LetsRun.com's Women's Preview Of The 2011 NCAA Cross-Country Championships
November 18, 2011
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November 18, 2011 - Last year at NCAAs, the Florida State Seminoles were 2nd and graduated three of their top five. Well, guess what? Coach Karen Harvey and the Seminoles are back in 2011 and seemingly better than ever.
Florida State enters NCAAs undefeated on the year, ranked #1 and looks to be the team to beat. It's hard to see them losing quite honestly. In an effort to show you why, we'll try to compare them to the their nearest competitors.
The #2 ranked team in the land is two-time defending champion Villanova. 'Nova graduated two of their top three from last year and has struggled a bit this year as they were just 5th at the Wisconsin adidas Invite behind Washington (ranked #3 currently), Vanderbilt (ranked #5 currently), and Arizona (ranked #8 currently). But really all of those teams were very close to each other, as 1st had 199 and 5th had 232.
Villanova, which is led by last year's individual champ Sheila Reid, did rebound and win the Big East title narrowly over Georgetown (ranked #4 currently) and Providence (who shockingly didn't make NCAAs despite being #5 in the country before regionals), as it was Villanova 54, Providence 63, and Georgetown 77. At the Mid-Atlantic regional, Georgetown and 'Nova tied for the title.
So basically, there are a bunch of teams in the #2-8 spots that are very close to each other on paper. Well, how does 'Nova and that group of schools stack up against Florida State? Not very well.
Florida State During The Season
The one school mentioned above that has raced Florida State is Georgetown. The Hoyas raced Florida State at Pre-NCAAs and the results weren't pretty. Final score: Florida State 46, Georgetown 99, as FSU put five in ahead of Georgetown's second runner. Now Georgetown and Villanova seemingly have improved since mid-season but not enough in our minds to challenge Florida State.
At the ACC meet, Florida State put on a clinic in pack running as they swept positions two through sixth. They even had a nice insurance policy, as their 6th runner Kayleigh Tyerman was 10th overall.
Finishing 14th at ACCs was Maryland's Julie Fricke. Why do we mention that? Because Fricke raced against both 'Nova and G'Town at regionals and she would have been 'Nova's 4th runner and Georgetown's 3rd. So it looks like FSU has six better than Nova's 4 and Georgetown's 3. It's hard to see FSU losing the team battle as a result.
Now Villanova does seemingly a little more firepower up front. A few low sticks really help at NCAAs. Considering Reid is likely to repeat her individual title, they will only be scoring four to FSU's five. And 'Nova does have a good # 2 runner in in Bogdana Mimic, who was 27th last year. But people need to realize Jessica Parry, who has been FSU's number three/four this year, was 22nd last year. It's hard to see FSU not packing up and getting the job done in the end.
Inaugural PAC-12 champion Colorado, which is ranked #6, got a number one vote in the final national poll that was released earlier this week. They have a nice 1-2 punch with Shalaya Kipp and World Championships team member Emma Coburn and they did get the best of Washington at PAC-12s, but we have zero idea why anyone would give them a first place vote. They, like a lot of teams, are most likely a podium team if they have a good day but they'll need some big help from FSU if they are going to win it.
Individual Title: The Top 5 From Last Year Are Back
2010 NCAA Results - Top 5
Last year's race featured a gripping homestretch battle between Reid, runner-up Emily Infeld of Georgetown and Oregon's Jordan Hasay. If you like sequels, then you are in luck, as all three of them are back in 2011, as are the top 5 individuals from last year's race.
Reid should be favored no matter who you stack her up against, as she was the NCAA XC champ last year as well as the DMR and outdoor 1,500m and 5,000m champion.
Reid consistently beat Infeld all of last year in both Big East and NCAA competition, whether it was cross-country or track, and Reid won Big East this year, so we don't see why that trend wouldn't continue. Hasay did get the best of Reid for the first time in the NCAA indoor 3,000 last year, but Reid reasserted her dominance outdoors and she already beat Hasay this year at the Wisconsin Invite. Plus, Hasay didn't win the PAC-12 title, as she was third in a race won by Washington's Katie Flood.
If you are looking for an upset pick, UNC's Kendra Schaaf, who was second in 2009 while running for Washington, might be your woman. Schaaf had a dominating 27-second victory over all of the Florida State runners at ACCs three weeks ago. That being said, Schaaf was 8th at the adidas Wisconsin Invite - some 15.6 seconds behind Reid.
We conclude our preview with the predictions of LetsRun.com's prediction guru John Kellogg. Remember, JK is the guy who foresaw the possibility of a 2:03 in Boston before the race last April and he's also the only person in our prediction contest in 2006 who correctly predicted both individual and both team winners.
LRC Prediction Guru John Kellogg's Predictions/Rationale:
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