NCAA cross country season underway
The GIST: The NCAA cross country season began last night, with action ratcheting up this weekend. In honor of the fresh tracks, let’s stride into the college competition set-up and who’s runnin’ runnin’ toward a natty.
How it works: Three hundred and nineteen men’s and 349 women’s Division I cross country teams will race through three months of fall invitationals. Men’s courses range from 8km to 10km, while the women run between 5km and 6km each meet. Nothing like subtle sexism.
- Thirty-one schools, based on their regional performance, ultimately make November 19th’s championship meet in Stillwater, Oklahoma. There are nine regional meets hosted throughout the fall with the top two squads automatically qualifying for the finals. The remaining 13 squads are — you guessed it — chosen by a committee.
- And, because cross country is a solo sport, the top four individual finishers at each regional meet who are not already on a qualified or selected team, along with two individuals selected by committee, are invited to the national meet. All 38 runners must finish in the top 25 regionally.
The fastest women: For the first time ever, the reigning NC State natty champs claimed the preseason No. 1 spot in the national coaches poll rankings. With All-Americans Kelsey Chmiel, Katelyn Tuohy and Samantha Bush returning from their title-winning lineup, this team is the one to beat.
- But literally chasing down NC State is No. 2 New Mexico, No. 3 Colorado and No. 4 Oklahoma State, who are aiming for a home-course advantage as the 2022 championship meet hosts.
The favorite men: Harry Styles’ “As it Was” has topped the Billboard Charts for 11 weeks, and Northern Arizona’s men have been preseason ranked No. 1 for nine years running. And the fellas look primed to add to their dominant string of five national championships in six years. Turns out it is the same as it was.
- No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 3 Stanford and No. 4 BYU are on the Lumberjacks’ heels, with six of OSU’s seven runners (including three All-Americans) from its 2021 third place lineup returning.