The Warm-Up Lap (Part 1/3): East Coast Regions in DI and DIII
By Kyle Terwillegar, USTFCCCA
November 13, 2013
NEW ORLEANS – Division II finalized its National Championships field this past weekend, and the fun ramps up this weekend as automatic championship bids in both Division I and Division III regional championships are on the line this weekend and the scramble for at-large consideration comes to a frenetic close.
Division I is up first with meets this Friday, Nov. 15, and Division III follows with its regionals on Saturday, Nov. 16.
With nine Division I regions and eight Division III regions — 34 total races between men and women — The Warm-Up Lap will split previews into three separate chunks by geographic region, beginning today with Division I and III meets along the Eastern seaboard.
Featured in Division I are the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast Regions, and in Division III the New England, Mideast and Atlantic. The Northeast is one of the deepest regions in the nation for Division I, as is the New England Region in Division III.
The next installment will feature the Great Lakes, Midwest and South Regions in DI, and the Great Lakes, Midwest and South/Southeast in DIII. The final section will break down Division I’s Mountain, South Central and West regions, and Division III’s Central and West regions.
In both Divisions, the top two teams in each region will automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships, with the remaining slots in the championships field filled by at-large qualifiers.
The full qualification standards for both divisions can be found here.
Without further ado, previews on each of the aforementioned regions can be found below. Click on the region in the map below to go directly to that region’s preview.
With five nationally ranked men’s teams and five women’s squads in the field Friday at Van Cortlandt Park, few region championships around the country have as many nationally ranked teams vying for NCAA Championships bids as the Northeast Region.
With Grace Thek having emerged as a strong fifth runner, the Big East Champion No. 2 Providence women will look to continue their march back to the nation’s top rank and defend their 2012 region title. Thek complements one of the country’s best 1-2-3 trios in Big East champ Emily Sisson, Sarah Collins and Laura Nagel, which took down No. 4 Georgetown for the conference title two weeks ago.
From perhaps the strongest trio in the country to perhaps the strongest individual in the country, No. 12 Dartmouth is led by 2012 individual national runner-up Abbey D’Agostino, the two-time defending regional champion. Led by the undefeated D’Agostino and seven top-25 finishers, the Big Green decisively claimed the Ivy League title over No. 23 Cornell, 38-66, and are the second team in the USTFCCCA Regional Rankings in the Northeast.
Should the rankings hold to form, Providence and Dartmouth would receive automatic bids to the NCAA Championships, leaving No. 19 Syracuse, No. 23 Cornell and No. 27 Harvard — along with national vote-receiving teams Boston College and Columbia — to fight to either take one of those top two spots and the accompanying auto bid or battle for at-large consideration.
Syracuse in particular will be looking to regain region supremacy after having a three-season winning streak snapped last year by Providence.
Five men’s teams will likewise be doing battle in their race for the two auto spots. Based on both the regional rankings and national poll, Iona and Columbia are the frontrunners for the two bids.
However, the regional and national perspectives on the two teams vary ever so slightly. No. 7 Iona is ranked higher than No. 8 Columbia nationally, but Columbia is the top-ranked team per the regional rankings. Either way, it will be settled on the course this weekend.
Defending regional champ Iona claimed its Division-best 23rd consecutive MAAC title with little resistance, scoring a perfect 15 points behind team champ Kieran Clements. Two weeks prior against much more difficult competition, the Gaels finished third behind No. 1 Colorado and No. 4 Oregon and ahead of No. 6 Stanford. Seven individuals finished in the top 80; no other team had more than six in the top 100.
Columbia will look to continue a breakout season that started with a team title at Notre Dame and most recently included an Ivy League title. The Lions posted three of the top-five finishers at the Ivy League Championships, led by runner-up Nico Composto, to defeat a trio of nationally prominent teams in No. 15 Princeton, No. 26 Dartmouth and Harvard, which is receiving votes nationally.
Should the rankings stay true to form, No. 14 Syracuse — itself once a top-10 team this season and the winner of three consecutive region crowns before Iona claimed it last season — No. 21 Providence, No. 26 Dartmouth and Harvard will all seek to dethrone one of the top two or notch as many head-to-head wins as possible in striving for an at-large national bid.
Harvard’s Maksim Korolev finished runner-up a year ago in the region, and is coming off an individual title at the Ivy League.
November 15 | Meet Home | Bethlehem, Pa. (Host: Lehigh)
Four nationally ranked women’s teams will take to the course at the Goodman Course at Lehigh to claim just two automatic bids to NCAAs, while two nationally ranked men’s teams — and another previously in the top 30 — will compete in their race.
