointed at Wisconsin (they entered ranked #9 in the country and finished eighth), they actually improved from their last race at the Paul Short Run. At Paul Short, FSU got spanked by Guelph, which beat the Seminoles by 97 points. Adding in Guelph to the team results at Wisconsin, FSU only would have lost by 39 even though Wisconsin had a much deeper field. In particular, the Seminoles got a much better run out of #5 Bridget Blake, who was 77th at Paul Short and 111th at Wisconsin. If the redshirt freshman Blake (a two-time Foot Locker finalist in HS) and the Seminoles continue to improve, they won’t be beaten at ACCs as they have the highest ceiling of any squad in the conference. If Blake regresses to her Paul Short form, Virginia, UNC, Syracuse and NC State will all like their chances of upsetting FSU.

Individuals

2013 results

1. Juliet Bottorff, Duke
2. Colleen Quigley, Florida State
3. Liv Westphal, Boston College
4. Barbara Strehler, Virginia
5. Hannah Walker, Florida State
6. Annie LeHardy, North Carolina
7. Joanna Thompson, North Carolina State
8. Linden Hall, Florida State
9. Margo Malone, Syracuse
10. Maria Hauger, Virginia (has not raced this season)

BC’s Liv Westphal leads the individual contenders at ACCs. She was the top ACC finisher at Wisco by a comfortable margin, placing fourth overall, 27 seconds ahead of FSU’s Colleen Quigley. Quigley in turn was 15 seconds ahead of Virginia’s Morgan Kelly, after whom the spread between ACC runners became a lot tighter. Joanna Thompson of NC State was the top ACC finisher at Pre-Nats (12th), but she isn’t on the same level as Westphal. Thompson was 26.4 seconds back of Georgetown’s Katrina Coogan at Pre-Nats, and Coogan finished 37 seconds behind Westphal (on a 5K course) at the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown.

It will likely come down to Westphal vs. Quigley, both of whom have big wins already this season (Westphal won the Battle in Beantown, Quigley won Paul Short). The big advantage goes to Westphal considering how much she beat Quigley by at Wisconsin and her huge margin of victory (21 seconds) in Boston over studs such as Coogan and Erin Finn.

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