This weekend is the last big NCAA cross-country tests before conference championships as the Wisconsin Invitational and Pre-Nationals will nd the Syracuse Orange are traveling to the Wisconsin Invitational on Friday to battle a host of top-ranked squads. Much of the focus is on the 3rd-ranked men’s team who will face the following top-10 ranked squads in Madison:
- #1 Northern Arizona Lumberjacks
- #4 Stanford Cardinal
- #7 Iona Gaels
- #8 Iowa State Cyclones
- #9 Southern Utah Thunderbirds
It’s certainly an important meet for the Orange especially to see how younger runners will respond to this level of competition. Justyn Knight will make his 2017 debut this week, which will give Syracuse a huge boost on Friday. Knight won last year’s race with this furious kick and I know he’s been anxious to get his season started.
No matter what happens on Friday it will be a good preview of what Syracuse will need to do to take home the title in Louisville next month.
Overshadowed by the men are the Orange women, but they are in the position of having a greater importance on their race this week. Twelve top-25 teams will be in action at Wisconsin which means crucial NCAA at-large points are up for grabs. Syracuse has dropped back to 6th place in the latest Regional rankings and with Providence and Yale looking strong for the automatic qualifies, it’s important for the women to knock off some teams the next two meets.
This is also a great opportunity for Paige Stoner to face a lot of the top individuals in the country. Stoner’s been overlooked by a lot of the national outlets, so a strong race can help change that perception. It will take a team effort for the women to make a push to get back to the NCAA meet, and they can take a big step forward on Friday.
The meet will be held early Friday afternoon with the women running at 12:20 (Central) and the men at 1:00. Stay tuned for a full recap over the weekend.