2017 NCAA DI Cross Country Women’s Region Rankings – Preseason
NEW ORLEANS – Cross country is back!
With the new season starting it up, it’s time to check out the NCAA Division I Women’s Cross Country Regional Team Rankings.
For those who don’t know, the USTFCCCA Regional Cross Country Rankings are determined subjectively by a single member coach in each respective region. The regional representative is tasked with weighing returning teams’ strength with current season results (if applicable) in determining predicted team finishes at the NCAA Regional Championships.
This year the NCAA Division I Regional Championships will be held across the nation on Friday, November 10.
Great Lakes Region
Consistency and continuity is the buzzword here.
The top-3 teams – Michigan, Notre Dame and Wisconsin – all return six of their top-7 and remain in the same place they finished the 2016 season: first, second and third.
The Wolverines, who won the regional championship last year and finished a microscopic runner-up to Oregon at NCAAs, are No. 1. Michigan returns all but one of their top-7 runners from last year (Erin Finn) and welcome transfer Audrey Belf from Georgetown.
Anna Rohrer leads the second-ranked Irish, who also return five other runners from their top-7. Notre Dame will also have the services of Anna Sophia Keller, who finished 15th at NXN.
The Badgers have a solid 1-2-3 punch in Amy Davis, Sarah Disanza and Alicia Monson and get two runners back from redshirt in Jamie Shannon and Erin Wagner.
Michigan State and Eastern Michigan come in at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively.
There is very little reason to remove Penn State from the No. 1 spot in the Mid-Atlantic Region after back-to-back region titles.
The Nittany Lions had no turnover from last year and feature a potent 1-2-3 combination at the top of their lineup with Tessa Barrett, Jillian Hunsberger and Elizabeth Chikotas.
Villanova is ranked No. 2, followed by Georgetown and both return a strong number of runners from their top-7 and welcome a talented freshman class.
West Virginia is ranked No. 4 and Pittsburgh starts the season at No. 5.
When you shocked the region last year, return most of your top athletes including the NCAA individual champion, how can you not be ranked No. 1? That’s a question we’re not going to have to answer as Karissa Schweizer and the Missouri Tigers are on top of the region.
Mizzou is a healthy No. 1, but has No. 2 Minnesota hot on its heels. Madeline Strandemo, who had a break-out junior campaign last year, will lead the Gophers.
No. 3 Oklahoma State lost Kaela Edwards, but returns four of its top-5 runners.
No. 4 Iowa State and No. 5 Kansas round out the top-5.
This region is consistently loaded and 2017 is no different.
Three of the top-5 teams in this region finished in the top-10 of NCAAs last year.
No. 1 Colorado returns six of its top-7 runners from last year’s third-place team, led by Dani Jones and Kaitlyn Benner. Mackenzie Caldwell and Sage Hurta will assert themselves in the pack as well and Madison Boreman comes off redshirt following a fantastic year on the track that saw her place second in the steeplechase at NCAAs.
No. 2 New Mexico replenished its roster with key transfers. Alice Wright is the star of the team and will be joined by proven transfers Edna Kurgat (Liberty) and Charlotte Prouse (Washington). The Lady Lobos are two years removed from a dominant run to the NCAA XC team title.
Graduation hit No. 3 BYU hard and it’s looking for a few runners to step up. None of the returning Cougars finished higher than 71st at NCAAs, so there is room for growth.
No. 4 Utah and No. 5 Utah State are the final two teams in the top-5.
Providence, the perennial power in this region, is No. 1 – and for good reason. The Friars have four of their top-5 back and return Catarina Rocha to the mix.
No. 2 Harvard lost its 1-2 punch at the top of its lineup due to graduation and transfer, but five of the top-7 return. The Crimson will also look to freshmen Abbe Goldstein and Aislinn Devlin to step up in their first year on campus.
No. 3 Yale made it to NCAAs last year as a team and hopes to continue to build on that success.
No. 4 Cornell and No. 5 Syracuse round out the top-5.
The SEC is all about speed.
You can say the same thing about the top of the South Region.
No. 1 Ole Miss headlines this region and has five women with PRs at 16:32 or faster over 5000 meters. The Rebels also added key freshmen who competed in the World Cross Country Championships, have a 10:19 PR in the steeplechase and ran 10:39 for two miles, among others.
Next up is No. 2 Mississippi State, which returns four of its top-7 runners from last year’s regional championship. The Bulldogs’ freshmen class boasts the reigning European Junior steeplechase champ and a Foot Locker finalist, among others.
No. 3 Vanderbilt rounds out the top-3 with No. 4 Alabama and No. 5 Florida State close behind.
South Central Region
It’s Arkansas and everybody else once again in the South Central Region.
The top-ranked Razorbacks might have lost two of their top-7 runners, but return Devin Clark – who won the individual regional title last year – and Taylor Werner – who finished 11th at NCAAs.
Newcomer Abilene Christian is No. 2 and this is the first year the program is eligible to compete in the postseason. The Wildcats will be led by the twin duo of Alexandria Hackett and Michaela Hackett who both went sub-34 minutes over 10,000 meters at the UCLA Bob Larsen Invitational.
A trio of teams from the Lone Star State round out the top-5: No. 3 Texas, No. 4 Baylor and No. 5 SMU.
After a breakthrough 2016 season, NC State is ready for more this year.
The top-ranked Wolfpack return four of their top-5 runners from a team that finished fourth at NCAAs last year. Rachel Koon and Wesley Frazier both finished in the top-50 in Terre Haute.
No. 2 Louisville welcomes back all seven of its runners that have something to prove this year. The Cardinals finished dead-last at NCAAs (31st) and want to get that taste out of their mouths. A return trip to NCAAs would allow Louisville to run on its home course.
No. 3 Furman could find its way inside the top-35 when the polls come out tomorrow as it has six of its top-7 back and had a tremendous recruiting class.
As far as the remaining two teams in the top-5, those spots belong to Kentucky and Wake Forest.
Each year the West Region gets multiple teams into NCAAs.
This year should be no different as defending national champ and top-ranked Oregon, No. 2 Stanford, No. 3 San Francisco, No. 4 Washington and No. 5 Boise State all have legitimate chances to make it to Louisville, Kentucky in November.
The Ducks lost their No. 2, No. 4 and No. 5 scorers from NCAAs last year but return Katie Rainsberger (fourth), Allie Cash (14th) as well as a few solid transfers like Florida State’s Carmela Cardama-Baez and Harvard’s Jullie Pendergrast.
The Cardinal has all but one of its top-7 from NCAAs back and will add Harvard transfer Courtney Smith and touted prep standouts Jessica Lawson and Nevada Mareno.
The Dons have Charlotte Taylor, who was 10th at NCAAs last year and won the 10,000-meter title outdoors this past June. Taylor’s supporting cast only grows stronger.
The Huskies and Broncos will be headlined by Amy-Eloise Neale and Allie Ostrander, respectively, and their teammates are more than capable as well.