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2019 XC Nationals: Men’s Individual Preview

November 14th, 2019

No clear favorite and inconsistency will lead to a tight race in Richmond.

Last year, runners from UC-Davis claimed the top two individual places in Lexington.  While Jon Horvath and Nathan Kwan will not be competing in Richmond this weekend, another UC, Davis runner looks ready to retain the individual championship, Clancy McConnell.  McConnell was 20th overall in Lexington last year and has been having a strong season this year, posting a time of 24:32 in non-NIRCA competition at the Santa Clara Bronco Invite.  McConnell won the individual title at the Pacific Regional in 25:33, while teammate James Melkonian finished fifth with a time of 26:32.  Melkonian just missed All-American honors in 2018 as he finished 33rd but will be seeking a top 30 finish and those honors this year.  Dilpreet Singh of UCLA (25:57) was a clear second at Regionals and should be another contender at the front of the race this weekend in Richmond.  Thomas Busse of Cal Poly was tenth at the Pacific Regional, but is an All-American and one of the top returners from 2018 Nationals, tenth overall.

 

Two of the top three returners from last year are from one of the team title favorites, Purdue University. Matthew Sraders and Conner Sandt placed fourth and seventh at Nationals last year, respectively.  The pair ran very well at Regionals where Sraders finished first, 25:35, and Sandt finished third, 25:43, on the back of a strong season where Sandt has finishes of second and third while Sraders has a first and a second place finish.  They are ready for strong races again this year at a new NIRCA course in Richmond. Separating those two at the Great Lakes Regional was Paolo Guarano of Michigan State University (25:36) who has been having an incredible season after finishing 98th in Lexington last year but has a first and seventh place finish at NIRCA races this year.  Tyler Opdycke from the University of Michigan will be another runner from the Great Lakes region at the front of the race on Saturday.  Opdycke did not compete at regionals, but is the second returner from 2018 Nationals, having finished fifth overall. Fellow teammate and All-American Adam Sawicki, 22nd in 2018, was Michigan’s fastest runner at Regionals finishing eighth with a time of 26:02 and will be expected to finish top 30 again this year.

 

The fastest regional time from the year comes from Joseph Clark of Penn State University, who won the Mid-Atlantic regional title in 24:31, a 15-second victory over second place.  Clark was just 130th at Nationals in 2018, but looks ready to run away from the competition in Richmond as his Regional time is fastest time of his NIRCA career.  His teammate Andrew Hanna, 39th in 2018, finished fourth at Regionals after a second place finish at the Nittany Lion Invitational.  They will look to team up and pace each other in the lead pack. Sam Lebahn of Virginia Tech finished second to Clark at Regionals and this will be Lebahn’s first NIRCA Nationals meet.  Lebahn was undefeated in NIRCA competition before finishing second to Clark at regionals, and he will surely be working to turn the tables on Clark this weekend.  Third at the Mid-Atlantic regional was Zack Holden of Virginia, 25:10 who will be looking to improve on his 34th place finish from 2018 Nationals.

 

Binghamton’s Matthew Jacob won the Northeast regional title in 25:39 over Luke Janik from Northeastern, 25:57.  Jacob will be looking to break into the top of the field in Richmond after having placed 69th in Lexington last year and a strong performance at the Nittany Lion Invitational where he finished first.  Janik returns as a senior this year and hopes to improve on a 40th place finish in 2018 after four consecutive first place finishes in NIRCA competition prior to placing second at Regionals.

 

Josh Mollway from Illinois was one of the most dominant regional champions, winning the Great Plains title in 26:15, a 36-second victory over his teammate Justin Ostrem.  Mollway is the fourth fastest returner from Lexington, where he was an All-American finishing ninth overall while Ostrem was 70th. From the Southeast regional, the top individual contenders come from North Carolina State University. Danny Sodano, 27:33 at 2019 Regionals, 50th overall at 2018 Nationals, and Ethan Frey, 27:34 at 2019 Regionals, took the top two places in their region.

 

Other runners to watch for:

Alexander Livernois, Indiana 

Andrew Hanna, Penn State 

Andrew Lent, Maryland

Blake Zufall, Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona

Brandon Shepherd, Michigan

James Melkonian, UC, Davis

Jared Reckard, Indiana 

Liam Collins, Texas

Mayank Agrawal, Princeton University

Nicholas DeHaven, Cincinnati

Nick Brouch, Indiana 

Raymond Friend, Penn State 

Ryan Somerfield, Illinois

Samuel Schroeder, George Washington



Prediction:

1st - Joseph Clark, Penn State

2nd - Clancy McConnell, UC, Davis

3rd - Matthew Sraders, Purdue



Highest Returning Finishers from 2018

Matthew Sraders, Purdue University, 4th

Tyler Opdycke, University of Michigan, 5th

Conner Sandt, Purdue University, 7th

Josh Mollway, University of Illinois, 9th

Thomas Busse, California Polytechnic State University, 10th

Samuel Schroeder, George Washington, 11th

Liam Collins, University of Texas - Austin, 15th

Ryan Somerfield, University of Illinois, 17th

Brandon Shepherd, University of Michigan, 18th

Clancy McConnell, University of California, Davis, 20th

 

NIRCA Men’s National Champion

Year

Champion

College/University

Time

Course

2018

Jon Horvath

UC, Davis

25:08

Masterson Station, Lexington, KY

2017

Andreas Lommer

Iowa State

25:29

Forest Akers Course, East Lansing, MI

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

 

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

Ranking

Runner

College/University

Time

Course

Year

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

T7

Peter Hogenson

Minnesota

24:45

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

T7

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

T15

Wallace Campbell

Clemson

24:59

Eagle Crest Golf Course

2009

T15

Rob Scanlon

Iowa State

24:59

Masterson Station Park

2015

T17

Ryan Wells

Indiana

25:05

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

T17

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

Jon Horvath

UC, Davis

25:08

Masterson Station Park

2018

T22

Kelly Fermoyle

Penn State

25:09

Eagle Crest Golf Course

2009

T22

Aidan Galasso

Delaware

25:09

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

24

Dan Fadgen

Purdue

25:10

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

25

Avi Bregman

Michigan

25:11

Masterson Station Park

2015

 

Written by: Patrick Kenney & Michael Potter


Michael Potter, NIRCA

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