Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

NCAA Cross Country Championships Preview

Published Fri 19 Nov 2021

The NCAA Cross Country Championships are set to take place in Tallahassee on Saturday the 20th of November, with a host of Australians looking to emulate Morgan McDonald’s historic win in 2018.

The collegiate system has previously produced some of Australia’s finest track and field athletes, as the current crop of US-based Australians seek invaluable experience as aspiring professional athletes whilst studying abroad.

Read about some of Australia’s prospects and find the full list of Australians competing at the NCAA Cross Country Championships:


Ky Robinson (Stanford)

If there’s one thing that makes a good cross country athlete, it’s grit – and Ky Robinson has it in spades. The 19-year-old Queenslander has burst onto the scene at the prestigious Stanford University, improving out of sight to become one of Australia’s brightest young prospects and a threat to his NCAA competitors.

In June of this year, Robinson shattered the Australian under 20 record in the 3000m steeplechase when running 8:32.01 to finish in sixth place of the NCAA final. It’s a strong form line that he has carried into the cross country season, where he looms as one of Australia’s greatest hopes of mixing it with the “big dogs” of the NCAA.

Robinson is only early in his collegiate career but a strong showing here would lay the foundations of a distinguished time in the NCAA, with his rapid improvement rate only aiding his title claims.  

Zach Facioni (Wake Forrest)


A post shared by Zach Facioni (@zach_facioni)

A once prodigious junior, Zach Facioni’s move to Wake Forrest has seen him succeed as a quiet achiever – creeping his way up the NCAA ladder through a series of strong performances.  

Historically a 1500m-5000m man, Facioni’s cross country prowess has demonstrated the strength and versatility he has developed under the Wake Forrest program – with the 22-year-old regularly stamping his presence on fields and pressuring his competitors. And with a 13:30.84 personal best over 5000m, why wouldn’t you?

Facioni is heavily invested in the success of his Wake Forrest team and will be looking to lead from the front with a gutsy showing at the NCAA Cross Country Championships.

Ed Goddard (Iona)


A post shared by Ed Goddard (@edgoddard3k)

You would be forgiven for not knowing that Ed Goddard was eligible, or intending to, return to Iona University for the NCAA Cross Country Championships. But in the midst of a build for the Melbourne Marathon in December, Goddard flew to New York and popped up at regionals to qualify himself for tomorrow’s final.

Having clocked 1400km in the past seven weeks, the 24-year-old is certainly not short of preparation to mix it with some of the best athletes in the collegiate system. Set to return to Australia after the race for the NSW 10,000m championships and Melbourne Marathon, Goddard will undoubtedly be looking to make the most of his seemingly spontaneous voyage – which appears a free swing in the greater scheme of things.

The Sydneysider embraces chaos, and the NCAA Cross Country Championships has it in abundance.  


Lauren Ryan (Florida State)

The Florida State senior has established herself as the spearhead of the Seminoles attack after returning to the United States post a stint down under, where she is set to lead the team on home soil in Tallahassee with fellow Australian Maudie Skyring.

Following in the footsteps of Florida State alumni Linden Hall, Ryan’s cross country season is indicative of a strong aerobic base which should translate to the track in 2022 – where she will be looking to lower her 15:22.48 personal best and her force name into World Championship and Commonwealth Games discussions.

The six-kilometre course will be familiar for the 23-year-old Australian, who has had the luxury of racing and training on the route throughout the season in preparation for Saturday’s final hosted by Florida State University.

Ruby Smee (San Francisco)


A post shared by ruby smee (@ruby_smee)

In her first NCAA cross country season, Smee has been a shining light for San Francisco. Having not raced against many of her competitors before, the Tasmanian has flourished when running without expectation or fear – regularly scalping athletes with much faster personal bests from esteemed track and field schools.

Smee’s naivety has proved one of her greatest assets to date this season and tomorrow’s final should be no different, with the significance of the occasion unlikely to overwhelm the happy-go-lucky Australian.

Once Smee hits the track in 2022 you can be assured she will shave significant margins off her personal bests, which currently undersell the quality athlete she has developed into.

Annabelle Eastman (George Mason)

Emerging as one of the surprise packages of the 2020/21 NCAA track season when lowering her 3000m steeplechase best from 10:24.43 to 9:45.22, Eastman has gone from strength to strength in her final year at George Mason University.

An individual qualifier for this weekend’s championships, Eastman has been rewarded for a strong showing at the regional championships and consistent season across the board. The 21-year-old produced her best run of the track season at the NCAA Championships at Hayward Field in Oregon, showing a tendency to relish the big occasions and produce her best when it counts.

The only representative at the Championships from George Mason University, Eastman will be looking to ride a wave of support from Fairfax as she pursues a fitting parting gift to the school that has seen her prosper.


Women –Maudie Skyring (Florida State), Lucinda Crouch (Wisconsin), Amelia Mazza-Downie (New Mexico), Heidi Demeo (Oklahoma State), Katherine Dowie (West Virginia University)

Men – Haftu Strintzos (Villanova), Josh Phillips (Villanova), Ed Trippas (Princeton), Jackson Sharp (Wisconsin), Sam Field (Florida State), Josh Phillips (Villanova), Adam Fogg (Drake University), Jesse Hunt (UNC)

By Lachlan Moorhouse, Athletics Australia
Posted: 17/11/2021