National Boys Pre-Season Rankings – #1-10
Here is the list of teams on the national top ten teams. Just a reminder on how I come up with my rankings, this is all based almost strictly off of what each team returns from their championship XC meets (State meet and NXN series, or in California’s case CIF Section Finals + State finals) and their best track times of the year from 1500m-5000m. In the national rankings, I do give a little more credit to how good programs have been over the past several years, but it is not overriding – it more or less just breaks ties between teams that seem otherwise very even.
Now, without further ado, here is the top ten!
1. Christian Brothers Academy NJ – The defending NXN Champions return not only four from their varsity squad last fall, but also introduced some great talent moving up from varsity in the spring. No boys team has won back-to-back NXN National titles to date, but there has to be a first time for everything. The road will be tough, as there are stacked teams across the nation this year, but CBA look to be squarely in the mix for the title and whoever stands atop the podium in December might just be the greatest team of all time.
2. Southlake Carroll TX – Missing out on last year’s title by a mere four points, the Dragons of Southlake Carroll also return four of their varsity runners from last year’s squad and move up some promising talent from their JV team. If one were to strictly look at returners from last year’s NXN Championship race, Southlake Carroll looks like the strongest team through their four returners…
3. Davis UT – Third at NXN last year, the Darts are returning five varsity runners and like the teams listed ahead of them had a very strong track season this spring. Expect the Darts to be battle-tested by the time the NXN series rolls around, with potential match-ups with more pre-season top-10 teams than any other team in the country: Utah power American Fork (US#6) at the Grass Relays (August 25), Utah State (October 17), and NXN-Southwest (November 17); Davis also faces the top Washington powers North Central (US#4) and Seattle Prep (US#9) at the Bob Firman ID Invitational on September 22 (not to mention California powerhouse Arcadia..).
4. North Central WA – Statistically the best program at Nike Cross Nationals during the regional era (won their region every year, never finished below seventh at nationals – a feat which no other team can claim – and have averaged 207.6 points, which is less than any other team that has qualified at least three of the five years), the five-time NXN-Northwest and six-time Washington 3A State Champion returns their entire top seven and then some from a team that finished seventh in Portland last year. Led by a sub-9 minute 3200m diminutive then-sophomore, the Indians not only return the best scoring five runners from NXN last fall but continued their success this spring, with three under 9:20 and a freshman running under 4:20. Like Davis above, this team will be battle tested with multiple match-ups with in-state 3A rival Seattle Prep, including the September showdown in Boise, and the ever-strong Greater Spokane League.
5. York IL – One of three teams that have competed at Portland each year, the Dukes of York return five scorers and also welcome back Alex Mimlitz, who was injured last fall but was a promising young prospect in 2010. With the depth of York, though, there is a legitimite question, as great a potential runner as Mimlitz is, of whether or not even he will be able to crack the varsity squad of such an impressive group. If the Dukes want to stand on the podium in Portland, though, they’ll have to match the front running of the other top teams, all of which have returning runners ahead of their top returner and had better times in track this spring as well. One can never count out the program led by one of the legendary coaches in the sport, however: you can count on the Dukes to be a serious threat.
6. American Fork UT – The defending NXN-Southwest and Utah 5A State Champions have a difficult task ahead of them to maintain those titles, but American Fork returns four from last year’s varsity squad and shouldn’t have problems filling out their scoring lineup with runners moving up from their strong JV, possibly led by an unsung start last fall in Kaden Springer (16:16 for 5k at altitude last fall) or improving talents such as Caleb Thompson?
7. Bishop Hendricken RI
8. St. Xavier KY
9. Seattle Prep WA
10. Bismarck ND