The Warm-Up Lap: Charting the Best Division I XC Action in the “True” Regular Season

The Warm-Up Lap: Charting the Best Division I XC Action in the “True” Regular Season

NEW ORLEANS – Division I cross country teams, consider this weekend your final dress rehearsal.

It’s been three weekends of teams’ principal actors learning their roles, developing chemistry with one another and testing it all out in a few run-throughs. This upcoming Friday and Saturday – check the full rundown of where top-30 teams are in action – will be one more chance to tweak their scripts before the bright lights come on.

More Info:

This Weekend’s Meets (60+ meets)
 
Nationally Ranked Teams in Action
Div. I Div. II Div. III
 
XC Polls and Rankings
Div. I Div. II Div. III

Because next weekend it’s curtain-up on what many recognize as the true beginning of the regular season of the Division I cross country season: September 26 marks the first day results count toward at-large qualifying consideration for the big stage at the NCAA Championships on November 22 in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The next month will bring fresh drama as nationally ranked teams (and those hoping to break through into the top 30) square off with one another in hopes of collecting those ever-valuable head-to-head victories – colloquially known as "Kolas points". Only two teams from each of the nine regions will automatically qualify for NCAAs; the rest of the country will use the regular season as an audition for 13 at-large spots.

Will this month-long Nationwide Kolas Tour be coming to trails near you? We’ve laid out the biggest stops (based on the National Coaches Polls released this week and each of those teams’ posted schedules online) for you below. More on each of the meets in the upcoming weeks as we get closer, but here’s the teaser trailer for you.

(Not ready to look this far ahead? Want to just find out what’s going on this weekend in college cross country in all three NCAA Divisions? Skip ahead to here.)

WEEK ONE

Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown

Host: Boston College (Friday, September 26)

Plot: C2C is back for an encore after a great debut in 2013. Defending individual national champion Edward Cheserek of Oregon returns to the event at which he made his debut in 2014, with his No. 3 Ducks up against three other ranked teams.

Meanwhile in the women’s race, it’s a battle between No. 1 Michigan each of the past three national team champions in 2013 champ No. 18 Providence, 2012 champ No. 2 Oregon and 2011 champ No. 5 Georgetown. Individually, No. 25 Dartmouth’s Dana Giordano will be free for the first time from the shadow of the since-graduated 2013 NCAA champion Abbey D’Agostino; will she make the most of her first big leading role?

Men’s Cast Women’s Cast
#3 Oregon #1 Michigan
#8 Syracuse #5 Georgetown
#16 Providence #15 Syracuse
#30 Columbia #16 Boston College
  #18 Providence
  #25 Dartmouth

 

Roy Griak InvitationalLIVE on FlotrackPro

Host: Minnesota (Saturday, September 27)

Plot: After encouraging early season results, the No. 3 Michigan State women are riding at an all-time high in the National Coaches Poll. At Griak, the Spartans will face their first true test of the 2014 season with No. 9 Iowa State, regional rival No. 11 Butler and three other ranked teams all set to line up against them.

Of the meet’s four ranked men’s teams, only No. 23 Texas currently resides in the top two of its region, the South Central. Look for No. 19 North Carolina, No. 26 Iowa State and No. 29 Colorado State to duke it out for those Ws.

Men’s Cast Women’s Cast
#19 North Carolina #3 Michigan State
#23 Texas #9 Iowa State
#26 Iowa State #11 Butler
#29 Colorado State #24 Vanderbilt
  #28 Minnesota
  #30 Weber State

 

WEEK TWO

Notre Dame Invitational

Host: Notre Dame (Friday, October 3)

Plot: The No. 10 BYU are set to headline the season’s biggest field of ranked teams to this point, toeing the line with seven other nationally ranked teams. The Cougars, ranked third in the Mountain Region, will see two other nationally ranked teams from the region in No. 17 New Mexico and No. 29 Colorado State – all of which are trying to garner as many head-to-head wins as possible should they not be able to upset defending champ No. 1 Colorado or No. 2 Northern Arizona at regionals for an auto bid.

A battle between No. 11 Butler and No. 12 New Mexico highlights the women’s action, with five ranked teams in the field.

