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Is Syracuse XC closing the gap on the NCAA favorites?

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One expert projection shows them 60 pts from a title, but the Orange are improving

Brian Vasey

The Syracuse Orange men’s cross-country team has the week off after their 6th straight conference victory. While the Orange ran the best race of the season, it’s worth looking at how they might compare to the two teams at the top of the rankings.

The BYU Cougars’ Director of Operations Isaac Wood is responsible for The Wood Report on citiusmag.com. Wood has been putting together projections for the last five years and right now he’s got BYU two points behind the defending champs Northern Arizona. Syracuse holds the 4th spot five points behind the Arkansas Razorbacks and about 60 points behind the top two teams.

Now these last rankings were before the conference championships, and since Syracuse, Arkansas (not a full team) and BYU have both run at Louisville we can compare times from Louisville’s 8k course to see where the Orange stand

BYU - Rory Linkletter 23:08

Syr- Justyn Knight 23:13

BYU- Connor McMillan 23:13

BYU- Casey Clingler 23:17

Syr- Colin Bennie 23:17

Syr- Aidan Tooker 23:21

BYU- Clayton Young 23:25

BYU-Daniel Carney 23:25

Ark- Alex George 23:26

Ark- Jack Bruce 23:28

BYU- Jonathan Harper 23:37

Syr- Philo Germano 23:39

Syr- Joe Dragon 23:42

BYU- Braden McClelland 23:48

Syr- Dom Hockenbury 24:01

Syr- Iliass Aouani 24:03

Ark- Cameron Griffith 24:18

Ark-Ethan Moeth 24:38*

*At the SEC Championships, Matt Young and Austin Dalquist were ahead of Moeth and were the Razorbacks 4th and 5th runners.

Now comparing races a couple of weeks apart isn’t an exact science, but we can get a glimpse of what SU is looking at in two weeks. NAU isn’t included in this, but I still think they have shown themselves to be the deepest team heading into the last two meets.

Having Justyn Knight at the top of the field gives the Orange a great start, but the other three title contenders project to place their top two runners in the top 15. I think the jump up to 10k helps Colin Bennie and Philo Germano, but we haven’t seen what Aidan Tooker and Joe Dragon can do at the distance. The ACC results certainly give Syracuse fans reason for optimism and I think it’s well-founded optimism.

The Wood Report projections don’t reflect the best that the Orange can hope for, so if the team can build off of the ACC results and deliver strong performances like they did in 2015, they will certainly be in the mix at the end. A lot can happen over the 10k distance and for most title contenders it only takes an off day from one of the top five to make the difference between winning and losing.

Next week we’ll look at the Orange women as they try to run their way to a spot in Louisville.