Update 6/12/21

The NIRCA Fall 2021 National Championship is (tentatively) on!

We are thrilled to announce that Fall XC Nationals is planned for November 6th, 2021 in Shelbyville, IN. These plans are subject to change as new information emerges, so keep checking here for immediate updates as they are available.

For the Fall 2021 season, Nationals eligibility criteria for club and individual participation will be waived. NIRCA fall season meets will all be considered Non-Qualifiers.

Regionals: tentatively planned, all dates TBD. Fall season: clubs hosting meets should submit their races for the NIRCA event calendar as soon as their events are confirmed.

2017 NIRCA National Cross Country Championships Men’s Preview

November 9th, 2017

Traditional regional powers give us the “usual suspects” feel for the 2017 team title race, and a slew of returning top ten individual finishers from a year ago may not lead to many surprises on the medal stand. 

We are at least assured to crown a new individual champion. A course-marking error in Mid-Atlantics and a timing system error at the Pacific Regional made for deceiving results in arguably the two deepest and most competitive NIRCA regions. Keep that in mind as we discuss regional results and favorites for this year’s Nationals.

 

TEAM

University of Oregon is the defending national champions and returns six of their top seven from the 2016 title team. The Ducks did not win the Pacific Regional, suffering a close 45-47 loss to Cal Poly. The Mustangs will not make the trip to East Lansing, so UO is the top representative from that region and a heavy favorite to capture a fourth national title. Oregon is led by Ryan Jones, fourth at regionals but the highest returning individual from 2016 Nationals, placing second. Carter Christman and Seth Berdhal were also top 10 finishers at Nationals in 2016 and are back for another run at the crown. Robert Pedersen and August Howell bring that title experience as well.

The biggest threat to Oregon may come from the third place team out of the Pacific, University of California Davis. The Aggies, who scored 57 points at Pacifics, are the 2015 national champions and were second a year ago in Hershey. Nathan Kwan is fresh off the Pacific Regional title and was the third place finisher at 2016 Nats. Clancy McConnel, a returning All-American, was the regional runner-up and should help Davis keep their score low through two finishers.

With no times recorded for the Pacific Regional, it’s hard to compare across the regions just how the last two national title teams stack up against the competition, but with so many returning runners from those title teams it’s hard to not see them as two of the favorites on Saturday.

Penn State University has been methodically make its way to the top of NIRCA. With no national titles to their name, the Nittany Lions come in with two podium finishes in as many years, 2nd in 2015 and 3rd in 2016. This year’s version may be the best yet. Penn State was cruising through 7k of the Mid Atlantic Regional with all scoring five in or near the top 10 in one of NIRCA’s largest and traditionally most competitive regionals. The results won’t show a PSU win and hardly any medalists as the lead cart led most of the race’s top 20 off course in the last 1000 meters but it’s hard to imagine it would not have been a one-sided team win. PSU has just one runner in the field who was top 25 a year ago, Dan Wilcko, but has seen vast improvements from Mark Puelo, Matt Byerle, and Joseph Clark.

Iowa State University made a statement with a big win at the Great Plains Regional. Another club that has yet to grab that elusive title but is a fixture on the podium, the Cyclones hope this is the year. They scored just 22 points and averaged 26:30 in Iowa City for a big win over runner-up University of Illinois (69 pts, 27:19 average). Andreas Lommer and Jason Thomas finished 1-2 at Great Plains. Lommer is a NIRCA newcomer and Thomas was 7th at 2016 Nationals. If both finish in the top 10, that’s a big boost for the Cyclones title hopes.

Purdue University bested the traditional powers Indiana University and University of Michigan en route to the Great Lakes Regional championship two weeks ago. The Boilers had three runners in the top 10 with Nate Veldt (2nd), Conner Sandt (6th), and Tyler Bowling (10th) which helped with a 26:22 team average and scoring 43 points to Indiana’s 56 and Michigan’s 74. IU averaged 26:30 behind Matt Flaherty and Nicholas Bergen’s 3-4 finish while UM averaged 26:32 and had the individual champ, Ross Pendergast and an eighth place finish from Adam Sawicki.

Clemson University scored a ten point victory over University of North Carolina in the Southeast Regional, 36-46. The Tigers were led by the runner-up finish of Robbie Simmons and posted a team average of 26:58. In the Northeast, University of Connecticut captured the title with 42 points and a 27:43 average.

