2020 NCAA DI Women’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll – Week 1
The defending champions will start where they left off.
For the first time in program history, Arkansas headlines the initial NCAA Division I Women’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll of the season, released on Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
NCAA Division I — Women's Cross Country
This Week's National Top Five
Cross Country Polls & Rankings
Defending national champion Arkansas, national runner-up BYU, last year’s fifth-place team NC State and third-place team Stanford all received first-place votes. The Razorbacks start the season at No. 1 after hauling in eight of those first-place votes. The Cougars come in at No. 3, with the Wolfpack and Cardinal slotted at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively.
Arkansas looks to become the first women’s team to repeat since Villanova did so from 2009 to 2010. The Razorbacks lost five of its seven athletes that competed at the 2019 NCAA Championships, but returned a pair of seniors in Lauren Gregory and Abby Gray that were the fifth and seventh runners when Arkansas claimed its first NCAA cross country title.
A number of new faces between transfers and freshmen will bolster Arkansas as well. Among them include Krissy Gear, a transfer from Furman who placed 78th at NCAAs a year ago, and freshman Taylor Ewert, the 2020 National Gatorade Track & Field Athlete of the Year. Arkansas has dominated each meet they have competed in – winning the SEC Preview, Gans Creek Classic, and the UAB Blazer Classic.
New Mexico sits at No. 2 to begin the season for the second straight year. The Lady Lobos finished fourth at NCAAs, led by individual champion Weini Kelati. Although New Mexico hasn’t competed this fall, it is slated to begin competition in the spring.
No. 3 BYU returns two runners from last year’s national runner-up team in Whittni Orton (finished 7th at NCAAs) and Anna Camp (finished 60th at NCAAs). The Cougars impressed in their first competition of the season, winning the Oklahoma State Invitational with 22 points after placing six athletes in the top-10. Orton led the Cougar contingent with her individual title in 20:27.8, while Aubrey Frentheway placed third.
The Wolfpack return six athletes from last year’s NCAA fifth-place team, including All-American Kelsey Chmiel. A well-rounded recruiting class of transfers and freshman will help bolster this NC State team. Dominique Clairmonte and Hannah Steelman have been a 1-2 punch for the Wolfpack, leading them to two team wins this season. Clairmonte, a former National Athlete of the Week this season following her win at the Wolfpack Invitational, is one of the top returners for the team following a 54th place at NCAAs. Steelman is making her Wolfpack debut and brings numerous All-American accolades with her from Wofford (placed 23rd in cross country, 3rd in the steeplechase, 8th in the outdoor 5000, and 8th in the indoor 3000). Steelman won the Virginia Tech Invitational and finished second to Clairmonte at the Wolfpack Invitational.
Stanford welcomes back six of its seven runners that made up their third-place team at last year’s NCAA meet, which include seniors Ella Donaghu (8th) and Jessica Lawson (11th place). Stanford is not slated to compete until after January 1.
The remainder of the top-10 is rounded out by No. 6 Michigan, No. 7 Colorado, No. 8 Washington, No. 9 Michigan State and No. 10 Furman.
This is Furman’s first top-10 ranking in program history following a ninth-place finish at NCAA’s last year. The Paladins will mix a talented recruiting class with its returners and look to continue its success at the national level in Stillwater, Oklahoma come March.
The next NCAA DI Women’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll will be released on November 3.