Men’s Cast Women’s Cast
#10 BYU #11 Butler
#15 NC State #12 New Mexico
#17 New Mexico #23 SMU
#18 Tulsa #27 Penn State
#21 Princeton #29 NC State
#22 Michigan  
#25 Florida State  
#29 Colorado State  

 

Washington Invitational

Host: Washington (Saturday, October 4)

Plot: New to the national scene as one of the big regular-season meets, the Washington Invitational exceeds the men’s field size of the prior day’s Notre Dame Invitational with 10 top-30 squads and boasts a higher average rank, to boot. This is set to be a big one: Of the 10 men’s teams, five are ranked in that top 10 nationally. That’s No. 2 Northern Arizona, No. 3 Oregon, No. 5 Stanford, No. 6 Portland, No. 7 Indiana and No. 9 Villanova.

The women’s field may not be as stacked with only four top-30 teams scheduled to compete, but it’s just as top-heavy with a Pac-12 duel between No. 2 Oregon and No. 4 Stanford.

Men’s Cast Women’s Cast
#2 Northern Arizona #2 Oregon
#5 Stanford #4 Stanford
#6 Portland #13 Villanova
#7 Indiana #14 Washington
#9 Villanova  
#14 Virginia  
#24 UCLA  
#27 Washington  
#28 Oklahoma  

 

Paul Short RunLIVE on FlotrackPro

Host: Lehigh (Saturday, October 4)

Plot: While it’s uncertain whether this year’s Paul Short Run will be as affected by unseasonably hot weather as was the 2013 edition, but be certain of this: the women’s race, especially, will be hotly contested. Though only three ranked teams are scheduled to compete, the match-up between No. 5 Georgetown and No. 6 Florida State – making its countable season debut – ensures this one as one to watch. On the men’s side, watch for No. 12 Iona against a pair of Ivies in No. 21 Princeton and No. 30 Columbia.

Men’s Cast Women’s Cast
#9 Villanova #5 Georgetown
#12 Iona #6 Florida State
#21 Princeton #13 Villanova
#30 Columbia  

 

WEEK THREE

It’s intermission! Take a break like teams around the country are doing. Catch your breath because the week four finale before teams take another break ahead of conference meets is going to be a showstopper.

WEEK FOUR

By far the biggest weekend of the regular season. Nearly everyone is at either Friday’s Wisconsin adidas Invitational or Saturday’s Pre-National Invitational on the NCAA Championship course in Terre  Haute, Indiana.

Despite the national championships vibe this weekend exudes, a cautionary tale: A win at Wisconsin or Pre-Nats does not necessarily foretell a win at NCAAs. Only three times in the past 10 years has the winner of one of those two meets gone on to win the men’s title – including last year’s Colorado team. Women’s teams have done it five times in the past 10 years, but not since Wisconsin’s meet was founded in 2009.

Conversely, a disappointing performance doesn’t preclude national title hopes. Providence’s women entered last year’s Wisconsin meet No. 1, finished third, and dramatically redeemed themselves with an NCAA title in November.

This is the last big weekend of regular season meets before the postseason with conferences, regionals and nationals in the following weeks.

Wisconsin adidas InvitationalLIVE on FlotrackPro

Host: Wisconsin (Friday, October 17)

Plot: This meet has only been around for half a decade, but already it has grown into the largest regular-season meet on the collegiate calendar. It’s a make-it-or-break-it kind of affair; a great performance will leave teams with a bounty of head-to-head wins and in excellent position to attain one of the at-large bids. A lackluster performance? An uphill climb, to say the least.

If ever there was a tough crowd, this is it. Both the men’s and women’s fields will feature 19 and 18 of the current top-30 teams each, respectively.

Six of the top 10 women’s teams will face off with one another, including No. 3 Michigan State against No. 4 Stanford, No. 6 Florida State, No. 8 Arkansas, No. 9 Iowa State and No. 10 Virginia.

Six of the top 10 men’s teams will duke it out, headed by defending meet champ No. 2 Northern Arizona. The Lumberjacks will take on No. 5 Stanford, No. 6 Portland, No. 7 Indiana (splitting its squad, tentatively), No. 8 Syracuse and No. 10 BYU.

