I'll try my hand at predicting for next year. Williams and Amherst, as usual, should indeed be contending for the NESCAC title, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if one or several others teams beat them to it. Here are the top 3 teams, in no particular order:
-They lose Raymond Meijer and Steven Lucey, two dependable varsity members.
-They still have Mo (who I've heard has made good strides in recovering from injury) and got a randomly great (Villanova?) transfer in Clark Ricciardelli
Mohamed Hussein '18: 14:29 (2015), 30:05 (2016), 24:43 8k at NE regionals, 5th at NESCAC
Cosmo Brossy '19: 14:41, 31:11, 25:24 8k, 8th at NESCACs in the fall
Clark Ricciardelli '19: 14:59, 31:02, no xc results, 5th in NESCAC 5000
Craig Nelson '18: 14:57, 31:30 (both 2016), 25:10 8k at NE Regionals, injured or abroad all year
Scott Nelson '18: 15:37 (2015), 25:43 8k at NE Regionals, injured or abroad all year
Runners to watch:
Tucker Meijer '19: 15:09, 32:18, 45th at NESCACs last year
Kristian Sogaard '19: 49.00, 1:50.30, 4:16 mile, 50th at NESCACs last year
Amherst should have Hussein back, and with the junior duo of Cosmo and Clark, that's a 1-2-3 punch to rival any school. The Nelsons seem very prone to injury, but are proven XC beasts. If Sogaard can translate his track breakthrough to the grass and Meijer continues improving, Amherst will be formidable.
-Lose Peter Hale and Noah Williams, a two-time national champion and a very steady xc beast.
-Still have Ben Decker, an animal on the course, as well as 8 of their top 10 from last year.
Ben Decker '18: 14:52 (2016), 31:08, 24:36 8k, 6th at NESCAC
Austin Anderson '19: 8:30, 14:30, 25:04 8k, 81st at NCAA
Liam Simpson '18: 8:24 flat track, 14:45 (2016), 24:55 8k, 12th at NESCAC
Griffin Colaizzi '18: 8:26 flat track, 14:47 (2016), 24:59 8k, 20th at NESCAC
Mitch Morris '19: 14:51, 31:50, 25:13 8k
Runners to watch:
Ryan Cox '20: 15:26, 31:57, 25:37 8k, 33rd at NESCAC
Will McGovern '19: 15:16, 31:57, 26:06 8k
Zachary Dulabon '18: 15:39, 31:44, 26:31 8k (2015)
Williams loses Hale and Williams, who have a pair of national titles between them, but with Colaizzi and Simpson coming back from being abroad, Decker remaining dependable, and an extremely ascendant Anderson, Williams looks to be strong for another year. What might keep Williams from being dominant is an important question: what kind of Griffin and Liam will show up in the fall? If they require no readjusting, Williams is the favorite; if they take some time, they might just be good.
-Loses Rich, Wood, and Klockenkemper, three solid xc runners
-Still have 4 of their top 7 and a highly productive mid-d factory that could translate to xc
Ascencion Aispuro '18: 2:30, 4:21, 25:10 8k, 17th at NESCAC
Connor Evans '19: 8:32, 15:07, 25:18 8k, 31st at NESCAC
Harrison Knowlton '19: 15:04, 31:51, 25:48 8k, 24th at NESCAC
Kevin Serrao '19: 1:50.50, 4:10 mile, 25:34 8k, 46th at NESCAC
Miles Meijer '19: 8:43, 25:53 8k
Runners to watch:
Theo Henderson '20: 9:50 steeple, 26:04 8k, 48th at NESCAC
Henry Fleming '20: 15:13, 26:06 8k
Jon Perlman '19: 4:12 mile, 15:12 (2016), 26:47 8k
Middlebury is a very solid team with a lot of good guys. The issue with them is that they have no xc studs. That hurt them last year at NESCAC and NCAAs. Amherst will likely have 3 guys in before their 1st; Williams could well have 4. But Middlebury' mid-d squad made massive improvements this year, and a lot of them have pretty good xc chops (Serrao, Perlman before injury). They could translate that success to the grass, and with the quality of their 5th or 6th runner, make for a great team that little could shake.
Colby also showed last year that they're great in xc, and after the absence of Tufts' 3-7 men last season, several have showed success on the track. For a lot of these teams, the key to them doing well is letting their breakthroughs from track carry over to the cross country course, a tall order, but by no means an impossible one. I think the three teams I delineated are the favorites, but several teams could win.