2019 NCAA DIII Men’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll – Preseason
NEW ORLEANS – There are a few things in life that you can be certain of: North Central (Ill.) being ranked No. 1 in the NCAA Division III Men’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll is definitely one of those things, at least in recent memory.
The three-time defending champion Cardinals unanimously headline the preseason edition of the annual index that was released on Wednesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). This is the 22nd week in a row that North Central (Ill.) has been No. 1.
NCAA Division III — Men's Cross Country
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North Central (Ill.)
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For North Central (Ill.) to top the podium for an unprecedented fourth year in a row and win its 20th crown in program history, new athletes must step up to the occasion. The Cardinals lost a ton of talent to graduation, including 2018 individual champion Dhruvil Patel, 2018 runner-up Al Baldonado and 2018 eighth-place finisher Chris Buechner. Don’t rule out North Central (Ill.) just yet, as it does return Matt Osmulski, who finished 11th last year and qualified for the final of the indoor 5000 and outdoor 10,000.
The voting coaches were split on who they thought the second-best team entering the 2019 season was, so they bestowed co-No. 2 rankings on both Washington (Mo.) and Williams.
We’ll start with the Bears, who finished a distant runner-up to the Cardinals last year in Winneconne, Wisconsin – but were the clear-cut next best team. WashU only returns one of its scorers from last year in Nick Matteucci, who is truly talented. Matteucci finished 10th in cross country and then showed his range to place runner-up in the indoor mile and fourth in the outdoor 1500 at NCAAs.
The Ephs return each and every runner who helped them finish eighth at NCAAs last year. The biggest name to watch is Aidan Ryan, who took a big step forward on the track with an NCAA title in the outdoor 1500 and All-America honors in the indoor 3000 and outdoor 5000. Don’t overlook Ryan Cox, either, who finished sixth overall in cross country and last competed at the Little Three Indoor Championships where he won the 3000.
Wartburg, ranked a program-high fourth, is another team with a substantial number of returning athletes. The Knights will feature six of the seven men who pushed them to a fifth-place finish at NCAAs. Sam Pinkowski was the top finisher for Wartburg last year as he crossed the finish line 27th. Pinkowski also earned First-Team All-America honors during the indoor season with an eighth-place finish in the 5000.
Pomona-Pitzer holds down the fort at No. 5, the second time in the past four years that it opens the season with that ranking. The Sagehens lost 2018 third-place finisher Andy Reiscling to graduation, but return five of the other six athletes. That includes Hugo Ward, who improved his PRs on the track to 14:44.98 in the 5000 and 30:49.52 in the 10,000.
UW-La Crosse comes in at No. 6, three spots down from where it finished at NCAAs one year ago, while Carnegie Mellon jumped 11 spots from its 2018 placing (No. 18 to No. 7). The Tartans have now been ranked in the top-10 in five of the past six weeks.
MIT, Carleton and Johns Hopkins come in at No. 8, No. 9 and No. 10, respectively. This matches the best ranking in program history for the Knights and is the second best preseason ranking in the past eight years for the Blue Jays.
Elsewhere in the poll, eight teams that didn’t compete at NCAAs last year are expected to do so this year: No. 21 UW-Stevens Point, No. 26 Elizabethtown, No. 27 UC Santa Cruz, No. 30 Brockport, No. 32 UW-Oshkosh, No. 33 Dickinson and No. 35 WPI.
The next NCAA DIII Men’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll will be released on Wednesday, September 18.