Other teams to watch include University of PennsylvaniaUniversity of MarylandPrinceton University, University of IllinoisUniversity of Wisconsin, and Stanford University.

 

 

INDIVIDUAL

The Pacific Region features four of the top five returning finishers from 2016 Nationals and it starts with Oregon’s Ryan Jones. Third in 2015 and runner-up a year ago, Jones looks primed to finally win it all. But to do so, he’ll need to overcome two UC Davis runners that got the best of him at the Pacific Regional two weeks ago. One of them is last year’s third-place finisher at Nationals, Nathan Kwan. Similar to Jones, Kwan is a two-time All-American as he was 10th in 2015 and won the Pacific Regional this year. Teammate Clancy McConnell, the regional runner-up, was 16th in Hershey. Adding in Oregon’s Carter Christman (6th in 2016) and Seth Berdahl (8th in 2016), it’s hard to imagine the 2017 individual champ won’t come from this region.

Iowa State has two legitimate contenders for a national title as they try to continue the legacy set by former teammate Rob Scanlon, winner of the last two national titles. Jason Thomas was 7th on this stage one year ago but comes in as the #2 Cyclone behind newcomer and 2017 Great Plains Regional champ Andreas Lommer. Both runners flirted with breaking the 26-minute barrier at Regionals.

Two runners broke 26 at the Great Lakes Regional and both will look to challenge on Saturday. Michigan’s Ross Pendergast is a returning All-American, placing 11th in Hershey and more recently winning the regional title in 25:46. Purdue’s Nate Veldt wasn’t far behind in 25:58 after placing 40th at the 2016 National meet but 3rd in the 1500 meters last spring. Don’t sleep on Indiana’s Matt Flaherty either. The Hoosier was third at Great Lakes but is the only runner in this field who is a former NIRCA XC National champion. We had to dig into the archives quite a bit to verify but Flaherty indeed was the 2008 National Champion…nine years ago! Back in school as a graduate student at IU, it will be interesting to see how he stacks up.

The Mid Atlantic Regional had the unfortunate issue with the top runners being led off-course, so while we can’t look to the results as an indicator for Nationals, there are plenty of runners who have stood out during the regular season. Two top 20 finishers from 2016 Nationals are back – Princeton’s Leif Fredericks and Georgetown’s Eric Diestelow. Penn State brings the reigning NIRCA Half Marathon champ Dan Wilcko as well as newcomer Joseph Clark. The duo was 1-2 at their home invite in sub 26 times. Teammate Matt Beyerle meanwhile was leading the Mid Atlantic Regional meet through the 7k mark. UPenn’s Ian Whittall ran 25:41 earlier this season to take the Princeton Invite and Maryland’s Andrew Lent wasn’t far back in the same meet. All in all, there should be multiple contenders from the Mid-Atlantic pushing for podium finishes in 2017.

Other contenders for the individual crown include Duke’s Patrick Cardel (the Southeast Regional champ), Clemson’s Robbie Simmons (2nd at Southeast), Brown’s William Brockmueller (the Northeast Regional champ), UConn’s Sricharan Kadimi (2nd at Northeast), Wisconsin’s Dylan Souder (3rd at Great Plains), Oregon’s Robert Pedersen (6th at Pacific), and Indiana’s Nicholas Bergen (4th at Great Lakes).

 

PREDICTIONS

TEAM:  
It’s hard to bet against the defending champs. Oregon’s experienced squad takes the national championship trophy back to Eugene once again. Penn State stays on the podium with a runner-up spot while UC Davis edges Iowa State for third.

INDIVIDUAL: 
The two highest returning finishers should be the ones battling it out. The nod goes to Davis’ Kwan in a hotly-contested battle over Oregon’s Jones. Iowa State’s Thomas takes third.

 

Highest Returning Finishers from 2016

Ryan Jones, Oregon, 2nd 
Nathan Kwan, UC Davis, 3rd 
Carter Christman, Oregon, 6th 
Jason Thomas, Iowa State, 7th
Seth Berdahl, Oregon, 8th
Ross Pendergast, Michigan, 11th
Clancy McConnell, UC Davis, 16th
Leif Fredericks, Princeton, 17th
Eric Diestelow, Georgetown, 18th


NIRCA Men’s National Champions

 