No. 4 Georgetown is the top-ranked team in the region, with a cluster of closely ranked teams in No. 22 Princeton, No. 24 West Virginia, No. 30 Penn State and Villanova, receiving votes nationally, left to try to usurp Georgetown and/or claim one of the top two spots.
The Hoyas fell to No. 2 Providence at the Big East Championships, 28-47, but again showed significant depth with seven top-20 individual finishers — not including regular scorer Madeline Chambers, who was 27th. Georgetown displayed similar depth in winning the Pre-National Invitational with six top-50 finishers in a very deep field.
Princeton finished fourth at the Ivy League Championships; West Virginia was runner-up at the Big 12 meet; defending region champion Penn State was fourth at the Big Ten Championships; and Villanova, winner of the previous three region titles before Penn State last year, was fourth in the Big East.
Georgetown is the defending champion on the men’s side and the winner of seven of the past eight Mid-Atlantic titles, but the Hoyas are the third team in the Regional Rankings this year.
Ahead of the defending champions in line for the two auto bids are No. 15 Princeton and No. 20 Villanova.
Princeton narrowly finished runner-up at the Ivy League meet behind No. 8 Columbia, with seven top-25 individuals, 48-56, and were sixth at the Princeton invitational.
Led by individual Big East Champion freshman Patrick Tiernan, the Wildcats of Villanova were conference champions two weekends ago over No. 21 Providence, 36-49, with seven finishers among the top 16 individuals.
Defending region champion Georgetown, nationally ranked earlier this season, was fourth at the Big East Championships.
At the beginning of the season, Duke’s No. 4 women appeared the overwhelming favorites to defend their title in the Southeast Region. A little more than two months later, the No. 28 Blue Devils find themselves on the outer cusp of the National Coaches Poll and ranked third in the region, projected outside the two automatic bids to NCAAs.
Unranked for a time after a couple disappointing outings, due partly to injury and illness, Duke is back in the national top 30 after a fifth-place finish at the ACC championships behind individual champion and former National Athlete of the Week Juliet Bottorff.
Taking over the mantle of region favorite is No. 11 Virginia. The Cavaliers, behind fourth-place finisher Barbara Strehler and four top-15 individuals, were runners-up to No. 5 Florida State at the ACC Championships, 52-65. Virginia also finished fourth at Pre-Nationals.
Occupying the second automatic berth into the championships, per the Regional Rankings, is No. 19 William and Mary. The Tribe easily claimed the Colonial title with a perfect score of 15 behind one of the nation’s best one-two punches in former National Athlete of the Week Elaina Balouris and Emily Stites. The duo led W&M to an eighth-place finish at Pre-Nationals.
No. 28 Duke and national-vote-receiving Kentucky — with another former National Athlete of the Week in Cally Macumber — are the other teams appearing in the coaches poll that are battling for auto bids or at-large positioning.
Two nationally ranked men’s teams are in line for championships bids in the men’s race, with No. 17 Eastern Kentucky and No. 18 North Carolina meeting to settle a season-long regional struggle.
EKU has the benefit of defending region champion and OVC champ Soufiane Bouchikhi, who led the Colonels to a near-perfect team score of 16 and a 10th-place finish in a loaded Wisconsin adidas Invitational team competition.
Bouchikhi will see a number of familiar faces again challenging him for the individual crown. Runner-up Paul Chelimo of UNC-Greensboro, third-place Andrew Colley of NC State and fifth-place Paul Katam of UNCG all return to again challenge Bouchikhi, who has been a top-five finisher in the region each of the past three seasons.
The Colonels finished one spot ahead of 11th-place North Carolina at Wisconsin, but lost out to the Tar Heels at the Virginia Panorama Farms Invitational. NC finished runner-up to No. 14 Syracuse at the ACC meet with four finishers in the top 16, led by sixth-place Ryan Walling.
National voter earners Virginia — the defending champion in the region — is on the perceived bubble at third in the region. No one team has been able to get a firm grasp on the region of late, as Virginia, NC State and William and Mary have each claimed the region in the past three years.
The most volatile region in the country — perhaps even among all Divisions — will finally come to some resolution this weekend at Southern Maine with the New England Championships.
Seven of the top 35 men’s teams and six nationally-ranked women’s teams will battle for the two NCAA Championships bids at stake in each race. The remaining teams will be left scrambling for the 16 at-large bids.
No. 5 Williams won the NESCAC Championship meet — just the latest of many confrontations between the regional squads — to jump to the highest national rank in the region. The Ephs, led by Colin Cotton, claimed the high rank from NESCAC runner-up and defending region champ No. 6 Middlebury, 51-62.
Separated by just one spot in the National Coaches Poll, the two will square off once more with national championship aspirations on the line. Other former top-five teams in NEWMAC Champ No. 16 MIT and No. 21 Bowdoin — led by defending region champ and former National Athlete of the Week Coby Horowitz — are also in the field, along with No. 13 Tufts, No. 26 Colby and No. 32 Bates.
