NAIA Program of the Year Standings Update – Post-Indoor

NEW ORLEANS – With a few weeks having passed since the NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championships, we are beginning to get a better picture of what could happen in June when it becomes time to name the NAIA Programs of the Year.

The Post-Indoor update has been announced by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), two weeks after Indiana Tech swept the NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championships.

For those uninitiated, the USTFCCCA Program of the Year Award honors the institution that has achieved the most success in each academic year (spanning the cross country, indoor track & field, and outdoor track & field seasons) based on the institution’s finish at the NAIA Championships.

In order to be eligible for the award, teams must qualify for each of the NAIA Championships. Scoring is based on the team’s finish at each NAIA Championship in cross country, indoor track & field, and outdoor track & field (i.e. 1st = 1 point, 2nd = 2 points, 31st = 31 points) with the lowest total score for all three championships combined determining the award recipient. Ties among schools split points for positions taken.

NAIA Program of the Year Standings

Men’s Team Pts Women’s Team Pts
1. St. Francis (Ill.) 13.5 1. Oklahoma City 7
2. Cornerstone (Mich.) 18 2. Aquinas (Mich.) 10
3. Marian (Ind.) 21 3. Wayland Baptist (Texas) 15
4. Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) 25 4. Carroll (Mont.) 19
5. Indiana Tech 26 5. Hastings (Neb.) 21

In just its 2nd year of existence at the NAIA level, the current leaders of the pack are different than what we saw at the end of last season. But that doesn’t mean we won’t see repeat winners.

While the Warriors’ men’s team picked up a point for finishing 1st two weeks ago, the program sits in 5th place after a 25th-place finish during the cross country season. Leading the way currently is St. Francis (Ill.) after a 2nd-place finish in cross country and tying for 11th during the indoor championships. Following them is Cornerstone (Mich.) (8th-cross country, 10th – indoor).

St. Francis can walk away with the honors should they finish 5th or higher. But that could be a tall order, considering the men’s team has not finished higher than 19th over the last six years. The same can be said for Cornerstone (Mich.), who finished tied for 19th in 2012.

Marian (Ind.) is in 3rd with 21 points, followed by Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) with 25. Marian is much like St. Francis (Ill.) and Cornerstone (Mich.) in that recent history has not been terribly kind during the outdoor season. Olivet Nazarene (Ill.), on the other hand, has had some nice seasons as of late, finishing 6th in 2015 and 7th last year.

But Indiana Tech, who won the outdoor title a year ago after finishing 2nd the season before, could be poised for another NAIA Program of the Year honor should they stretch their indoor success to the outdoor campaign.

Oklahoma City sits atop the leaderboard on the women’s side with a total of seven points after placing 5th in cross country and 2nd in indoor track and field. Aquinas (Mich.) is right behind them with 10 points (4th – cross country, 6th – indoor). Aquinas (Mich.) had a solid outdoor season a year ago, finishing 8th on the season while being the runner-up in the NAIA Women’s Program of the Year.

Wayland Baptist (Texas) (15), Carroll (Mont.) (19) and Hastings (Neb.) (21) sit 3rd-5th, and all three finished in the top-10 at the NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championships. Coupled with the strong finishes during the indoor championships by Oklahoma City and Aquinas (Mich.), the NAIA Women’s Program of the Year could end up coming down to whoever finishes the highest amongst these five teams.

Also, don’t count out last year’s NAIA Women’s Program of the Year in Biola (Calif.). They sit 6th right now with 23.5 points, but will need a stronger finish at the outdoor meet than they received during the indoor season (t-20th).