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US#1 Oklahoma State Men Lead the Way into Pre-Nats

Published by
RunnerSpace.com/College   on Oct 17 2013, 04:31 PM

While 20 of the top 30 ranked teams square off at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational this weekend, the rest of the best, including US#1 Oklahoma State, US#2 Colorado and US#4 Oregon, go head-to-head at Pre-Nationals Saturday in Terre Haute, Indiana. Along with top-end team talent, defending NCAA cross country champ Kennedy Kithuka and top three NCAA challenger Paul Chelimo lead the individual field.

Men’s Team Race

For the second time this season, we’ll see a US#1 v. US#2 clash on the men’s side, as US#1 Oklahoma State takes on US#2 Colorado at Pre-Nationals Saturday. A few weeks back at the Cowboy Jamboree, Oklahoma State saw then US#2 Northern Arizona and put a stamp on their pre-season favorite status with a 29-57 runaway.

This time around, Oklahoma State is again the big-time favorite, with their star-studded quartet of Kirubel Erassa, Tom Farrell, Shadrack Kipchirchir and Joseph Manilafasha. The Cowboys ran without their fifth runner Shane Moskowitz at the Jamboree, but have plenty of depth should he miss Pre-Nationals. The squad’s ridiculous upfront talent has both experience and poise in big races, so we should see another runaway performance this weekend.

However, Colorado and US#4 Oregon both have plenty of talent and depth to at least make the race interesting early on. Colorado has yet to be challenged this season after an impressive early season win at the Rocky Mountain Shootout. While their top runner Jake Hurysz is supposedly out for the season recovering from early summer surgery, the rest of the team is stepping up big, as Blake Theroux, Ben Saarel, Zach Perrin, Pierce Murphy, Connor Winter and Ammar Moussa give the squad both front running talent and depth to contend.

Oregon is perhaps the most intriguing team in the field. After a 1-2 finish at the Boston College Invitational earlier this season, freshman phenoms Edward Cheserek and Jake Leingang again look to lead the Ducks. However, they’ll be joined by very talented veterans Eric Jenkins and Mac Fleet, both of whom are debuting. While Parker Stinson looks to provide the squad another high-level effort, Oregon has the firepower to give Oklahoma State and Colorado and run for their money. Don’t discount the Ducks.

Oklahoma State, Colorado and Oregon are the pre-race favorites, but once again there will be plenty of other talented teams looking to push for a top five finish and pick up at-large points for later in the season. US#9 Tulsa and US#10 Princeton finished second and third respectively at the Notre Dame Invitational earlier in the season. Tulsa follows the lead of Marc Scott, Chris O’Hare and Danny Thater, while Princeton runs behind the leadership of Tyler Udland and Chris Bendtsen. Both teams are very strong through four runners, but are searching for a fifth to close the gap and take them to the next level.

US#15 Colorado State is another intriguing team. At the Roy Griak Invitational last month, the team finished a surprise second to US#5 BYU, 62-74, running a mere 14 second 1-5 split. While the team placed fifth at the Notre Dame Invitational a week later, they’ll certainly contend for top four Saturday. They lack a true front-runner, but their pack running is a sight to behold.

US#18 Iona, US#19 Boise State, US#23 Villanova and US#29 Stanford are the other ranked teams in the field.

Men’s Individual Race

Reigning NCAA cross country champion Kennedy Kithuka (Texas Tech) leads the way, running an undefeated season thus far and looking as dominant as he did last year when he ran away to the NCAA title. Kithuka did receive a challenge at the Chile Pepper Invitational earlier this fall, where he “only” beat Arkansas’ Kemoy Campbell by six seconds. Regardless, Kithuka is the heavy favorite Saturday in Terre Haute.

Kithuka’s competition is strong. Not to be overlooked, UNC-Greensboro’s Paul Chelimo and Paul Katam open up their season seeking to build on the momentum from this past track season, when they placed second in the 5,000m and 10,000m at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Chelimo is an instant contender yet again this fall, while Katam looks to prove himself after finishing 77th at NCAAs last fall.

With Chelimo and Katam will be Anthony Rotich (UTEP). The star sophomore won the Notre Dame Invitational by four seconds a few weeks back and is looking to take another step forward this fall after proving himself one of the best harriers in the land in 2012.

While Oregon looks to impress as a team, individually all eyes will be on stud freshman Edward Cheserek and Northeastern transfer Eric Jenkins. Jenkins has yet to race this season, and after running 13:18 for 5k this past track season, many consider him a legit top five threat this fall. Meanwhile, Cheserek won his debut race at the Boston College Invitational, while placing second at the Bill Dellinger Invitational.

There are plenty of other front runners who should push for top five finishes Saturday. Oklahoma State’s Kirubel Erassa, Tom Farrell and Shadrack Kipchirchir are running very well this season, while Colorado’s Blake Theroux and freshman standout Ben Saarel lead the Buffaloes. Big Ten rivals Matt McClintock (Purdue) and John Simons (Minnesota) look for top ten finishes, too.

Ranked Teams Competing

US#1 Oklahoma State

US#2 Colorado

US#4 Oregon

US#9 Tulsa

US#10 Princeton

US#15 Colorado State

US#18 Iona

US#19 Boise State

US#23 Villanova

US#29 Stanford

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2 comment(s)  
Scott Bush

SteveU, on , said:

McGorty ran great!


Indeed he did. I wasn't sure how well he would do, considering he had yet to show that type of 8k potential after the Stanford Invite, but we're clearly seeing some big-time frosh results from Cheserek, McGorty and Saarel. This group reminds me of Fernandez, Derrick and Puskedra in a big way.
SteveU
McGorty ran great!
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