2018 NCAA DIII Men’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll – Preseason
NEW ORLEANS – Since 2009, one team has dominated every aspect of NCAA Division III Men’s Cross Country from the National Coaches’ Poll to the NCAA Championships.
This team has been the top-ranked program in the nation 70 times in the past 10 years and won six national championships, including three of the past four. Well, you can push that first number up to 71 and if the poll is any indication of how the season will go, North Central (Ill.) could very well take its third consecutive crown come November 17.
The Cardinals enter the 2018 season as the prohibitive favorite. This is the eighth time in the past 10 years that Al Carius’ team has held down the top spot to begin the season (The other two times it was No. 2 in the preseason poll).
North Central (Ill.) won the 2017 title by 142 points and is primed for a repeat performance. The Cardinals put four runners in the top-20 last year and three of those athletes return as seniors in 2018: Dhruvil Patel, Al Baldonado and Matthew Norvell. Patel hopes to carry momentum from a stellar outdoor season that saw him win the 10,000-meter crown in 29:47.30 and place fourth in the 5000 in a time of 14:47.26. Norvell and Nolan McKenna doubled as well in the meet, so their strength can’t be doubted.
Amherst begins the season ranked No. 2, matching its best billing in program history (Week 5 of 2015). The Mammoths hadn’t cracked the top-5 of the National Coaches’ Poll in the past two years, but there is good reason to believe they’ll be contenders in 2018. Amherst returns five of the seven runners that it brought with it to NCAAs last year. Clark Ricciardelli starred outdoors with an All-America performance in the 10,000, while Cosmo Brossy opened a lot of eyes with his effort in the final of the 5000.
UW-La Crosse is familiar with the No. 3 spot in the National Coaches’ Poll, as it occupied it six times last year including the preseason. The Eagles will be led in 2018 by Josh Schraeder and Thomas Schultz, who both nabbed All-America honors last year in cross country. Schraeder finished 20th overall, while Schultz finished 29th. Don’t overlook Sam Hinz, either, as the rising senior came into his own during the outdoor season and reached the finals of the 800 and 1500 at the NCAA Championships.
Pomona-Pitzer earns its highest ranking in program history at No. 4. The Sagehens could have a big year behind senior standout Andy Reischling. After a tough finish to the cross country season, Reischling rebounded to take home a pair of All-America honors during the outdoor season in the 5000 (third) and 10,000 (fourth). Reischling is one of five runners from Pomona-Pitzer’s top-7 at the NCAA meet last year to return in 2018.
Haverford returns to the top-5 in the preseason poll for the first time since 2013. The Fords finished eighth at the NCAA meet last year and will be looking to improve upon that this year. Haverford will be led by Graham Peet and Ryan Herlihy, who finished 50th and 56th last year at the NCAA meet, respectively. Peet carried the momentum from the cross country season last year into the track circuit, where he finished third in the steeplechase this past May.
A few other teams are on the rise as well: Washington (Mo.), MIT, RPI, Carleton and Rhodes round out the top-10. This is the best ranking in program history for both the Knights and the Lynx, who had never worked their way inside the top-10 before.
Be sure to check back throughout the season as the poll will continue to evolve ahead of the 2018 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships on November 17 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.