Recent history in the region mirrors this year’s parity, as Middlebury, Williams and MIT have all claimed the title in the past three years.
The women’s New England Rankings have been more stable throughout the season, headed by No. 2 Middlebury, No. 4 MIT and No. 6 Williams.
The Panthers of Middlebury were dominant in a NESCAC win, placing seven runners in the top 12 led by runner-up Erzsebet Nagy. No. 6 Williams claimed the individual title with a win by Kaleigh Kenny, but finished runner-up to Middlebury with 51 points and three top-10 finishers.
Middlebury is now in a position to regain control of the region from defending champion MIT, which snapped a streak of four consecutive region titles for the Panthers last year. MIT easily won the NEWMAC with six top-10 finishers and winner Elaine McVay.
No. 11 Tufts, No. 21 Bates and No. 22 Brandeis are the remaining top-35 teams vying for auto bids or at-large consideration.
After a season of more than two months, the Atlantic Region men’s rankings finds itself with two teams tied for its top spot: No. 6 NYU — coincidentally also in a tie in the national poll with No. 6 Middlebury — and No. 12 SUNY Cortland.
The two will have a chance to settle it on the course. Defending region champion NYU finished runner-up to No. 2 Washington (Mo.) at the UAA championships, 26-49, behind third-place Dylan Karten and two other top-10 finishers. Karten finished runner-up last season.
Cortland recently put seven in the top 11 at the SUNYAC Championships behind individual winner Nick Marcantonio to defeat No. 19 SUNY Geneseo, 20-41.
SUNY Geneseo, No. 27 St. Lawrence, No. 34 and No. 35 Rochester will look to take down one of the aforementioned top-ranked regional teams and/or build a case for at-large consideration.
The region has had a different champion in each of the past four seasons: NYU, St. Lawrence, SUNY Geneseo and SUNY Cortland.
On the other hand, the same team has won each of the past four women’s Atlantic Region titles — St. Lawrence. However, ranked at No. 16 the Saints are the third-highest ranked team in the region and are on the perceived bubble outside the two auto-qualifying slots.
Instead, No. 9 NYU and No. 10 SUNY Geneseo are the top two teams in the Atlantic. NYU narrowly finished runner-up to No. 7 Chicago, 54-60, as the only team with four top-11 finishers. Geneseo easily won the SUNYAC title behind individual champ Keira Wood and four other top-10 finishers.
St. Lawrence has a pair of top-flight runners in former National Athletes of the Week Ariel Beccia and Amy Cymerman, the defending region champion. Cymerman and Beccia finished runner-up and third, respectively at the Liberty League meet as St. Lawrence won by a wide margin with five top-10 finishers.
No. 24 SUNY Oneonta, No. 29 Vassar and No. 32 Hamilton are all also in the hunt as nationally ranked teams to potentially take one of the top two spots or position themselves for an at-large bid.
November 16 | Meet Home | Bethlehem, Pa. (Host: Muhlenberg)
Bethlehem, Pa., is the place for collegiate cross country fans to be this weekend. Not only can they catch the Division I Mid-Atlantic Regional with the No. 2 Providence women, the can stick around Sunday for No. 1 defending Division III women’s team champion Johns Hopkins and the Mideast Regional Championships.
The Blue Jays claimed their fifth straight region crown en route their first national title last year, led by individual champ freshman Hannah Oneda. This year, Johns Hopkins enters fresh off a Centennial title with five of the top six individual finishers, including champion Holly Clarke.
No. 20 Haverford and No. 26 Dickinson finished second and third at the Centennial meet, and will likely battle again for positioning for one of the top two spots. No. 26 Marywood — the Colonial States champion — and No. 33 Elizabethtown — the Middle Atlantic champion — are also competing for auto or at-large qualification.
Like Johns Hopkins’ women, the men are also the top-ranked team in the nation. But unlike the women, who have been No. 1 in both the nation and the region all year long, the No. 8 men have only recently climbed to the top of the Mideast Region pile.
The Blue Jays recorded six of the top 11 finishers, led by third-place Max Robinson, to narrowly edge out then-No. 8 Dickinson, 34-39.
No. 13 Dickinson had the advantage in terms of overall depth with nine of the top 18 finishers, led by runner-up Ryan Steinbock. Three-time defending champion No. 15 Haverford, led by Centennial champ Chris Stadler, is third in the rankings — just outside the two automatic qualifying slots.
No. 24 Carnegie Mellon and No. 31 Allegheny (Pa.) — with two-time defending individual region champ Bobby Over — round out the ranked teams in competition. Over will again have to deal with each of the seven runners who finished directly preceding him last season.