Sneakers prepare to hit the terrain as the NCAA Cross Country season gears up to begin. While runners stretch and train, fans should be finding their favorite runner to follow in 2016. Though colleges across the country have a variety of talented runners, these five look to help their teams move quickly and swiftly up the rankings.

John Dressel | Colorado

Coming off of an impressive freshman year, Dressel looks to dominate again as a more experienced athlete. Last year, he was one of the very few in Colorado history to participate on the varsity team as a freshman. He helped the Buffs take their fifth straight conference title with a sixth place finish at Pac-12s, later earning an All-Region honor and an All-American honor. In high school, Dressel spend time competing on all levels—local, national and international.

Colin Bennie | Syracuse

After helping the Orange claim its championship title last year, Bennie was named part of the USTFCCCA All-American Team, the All-ACC Team and the USTFCCCA All-Northeast Region Team. Now, with a schedule of many familiar matchups, he and his team seek to defend the national title. He is still a young runner, just entering his junior year, but cross country fans can look to see him break away from the pack this year.

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Sean McGorty | Stanford

This six time All-American placed seventh in the NCAA Championships last year and helped his team achieve third place overall. He was named part of the All-West Regional Team and the All-Pac 12 First Team. Still, he was Stanford’s leading runner in more than half of the races he competed in. However, he also did well in his freshman and sophomore seasons, so now as a senior ready to compete in his last year of college cross country, he looks to be a well-groomed, seasoned runner ready to lead Stanford to a championship title.

Josh Thompson | Oklahoma State

OSU Cross Country coach Dave Smith consistently speaks highly of Thompson. As the Big 12’s Newcomer of the Year, he was one of OSU’s top-five finishers all last year. However, it was his first year running with a DI cross country program. Even so, he managed to finish second in his team, finishing with a 30:59.0 time. With his experience growing, Thompson may be pushing his team to the top in 2016.

Ben Flanagan | Michigan

As the team captain for the past two years, Flanagan aided UM to place ninth overall at the NCAA Championships last year. He is a member of the 2015 Great Lakes Regional Championship Team and the 2015 Big Ten Championship Team. During his sophomore year, he led the team to its best national finish since 2003. However, he continues to grow as both a runner and a leader, and cross country fans can expect to see him finish strong in his last year on his college cross country team. 

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