Salty Running Does Fantasy NCAA Cross Country!

Women’s collegiate cross-country is exciting! Image via Matt Brown for the Big West Conference

Looking for a Friday 5? We have something better today: fantasy cross country!

I consider myself a fan of collegiate running; I enjoy reading about superstars, spectating at meets, and occasionally throwing myself into a collegiate meet. I’m a bona fide runnerd. I’d like to publicly thank whoever coined that term because it fits someone who comes up with a fantasy cross country tournament!

Even though most of them aren’t quite the runnerd I am and some admittedly haven’t been following collegiate cross country at all, I managed to recruit several other Salty Bloggers to participate in my fantasy cross country tournament, where we each are fielding a fantasy team at the NCAA D1 Women’s Cross Country Championship, which takes place Saturday in Terre Haute, Indiana.

In the real deal, the Michigan State women are heavily favored to win, but the individual race is wide open. And our fantasy race? It’s anyone’s to win — check out our teams below with some notes on drafting strategy and find out how to come up with your own team!

Our potential draft picks, with selected runners starred and runners taken by another team crossed out.

NCAA Division I Regional Championships were completed last Saturday the 15th and here are the teams and individual runners who qualified for the championship. From those qualifiers, nine of us Salties selected a list of potential draftees. A randomized list guided the draft order and we each ended up with a team of 7 runners. The runners earns points equivalent to their placement (1st place = 1 point, 10th place = 10 points). Just like in real-life cross-country, the top 5 runners score for the team, meaning that their points are added together. The team with the lowest score wins.

Below are the Salty bloggers and their teams and a quote from each about how they went about their selections.

draft list
The randomized draft order. Sorry about the chicken scratch handwriting. It will be interesting to see how the overall top picked runners fare.

Catnip: I selected runners who have had big wins this season or the past track season. Some of them didn’t end up on my team since other Salties picked them first, but I think I have a very strong team! I had one sentimental pick — Claire Benjamin — since I’m a Vanderbilt alumna.
Shelby Houlihan
Rachele Schulist
Kate Avery
Rachel Johnson
Claire Benjamin
Liv Westphal
Megan Curham

Salty – My strategy was going for runners at the top of their regional with names I liked. Very scientific.
Alice Wright
Elise Cranny
Charlotte Arter
Katie Gillespie
Carolyn Hennessy
Iona Lake
Elizabeth Weiler

Mint – I have no idea what I’m doing.
Sarah Disanza
Colleen Quigley
Linden Hall
Gabriele Anzalone
Emma-Lissa Murphy
Haley Pierce
Pippa Wilson

Cilantro – I used a highly logical selection method:  I picked runners from states where I lived and/or universities I like.  I expect to do much better than my March Madness picks where I am informed and always wrong (which could be because I insist on picking Gonzaga.  always). This was really fun!
Erin Teschuk
Laura Galvan
Amber Eichkorn
Holly Page
Tansey Lystad
Melanie Townsend
Bethan Knights

Chipotle – I started off my choices based on location since I am in the Southeast. Next I just chose by names that I liked. So this is completely random.
Rhianwedd Price
Allie Buchalski
Kyla van Graan
Letitia Saayman
Ann Eason
Hannah Maina
Agnes Sjostrom

Basil – Zero knowledge here but I’ll probably still fare better than my typical March Madness pool performance.
Leah O’Connor
Dominique Scott
Crystal Nelson
Katrina Coogan
Annie Lehardie
Lauren Sara
Cali Roper

Jasmine – More or less randomly picked. I wanted to try to use some sort of formula to widdle down the list, but it was hard enough for me to figure out how to read the result. What I wanted to do was find vVO2 performance for each runner as a percentage race median, then takes the top runners and look through previous results to see if results are consistent. Then take expected weather conditions into account. None of this happened. Heck, I don’t know that I even picked runners on the right teams. But hey, it is silly and fun anyway, and Salty can’t pick on me for micromanaging my fantasy team.
Erin Clark
Andrea Harrison
Molly Seidel
Anne Blaney
Katy Moen
Maddie Meyers
Liz Berkholtz

Ginkgo – I picked lots of second place finishers from last week’s regional meet because I always feel for runner-ups and want them to win. After that, I skimmed through the results are simply selected my favorite names as inspiration to add to our running list of potential baby names! Highly scientific, of course. 
Emma Bates
Chelsea Blaase
Carolyn Hennessey
Rosie Clarke
Jillian Forsey
Charlotte Wilson
Kira Garry

Pepper – I picked all the individual qualifiers from Michigan then just picked some of the top gals from each region.
Victoria Voronko
Sofie Gallein
Maria McDaniel
Abbey Kelto
Julia Otwell
Courtney Frerichs
Grace Heymsfield

If you’d like to form your own team, you can find a list of runners participating in the championship and choose 7 names or so from the list and see how they do on Saturday. Good luck!

Readers: Who would be on your team? Will the Michigan State women pull off the team victory? And which Spice will win the elite title of Fantasy Cross-Country champion?

I'm a 20-year veteran of competitive running, USATF certified coach, mom of a toddler -- and still trying to set PRs. I write about training from 5k to marathon, motherhood and competitive running, and the elite side of the sport. The 5k is my favorite race (16:56 PR) but I've got a score to settle with the marathon.

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  1. Hey wait a minute! I know what I am doing! I picked some awesome fasties from University of Wisconsin and FSU (my alma maters). I also picked some of the top ladies in recent races. My team is going to dominate. I am sure of it. 🙂

  2. I think you were being modest about your xc prediction abilities in the original email. 😉 Your team does look strong! It’s interesting because you got 5/6 of your top choices- in contrast the #4 &#5 I ended up with were #10 and #12 on my original list!

  3. Google is super helpful for improving xc prediction abilities. 🙂 Yes, I was happy to see I got so many of my top picks. This will be fun – thanks for setting it up!