These Boys, Right Now, Are National XC Title Contenders

* Daniel Simmons is among the favorites to claim a national title in 2023

Photo Credit: Bobby Reyes/MileSplit

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With the cross country season upon us, we've set out to survey the landscape in 2023. 

It's never too early to prognosticate about national championship contenders. 

We've compiled a list of five athletes who start the season as potential threats to go after national titles by December. 

Which athlete has the best shot? Let us know on Instagram and on Twitter. 

Drew Griffith, Butler (PA)


Griffith has a big opportunity in 2023. 

Could he leave his senior season among the best in Pennsylvania history? Can he contend for a national championship? 

The possibilities are open for the Pittsburgh-area runner, who finished eighth at Champs Sports Nationals last year, picking up an All-American finish. 

He also ran 14:49.30 for 5K at the Carlisle Invitational, sixth-best in state history. He won five times in 2022. 

Will Griffith be chasing after the legacies of Gary Martin, Brian DiCola and Noah Affolder, or will he be making his own kind of history when all is said and done? 

Josiah Tostenson, Crater (OR)


This might be a little bit of a wildcard pick, but we believe in Tostenson, who was the teammate of Tyrone Gorze at Crater High School. 

To learn from the best, they say, can often lead to being the best. 

Tostenson had a spectacular year as a sophomore, clocking a 3-mile best of 13:57.40 at the Woodbridge XC Classic. He became the first sophomore in history to achieve the feat of a sub-14 performance. 

Then he finished sixth at the Oregon State Championships (behind five seniors), was 10th at NXR Northwest and 42nd at Nike Cross Nationals. 

High school distance runners tend to find their rhythm in their junior years, and for someone like Tostenson, who's been electric over his first two seasons, we feel he can contend as a junior against the best the country has to offer. 

Byron Grevious, Phillips Exeter Academy (NH) 


It may be hard to judge Grevious, who ran just four times over the cross country season in 2023. 

But you can't debate results. 

Grevious was second at NXR Northeast and 12th at Nike Cross Nationals. He's the second-fastest returner back for the fall, trailing only Daniel Simmons. 

Grevious hails from New Hampshire, so his season only really gets going in October. But if we need any clues as to how he'll factor on the national scale, all one needs to look at are the outdoor performances. 

He ran 14:04 for 5K outdoors in June. That was third best in the country and No. 17 all-time in high school history. 

Daniel Simmons, American Fork (UT)


Simmons could be a destroyer on cross country courses in 2023. 

The American Fork (UT) High School senior is the reigning Gatorade Player of the Year in cross country and is coming off a season where he finished second overall at Nike Cross Nationals. 

Simmons is a native Utahan, but he spent several years in Idaho before his transfer back to American Fork in 2022. Back in Idaho, Simmons clocked a 5K best of 14:37 as a sophomore, netting the state's fastest time in history. 

Last year, he posted times of 14:51, 14:49 and 14:51, results that led to an Utah State Championship, a NXR Southwest title and a national runner-up performance. 

What's more, though, Simmons later clocked a time of 13:59 for 5K indoors -- third best in history -- and then dropped an effort of 8:34 for 3,200m, which was fifth-best in history. 

He's the real deal and the prohibitive favorite to claim a title in 2023. There's pressure in that, but Simmons might be the kind of guy that welcomes it. 

Landon Heemeyer, Rocky Mountain (ID)


Rocky Mountain High School last featured a superstar by the name of Michael Slagowski, who broke four minutes in the mile in 2016. 

Seven years later, it's Heemeyer who's emerged into the national spotlight. 

The Idaho runner exploded during the 2022 cross country season, producing a PR of 14:38.79 at the Idaho State Championships, which was the second-fastest performance by an athlete in the state all-time -- and the best on Idaho soil. It was one of four performances under 15 minutes for 5K on the soil. 

He later finished eighth at NXR Northwest and was fourth at the Champs Sports West Regional, which later led to an All-American finish at Champs Sports Nationals. 

Heemeyer returns with the second-fastest time in the country and remains a legitimate contender to go after a national title in December.