2018 NCAA DII Cross Country Regional Coaches’ Rankings – Preseason
NEW ORLEANS – With just two days before the season officially kicks off, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) released the NCAA Division II Men’s and Women’s Preseason Regional Rankings on Tuesday.
The top three teams from each regional meet will automatically advance to the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on December 1. The preseason rankings give fans a good idea of where each team stands heading into competition this year. There are also ten at-large selections made by the NCAA Division II Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Committee that will also advance to NCAAs, using the criteria found here.
Jump to Regional Coaches’ Rankings:
MEN: Atlantic | Central | East | Midwest | South | South Central | Southeast | West
WOMEN: Atlantic | Central | East | Midwest | South | South Central | Southeast | West
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 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.
Shippensburg sits atop the Atlantic Region after the program won its third consecutive regional title in 2017. The Raiders return five of their top seven from a squad that placed 10th at NCAAs. Shippensburg will be led by top returner and Atlantic Region Individual Champion Robert Moser and also have Dominic Stroh (10th at regionals), Sean Weidner (16th), Connor Holm (27th) and Brian Latarola (44th) coming back as well.
Sitting in the No. 2 slot is Edinboro who will also return a strong core from last season. The Fighting Scots placed second in the region and will be led by Gene Baritot (15th at regionals), Jared Hallow (17th), Steven Scheetz (18th) and Colton Cassel (23rd).
Concord comes in at the No. 3 spot and lost some talent to graduation but still have a talented squad overall. Senior Jason Weitzel (8th at regionals) tops the list of returners that includes fellow seniors Michael Ruhnke (33rd), Roger Foster (redshirt) and sophomores Samuel Haynes (75th) and Samuel Thomas (92nd).
No. 4 Lock Haven and No. 5 East Stroudsburg rounds out the region’s top five.
Lock Haven will be led by junior Luke Vanderhoff and will look to improve on last year’s fifth-place finish at regionals. East Stroudsburg, who took seventh at regionals, will have top returners in Casey Ellis and Jeremy Smith.
The No. 1 team in the Atlantic is Edinboro who is looking to repeat on last year’s regional championship. The group is composed of a young core who will return four of its top five runners for this season. Key contributors will be Stefanie Parsons, Hope Pietrocarlo, and Brooke Messinger. Last year’s regional crown was the first for the program since 2014.
The No. 2 spot is held by Shippensburg who is looking to unseat Edinboro in the both the region and the PSAC conference. The team is seeking its 11th consecutive qualification for NCAAs and has top returners in Lydia Cagle and Jackie Kinkead.
In the No. 3 spot is a team to watch in Kutztown that will return its entire top-seven from a year ago when they finished fifth overall in the region. A group that got a ton of experience last season without a single senior in the lineup will look to take the next step as those young athletes start to become upperclassmen.
No. 4 West Chester and No. 5 Lock Haven are the rest of the region’s top-five.
The No. 1 ranking in the Central belongs to Augustana after the Vikings won the region for the sixth-straight time last season. The team has an experienced and deep roster that returns four out of its top seven athletes. Key returners include Jesus Urtususuastegui (third at regionals), Aaron Runge (sixth), Nick Larsen (seventh) and Alec Kray (eighth) to go with promising freshman Matt Steiger. The team also gets back a few redshirted athletes that will contribute as well.
Sioux Falls takes the No. 2 spot and also had a deep roster that returns six of its top seven from a year ago. The group will be led by Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Men’s Preseason Athlete of the Year Mason Phillips along with top returners Steven Brown, Jase Kraft, Billy Beseman and Josh Liester.
The No. 3 spot belongs to Missouri Southern who returns four of its top five athletes from a team that finish second at regionals last year. The team has a young and talented core that will be led by Nickson Kiptoo (ninth at regionals), Josh Webb (29th) and Cody Berry (35th).
The No. 4 and No. 5 spots belong to Lindenwood (fourth) and Nebraska-Kearney (fifth).
Lindenwood won the MIAA Championships last year and return three of its top five including Clayton Duchatschek, Jerod Broadbooks and Austin Crowe to go with a talented freshman class. The Lion are looking to improve on a seventh-place performance at regionals. Nebraska-Kearney finished eighth in the regional last year and will look to Corbin Hansen to be its top contributor.
