The Warm-Up Lap: DII Opening Weekend Takes Center Stage

The Warm-Up Lap: DII Opening Weekend Takes Center Stage

NEW ORLEANS – Divisions I and III had all of the NCAA cross country fun last weekend during their opening weekends to the 2013 season, but now it is Division II’s turn to join the party with the official opening of its season today.

Nearly 120 collegiate meets around the country are scheduled for this first full weekend of September including the 2013 debuts of many of the country’s top Division II programs and some teams from Divisions I and III that opted to defer their debuts to this week. See the full schedule at the USTFCCCA Infozone Meets This Weekend page.

Highlights of the Division II opening weekend includes the division’s first 2013 head-to-head match-up of top-10 teams at the Colorado State Invitational, where the No. 2 Western State men will take on No. 6 Colorado Mines. The No. 3 Western State women will also compete.

In addition, this weekend will play host to home meets for top-10 teams at Adams State (No. 1 men, No. 2 women), Augustana (S.D.) (No. 3 men, No. 4 women), Shippensburg (No. 6 women), UC-Colorado Springs (No. 8 women) and Southern Indiana (No. 10 men).

Top-10 teams starting 2013 on the road include Missouri Southern (No. 7 men), Alaska Anchorage (No. 7 women, No. 9 men), Edinboro (No. 8 men) and Winona State (No. 9 women).

A majority of Division I’s top ten men’s and women’s teams are off this weekend after many used the opening weekend to shake off some rust. However, from among those who are competing cross country fans will get a first look at defending women’s champion No. 3 Oregon and men’s preseason No. 2 Northern Arizona for the first time in 2013. The reloaded Ducks will compete at the Portland State Viking Classic — along with the No. 8 Portland men — while NAU hosts its George Kyte Classic.

Arizona will also send its No. 7 women’s and unranked men’s teams to compete at NAU, though it is unlikely 2011 NCAA men’s champ and current The Bowerman finalist Lawi Lalang will compete.

The weekend will also feature home meets for Arkansas (No. 5 men, No. 9 women) and Wisconsin (No. 7 men), and will see the No. 9 Syracuse men in action at Colgate.

The Division III schedule is equally light as Division I’s with approximately half of the top ten men’s and women’s programs on the sidelines this weekend. And for those teams that are competing this weekend, the early stages of the season provide creative opportunities for runners to get their legs under them.

Take, for example, the Williams Coed Relays. Williams (No. 4 women, No. 8 men) will host Middlebury (No. 10 women, No. 25 men) and Southern Vermont in a race that features teams of one male and one female runner alternating relay legs over the course of 12K. The men start out with a 3K leg, followed by a 3K leg for the women’s. The men take the course again for a 2K, then the women run a 2K leg of their own before they hand it off to the men for the final 2K leg.

Meanwhile, defending men’s champ and preseason No. 1 North Central (Ill.) men will make their 2013 debut at the Aurora Invitational and the No. 2 Haverford men start 2013 by hosting its own Alumni/Open race. The No. 6 Bates men will take on Colby in a dual, while No. 7 Central (Iowa) plays host to the Dutch Invitational.

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, ranked No. 5 in the women’s National Coaches Poll, kicks off its campaign at the CMS-Westmont Nationball Classic, while UW-Eau Claire (No. 6 women, No. 10 men) opens its season at home with an Alumni Open. Rounding out the top-10 action in DIII this week are the No. 9 St. Lawrence women, who continue their season at the Pittsburgh Invitational.

From the Wire

What’s hot in the world of track & field and cross country this week? Here’s what the USTFCCCA has been following: