Weekend Preview: Conference Championships Weekend (Part III)

The fall segment of the NCAA Division I Cross Country season draws to a close this weekend with Saturday’s running of both the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championships and the Southern Conference (SoCon) Championships.

From The USTFCCCA InfoZoneConference Championships Central

That also means that we’ll release the final fall edition of the NCAA Division I Cross Country National Coaches’ Polls next Tuesday, which coincide with the conclusion of the segment.

Southern Conference Cross Country Championships

Date: Saturday, November 21 | Location: Macon, Georgia (Host: Mercer)
Times: Men’s 8K Race – 10 am ET | Women’s 5K Race – 10:45 am ET

CLICK HERE FOR LIVE RESULTSMEN’S RACE | WOMEN’S RACE

Fun fact: The Southern Conference was established in 1921.

Cross country began in the SoCon five years later and held a championship each and every year since then, with the exception of 1942 to 1945 due to World War II.

Early in the fall, it appeared as if 2020 would join those years from 1942 to 1945, but an early-October decision reversed that course and rescheduled the meet for this Saturday at the Georgia Premier Cross Country Course in Macon, Georgia.

That was music to the ears of both athletes and coaches, especially those individuals at Furman. After all, the Paladins have swept each of the past seven crowns.

There should be little reason to doubt that Furman’s 10th-ranked women top the podium for the eighth consecutive year. The Paladins have the top-2 returning finishers from the 2019 SoCon Championships back – Emily Lane (eighth) and Emma Kuntz (ninth) – and starred on the national stage last year with a ninth-place NCAA finish.

Furman’s 28th-ranked men are in line for an eight straight title as well and welcome back five of the top-8 returning finishers from the 2019 SoCon Championships, including individual runner-up Daniel Bernal. Those same athletes were instrumental in helping the Paladins take 14th at the NCAA Championships.

Mid-American Cross Country Championships

Date: Saturday, November 21 | Location: Bowling Green, Ohio (Host: Bowling Green)
Times: Women’s 6K Race – 2 pm ET | Men’s 8K Race – 3 pm ET

CLICK HERE FOR LIVE RESULTS FROM THE MEET

If recent history shows us anything, Eastern Michigan is the favorite to win both the men’s and women’s team titles at the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championships this weekend.

Dating back to 2015, the Eagles have swept four times with 2018 being the outlier (Miami University won on the men’s side; EMU won its fourth in a row on the women’s side). EMU doubled up last year, but it wasn’t easy as each team won by an average of 3½ points over the runner-ups.

Based on results from the Falcon Invitational just a few weeks ago, it appears as if the Eagle men are poised to win their 10th crown in the past 11 years. EMU cruised to the team title at the de facto conference championship preview with 35 points, as it put four runners in the top-8 – all five scorers in the top-15 – with Toby Gualter and Baldvin Magnusson leading the way.

The Eagles didn’t register a team score in the women’s race, which was won by Toledo with 54 points over Miami’s 63. A strong effort was turned in by the Rockets, however, as they were the only team with four runners in the top-15. If Toledo tops the podium this weekend, it would be the program’s first conference title since 2014 when it was ranked 27th nationally.

Kailee Perry of Bowling Green earned the MAC’s first National Athlete of the Week honor two weeks ago after winning the Falcon Invitational.