The Syracuse Orange men’s cross country team are competing in their 11th straight NCAA Championship on Saturday in Terre Haute, Indiana. While the Orange aren’t likely title contenders this year, there is still a lot for this team to prove.
Syracuse Men’s XC NCAA finishes during streak
Syracuse head into the final race of the 2019 season with only two seniors (Kevin James and Simon Smith) among the nine runners travelling to Terre Haute. Competing against the best runners in the country is another opportunity for the Orange to gain valuable experience as the team moves to get back to a podium finish (top four). As you see from the chart above Syracuse had four years at NCAAs before they cracked the top 10 and getting used to the race tactics to be successful in a championship race is something that often takes some time.
Some of you might remember that Justyn Knight finished 143rd in his first NCAAXC race and while we don’t put those lofty expectations on anyone on the Syracuse team, it is a reminder that in a meet of this caliber a slightly off day means a significant drop in place. That’s something that last year’s Orange team dealt with in Madison as the team finished in 26th place out of 31 teams. Joe Dragon led the Orange with a 90th place finish last season and this year he’ll be looking to crack the top 50 along with Nathan Henderson (he was 189th last year).
In winning the ACC Championships a few weeks ago Syracuse made their way up over the final 2k of the race and maintained a strong pack. To be successful in Terre Haute the Orange have to keep that small gap between their entire seven runners while also being careful not to be too far behind in the first 2k. The course should be wet and honestly the conditions can favor the Syracuse team which is strong over the 10k distance. A top 15 team finish combined with the ACC Championship would be a good way for an up and down Syracuse season to end. With the talent on the roster there is a promising future ahead for the Orange.
The men’s team title should once again belong to the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks who are the heavy favorites to win their fourth consecutive championship. The Colorado Buffaloes and Stanford Cardinal are the teams with the best chance to end the NAU streak. On the women’s side, the Arkansas Razorbacks are the pre-race favorites with the BYU Cougars and Stanford Cardinal their biggest threats.
The races kick off at 11:15 ET with the Women’s 6k followed by the Men’s 10k. Broadcast coverage is only available on FloTrack because the billion-dollar NCAA needs to make a few more bucks by selling the broadcast rights to a company that charges too much for the lousy broadcast they provide. You can follow the live results here and we’ll have a full recap as well.