Mary takes the top spot as the No. 1 ranking on the women’s side as the program made history in 2017 by winning regionals and then setting a new school-best with its second-place performance at NCAAs. The Marauders return a pair of All-Americans in Jaiden Schuette and Kate Fox to go with key transfers and newcomers that look to keep the team atop the region.
No. 2 is Augustana who will return a strong core for 2018. The Vikings return six of seven from last year’s team that placed third at regionals and will be led by Makenzie Kelly and Emily Tromp. The group also gets back Alana Sesow, Nicolette Schmidt and Rebekah Rairdon from redshirt seasons.
Pittsburg State is in the No. 3 spot after finishing second at regionals a year ago. The Gorillas will look towards a core of Piper Misse, Cassidy Westhoff and Ashton Henson to guide the team this season.
No. 4 Oklahoma Baptist and No. 5 Southwest Baptist round out the top-five.
The defending East Champions will start the year at No. 1 as Stonehill collects the top spot in the region. The Skyhawks return a solid core and added to it with some solid recruits. Top returners include Lucas Taxter (3rd at regionals), Alex Demeule (5th) and Riley Dowd (10th).
Right behind them in the No. 2 spot is American International that returns two-time regional champion Leakey Kipkosgei as well as a deep supporting cast. Other top returners include Siem Mehretu, Patric Clark, Nick Fenton that will team up with a few new transfers. The Yellow Jackets took second at last year’s regionals.
No. 3 is held by Roberts Wesleyan who returns a full squad that nearly qualified for NCAAs last fall. The Redhawks have a strong core returning that will be joined by a coupe of solid recruits. Leading the list of returners is ECC Runner of the Year Josiah Ottolini along with Christopher Sims, Justin Shaffer, Benjamin Matz, Anthony Casullo and Nathan Cannon.
No. 4 belongs to Southern Connecticut State while Southern New Hampshire is in the No. 5 slot. Southern Connecticut returns a strong, young unit that could sneak up on some people this season. Despite a 13th-place finish at last year’s regionals the Owls return regional scorers Steven Cugini (30th overall, sophomore), Steven Gugini (38th, senior), Dan Perusina (junior), Gavin Woodward (sophomore) and Shawn Odei-Nitri (sophomore). Southern New Hampshire lost its No. 1 runner but returns everyone else from a team that finished sixth in the East in 2017. They too have a youthful core that will look to keep the team towards the top of the region.
Stonehill, last year’s East champion, was picked as No 1 in the region on the women’s side. The team returns three of its top four from regionals including Makenzie Cyr, Sam Curtin, Alyssa Freeman and Sophia Anderle. The Skyhawks have made NCAAs in 17-straight seasons.
Roberts Wesleyan comes in the No. 2 spot and returns five runners that finished in the top 30 at last year’s regionals. The list of returners for the Redhawks includes six All-Conference honorees in Ashley Watson, Brittany Shumway, Michaela Bierly, Addison Sgroi, Moriah Martone, and Makenzie Widder.
The No. 3 spot is held by Merrimack which is a squad that lost its three and four but added a key transfer and newcomers. Top returners are Julia Dempsey, Katherine Ferrara and Tia Foglietta for a youthful unit.
No. 4 Assumption and No. 5 Le Moyne slot in the region’s top-five.
The No. 1 spot in the Midwest is Grand Valley’s as the Lakers return one of the best squads in the nation in 2018. Grand Valley has arguably the best 1-2 punch in the country with top returners Zach Panning and Enol Woldemichael. The Lakers also have great depth and have contributors in place like Josh Steible and Jake Domagalski to keep the team atop the region again this season. Grand Valley has won 16 consecutive regional titles.
No. 2 is held by Southern Indiana, the position in which the Screaming Eagles finished at regionals a year ago. Returns include Austin Nolan, Javan Winders, Jesse Stanley and Nathan Hall that will team up with several newcomers in recruits and transfers to keep the team in the mix again.
Saginaw Valley comes in the No. 3 spot and returns their entire top seven including All-American Tom Goforth. Timmy Kimball, Clyde Andersen and Parker Eisengruber.
Rounding out the top five is No. 4 Walsh and No. 5 Bellarmine. Walsh will be looking to make some noise this year with strong frontrunners in Mark Hadley, Steven Kapes and Jacob Kernell. The Cavaliers won the G-Mac for the first time in program history, the first NCAA Championship for the school. Bellarmine returns four of its top seven athletes from a squad that finished fifth in the region a season ago.
