How 8 Different Men's Teams Have A Shot At The 2017 NCAA DI XC Title

Podium Dark Horses

No. 6 Colorado

Region: 3rd at Mountain Region
Conference: 2nd at Pac-12s
2016 NCAAs: 6th
How They'll Make The Podium: Despite losing John Dressel to an injury, the Buffs are still running very strong this season and are the team most likely to make the podium that is currently ranked outside of the top five. Colorado was only six points behind Stanford at Pac-12s and one point behind BYU (missing Casey Clinger) at the NCAA Mountain Regionals. To make the podium, the Buffs will have to win the individual battles for place with jerseys from NAU, BYU, Stanford, and Portland, but especially the Cardinal as the two Pac-12 rivals seem more comparable with each other than with any other teams. Joe Klecker will have to prove that his win at the NCAA Mountain Region over BYU and NAU's studs was no fluke and finish in the top 10 -- which we are predicting will happen, as we moved him up in the FloXC rankings from No. 19 to No. 6 for the feat.

No. 7 Furman

Region: 1st at Southeast Region
Conference: 1st at Southern Conference
2016 NCAAs: N/A
How They'll Make The Podium: Get out hard and hang on. The Paladins, who are making their third appearance at nationals in school history (and third in the past four years), were early leaders at Nuttycombe Wisconsin before fading to fifth -- but they still finished just six points outside of third place. Syracuse (151 points), Stanford (155), and Furman (157) were very close in the 3-4-5 team spots, and it's not crazy to think that with an extra month of preparation Furman will beat out their orange- and black-clad rivals to make the podium. Aaron Templeton was just outside of All-American honors two years ago at NCAAs; he'll need to not only get himself a top-40 spot but lead a pack of 'Dins to All-American status if they want a shot at the podium. Check out this feature story for more on Furman's rise from a no-name program to a dark horse podium contender.

No. 8 Arkansas

Region: 1st at South Central Region
Conference: 1st at SECs
2016 NCAAs: 5th
How They'll Make The Podium: The Arkansas men are our pick to be the true shocker story of the 2017 cross country season -- kinda like the Oregon women of 2016 -- if everything goes 100 percent right on race day. You can read more to find out why here.