Team Nationals: A Loaded National Boys Field Is Ready To Go

* Crater's Tyrone Gorze has a chance to win a Team Nationals title on Saturday

Photo Credit: Raymond Tran/MileSplit

By Bobby Reyes - MileSplit

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Team Nationals will play host to some of the best boys teams across the country Saturday morning in Portland, Oregon. 

Five of the top-six ranked teams in the MileSplit50 will toe the line and battle for three podium spots. 

Below, we offer our analysis and predictions for the big race. 

Boys Team Race

Newbury Park (CA) heads to Portland as a heavy favorite.

The No. 1 team in the country is coming off a dominating victory at the CIF State Championships last week, where they tallied just 24 points.

Newbury Park took the top-three spots, with Lex YoungLeo Young and Aaron Sahlman running 14:27, 14:38 and 14:41. Dev Doshi finished seventh overall as their fourth-runner.

All four return from last year's historic squad that torched the course at the Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championships.

The Young brothers will battle it out for the individual title as well, but we'll come back to that.

At the CIF Championships Newbury Park averaged 14:54 for 5K, and had a spread of 61 seconds from their first to fifth runners. 

What makes them dangerous at Glendoveer is the fact that the Panthers have three runners who could potentially tally single-digit finishes.

The boys from Newbury Park look to be in prime position to take the team title, though they might have competition. 

Noticeably absent from the entries is U.S. No. 2 Jesuit, which made Louisiana history last month by scoring a perfect 15 points at the state meet.

U.S. No. 3 Christian Brothers Academy (NJ) should be in the mix for a podium finish as well. The Colts are coming off a solid victory at Team Regionals Northeast, where they tallied 88-points.

CBA senior Nicholas Sullivan led the squad in 16:04 for an eighth-place finish at Bowdoin Park in New York. The Colts averaged 16:30, but their compression is what'll likely put them in the race - it was just 52 seconds.

Team Nationals has two boys squads which will be in tight battles for podium spots, too. And one of these teams - Portland Jesuit - is nearly racing in their own backyard.

When these two squads met at Team Regionals Northwest it was Crater who came out on top.

The Southern Oregon-based program is coming off an impressive victory at regionals. Led by national-title contender Tyrone Gorze's 14:51 victory, Crater took the region title with a 75-point tally over Portland Jesuit, which tallied 101.

Both squads claimed Oregon state titles, too, with Crater winning the 5A race with an impressive 30 points as it put all five scoring runners inside the top 10. Likewise, Portland Jesuit took the 6A crown with a 33-point tally, and it put its top four runners in the top seven places.

At Team Northwest, both teams were similar through four runners, though Crater's fifth runner -- Shaun Garnica - was the difference-maker.  

On the outside looking in is Hinsdale (IL). A month ago, the boys program lost the Illinois 3A state title by the slimmest of margins - one point - despite Aden Bandukwala taking the individual title by a margin of three-tenths of a second.

But never fear, Hinsdale came back with a vengeance at the Team Midwest Regional. Hinsdale won the race with a tally of 123 points, showing just a 48 second spread. This time they were led by Dan Watcke, who finished eighth.

MileSplit's Boys Team Nationals Predictions

staffwinnerrunner-upthirdfourth fifth
CoryNewbury ParkCBAPortland JesuitSouthlake CarrollHerriman
OliviaNewbury ParkPortland JesuitCBACraterSouthlake Carroll
AshleyNewbury ParkCraterPortland JesuitCBAAmerican Fork
Bobby ReyesNewbury ParkCraterCBAPortland JesuitHinsdale
Logan StanleyNewbury Park CraterPortland JesuitAmerican ForkSouthlake Carroll
Kyle BrazeilNewbury Park CraterPortland JesuitCBAAmerican Fork

Boys Individuals

The individual race will play host to the best-of-the-best, as the top five ranked individuals will toe the line in Oregon this weekend.  

