Monday, October 29, 2012

Regional Previews: Midwest Men

Welcome to my regional rankings!  I'll start with the Midwest region because it is my favorite.  I ran in it a few times and it will always have a special place with me.  This region is to be held at SW Missouri State in Springfield.  The course is a big loop with some inner loops.  It has some long, slow hills that you have to go up a few times during the race.  The meet was last held here in 2010. I will preview teams first and then individuals after that.

1.  Oklahoma State- In past years, OK State has ran easy and let OU win.  This year, I think even with running easy, OK State will still win.  They crushed Texas and OU at Big-12s with their first 3 running in an easy pack and their next 2 running together just 6 seconds back.

2. Oklahoma- Oklahoma looked great their first race out this season but since then they haven't ran quite as well.  Don't get me wrong- they're a great team and will finish 2nd here but they aren't quite as good as last year.  Miler Pat Casey is leading this team that had a 26 second spread at the conference meet.

3. Tulsa- Tulsa was third here last year and they are a better team now.  I don't think they quite have the depth to challenge for the automatic qualifier but they will score much less than their 120 points last year.  Oklahoma's third best team is also led by a miler- Chris O'Hare.

4. Kansas- Kansas has come out of nowhere this year.  They have always been a decent team but this year they are deep.  They had a 1-7 spread of just over 30 seconds in the Big-12 race.  Look for them to run in a pack and be led by Evan Landes or Don Wasinger.

5. Iowa State- The Cyclones finished 16 points behind Kansas at Big 12s.  The only real bright spot was front runner Mohammed Hrezi who finished 14th.  They need their 3-5 guys to get closer to Hrezi to beat Kansas.

6. Illinois- The Fighting Illini have been moving up the regional rankings all year.  They recently beat Minnesota 86-141 at Big 10s led by Jannis Topfer and Hunter Mickow.  They could finish as good as 4th on a good day.

7. Missouri- The Tigers ran very well at the SEC to move ahead of Minnesota in my rankings.  They won a tie breaker for third and were nearly second to Arkansas.  They are led by Hayden Legg and Max Storms.

8. Minnesota- The Gophers have been missing a front runner this year with the graduations of Hassan Mead and Ben Blankenship the last few years.  They have been led by John Simons most of the year and are patiently awaiting the return to top form of Pieter Gagnon.  The Gophers, 5th at Big 10s, were predicted to make nationals by flotrack's Kolas Calculator but that is a very long shot now.

9. Southern Illinois- The Salukis won the Missouri Valley with 34 points placing all 5 of their runners in the top 10 and within 27 seconds of runner-up Zach Dahleen.  It will take a big team effort to move past the Gophers.

10. South Dakota State- SDSU is fresh off a victory at the Summit League with Mike Krsnak as the individual champion.  They finished just behind Iowa at Griak but look to be much improved since then.

Early in the year it appeared that as many as 6 teams would get into nationals from this region.  Now, it looks likely that only 4 teams will get in.  The only scenario would be if Tulsa or Oklahoma were to lose to Iowa State or Illinois and that isn't likely.

There is no Hassan Mead to set the pace and drag everybody else along this year.  It will most likely be a tactical affair with a slow pace early.
1. Girma Mecheso, OK State
2. Shadrack Kipchirchir, OK State
3. Tom Farrell, OK State
4. Patrick Casey, OU
5. Chris O'Hare, Tulsa
6. Mike Krsnak, SDSU
7. Bill Kogel, OU
8. Kevin Williams, OU
9. Jannis Topfer, Illinois
10. Hunter Mickow, Illinois

The two bolded runners would be the automatic individual qualifiers.

Other individuals to watch out for: The rest of Tulsa, OK State, and Oklahoma's teams, Zach Dahleen of SIU, Peter Gagnon of MN, Don Wasinger of KS, Cosmas Ayabei of UMKC, Trent Lusignan of SDSU, Jeff Mettler of USD, Mohammed Hrezi of ISU, Hayden Legg and Max Storms of Missouri.

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