2018 NCAA DI Women’s Cross Country Regional Rankings – Preseason
NEW ORLEANS – After the long layoff, cross country is finally back!
With the season starting up again on Friday, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) released the NCAA Division I Women’s Preseason Regional Rankings on Monday.
See below for more information on the rankings, including overviews of each region as well as the full top-15 lists at the bottom of the post. The top-two teams in each region automatically advance to the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships.
Week-by-Week Ranking Charts
The NCAA Division I Regional Championships will be held around the country on November 9 while the NCAA National Championships will take place Saturday, November 17 in Madison, Wisconsin.
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.
Great Lakes Region
The 2018 cross country season goes through Madison and the host Wisconsin Badgers would love nothing more than to steal the show in November.
The Badgers were selected as the top team in the Great Lakes Region to open the season with a unit that returns six of its top seven to go with six newcomers.
Wisconsin finished third at the Mountain Regional and Big 10 Championships last year and rode that momentum to a 10th-place finish at NCAAs.
Michigan, last year’s Big Ten and Regional Champions, slot in as the second team after having to replace four of its top seven from last year’s squad. The Wolverines finished one spot ahead of Wisconsin in ninth at the National Championships last season.
Michigan has three consecutive top-10 finishes and five in the past six seasons at NCAAs and just brought in one of the best recruiting classes in the nation that includes Olivia Theis, Maddy Denner and Anne Forsyth.
Michigan State was picked third in the region after the Spartans only lost their No. 3 and 6 athletes from last season. The group will get strong contributions from Jeralyn Poe, Erin McDonald and Big Sky Ten Freshman of the Year, Maggie Farrell, among others. The Spartans finished 14th at NCAAs in 2017, their 17th-straight appearance at nationals.
No 4. Indiana and No. 5 Notre Dame round out the region’s top five.
The Hoosiers return 2017 Great Lakes Regional Champion Katherine Receveur and No. 2 athlete Margaret Allen that look to improve on last year. The Fighting Irish will be another team to watch as they get back one of the top runners in the country in Anna Rohrer who did not compete last season. In addition, four of her distance teammates qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene and the Irish also added talented freshman to the mix.
Penn State was picked as the top team in the Mid-Atlantic region as the unit will return its top three athletes to go with Elizabeth Chikotas, who redshirted last fall. The Nittany Lions finished 18th at NCAAs in 2017, the third consecutive top-20 finish for the program.
Villanova comes in second in the region and will return its complete team from its 12th-place finishing unit at NCAAs to go with transfer Caroline Alcorta and talented incoming freshman Taryn O’Neill.
Georgetown was selected third with a team that only lost one athlete from 2017. The squad finished third at last year’s regionals and had returner Martha MacDonald compete as an individual at NCAAs last year.
Princeton slots in at No. 4 in the region while Pittsburgh was picked at No. 5. Both teams had losses from their 2017 units and will look towards its new class along with younger athletes to start to take over.
Princeton does have All-American Gabi Forrest returning while Pittsburgh is coming off a fifth-place performance at last year’s regionals, the best finish in program history.
Iowa State was selected as the top team in the Midwest Region as it returns a talented group from last year’s team that placed 20th at NCAAs. The unit returns the third (Callie Logue), ninth (Anne Frisbie), 11th (Amanda Vestri), 26th (Karly Ackley) and 41st (Kelly Naumann) place finishers from the 2017 regionals.
The Cyclones have advanced to nine-straight national championships and have won the regional title six times in the last eight years.
Oklahoma State, the No. 2 team and Minnesota, the No. 3 selection both returned deep squads as well for 2018. The Cowgirls, who finished 30th at NCAAs, return the 13th (Kaytlyn Larson), 21st (Kaylee Dodd) and 27th (Cheyenne Walden) place finishers from last year’s regionals.
The Gophers will bring back the fifth (Magan Hasz) and seventh (Bethany Hasz) place finishers from last season’s regionals to go with a deep squad. The unit finished 19th at NCAAs.
South Dakota (No. 4) and Bradley (No. 5), two more deep programs, round out the region’s top five.
New Mexico headlines a strong Mountain Region as the 2017 NCAA National Champions have a loaded lineup that will look to defend their title.
Returners include individual national champion and NCAA Championship recorder holder Ednah Kurgat (19:19.5 at NCAAs), Weini Kelati (seventh at NCAAs) and Charlotte Prouse (12th). The program also added talented transfers in Adva Cohen, Hannah Nuttall and Emily Martin among others. In total the Lobos return five runners from the top 110 at the 2017 National Championships.
New Mexico has placed in the top 10 at NCAAs in seven consecutive seasons.
Colorado was selected second in the region as it returns six of its seven runners from last year’s team that finished third overall at NCAAs. The unit returns two All-Americans in Sage Hurta and Dani Jones as well as senior Mackenzie Caldwell who was an All-American in 2016.
The Buffaloes have won the Pac-12 Championships for three-straight seasons.
No. 3 Utah State, No. 4 BYU and No. 5 Colorado State round out the region’s top five.
Utah State returns a strong unit from the 2017 season including Alyssa Snyder who finished 25th at the 2017 Cross Country Nationals and followed it with a fourth-place finish during the outdoor season of track in the 10,000-meter.
BYU lost three runners from the top five of last year’s unit that finished 11th at NCAAs. The Cougars did add Erica Birk as a transfer and have an impressive group of freshman and sophomores.
Colorado State returns a strong core of veterans, transfers and freshman talent for a group that finished seventh at the 2017 Mountain Regionals.
