Follow our 2018 FloXC Countdown, where FloTrack ranks the top cross country teams in the NCAA this season, which will be LIVE on FloTrack. The No. 10 men’s spot in DII goes to Dallas Baptist, and here’s why:
Probable Top Five:
SR Andrew Curry (14:18 5K; 29:30 10K; 39th at ’17 NCAA XC)
SR Stetson Rayas (14:30 5K; 29:50 10K; 70th at ’17 NCAA XC)
SR Trent Phelps (8:57 3K SC; 97th at ’17 NCAA XC)
SO Ivan Hernandez (4:25 Mile; Conference Top Freshman)
JR Matthew Torvik (4:25 Mile; 203rd at ’17 NCAA XC)
After qualifying for the NCAA Cross Country Championships for the first time in school history in 2017, and finishing a respectable 18th, the Dallas Baptist Patriots are ready to take a big step forward to top-10 contention in 2018. DBU returns their top three scorers from last November, including All-American Andrew Curry. With the support of two other top-100 finishers in fellow seniors Stetson Rayas and Trent Phelps— who, along with Curry, showed big improvements on the track— the Patriots should make considerably more noise at nationals this year.
Expecting drastic improvements for the senior trio of Curry, Rayas, and Phelps doesn’t simply represent wishful thinking for coach Jacob Phillips and his team; based on how all three progressed significantly on the track in 2018, better finishes at NCAAs seem all but certain this fall. Curry cut 20 seconds off his 5K and nearly a minute from his 10K PR, while Rayas and Phelps chopped similar amounts off their marks as well. All three qualified for NCAA outdoor for the first time. That experience and increased fitness from their top three will be pivotal to DBU’s top-10 chances in December.
The Patriots front three is certainly their big strength, but things don’t fall off too dramatically from there. Sophomore Ivan Hernandez— who was the Heartland conference freshman of the year in 2016— returns after a redshirt season last year and should contribute right away. Matthew Torvik was only 203rd at NCAAs and he will need to be better than that in 2018 to push his team toward the nation’s elite. Fortunately, he too had a strong spring and should make similar strides on the grass.