2018 NCAA DI Women’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll – Week 7
NEW ORLEANS – The moment we have been waiting all season for is finally here!
This weekend brings us the running of the 2018 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course in Madison, Wisconsin.
As the top-31 teams in the nation get ready to battle for the national crown it means it’s time for this year’s final edition of the NCAA Division I Women’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll which was released by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association (USTFCCCA) on Monday.
New Mexico, the defending national champions, enters the national meet as the favorite to repeat. The Lady Lobos were chosen as the No. 1 team in the country, a spot they have held for six of the eight polls released this season as it collected nine first-place votes.
Joe Franklin’s team is coming off its first team title in the Mountain Region since 2011 and had the top-2 finishers at the meet in Weini Kelata (who picked up her third consecutive individual win this season) and Ednah Kurgat. Charlotte Prouse and Adva Cohen came in 11th and 12th, respectively, and New Mexico placed all five scoring athletes in the top-15.
The No. 2 spot remained with Oregon after the group won the West Regional with a 44-point performance. The Ducks placed three runners in the top-10 and were led by Jessica Hull (second overall), Susan Ejore (third) and Weronika Pyzik (seventh). The win advanced Oregon to its 30th NCAA appearance in program history. Oregon collected one first-place vote and is looking to capture its fifth NCAA title (first since 2016).
Moving up one spot after grabbing the last remaining first-place vote was No. 3 Colorado, which trailed New Mexico by just 12 points at the Mountain Regional. The Buffalo charge was led by Dani Jones (sixth overall), Makena Morley (seventh) and Tabor Scholl (eighth) as the team placed all five scoring athletes in the top-18.
Holding in its previous rank at No. 3 was Boise State after it came in second by five points at the West Regional. The Broncos continued their strong season and had the individual regional champion in Allie Ostrander. Other top performances came from Clare O’Brien (finished sixth overall) and Emily Venters (11th).
The race between Oregon and Boise State was a neck-and-neck affair as just an eight-point margin separated the two team’s top-4 athletes. The Broncos fifth athlete came in three spots ahead of Oregon’s fifth but it wasn’t enough for the regional crown. Boise State is looking for its first NCAA team title in school history.
Rounding out the top-five in the No. 5 position was Arkansas who experienced no change in ranking. The Razorbacks won their eighth-straight South Central Regional title after posting a 21-point performance. All seven of their runners finished in the top-15 and the group was paced by individual champion Katrina Robinson, Taylor Werner (second overall), Lauren Gregory (third) and Carina Viljoen (fourth). It is the 31st NCAA appearance in program history as Arkansas is after its first national championship.
No. 6 Michigan improved one spot after it won its fourth consecutive Great Lakes Regional title. The Wolverines were led by Anne Forsyth (third overall), Avery Evenson (fourth) and Hannah Meier (ninth) to a 47-point team total. It is the 17th straight year Michigan has advanced to NCAAs and the program is still looking for its first national crown.
Trading spots with Michigan was No. 7 Stanord after a third-place finish at the stacked West Regionals. The Cardinal were led by Elise Cranny (fourth overall) and Fiona O’Keeffe (fifth) as the group earned an at-large NCAA bid after finishing behind top-ranked Oregon and Boise State at regionals. It is the 26th consecutive year the program has advanced to nationals and the 31st appearance overall.
No. 8 Villanova experienced no change despite a victory at the Mid-Atlantic Regionals with a 33-point performance. All five scored athletes finished in the top-15 at the meet as the group was led by individual champion Rachel McArthur and third-place finisher Caroline Alcorta. It was the Wildcats fourth straight NCAA bid and 30th overall.
Also staying put was No. 8 BYU after the program earned an at-large bid after it placed third at the Mountain Regionals. The Cougars were paced by Erica Birk-Jarvis in third overall and Courtney Wayment in ninth. BYU is looking for the program’s fifth national championship and first since 2002.
Completing the top-ten was the host team of nationals, the No. 10 Wisconsin Badgers. The group punched its NCAA bid with a runner up finish at the Great Lake Regionals. Alicia Monson continued her standout season as the individual title winner. It was the best regional finish for the Badgers since 2014 as the program looks to capture its third national championship. No women’s program has ever won NCAAs on its home course and Wisconsin looks to become the first to do it in its home state since Villavona in 1993 and the Badgers in 1982.
The largest improvement belonged to No. 14 Washington who saw a three-spot jump after finishing fourth at the West Regionals. No. 13 Iowa State, No. 16 Notre Dame and No. 24 Oklahoma State each improved two spots. Washington, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State all earned bids to NCAAs with its performance at their respective regional meets.
New to the poll this week was No. 17 Princeton, No. 18 Florida State and No. 29 Oregon State. All three programs will toe the line at nationals this weekend.
Texas was the only other program in the nation to receive votes. The Longhorns will also be at NCAAs after a second-place finish at the South Central Regional.
The women’s 6K race at the 2018 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships gets underway this Saturday at 10:45 am CT, while the men’s 10K race starts an hour later at 11:45 am CT. Fans can follow along with the action live off of the USTFCCCA Twitter account here or a paid live video stream off of Flotrack.com at this location.