UW-La Crosse Men, WashU Women Capture NCAA DIII Program of the Year Awards

NEW ORLEANS – The Washington (Mo.) women held a healthy lead in the race for the Deb Vercauteren Program of the Year Award heading into this past weekend’s NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

The same couldn’t be said for the UW-La Crosse men, who trailed North Central (Ill.) by 5 points in the hunt for the Al Carius Program of the Year Award.

WashU had to finish in the top-5 in Geneva, Ohio, to capture its 2nd Program of the Year Award in a row, while UW-La Crosse had to beat North Central (Ill.) by six or more places to bring its 3rd trophy back to Wisconsin in the past 4 years.

Well, the Bears and Eagles both did their share as they won the NCAA Division III team titles. The Cardinals ended the meet in 11th place, which meant UW-La Crosse earned the honor.

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Coaches from both WashU and UW-La Crosse will be honored in December at the annual USTFCCCA Convention in Phoenix, Arizona.

The USTFCCCA Program of the Year Award is bestowed annually to the most outstanding cross country/track & field programs in each of the NCAA’s three divisions and for each gender. The 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 NCAA Championships.

In order to be eligible for the award, teams must qualify for each of the NCAA Championships. Scoring is based on the team’s finish at each NCAA 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.

WashU nearly completed the Triple Crown, which means winning the cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field titles in the same academic year. The Bears totaled 4 points in the Program of the Year Award Standings after a runner-up finish in the fall and the indoor-outdoor sweep of track & field titles.

Williams finished 2nd in the women’s standings with 11.5 points, followed by Ithaca with 15. It should be noted that the Bombers finished runner-up indoors and outdoors. SUNY Geneseo and MIT rounded out the top-5 in 4th and 5th, respectively.

A 6th place finish during the fall kept UW-La Crosse from a better run at the Triple Crown, but it shared the indoor crown and won the outdoor title outright. North Central (Ill.) finished runner-up with 2015-16 winner UW-Eau Claire close by in 3rd with 15½ points.

This is the 2nd time in the history of the Al Carius Program of the Year Award that UW-La Crosse, North Central (Ill.) and UW-Eau Claire finished 1-2-3. The other time it happened was at the conclusion of the 2012-13 academic year.

Rounding out the men’s top-5 was WashU and Williams.