Great Lakes Regional Preview: Men’s Teams

The NCAA Great Lakes Regional Cross Country Championships will be held on Saturday in Toledo’s historic Ottawa Park. Go to my Regional coverage page for all the details.

The regionals is a qualifying round, for both teams and individuals. Team qualifying to the NCAA Championships is by a combination of automatic and at-large berths.

The top two teams will automatically advance to the NCAA Championships, to be held on Monday, November 21, at Terre Haute, Indiana.

At-large qualifying is based on points earned during the regular season by beating teams from other regions who have already qualified, either automatically or at-large. There will be 13 at-large selections from across the country; the top team in terms of points is selected, one-by-one, until the 13 spots are filled. Teams with no points can be “pushed” in at the regionals by beating a team who qualifies on points—but two teams with no points ahead of one with points act as a “block” and none of them go.

So, what’s going to happen on Saturday? Here’s the conventional wisdom.

The Favorites

#1 Wisconsin
Season’s results:
1) Bill Dellinger Invitational
1) adidas Invitational
1) Big Ten Championships

Key runners: Mo Ahmed, Maverick Darling, Elliot Krause, Ryan Collins, Reed Connor

#7 Indiana
Season’s results:
2) Cowboy Jamboree
5) adidas Invitational (split squad)
8) Pre-Nationals (split squad)
2) Big Ten Championships

Key runners:Andrew Bayer, Andrew Poore, Zach Mayhew, Adrien Dannemiller, DeSean Turner, Ben Hubers

Wisconsin now rates as a slight favorite to win the national title, and with only nine days between this race and that one, the Badgers will be coasting. But not too much – they have streak of ten consecutive regional titles, and they want to extend it.

Indiana shouldn’t have to go all-out to get second, either. When running a complete squad, their only losses are to the nation’s top two teams, Wisconsin and Oklahoma State. Their key runners tend to be track-oriented guys, milers and steeplers and 5k runners, for whom the 10k distance is more of a challenge, but they should still get through just fine.

At-Large Hopefuls

These are the teams that Flotrack currently projects to qualify to the NCAA Championships based on wins over teams also expected to qualify.

#19 Michigan
Season’s results:
1) Mountain Dew Invitational
13) adidas Invitational
=3) Big Ten Championships

Key runners: Craig Forys, Bobby Aprill, Brendon Blacklaws, Morsi Rayyan, Zach Ornelas

#28 Ohio State
Season’s results:
12) Notre Dame Invitational
17) adidas Invitational
5) Big Ten Championships

Key runners: Donny Roys, Taylor Williams, Julian Meyer, Adam Green, Chris Fallon

Notre Dame
Season’s results:
11) Notre Dame Invitational
19) adidas Invitational
6) Big East Championships

Key runners: Martin Grady, Jeremy Rae, Kelly Lynch, Jordan Carlson

Michigan has the best chance to get an at-large berth; their 13th-place finish at Wisconsin’s adidas Invitational put them ahead of teams like Oregon and Texas A&M, who are likely to qualify to nationals.

Ohio State and Notre Dame are in a bit more tenuous positions; they traded wins over each other at Notre Dame and adidas, and have beaten only a few teams likely to give them qualifying points. More than three at-large berths from this region is unlikely, so this is where the real drama happens on race day. These two need to hold off everyone listed below.

Long Shots

These are the teams without wins over teams likely to qualify to the NCAA Championships. For any of these to get in, they need to upset the formcharts and finish in the top four or five teams.

Eastern Michigan
Season’s results:
20) Notre Dame Invitational
3) Guelph Invitational
1) Mid-American Championships

Season’s results:
11) Roy Griak Invitational
16) Notre Dame Invitational
9) Bradley Classic
1) Horizon League Championships

Michigan State
Season’s results:
8) Roy Griak Invitational
34) adidas Invitational
8) Big Ten Championships

Of these long shots, the biggest question mark is Eastern Michigan. On the weekend of October 14, when every decent team was running at either Wisconsin, Indiana State or Arkansas, the Eagles went out of the country to Guelph, Ontario. They won the MAC, but that doesn’t mean nearly as much these days as it used to.

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