Providence was selected atop the Northeast Region after winning last year’s regionals along with a 16th-place showing at NCAAs. The Friars did lose three out of their top four but will be led by Abbey Wheeler who had a breakout spring on the track along with a strong group of transfers and freshman athletes.
Behind them is No. 2 Syracuse, who lost some of its top athletes as well, most notably All-American standout Paige Stoner. The Orange will look to keep their success going with a group led by Shannon Malone along with getting back Mary Malone and Laura Dickinson from redshirt seasons. They also added Foot Locker Finalist Julien Webster to take another run at the regional title.
Dartmouth takes the No. 3 spot after losing just their number five athlete from last year’s regional squad that finished second overall. Returners include standouts Julia Stevenson (ninth at regionals) and Olivia Lantz (13th) along with adding Lauren Sapone into the mix after a strong spring during track.
Yale took the No. 4 spot while Cornell came it at No. 5. Both squads were hit by loses but each has a strong young core that will look to keep it atop the region.
Georgia sits atop the South Region as the Bulldogs returned an absolutely stacked lineup for the 2018 campaign.
With the Drop sisters, Samantha (the regional winner in 2017) and Jessica (third overall), Yanely Gomez (16th) and Hailey Branch (32nd), the Bulldogs have a ton of talent on the roster.
The Drop twins, who are just juniors, were named All-Americans last year, the first time teammates have accomplished the feat in program history. The Lady Bulldogs as a team placed 17th at NCAAs, the highest finish for the school since 2006.
Right behind them is another talented squad in No. 2 Florida State. The Seminoles will be led by Jodie Judd (10th at South Regionals) and Militsa Mircheva (26th) after the team finished fourth in the region just a year ago.
Auburn slots in as the No. 3 team and too returns a very talented group. The Tigers will return all top five athletes from a season ago with Brenda Kigen leading the charge (4th overall at regionals/advanced to NCAAs individually).
Georgia Tech (No. 4) and Mississippi State (No. 5) make up the rest of the region’s top five.
With Mary Prouty, Nicole Fegans and Amy Ruiz upfront, the Jackets are set to improve on its fifth-place regional finish from a season ago.
Mississippi State has a solid one-two punch of Shannon Fair and Stephanie Peterson who helped the team to a seventh-place finish at last year’s regionals.
South Central Region
Arkansas headlines the South Central, a region that the Razorbacks were crowned champions of during the 2017 season.
Arkansas returns five of its top seven athletes from the team which finished 13th at NCAAs. To go with their top talent, Abby Gray returns from a redshirt season and the program added Katrina Robinson from New Zealand.
The squad will be led by Carina Viljoen (third at regionals), Taylor Werner (11th), Lauren Gregory (13th), Sydney Brown (14th) and Ashton Endsley (15th).
Behind them in the No. 2 spot is Texas who too is returning a strong core for 2018.
The Longhorns get back six of their top seven from a team that was second in the region and 31st overall at NCAAs. Leading the pack will be returners Destiny Collins (10th at regionals), Abby Guidry (16th), and Alex Cruz (17th).
Coming in at No. 3 is SMU who will return six of its top seven from its American Conference runner-up and fourth-place South Central region team from a year ago. The group is led by Hannah Miller who won the individual conference title and placed seventh at regionals.
Rounding out the top five is No. 4 Baylor and No. 5 Texas A&M.
Baylor will be looking to its core for athletes to step up after the loss of its number one runner from a year ago. Texas A&M returns six of its top seven and added some solid Texas High School recruits to the mix as well.
NC State sits atop the Southeast after the Wolfpack won regionals during the 2017 season and went on to place eighth at NCAAs.
NC State returns five of its top seven athletes which will be led by All-American Elly Henes, Beth Taye and Dominique Clairmonte. The Wolfpack added key transfers to go with their young and talented core to take another run at the regional crown. NC State won the region for the second-straight season and advanced to NCAAs for the 31st time as a program, the most in NCAA history.
Not to be overshadowed is No. 2 Furman out of the Southern Conference who has had a great run of success. The Paladins finished second in last year’s regional and rode that momentum to a seventh-place finish at NCAAs.
Furman returns five of its top seven along with adding key newcomers to the mix. The team is young and talented with the majority of the core being sophomores and juniors.
Virginia Tech slots behind them in No. 3 and returns six of its top seven from the previous campaign. The squad finished fourth at regionals and will be led by Kayla Richardson and Sarah Edwards.
Duke (No. 4) and Wake Forest (No. 5) round out the region’s top five rankings.
Duke finished 10th as last year’s regionals while Wake Forest came in sixth.
Stanford looks to be the team to beat in the West Region as the Cardinals start the year in the No. 1 spot.
Stanford returns five from last year’s second-place regional that went on to finish fourth overall at NCAAs and added a ton of talent with the freshman class that they are bringing in. The group will be led by Fiona O’Keeffe (sixth at regionals), Ella Donaghu (20th) and Christina Aragon (24th). This is a young and talented unit.
Oregon is right on their heels in the No. 2 spot after the squad reloaded with talent. After losing a portion of their squad to transfer and graduation the Ducks came back with the addition of Philippa Bowden and two more top-20 NCAA transfers. The current group will be led by top returners Carmela Cardama Baez and Jessica Hull.
The Ducks finished third in last year’s regionals.
Boise State is slotted at No. 3 and will return five of seven from last year’s No. 6 NCAA team. The unit will be led by Allie Ostrander and Emily Venters. Clare O’Brien, Alexis Fuller and Gracie Tostenson also look to be contributors.
Washington (No. 4) and California (No. 5) round out the west’s top five. Both teams lost talent and will look to new additions between transfers and freshman to help round out the squad.