The Syracuse Orange will be in Tallahassee on Friday morning for the 2015 ACC Cross-Country Championships. You can watch the race online on ESPN3 beginning at 9:00 AM. The Syracuse men are looking for their 3rd straight title, while the women are looking to make a big jump up from last year's 8th place finish.
Right now it looks like Notre Dame Fighting Irish runner Molly Seidel is the runner to beat. Seidel finished 2nd at the Wisconsin Invite and seems to have been propelled forward by her NCAA title in the Outdoor 10k. At Wisconsin, she was 30 seconds ahead of the next ACC runners, her teammate Anna Rohrer and N.C. State's Samantha George. Syracuse's Margo Malone finished 3rd in this meet last season and will be in strong contention to match that this year. Another name to watch is NC State's talented freshman Ryen Frazier.
My Prediction: 1) Seidel 2) George 3) Rohrer 4) Malone
The favorites in the women's team competition are the #7 Virginia Cavaliers and the #8 NC State Wolfpack, but #15 Syracuse and #17 Notre Dame aren't too far behind. If Notre Dame had some depth behind Seidel and Rohrer, they would be the team to beat, but I think that Frazier and N.C. State post a slim victory.
My Prediction: 1) NC State 2) Virginia 3) Notre Dame 4) Syracuse
Martin Hehir is looking to defend his 2014 title (and earn the 3rd conference championship of his career), but he's not going to be the favorite on Friday. Those honors will be shared by his teammate Justyn Knight and rival Thomas Curtin of the Virginia Tech Hokies. Curtin has the most impressive win of this XC season with his 1st place finish over defending NCAA Champion Edward Cheserek at the Pre-National Meet. He's also known for taking the lead early and trying to run away from his competitors.
Knight just missed out on the win at the Wisconsin Invite, but with Syracuse looking to win the team title, it remains to be seen if the Orange will be content to let Curtin go and focus on staying ahead of Virginia. I think Curtin will jump to a decent early lead, but that the depth of Syracuse will allow them to work together to reel him in, and then Knight's kick finishing speed will propel him to his 1st ACC XC title.
Other runners to watch are Louisville Cardinals runners Ernest Kibet, 2nd place in 2014, and Edwin Kibichiy, who was 6th last year.
My Prediction: 1) Knight 2) Hehir 3)Curtin
In 2014, Syracuse placed all 5 runners in the top 11 to earn a dominant win. It's possible that the Orange could finish as strongly in 2015, but the competition is a bit deeper. #7 Virginia and #12 NC State are going to battle for 2nd and hope for an off day from Syracuse. Look for Syracuse to win comfortably and continue their dominance since joining the ACC.
My Prediction: 1) Syracuse 2) Virginia 3) NC State
Hopefully you get the chance to catch some of Friday's action, but we'll have a full recap next week.