the GROTE POLL
For October 5, 1999
Season Issue #5

This week, straight to the point...

the GROTE POLL Top 31 Part FIVE

1. ARKANSAS- Yikes, these guys are good. The Hogs look unbeatable right now. Their run at Cowboy Jamboree was scary. #1 Power and #5 Karanu were apart by only 26 seconds, and consider that Power could well cross the line first in Bloomington. Also consider that neither Kerr nor Dunleavy were in the top 5 on Saturday. Arkansas can have a few guys blow up, screw up, or dehydrate and still win big, most likely. This might be the best team I have seen since I have followed the x-c scene...better than 93 Hogs?

2. COLORADO- Astounding depth for the Buffs was on display at Rocky Mtn. Shootout. They quieted the snickers over the loss to Adams St. and Western St. when they rolled out the full squad. Jorge Torres is a force already and he is backed up well. CU's spread was 39 seconds, but count on that to close up a bit. Torres could be top 10. Really. Behind Jorge was Ron Roybal, another potential breakthrough guy, and brother Ed. 4th man Sean Smith appears to be this year's guy who goes from unknown to unknown All-American, continuing a tradition at CU that dates back to the arrival of Wetmore. Mike Friedeberg, last year's unknown All-American was only 5th man. This year, the name is a bit more familiar and the results will be similar, but slightly better. 13:51 guy Blondeau was only 7th man, look for him to gain health, fitness, and places as the year marches on. 8:41 steepler, Jersey Guy Steve Slattery was only 8th man (but his little bro a junior at Mount Olive HS, emerged as a threat to win the NJ Meet of Champs back at home) and 1997 unknown All-American Matt Napier was 10th man. Depth, consistency, hard and patient training, and perfect peaking make CU the #2 team in the land and the most likely for a possible upset. It would take a pack of 5 black/gold singlets running in almost side by side from 10th to 25th to beat Arkansas.

3. STANFORD- Even without big guns Riley, Jennings, and Powell, Vinny's boys had enough to turn back a big effort from a very game and legitimate #6 team Arizona, on the Stanford links. Murley and Mass look to have stepped it up a bit. Assuming the whole squad runs, a possible matchup with Colorado will bring fireworks at Pre-Nationals. Where are Tenforde and Luchinin?

4. NC STATE- They have seen 80% of the nationals course, they know they are going back, they know they should win every meet from now until then, the challenge for the Wolfpack is to stay focused, healthy and peak for November 22nd. It would also be good to avoid a letdown upset loss to JMU at regionals, and get Brendan Rodgers back into a frontrunning spot. NCSU can certanly consider itself deserving of a trophy, and now the tough part is going out and getting one.

5. WISCONSIN- They much ballyhooed duo of Downin and Schoenfelder was broken up by Vanderhoof. This is a good thing as long as Vanderhoof maintains, and Downin comes on strong to match his form of last November. Throw in a better run from a 5th man and the Badgers go trophy shopping, too.

6. ARIZONA- Micheil Jones is on a mission or something. A big individual win at Stanford, establishing himself as a legitimate #1 guy. Zona packed in 5 before the Cardinal did, but mind you that was without some big names. Still, that race vindicates the #6 ranking at the very least.

7. JMU- The win over Georgetown looks better after the Hoyas showing at Notre Dame. Will JMU be at Pre-Nats? Right now, Coach Rinker's guys look to be clear cut #2 in the Southeast, with #3 pretty far behind.

8. BYU- Lots of age and experience. I might catch flack for this, but I'm thinking that if the team has a bunch of mormons on it, you need not worry about them partying all night Saturday, getting sick, missing long runs, and so on. Really, this might be stereotyping, but its not so much of an insult as it is recognition of work ethic or something. Bottom line here, is that this is a good team, but very close with NAU and Weber for runner-up to Buffs status. All will be in Bloomington, though.

9. GEORGETOWN- The tie with Michigan could have been broken with a better run from the 4/5 guys, but McCarthy, Rodriguez, are good up front. It does seem like G'town is racing pretty often, though, with pretty big tests still ahead at Big East and regionals.

10. MICHIGAN- Read above, the tie with Georgetown could have been broken with a better run from Lawrence, back at 3rd man. Cantin ran great as did new guy Wisniewski. Where was Pilja? Not surprisingly, Coach Warhurst seems to have taken a team that has lost huge stars the last few years and maintained a position threatening for top 10 nationally, and possibly Big 10 and Great Lakes titles. It would take an off day from Wisconsin for that to happen, though.

11. NAU- Will we see the Lumberjacks at Pre-Nationals? Nevermind that Irvine showing, watch for NAU to perhaps ascend back up to 5th/6th range by nationals.

12. OREGON- Steve Fein is in the hunt for the individual win. The Ducks will be pressed for 2nd in the region more than they press for first, but this is a young team, new guys, new coach.