Like the men the Lakers from Grand Valley State were picked as No. 1 in the region rankings to open the season. The team returns five of its top seven from last year and picked up NCAA Runner Up Sarah Berger as a transfer. The Lakers also just brought in a deep and talented freshman class that will make up the rest of its core athletes.
Hillsdale takes the No. 2 spot in the region and returns a young line up of two of its top six athletes. This is a very deep and talented team. The Chargers bring back a wealth of talent from last year led by senior Allysen Eads, juniors Arena Lewis and Addison Rausch and sophomores Maryssa Depies and Christina Sawyer. Three freshmen join the program for 2018 as well.
No 3. Is held by Southern Indiana who is looking to improve on a fifth-place regional finish from last season. They return their No. 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 athlete along with adding some newcomers to the mix. Hope Jones, Melina Gryschka and Jennifer Comastri are the top returners.
No 4. Walsh and No. 5 Northern Michigan are also in the top-five.
Lee takes the top spot in the South as they return seven of the top nine from last year’s team. To go with the returning talent the Flames also redshirted a couple of athletes last fall who will be in this year’s top-seven. Top returners include Christian Noble, Caleb Eagleson, Thomas Kelton, Ben Gilman, Moises Ponce, Casey Guthrey and Jared Herzog. Lee won the South region a year ago and finished 28th at NCAAs.
Like Lee, No. 2 Alabama-Huntsville also returns a strong core and the program gets back everyone from last year’s squad that finished second in the region. Top returners include Benjamin Knox, Brydon Scott, Jay Day, Hunter Nails and transfer Jacob Bishop.
No. 3 Saint Leo placed third at last year’s regionals to advance to the NCAA Championships for the fifth-straight season. The Lions top returner is sophomore Tadgh McGinty.
No. 4 Embry Riddle and No. 5 Florida Southern make up the region’s top-five. Embry Riddle took fifth in the regional last year in its first time competing in NCAA Division II postseason competition in program history. Florida Southern placed fourth at regionals and will look towards top returners Mason Jones and Dean McGergor.
Just like their men the Lee women collected the No. 1 spot in the South after finishing second in the region a year ago. The unit returns five of its top seven and adds some talented transfers and freshman to the mix that should help contribute. It is a deep unit that will look to content on the national level.
Coming in at No. 2 is Embry Riddle who looks to be improved from last season. They return their top two runners in Sarah Edens and Alex Orr and get Kristen Metcalfe back from injury to run this fall. The team also added Kara Funke from Mississippi State and freshmen Rachel Jones to a deep unit. Mikaela Hakamma will also look to contribute.
No. 3 Alabama-Huntsville was knocking on the door of NCAAs a year ago and looks to improve on its fifth-place finish at regionals. Top returners include Angel Mobley, Marlee Mason, Auburn Cohan and Allison Ammons. In total 11 Chargers return from last year’s squad.
No. 4 Saint Leo and No. 5 Florida Southern were also picked in the region’s top-five.
Adams State sits atop the South Region at No. 1 with one of the most talented programs in the country. The team returns four of the top five from last year’s team, a unit that won the school its fifth NCAA National Championship in six years. Top contributors look to be Sydney Gidabuday, Kale Adams, Elias Gedyon and Joshua Joseph.
The No. 2 spot is held by Colorado Mines who will return its top-four from its team that finished second in the region and third at NCAAs last season. The unit will be led by Preseason RMAC Runner of the Year, Grant Colligan. Logan Ramlet, Ricardo Ocampo and Josh Hoskinson will also be top contributors.
Western State comes in at No. 3 after finishing in the same spot a year ago at regionals. The Mountaineers rode that momentum to a fourth-place performance at NCAAs. The group will be led by All-Americans Ross Husch and Ahmed Jame while Taylor Stack will also be a main contributor.
No. 4 CSU-Pueblo and No. 5 Dallas Baptist are the remaining teams in the region’s top-five. CSU-Pueblo returns its 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7 athletes while Dallas Baptist returns its top-three and is a unit that finished 18th-overall as NCAAs.
Just like their men, Adams State takes the No. 1 spot in the women’s South Central Region with one of the most talented teams in the country after picking up the 2017-18 Jerry Baltes Division II Women’s Program of the Year. The team also won the 2017 National Championship, its second title in three years and 17th overall. This unit is loaded with young and talented athletes that will be at the top for years to come.
