It's the moment we've all been waiting for.
This weekend marks the 18th year of Nike Cross Nationals.
Portland, Oregon will play host to 22 boys teams and an additional 50 individuals competing for an NXN title at Glendoveer Golf Course on Saturday.
The boys championship race will begin at 10:05 a.m. PST.
Who are the top five boys individuals and teams to watch out for? Check out the athletes and teams we think could be national title contenders below.
Top Individual Boy Contenders
There are three boys who haven't been stopped at all this season.
Last year, American Fork's (UT) Daniel Simmons crossed the finish line in second in 14:51. This year, he returns to Portland as the top returner. The BYU signee has been undefeated all season as he has racked up titles at the Utah State Championships and NXR Southwest.
MileSplit's No. 1 runner enters the meet as one of the sharpest boys on the course with a 5k season best of 14:41.
Also in the mix will be No. 6 ranked Byron Grevious of Philips Exeter Academy (NH); Grevious was an impressive 12th-place as a junior last year.
In 2023, the Stanford signee has posted a 14:56 season best for 5K, which won the NEPTSA Division I Cross Country Championships. He solidified his spot to compete at NXN by claiming the NXR Northeast Regional title with a time of 15:32.
While Simmons and Grevious are certainly contenders, there are plenty of other impressive contenders in this star-studded race.
Take University of Washington signee Nathan Neil of Bozeman (MT), for instance. The No. 3 man has certainly been having a season to remember.
Neil has clocked four sub-15-minute 5K races this fall, and earned a Nike Hole In The Wall title in October. He already enters NXN with great momentum after winning NXR Northwest with a lifetime best of 14:49.
Also, be sure to keep your eyes on MileSplit50 No. 2 Evan Noonan of Dana Hills (CA), who has proven to be one of the top juniors in the country ready to contend for a top NXN placement. Noonan, who's coming off a CIF state cross country title and a personal 5K best of 14:49, has produced all of his 5K performances in under 15 minutes this fall.
Another junior could finish strong this season is Robert Mechura. The RoesvilleArea (MN) standout, ranked No. 10 by MileSplit, has an impressive resume, as he has clocked a 5K personal best of 14:32 to win NXR Heartland and book his ticket to nationals -- on top of that, it was the fastest 5K time in Minnesota history.
In a field with plenty of the nation's very best distance athletes, there are other guys who could sneak up into podium placement on Saturday morning.
* Robert Mechura breaks down his NXR Heartland Regional meet performance.
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Top Team Contenders
Without a doubt, it will be an epic battle to decide a national title between in-state rivals American Fork and Herriman, but they'll face plenty of challenges from other top-ranked teams in the country.
The No. 1 ranked Cavemen won the Utah Class 6A State Championship and showcased a dominating performance at NXR Southwest to take down many of the teams in the area.
American Fork was the only team under 100 points in the team race.
In-state foe Herriman, meanwhile, also has proved that they are one of the top boys programs in the nation -- the No. 3 ranked team are also the top returners, having finished third a year ago.
Despite finishing second to American Fork by six points at states, they solidified a second-place finish at NXR Southwest and head into NXN as a team title contender.
But head to the Northeast and you'll find other teams that have been consistent all year long. Christian Brothers Academy (NJ), a powerhouse, is currently ranked as our second-best team in the nation going into NXN. This season, the squad won the Shore Conference Meet, Group Championships and the New Jersey Meet of Champions.
Sitting two spots back from New Jersey-based team on the MileSplit50 rankings is Southlake Carroll (TX). With depth in their top five scorers, the Dragons could go after a national title. After winning the UIL 6A State Championships, they won the NXR South title and qualified for NXN for the 15th time in school history.
Other teams to watch out for include No. 5 Belen Jesuit (FL), which remain undefeated. The Miami-based program, in an amazing feat, grabbed the Florida state and NXR Southeast title in the same weekend and now the last stop on the list is their last dance at NXN.
* Southlake Carroll (TX) boys qualify for NXN for the 15th time in school history
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