2018 NCAA DIII Men’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll – Week 8
NEW ORLEANS – Welcome to the final week of the 2018 NCAA Division III Cross Country season.
By the end of the day on Saturday, we will know which one of the 32 men’s teams that qualified for the running of the 2018 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships in Winneconne, Wisconsin, will take home the national title.
If the Men’s National Coaches’ Poll is any indication of how things might go at the Lake Breeze Golf Course, North Central (Ill.) is the prohibitive favorite to win a third consecutive team title as well as its seventh in the past 10 years.
The Cardinals have topped the index all season long and it’s thanks to performances like it brandished this past weekend at the Midwest Region Championships. North Central (Ill.) put four runners in the top-10 (3-5-6-7-9) and romped to the team title by 44 points. All five of the Cardinals’ top-5 runners finished within 11 seconds of each other.
Voting coaches expect Washington (Mo.) to give North Central (Ill.) the most trouble on Saturday as it enters the meet ranked No. 2. The Bears finished third at the Midwest Region Championships and have a great low stick in Brad Hodkinson, who won the individual title by nearly four seconds in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
RPI soared seven spots between Week 7 and Week 8 thanks to its standout effort at the Atlantic Region Championships this past weekend. The Engineers, who had all of their runners from the meet named All-Region, jumped from No. 10 to No. 3 in the National Coaches’ Poll. Grant O’Connor led RPI with an individual title, while four of his teammates finished in the top-10. If their rank holds, not only would it be the first time that the Engineers finished on the podium, but it would also be the first time they finished in the top-10.
UW-La Crosse remained in the top-5 after a runner-up finish at the Midwest Region Championships. The Eagles put three runners in the top-10 and will need to have similar depth if they want to make the podium for the 17th time in program history.
Great Lakes Region champion Calvin rounds out the top-5 of the Pre-Championships Edition of the National Coaches’ Poll. The Knights dropped two spots from Week 7, but have a solid combo at the top of the lineup that can get them on the podium for the 13th time in program history.
Five other teams that won titles this past weekend improved their rank: Mideast Region champion Carnegie Mellon went from No. 7 to No. 6; New England Region champion Amherst went from No. 9 to No. 8; West Region champion Pomona-Pitzer went from No. 11 to No. 10; Central Region champion Wartburg went from No. 17 to No. 13; South/Southeast Region champion Rhodes went from No. 25 to No. 22.
There were four new additions to the National Coaches’ Poll this week: No. 18 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, No. 27 Tufts, No. 30 Berea (Ky.) and No. 31 St. Thomas (Minn.).
The 2018 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships get underway on Saturday at 11:15 am CT with the Women’s 6K and an hour later with the men’s 8K at 12:15 pm CT.