Before the 2023 cross country season begins in September, here's a primer for everything you need to know this season, including top runners, storylines and invitationals.
Invitationals to keep on your radar
The weekends of Sept. 22 and Oct. 13 are two of the biggest in collegiate cross country. You'll want to keep an eye out for the following meets;
- Roy Griak Invitational | Sept. 22 | Host: Minnesota
- Cowboy Jamboree | Sept. 23 | Host: Oklahoma State
- Nuttycombe Invitational | Oct. 13 | Host: Wisconsin
- NCAA Pre Nationals | Oct. 14 | Host: Virginia
Runners to know
The 2023 cross country season will feature several returning athletes that saw great success last year. Here are athletes you should know for fall:
- Natalie Cook | Colorado
- Samree Dishon | Colorado
- Ella Baran | Colorado
- Kelsey Chmiel | NC State
- Katelyn Tuohy | NC State
- Samantha Bush | NC State
- Amaris Tyynismaa | NC State
- Parker Valby | Florida
- Ameliza Mazza-Downie | Florida
- Flomena Askol | Florida
- Elise Thorner | Florida
- Maia Ramsden | Harvard
- Taylor Roe | Oklahoma State
- Aubrey Frentheway | BYU
- Lexy Halladay-Lowry | BYU
- Elise Stearns | Northern Arizona
- Grace Larkin | Northern Arizona
- Olivia Markezich | Notre Dame
- Ceili McCabe | West Virginia
The transfer portal shook up cross country this offseason. While NC State should remain the favorite thanks to its returning talent and the addition of ninth-place finisher Amaris Tyynismaa from Alabama, it will face new threats after offseason movement. Colorado's transfers Natalie Cook and Samree Dishon finished seventh and 37th at nationals, respectively. They join Ella Baran to form a top three capable of carrying a championship team.
However, the biggest threat to NC State's reign at the top may come from Florida, a team that didn't qualify for last year's championship as a team and had just one individual qualifier. The Gators already had Parker Valby returning after she finished second at last years nationals. Now they've added Flomena Askol, Ameliza Mazza-Downie and Elise Thorner who finished 14th, 22nd and 40th at nationals, respectively. That top four will have Florida in the title hunt.
- Casey Clinger | BYU
- Kenneth Rooks | BYU
- Joey Nokes | BYU
- Graham Blanks | Harvard
- Acer Iverson | Harvard
- Parker Wolfe | North Carolina
- Nico Young | Northern Arizona
- Drew Bosley | Northern Arizona
- Theo Quax | Northern Arizona
- Alex Maier | Oklahoma State
- Isai Rodriguez | Oklahoma State
- Fouad Messoudi | Oklahoma State
- Victor Shitsama | Oklahoma State
- Ky Robinson | Stanford
- Cole Sprout | Stanford
- Leo Young | Stanford
- Lex Young | Stanford
- Devin Hart | Texas
- Bob Liking | Wisconsin
Northern Arizona returns the top two returning cross country individuals in Nico Young and Drew Bosley. The duo should be the favorites to win the individual title this year, or at worst finish in the top five.
Oklahoma State's Alex Maier is the top challenger to the NAU duo for the individual title after winning the Cowboy Jamboree and Big 12 titles last year, and finishing fifth at nationals. He leads a deep group of Cowboys that lost a tie-breaker with NAU for last year's title.
Stanford's 2022 individual national champion Charles Hicks turned pro and third-best Cardinal runner Devin Hart transferred to Texas, but the Cardinal brought in star twins Leo and Lex Young from Newbury Park. The incoming freshman will add to a roster that features a likely motivated Cole Sprout, who's coming off a disappointing finish at nationals, and Ky Robinson, who's coming off a championship-winning outdoor track season.
Top team storylines
- Can NAU's dynasty add another title?
- How quickly can freshmen have an impact at Stanford?
- Will anyone stop Wisconsin in the Big Ten?
- Can NC State three-peat?
- What will the New Mexico program look like?
Nico Young and Drew Bosley should have NAU primed to be the men's cross country favorite again this year. If the duo can get support from the next three runners, the Lumberjacks could win their seventh team title in eight years.
The Stanford men finished with two top-10 runners last year, including the individual champion, but the Cardinal finished in fourth place after not having another runner finish in the top 45. That could change this year with standout freshmen Leo and Lex Young joining the team. Stanford's title hopes could depend on how quickly (no pun intended) the twins adjust to the college level.
At the men's conference level, Wisconsin has been one of the most dominant programs in history, winning 21 out of the last 24 Big Ten men's cross country titles. Can anyone stop the program in Madison from doing it again?
On the women's side, NC State is looking to become the first program to three-peat since Stanford did so from 2005-07. However, recent history is against the Wolfpack, as there wasn't a consecutive women's team champion from 2011 until the Wolfpack went back-to-back last fall. Yet, with Katelyn Tuohy and Kelsey Chmiel on the roster, a three-peat is in reach at NC State.
New Mexico head coach Joe Franklin left for Louisville and the Lobos roster had a mass exodus after his departure. All of New Mexico's top-five finishers from a second-place team finish in 2022 (except Emma Heckel) have transferred. How will a program that won the 2015 and 2017 titles under Franklin respond?