Men’s Cast Women’s Cast
#2 Northern Arizona #3 Michigan State
#5 Stanford #4 Stanford
#6 Portland #6 Florida State
#7 Indiana #8 Arkansas
#8 Syracuse #9 Iowa State
#10 BYU #10 Virginia
#11 Wisconsin #12 New Mexico
#12 Iona #15 Syracuse
#13 Arkansas #16 Boston College
#16 Providence #16 Wisconsin
#17 New Mexico #18 Providence
#19 North Carolina #21 West Virginia
#21 Princeton #23 SMU
#22 Michigan #24 Vanderbilt
#24 UCLA #25 Dartmouth
#25 Florida State #26 William and Mary
#26 Iowa State #28 Minnesota
#28 Oklahoma #30 Weber State
#30 Columbia  

 

Pre-National InvitationalLIVE on FlotrackPro

Host: Indiana State (Saturday, October 18)

Plot: Though dwindling in participation with the rise of Wisconsin’s meet, Pre-Nationals still features marquee match-ups with a true national championships feel – after all, it’s run on the same course, the LaVern Gibson Championship Course, as NCAAs.

Heading up the men’s field will be defending national and meet champion No. 1 Colorado, up against No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Oklahoma State (which, we hope, will run its "A" squad this year) and No. 7 Indiana. Edward Cheserek returns with mixed memories of this course, the site of his last loss in a fourth-place finish in this meet a year ago and his redemptive upset win for the individual national title in November.

Cheserek’s female teammates at Oregon, ranked No. 2 nationally, headline the women’s field will take on No. 1 Michigan for the second time in three weeks. The Wolverines and Ducks are up against No. 5 Georgetown and No. 7 Colorado.

Men’s Cast Women’s Cast
#1 Colorado #1 Michigan
#3 Oregon #2 Oregon
#4 Oklahoma State #5 Georgetown
#7 Indiana #7 Colorado
#12 Iona #11 Butler
#15 NC State #19 Boise State
#18 Tulsa #20 Oklahoma State
#23 Texas #27 Penn State
#29 Colorado State #29 NC State

 

This Weekend

Not ready to look that far ahead yet? (Don’t worry, we’ll have similar previews for DII and DIII in the near future.) Here’s where all the nationally ranked action is happening this weekend in NCAA Divisions I, II and III.

Division I’s top women’s team is in action against other collegiate squads for the first time this weekend as Michigan heads to the Big Ten Preview in Iowa City, Iowa, on Saturday. The Wolverines will face No. 16 Wisconsin.

Also in Division I, the No. 12 Iona men and No. 13 Arkansas will race at Iona’s Brother Doyle Meet of Champions on Saturday.

The Colorado College Invitational on Saturday could be Division II’s top meet, depending on whether teams bring their top squads. Two-time defending men’s champ No. 1 Adams State is in action against No. 5 Colorado Mines and No. 10 Metro State, while the No. 2 Adams State women toe the line with No. 7 Metro State.

Perhaps the most significant gathering of ranked teams in the nation this weekend is Saturday’s Wheaton (Ill.) Gil Dodds Invitational, which features three top-20 Division III teams in both the men’s and women’s races. It’s a top-six showdown in the women’s race between No. 4 Chicago and No. 6 Oberlin, while the men will see No. 5 Central (Iowa) and No. 11 Washington (Mo.) go head-to-head.

Elsewhere in Division III, defending national men’s champion No. 1 St. Olaf and No. 3 UW-Eau Claire battle at Saturday’s St. Olaf Invitational. From a Division II perspective, No. 4 Minnesota Duluth’s women make their debut at that same meet.

Saturday’s Dickinson Long-Short Invite has an unconventional two-race-per-gender format, but it will feature a pair of top-15 DII men’s squads in No. 9 Shippensburg and No. 12 Lock Haven, along with several nationally ranked DIII squads in both genders’ races. No. 10 Dickinson, No. 13 Haverford and No. 26 Elizabethtown are in the women’s race, while the men’s race will feature No. 18 Dickinson and No. 31 Carnegine Mellon.

The full weekend schedule of nationally ranked teams in each division can be found below.