Year

Champion

College/University

Time

Course

2016

Rob Scanlon

Iowa State

25:35

Parkview XC Course, Hershey, PA

2015

Rob Scanlon

Iowa State

24:59

Masterson Station,
Lexington, KY

2014

Ryan Wells

Indiana

25:36

Forest Akers Course, East Lansing, MI

2013

Gregory Jantzen

Virginia

25:31

Parkview XC Course, Hershey, PA

2012

Joey Murray

Virginia Tech

25:26

Parkview XC Course, Hershey, PA

2011

Andy Weaver

Delaware

23:59

McAlpine Creek Park, Charlotte, NC

2010

Duriel Hardy

Michigan-
Ann Arbor

25:24

IU XC Course, Bloomington, IN

2009

Andrew Coates

Michigan-Dearborn

24:55

Eagle Crest Golf Course, Ypsilanti, MI

2008

Matt Flaherty

Indiana

26:54*

Penn State Golf Course, University Park, PA

2007

Keith Laverty

Oregon

26:02

IU XC Course, Bloomington, IN

2006

Brock Phillips

North Carolina

25:44

Lock Haven XC Course, Lock Haven, PA

*2008 championship course was 5.2 miles long. Adjusted 8k winning time would be 25:39.

 

All-Time Top 25 8k Performances at NIRCA XC Nationals

1

Andy Weaver

Delaware

23:59

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

2

Wallace Campbell

Clemson

24:12

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

3

Michael Frigo

Illinois

24:27

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

4

Janis Teopfer

Texas

24:30

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

5

Aaron Silver

Illinois

24:41

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

6

Mason Frank

Iowa State

24:44

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

7

Peter Hogenson

Minnesota

24:45

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

8

Grant Johnson

Minnesota

24:45

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

9

Robert McLaughlan

Oregon

24:47

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

10

Sean Sketch

Princeton

24:50

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

11

Greg Jantzen

Virginia

24:52

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

12

Brendan McDonnel

Illinois

24:53

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

13

Andrew Coates

Michigan Dearborn

24:55

Eagle Crest Golf Course

2009

14

Casey Campbell

Oregon

24:57

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

15

Wallace Campbell

Clemson

24:59

Eagle Crest Golf Course

2009

15

Rob Scanlon

Iowa State

24:59

Masterson Station Park

2015

17

Ryan Wells

Indiana

25:05

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

17

Chris Steenkamer

Maryland

25:05

Masterson Station Park

2015

19

Ryan Jones

Oregon

25:06

Masterson Station Park

2015

20

Colin Zauner

Minnesota

25:07

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

21

Kelly Fermoyle

Penn State

25:09

Eagle Crest Golf Course

2009

21

Aidan Galasso

Delaware

25:09

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

23

Dan Fadgen

Purdue

25:10

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

24

Avi Bregman

Michigan

25:11

Masterson Station Park

2015

25

Zach Garcia

Virginia

25:12

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

 

 

Team Championship History:

YEAR

NATIONAL CHAMP

RUNNER-UP

3RD PLACE

2016

Oregon (52)

UC Davis (69)

Penn State (108)

2015

UC Davis (106)

Penn State (125)

Indiana (149)

2014

Indiana (23)

Michigan (149)

Illinois (162)

2013

Indiana (66)

Iowa State (93)

Penn State (114)

2012

Oregon (42)

Indiana (65)

Iowa State (115)

2011

Illinois (87)

Iowa State (115)

Virginia (128)

2010

Michigan (63)

Wisconsin (100)

Virginia (101)

2009

Wisconsin (62)

Illinois (105)

Michigan (128)

2008

Wisconsin (35)

Oregon (89)

Michigan (99)

2007

Oregon (42)

Michigan (47)

Illinois (102)

2006

North Carolina (54)

Illinois (62)

Michigan (74)



Top 10 All-Time Team Averages at NIRCA Nationals:

Rank

Team

Average Time

Year

Nationals Course

1

Illinois

25:04

2011

McAlpine Creek Park

2

Iowa State

25:20

2011

McAlpine Creek Park

3

Delaware

25:22

2011

McAlpine Creek Park

4

Minnesota

25:23

2011

McAlpine Creek Park

5

Virginia

25:24

2011

McAlpine Creek Park

6

Indiana

25:39

2011

McAlpine Creek Park

7

Oregon

25:44

2011

McAlpine Creek Park

8

Wisconsin

25:49

2011

McAlpine Creek Park

9

Indiana

25:54

2014

Forest Akers Golf Course

T10

Oregon

25:58

2012

Hershey Parkview XC Course

T10

UC Davis

25:58

2015

Masterson Station Park

 

 


Stephanie Bartley, NIRCA

#nircanats