Heading to Portland with a giant spotlight is Michigan's Hunter Jones, who is coming in hot with his 14:21 victory at the Team Midwest Regional, where he beat US No. 5 Connor Burns, and shot a fire-hose at the course record at Lavern Gibson. 

Additionally, Jones won the Champs Sports Midwest Region, so he'll also be heading to San Diego on Dec. 10.

Jones dominated his state meet last month, too, running 14:46 to win by 66 seconds. Perhaps the most telling stat on Jones is his perfect season - he's won a staggering 13 races this fall and eight of those races were sub-15 performances.

In other words, Jones heads to Portland with an unblemished record. 


Which boys athlete will win Team Nationals?

But will it stick? 

Let's get to the Young brothers of Newbury Park.

Most recently, Lex Young won the CIF Division II state title in 14:27 just last week, while Leo was just 10 seconds back.

What's unique here is that Lex's only losses this season came to Leo, and likewise Leo's only losses came to Lex.

On top of that, they're 3-3 against each other, so predicting who'll lead the family Saturday is quite the toss up.

If we dive in a little more - Lex has led the Young brothers the last two outings. Of additional gravity for the Young brothers will be the team title - obviously scoring less points is better. 

So they'll undoubtedly want to score three-points between them.

MileSplit's Team Nationals Boys Individual Champions Predictions

CoryTyrone GorzeLex YoungHunter JonesLeo YoungDevan Kipyego
OliviaLex YoungHunter JonesLeo YoungConnor BurnsTyrone Gorze
AshleyLex YoungLeo YoungHunter JonesTyrone GorzeDaniel Simmons
Bobby ReyesHunter JonesLex YoungLeo YoungTyrone GorzeConnor Burns
Logan StanleyTyrone GorzeLex YoungHunter JonesLeo YoungConnor Burns
Kyle BrazeilHunter JonesLex YoungLeo YoungTyrone GorzeDaniel Simmons

While Jones might lean on his unbeaten streak to take him to the finish line, the Young brothers have an ace in their back pocket, too - Nico Young, their older brother who just finished second at NCAAs and led Northern Arizona to an NCAA XC title, was the last boy to win this race in 2019. 

On the topic of team finishes, Tyrone Gorze will have his own reason for wanting to score as few points as possible. 

The Crater senior is coming off his 14:51 victory at the Team Northwest Regional and like Jones, he heads to Portland with a clean sheet of six-victories this season.

What's most impressive with Gorze's season, however, is just how many times he's scorched the field and the clock - he ran a time of 14:11 on the track for 5K to win the Crater Track Twilight in mid-October. 

That came a month after he torched the Woodbridge Cross Country Classic course in a nation-leading 13:42 for three miles.

Of the five 5Ks he ran this season, his slowest was the 14:51 clocking from the Team Northwest Region.

You also can't count out Missouri's Connor Burns.

Burns has raced this season to eight-consecutive wins. His lone loss came to Jones in the Midwest Regional, where Burns finished just six seconds back in 14:27.

Outside of his dominating 61-second victory at the Missouri state championship, Burns' biggest win came at the Chili Pepper Festival, where he ran 14:32.

Dark Horses

Daniel Simmons (UT) -- He heads to Portland coming off an 11-second victory at Team Southwest, where he ran a time of 14:44. He's won six-consecutive races, including the Utah State Championships. His only loss was the first race of his season.

Devan Kipyego (RI) -- Likewise, Kipyego (above) is headed to Team Nationals with an impressive streak - he's been unbeaten this season, including a most-recent victory at Team Northeast, where he ran 15:34. He's won all seven races he's competed in this fall.

Jackson Heidesch (IA) -- Heidesch is also bringing a stellar streak to the Pacific Northwest. The Iowa state champion recently torched a time of 14:39 to win the Team Heartland Region. He's won six-consecutive races, and his only loss this season came at Roy Griak in late September.

Simeon Birnbaum (SD) -- Birnbaum finished two-tenths of a second behind Heidesch at Team Heartland. Even more recently, he finished seventh at Champ Sports Midwest.