The year’s biggest collegiate cross country invitational produced some great races as usual. Below are a few quick thoughts after the meet.
Takeaway #1: Laura Hollander is the real deal.
Laura Hollander led wire-to-wire to beat Betsy Saina and some of the best runners in the NCAA. Her unofficial time of 19:33 for the 6000 meter race was a course record by 20 seconds. Pretty amazing stuff. The Cal Poly frosh is clearly a great talent having run 10:10.51 for 3200 meters last year but surely no one expected this type of showing in her true freshman year.
Takeaway #2: Women’s podium spots up for grabs.
Iowa State was the clear team champion today nearly 70 points ahead of its closest competitor. The Cyclones now look to be a solid #2 team in the nation behind Florida State, competing tomorrow at Pre-Nationals. The fight for the next two podium spots, however, appears to be wide open. Pac-12 teams Stanford, Arizona and Washington finished second, third and fourth, respectively, in Wisconsin and look to be prime contenders.
Takeaway #3: Wisconsin men in a tough predicament.
The Badgers were seventh unofficially with Reed Conner running unattached and no Mo Ahmed. Maverick Darling was strong in fifth but there are big questions about the team’s back-end guys. If coach Mick Byrne doesn’t like what he sees, he’ll redshirt Conner and Ahmed and all but bag Wisconsin’s hope for a second straight national title.
Takeaway #4: Men’s team title wide open.
If Wisconsin does sit out two of their top three men, the men’s title come November 17 in Louisville will be wide open. Oklahoma was the hot team after strong pack running in Virginia but was only second to Iona today. Second-ranked Oklahoma State races tomorrow at Chili Pepper while #3 BYU will be at Pre-Nationals.
**Edit: Official results indicate Stanford the upset winner of the men’s race ahead of Iona and Oklahoma. Consider the Cardinal in the same boat as a national title contender.