Men’s Top 30 – DI

Team Meet
2. Northern Arizona Dave Murray Invitational
6. Portland Oak Knoll Loop Run
7. Indiana Indiana Intercollegiate (cross country)
11. Wisconsin Big Ten Preview
12. Iona Br. Doyle Meet of Champions
13. Arkansas Br. Doyle Meet of Champions
15. NC State Wolfpack Invitational/adidas XC Challenge
18. Tulsa Missouri Southern Stampede
19. North Carolina VT Alumni Invitational
22. Michigan Big Ten Preview
23. Texas UTSA Ricardo Romo Classic
25. Florida State VT Alumni Invitational
28. Oklahoma Missouri Southern Stampede

Women’s Top 30 – DI

Team Meet
1. Michigan Big Ten Preview
6. Florida State Mountain Dew Invitational
  VT Alumni Invitational
8. Arkansas Missouri Southern Stampede
11. Butler Indiana Intercollegiate (cross country)
16. Wisconsin Big Ten Preview
22. Virginia Tech VT Alumni Invitational
29. NC State Wolfpack Invitational/adidas XC Challenge

 

Men’s Top 25 – DII

Team Meet
1. Adams State Colorado College Invitational
5. Colorado Mines Colorado College Invitational
9. Shippensburg Dickinson Long-Short Invitational
10. Metro State Colorado College Invitational
12. Lock Haven Dickinson Long-Short Invitational
14. Missouri Southern Missouri Southern Stampede
16. Cedarville Friendship Invitational
17. Sioux Falls St. Olaf Invitational (cross country)
19. Edinboro Br. Doyle Meet of Champions
22. Franklin Pierce UMass Dartmouth Shriners Invitational

Women’s Top 25 – DII

Team Meet
2. Adams State Colorado College Invitational
4. Minnesota Duluth St. Olaf Invitational (cross country)
7. Metro State Colorado College Invitational
13. Seattle Pacific Sundodger Invitational
14. Edinboro Br. Doyle Meet of Champions
15. Missouri Southern Missouri Southern Stampede
16. Simon Fraser Sundodger Invitational
18. Lewis National Catholic Championships
20. California (Pa.) Vulcan Invitational
21. Shippensburg Dickinson Long-Short Invitational
24. Colorado Mines Colorado College Invitational
25. Malone Malone Invitational

 

Men’s Top 35 – DIII

Team Meet
1. St. Olaf St. Olaf Invitational (cross country)
3. UW-Eau Claire St. Olaf Invitational (cross country)
4. St. Lawrence North Country 5
5. Central (Iowa) Wheaton (Ill.) Gil Dodds Invitational
11. Washington (Mo.) Wheaton (Ill.) Gil Dodds Invitational
12. Haverford Dickinson Long-Short Invitational
13. SUNY Geneseo Rochester Yellowjacket Invitational
14. Loras National Catholic Championships
15. NYU Monmouth Invitational
16. Colby Aldrich Invitational
18. Dickinson Dickinson Long-Short Invitational
19. Wabash Indiana Intercollegiate (cross country)
20. Chicago Wheaton (Ill.) Gil Dodds Invitational
21. Pomona-Pitzer The Mustang Challenge
26. SUNY Cortland Rochester Yellowjacket Invitational
27. Wartburg Woody Greeno Invitational (Nebraska/Nebraska Wesleyan)
28. Middlebury Aldrich Invitational
29. UW-Stout Woody Greeno Invitational (Nebraska/Nebraska Wesleyan)
31. Carnegie Mellon Dickinson Long-Short Invitational
33. Bridgewater (Va.) Shenandoah Valley Invitational

Women’s Top 35 – DIII

Team Meet
3. St. Lawrence North Country 5
4. Chicago Wheaton (Ill.) Gil Dodds Invitational
6. Oberlin Wheaton (Ill.) Gil Dodds Invitational
7. SUNY Geneseo Rochester Yellowjacket Invitational
8. Middlebury Aldrich Invitational
9. NYU Monmouth Invitational
10. Dickinson Dickinson Long-Short Invitational
11. Willamette Oak Knoll Loop Run
15. Carleton St. Olaf Invitational (cross country)
18. St. Olaf St. Olaf Invitational (cross country)
19. Washington (Mo.) Wheaton (Ill.) Gil Dodds Invitational
21. SUNY Oneonta Rochester Yellowjacket Invitational
23. Ithaca Rochester Yellowjacket Invitational
24. Wartburg Woody Greeno Invitational (Nebraska/Nebraska Wesleyan)
26. Elizabethtown Dickinson Long-Short Invitational
27. St. Benedict Colorado College Invitational
27. Whitworth Erik Anderson Invitational/Runner’s Soul
  Sundodger Invitational
32. Whitman Erik Anderson Invitational/Runner’s Soul
  Sundodger Invitational