Stocks Rise At 2017 NCAA DI Cross Country Championships
Banner days weren’t only had by the Northern Arizona men and New Mexico women this past weekend at the 2017 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships.
Sure, the Lumberjacks and Lady Lobos might have won their second NCAA titles, but nine other programs bettered their respective finishes at previous NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. San Francisco’s women and Portland’s men headlined that group with their respective podium finishes.
PREVIOUSLY: Historical Look At 2017 NCAA DI Championships
Here’s a closer look at those nine teams that improved their stock at NCAAs. We’ll rank them subjectively, not by spots jumped.
San Francisco women
Last year San Francisco made its fourth-ever trip to NCAAs. The Dons finished a surprising sixth behind Oregon, Michigan, Colorado, NC State and Stanford.
This year San Francisco wasn’t going to sneak up on anybody at NCAAs after it made a name for itself during the regular season and early postseason. The Dons won the Roy Griak Invitational in September and cruised to a victory at the West Region Championships eight days before arriving in the Bluegrass State.
San Francisco gave the Lady Lobos – the eventual national champion – a run for their money. The Dons put three women in the top-15 led by Charlotte Taylor (third) and Weronika Pyzik (second) – but couldn’t match New Mexico’s firepower up front as it put four in the top-15.
“We wanted to win, obviously, but we’re really happy with second,” San Francisco head coach Helen Lehman-Winters told LetsRun.com after the meet. “We kind of knew that if we were going to win, New Mexico probably had to falter a little bit. They ran a fantastic race today. We’re happy. It’s a good, solid team performance.”
Furman had never been to the NCAA meet as a team until this year.
When Allie Buchalski competed at both the 2014 and 2015 meet, she did so as an individual qualifier out of the NCAA Southeast Region.
This year Buchalski had six teammates on the course with her and they shined together.
The Paladins finished seventh as a team, just seven points out of sixth place. Furman put three in the top-50, led by Buchalski’s seventh-place effort.
“I could not be prouder,” Furman head coach Robert Gary told Furman’s website of his team’s performance. “It was an unbelievable year and we are very excited about the future.”
Portland opened some eyes when it finished runner-up to Northern Arizona at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational.
Then the Pilots won the West Region title by two points over Washington.
Portland might have been telling us something, because its effort in Louisville, Kentucky was nothing short of remarkable. The Pilots finished runner-up to the Lumberjacks and were 38 points clear of third-place BYU.
Emmanuel Roudolff-Levisse led the way for Portland in 11th place and was one of Portland’s three All-Americans. Jeff Thies and Nick Hauger were the other two.
“First was the goal – and I said, ‘If we run hard, we’ll take whatever we can get,'” Portland head coach Rob Conner said after the meet. “The guys hung in there.”
Boise State women
Boise State finished 11th at NCAAs twice before taking the course last Saturday.
The Broncos followed Allie Ostrander’s lead and worked their way to the front of the pack at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer Park. Ostrander finished fourth individually and was a major reason why Boise State ended up sixth in the team standings.
Next year the Broncos return five athletes from this year’s team, so big things could be in store for the team from the City of Trees.
Utah State women
Utah State’s women punched their first team ticket to NCAAs this year.
The Aggies made sure they’d remember their first trip.
Utah State ended up 14th in the standings, 18 points out of 13th place occupied by perennial power Arkansas. The Aggies got an All-American performance by Alyssa Snyder (25th place).
Four of the women from Utah State’s team should return next year to Logan, Utah and build on the success from the 2017 season.
Southern Utah men
Southern Utah made its fifth excursion to NCAAs a good one.
The Thunderbirds finished 11th, six points shy of 10th-place Michigan. Southern Utah had not finished better than 21st in four previous trips.
Southern Utah didn’t have an All-American, but packed up well. The top-4 runners for the Thunderbirds went 50-76-77-82 with Josh Collins leading the way.
“I feel really good,” Southern Utah head coach Eric Houle told Southern Utah’s website. “We’re the 11th-best team in the country. Could we have placed higher? Absolutely. We were not far out of sixth place, but competing at a national championship is a whole different world. To appear here time and time again — it sets the stage for us to keep moving higher and higher.”
Eastern Kentucky women
Eastern Kentucky ended up 23rd at its first NCAA meet.
The Colonels got a near All-American effort from senior Charlotte Imer, who finished 52nd overall. Imer had a tremendous season for EKU as she won the Ohio Valley Conference title and finished top-5 at both the Pre-National Invitational and Southeast Region Championships.
Middle Tennessee State men
A pair of All-Americans led the way for Middle Tennessee State last Saturday.
Kigen Chemadi and Jacob Choge finished 23rd and 34th, respectively, as the Blue Raiders finished 23rd out of 31 teams. Chemadi and Choge will both be back next year as they’re only sophomores.
Middle Tennessee State’s only other trip to NCAAs was last year when it finished 28th.
Utah State men
Experience will only help Utah State.
The Aggies finished 27th out of 31 teams in their first trip to NCAAs as a team.
Utah State was led by senior Dillon Maggard, who finished sixth overall. Maggard competed as an individual last year and took 12th.