13. NOTRE DAME- Pretty close in the 3 way battle with G'town and Michigan, the Irish lose a meet and win a football game. Crazy. Ryan Shay is running like a top 10 guy right now, which is tricky because on paper there are 20+ guys running like top 10 guys, and obviously that math doesn't work out. No knock on Shay, I think he is tough and a good bet to remain close to the front. Soph Watson is not far behind.

14. WEBER STATE- Thin air squad #4 already. The ranking is lower than the potential here, Weber has lost narrowly to BYU, the difference between #6/#7 and #14 is not that great.

15. DARTMOUTH- A big jump in the Grote Poll all the way from the depths of #20, attribute it to some personal "political" pressure as well as a good showing at Vanny. The Ivy Leaguers from way up there in New England averaged 25:16 at VCP, starting with a 24:51 win from Jensen. They held out top 5 guys Nickerson and Pruett. The battle for Heps with Princeton will be mighty.

16. PROVIDENCE- Beat the Pilots, but Dartmouth looks like the Beast of the Norhteast.

17. PORTLAND- I'm moving the Pilots up because I have a "P" on my arm. No really, this team is a challenge to Oregon in the West on their "home course" at regionals. I guarantee that Portland will win the West Coast Conference. That is freaking huge. And how about Joe Driscoll?

18. PRINCETON- Thats right, the "P" is for Portland Pilots, I'm too freaking dumb to go to Princeton or Penn for that matter. You win a meet, you drop 2 spots? Such is the brutality of The Grote Poll. Consider that an adjustment from probably losing a brain cell or two just being in the state of Alabama. And probably being forced to "dine" at either Waffle House or Shoney's perhaps both. Still enough time to shake that off and get ready for Heps. Canadian Morrisson looks tough to beat right now for the individual Heps crown.

19. WILLIAM & MARY- No Matt Lane? Guess he won't be winning the individual title then. Still a probably qualifier without him, but possibly a top 10 with him. We shall see.

20. ARIZONA STATE- Tough battles ahead at PAC-10s and regionals. The West should get plenty of representations, and ASU should be one of those representatives.

21. IONA- Big dropoff after 3 guys at VCP it seemed, but still a solid showing, and likely 3rd or so in the Northeast.

22. TENNESSEE- An inactive week moves them up, as memory of the thrashing by NC State fades. Decent pack and good #1 in Famiglietti... and adidas. Vols beat South Florida, who beat Southern Mississippi, who beat Alabama (who beat Gators in the Swamp), thus Vols #1 in the South, which admitedly is an improved, albeit still not the best, region this year.

23. UTAH- The Utes probably need a good one at Pre-Nats just to make sure but the win over Washington looks better with the Huskies showing at Stanford, even though the Huskies are going nowhere after regionals.

24. MISSOURI- This is where spots get tricky. Mizzou was beaten by Idaho State at Notre Dame, but beat Drake, Minnesota, and Iowa at Griak, so they get the nod in the Midwest, as Ok State looks uncertain, as well.

25. DUKE- Barely squeezed by Drake at Griak, but probably have wins over auto qualifiers and bubble teams from that race, which gets them in as long as they are 3rd to 5th at regionals.

26. DRAKE- Still hanging in there. They have shown that they can be top 2 at regionals, 3rd may be enough for the big trip.

27. SOUTH FLORIDA- Actually a respectable showing at Auburn. Very tight grouping of their first 3, nice team running to beat the frontrunner foreigners of Southern Miss.

28. WAKE FOREST- Assuming they will go to Pre-Nats and beat a few foes, they make Dellinger stay a bit longer than planned.

29. BUTLER- Even though they were buried behind UCLA at Griak, I count on them to improve and run better by Pre-Nats and particularly by Great Lakes Regionals. They still look to be 4th in that region, which has to get at least 4 teams in, right?

30. TEXAS A&M- Jubiliation over Coach Hartman's squad upending the Huskies in Seattle likely is overshadownd in College Station by the gridders choke loss to Texas Tech. Maybe they were all looking at Leigh Daniel in the stands or something. I dunno. Anyway, Aggies looking like the pick for 2nd to the Hogs. They won't be last.

31. SOUTHERN MISS- Probably have enough up front to do enough damage to beat some people at Pre-Nats and get into NCAA's. I'm still not sure on this El Medjboudi guy, though.


OTHER TEAMS WITH CHANCES RANGING FROM A GLIMMER OF HOPE TO A PIPE DREAM (in no particular order):
Brown, Penn, Bucknell, Villanova, LaSalle, Navy, Liberty, Virginia, Alabama, South Alabama, Florida, Texas, SMU, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Idaho State, Montana, UCLA, Washington, Cal Poly SLO

GROTE POLL PICK TO WIN INDIVIDUAL TITLE:
Power, Arkansas

BEST REGION:
Mountain


Thats is this week. As always, feel free to complain or criticize, but also feel obligated to accept my retaliation on any opinion that is contrary to my own.