No. 1 Adams State
Adams State is the defending national champion and will be the early favorite to repeat this season.
Juniors Kevin Batt, Tabor Stevens and Matt Daniels went two-three-four at last year's national championships and will anchor a very deep and talented ASU squad. Additionally, John Luterbach, a 2012 All-American who placed 15th at the 2012 National Championships, will give the Grizzlies added depth. Stevens is the RMAC Preseason Runner of the Year and is coming off of two national titles during the 2012-13 track and field seasons.
ASU will open the 2013 season on Sept. 7 at the 20th Annual Joe I. Vigil Open in Alamosa, Colo. at Cattails Golf Course.
No. 2 Western State
The top returners for the Mountaineers are Ian Butler, Vegard Olstad and Adam Sinda.
Butler, the 2013 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Outdoor Track and Field Men's 10,000-Meter Run Champion, was a cross country All-American last season, finishing 40th at the national championships in 2012 with a time of 30:24.9.
Olstad is coming off a very busy and very successful summer campaign. In May, Olstad became a National Champion in the men's 1,500-meter run at the 2013 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
A member of the Western 2011 National Championship Team, Sinda returns after just missing All-American status in 2012. A three-time All-American, Sinda finished seventh in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
The Mountaineers will officially begin racing on Sept. 6 at the Colorado State Invite in Fort Collins, Colo.
No. 3 Augustana (S.D.)
The Vikings have the benefit of depth to offset any injuries or setbacks. Head Coach Hellman describes this team as "the deepest we have ever been" with his top seven runners still to be determined.
The mainstays of past years all return with senior and two-time NSIC individual champion Paul Yak leading the way. Juniors Adam Braun and TJ Gleason now have another season under their belts to push the Vikings over the top.
Nathan Hauge and John Klecker look to build on their freshman-year experience, and Keegan Carda and Glen Ellingson return after redshirting last year.
Another factor for the Vikings' success this season is that two of their biggest meets -- the NSIC Championships and the NCAA Central Region Championships --- are going to be hosted by Augustana (S.D.).
No. 4 Chico State
Chico State has youth on its side this season.
Kyle Medina, Forrest Riley, Nick Valenzuela, Ricky Sweet and Zachary Mejia hope to provide the next generation of juice to the Chico State distance running juggernaut.
Medina placed third in the Asics Clovis Invitational during the 2012 cross country season. Riley ran to a third-place finish at the Cross Country State Championships in Fresno, Calif.
Valenzuea boasts a top-15 all-time mark for sophomores on the Woodbridge three-mile course with a 15:46.
Sweet snapped up a spot in the California State Track and Field Championships in the 1,600-meter with a 4:17.02 personal-record time in the San Diego Section finals.
The Wildcats are scheduled to open their season on the Sun Dodger Invitational in Seattle, Wash., Sept. 14.
No. 5 Grand Valley State
Rounding out the top five is Grand Valley State, projected two spots ahead of its seventh-place result at the 2012 championships.
Three scorers return for the Lakers, including senior Josh Moskalewski (53rd), sophomore Joe Duff (78th) and senior Brent Showerman (82nd).