WEEKEND PREVIEW: Top Teams Ready To Rumble In Terre Haute

XC Town USA isn’t a stranger to high-level racing.

October and November at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course is filled with meets that either decide those teams that will compete for the national title or who wins the national title. After all, the now 22-year-old tract designed by the late USTFCCCA Hall of Famer John McNichols has played host to 12 iterations of the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships and six editions of the NCAA Division I Great Lakes Regional Championships.

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But what about mid-September?

Well, times are a-changing.

It’s not often that fans are treated to a clash between multiple top-10 teams in the NCAA Division I National Coaches’ Polls this early in the season – let alone from both genders – but that’s exactly what’s going to happen this weekend at the John McNichols Invitational.

Teams Of Note In Terre Haute

Men’s Teams
Women’s Teams
No. 1 Northern Arizona
No. 3 Washington
No. 5 Iowa State
No. 4 Michigan
No. 7 Stanford
No. 5 Arkansas
No. 16 Indiana
No. 8 Stanford
No. 24 Purdue
RV Northern Arizona

Four top-10 teams from the most recent Women’s National Coaches’ Poll and three top-10 teams from the most recent Men’s National Coaches’ Poll will be in action on the site of the reclaimed coal mine. Don’t forget about two other men’s teams ranked in the top-30, either.

Based on the entries, it appears as if all seven of those top-10 programs are bringing their horses with them to the Land of the Sycamores. Whether or not they all race on their respective 5K or 8K course is another question.

It would behoove the men’s programs from No. 1 Northern Arizona, No. 5 Iowa State and No. 7 Stanford and the women’s programs from No. 5 Arkansas and No. 8 Stanford to run their top athletes. This will be their only chance to compete at the site of the 2019 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships before they return for the season-ending affair on Saturday, November 23.

The women’s programs from No. 3 Washington and No. 4 Michigan have a bit of leeway as both programs are potentially coming back to Terre Haute next month for the Under Armour Pre-National Invitational.

Many of these programs have yet to race against strong competition this season, but that’s not the case for NAU.

Just a few weeks ago at the season-opening George Kyte Invitational, the Lumberjacks went toe to toe with Tokai University, Japan’s top collegiate team. NAU squeaked out a 25-30 victory, which proved that Michael Smith’s team is ready to go at the drop of a hat.

The women’s race this weekend could be quite special, which is always the case when three top-5 teams square off at the same meet – but we’ll get the answers to some important questions: Is Washington for real? Will youth be served for Michigan? Can Arkansas continue to ride the wave of momentum from track & field?

The John McNichols Invitational gets underway Saturday morning at 9 am ET with the Men’s 8K. The Women’s 5K follows 45 minutes later.

Other Meet Of Interest This Weekend

The historic course at Franklin Park is ready for its close up this weekend.

Boston College hosts the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown on Friday afternoon with six ranked teams coming to Boston: No. 3 Washington, No. 13 Syracuse and No. 21 Arkansas on the men’s side; No. 25 Dartmouth, No 27 Syracuse, No. 29 Georgia Tech on the women’s side.

Dating back to 2013, two future NCAA team champions won this meet: Providence’s women in 2013 and Syracuse’s men in 2015.

The lowest score by a men’s team champion in the past six years is 22 points, which Oregon posted in 2013 with Edward Cheserek and Jake Leingang pacing the way, while Providence posted the lowest score by a women’s team in that time frame with 25 points in 2016.

You’ll see the Women’s 5K on the course first at 3 pm ET with the Men’s 8K scheduled to start 30 minutes later.