In the No. 2 position is Western State who will be looking to give Adams State a run for its money at the regional and national level. The team finished third in the region and ninth at NCAAs last year despite redshirting most of its roster. This year they return Alicja and Aneta Konieczek as well as All-American Sophie Seward. This is another talented group to watch.
The No. 3 spot belongs to Colorado Mines who is another squad with great depth. They have seven girls who have run at NCAAs on their roster and took second in the region a season ago along with finishing 11th at NCAAs.
No. 4 Colorado Springs and No. 5 Dallas Baptist round out the region’s top-five selections.
The No. 1 spot in the Southeast belongs to Queens who is coming off a historic season in 2017. The Royals finished second at regionals before placing a program-best sixth at the NCAA Championships. Top contributions are expected by leaders Daniel Wallis, Nick Kipkemei and Felix Wammetsberger.
No. 2 Mount Olive was the region’s champion last year and finished 11th as a group at NCAAs. While the squad did lose some top talent they still return a deep and talented squad. Tai Smith, Alexandre Durand, Colin Fisher, Daniel Francken, and Jeremy Hall all return this year for a unit looking for its fourth consecutive regional crown.
Slotting behind them is No. 3 Augusta who will look towards newcomers to step up this season. Augusta only returns three athletes but they brought in a ton of new promising talent. Once the new athletes get adjusted to the 8k-10k distance of the college ranks, they will be a team to keep an eye on.
No. 4 Anderson and No. 5 Mars Hill find themselves in the top-five. Anderson will change for a spot in the top-three as they return six of its top seven athletes from last year’s group with took fourth at regionals. Mars Hill finished fifth at last year’s regionals.
The No. 1 spot in the Southeast is held by Queens on both the men’s and women’s side. The women Royals won the region last year and placed 23rd at NCAAs. They are a group led by All-American and SAC Runner of the Year Hannah Wolkenhauer with expected contributions from Lucie Noall, Natane Deruytter and Gillian Kasitz. The Royals returned its entire top-seven from a season ago.
No. 2 is Mount Olive who only lost their No. 4 athlete from its core of runners will be looking towards another successful campaign. Top returners Leah Hanle, Celine Ritter and Shona Blades. The group also added two newcomers in Amber Owens and Caitlin Carnegie.
Anderson takes the No. 3 ranking as a team that lost just two of its top seven athletes. Key returners are Olivia Evans, Allyson Malone, Martha Coleman and Abby Bozarth. Like Mount Olive, Anderson also added two solid freshman in Melea Sangl and Kamryn Osterbind.
Completing the top-five is No. 4 North Georgia and No. 5 Wingate.
The West has gone through Chico State for years and it is no different this season as they take the No. 1 spot. The Wildcats have won regionals in 13 of the past 15 seasons and have advanced to NCAAs in 19-straight years. Top returners for the program include Teddy Kassa, Jack Johnson, Eddie King, Wyatt Baxter, and Remington Breeze.
Holding down the No. 2 spot is Western Oregon a team that finished third in the region and 21st at NCAAs last year. While they did lose their top athlete, the Wolves return a talented bunch that includes Dustin Nading, Tyler Jones, Parker Marson and Justin Crosswhite.
No. 3 Simon Fraser, No. 4 Alaska Anchorage and No. 5 Cal Poly Pomona round out the region’s top-five.
Like the men, the Chico State women are the No. 1 team in the West to start the season. With the departure of Cal Baptist to Division I, the Wildcats become arguably the deepest team in the region. While Chico State did lost their top three from last year’s third-place regional team they are stacked and loaded once again with youngsters who will be looking to make an impact this year.
At No. 2 is Alaska Anchorage who lost the division’s top runner in Caroline Kurgat but will make up for it with a talented returning class that includes Emma Chelimo, Zennah Jepchumba and Danielle McCormick.
Simon Fraser takes the No. 3 spot and too lost some great runners from the top of their pack. They will be led by Addy Townsend and Olivia Willett and will look towards freshman and newcomers to round out the rest of their attack.
No. 4 Cal Poly Pomona and No. 5 Humboldt State are the others in the top-five. Cal Poly Pomona will be looking to replace three of its top athletes while Humboldt State on the other hand only lose one from last year’s top five. Both teams will be looking towards young talent to contribute.