Weekend Recap: October 22-24

Don’t look now, but the postseason is upon us!

Conference Championships Weekend is here in NCAA Division II.

From The USTFCCCA InfoZone: Meets & Results | USTFCCCA Scoreboard

Not only that, but we’ll see some championship-caliber racing at the NAIA Great Lakes Challenge hosted by Aquinas (Mich.) in Grand Rapids.

Bookmark this post as we’ll continue to update it throughout the day!

NAIA Great Lakes Challenge

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Men’s Maroon 8k Race

Championship fever was clearly in the air as the top-3 squads in the current NAIA National Coaches’ Poll finished in a close 21-point group – except in the inverse order of the poll.

No. 3 St. Francis (Ill.) claimed the team crown with 92 points, 9 points up on the 101 total of No. 2 Saint Mary (Kan.) with No. 1 Indiana Wesleyan finishing third with 113 points. The Saints won with the best depth, as the both the St. Francis No. 4 and No. 5 runners were the best of any team on the course and enough to overcome the 3-4 finish of the Spires’ top-2.

In a rematch of the No. 1-2 teams from April’s NAIA national championships, No. 5 Taylor (Ind.) edged No. 11 Huntington (Ind.), 153-154, to complete the top-5. More ranked teams filled the meet’s strong top-10, led by No. 10 Cornerstone (Mich.) with 189 points, No. 18 Shawnee State (Ohio) (259), No. 25 Grand View (Iowa) (287), No. 15 Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) (317) and No. 22 Grace (Ind.) (340). No. 23 and host Aquinas (Mich.) finished 11th (363).

Haile Stutzman of Huntington captured individual honors by finishing first in 24:16.2, with Daniel Gerber of Taylor runner-up at 14:23.9.

Women’s Maroon 5k Race

The order in the most recent NAIA National Coaches’ Poll played out among the top-6 teams, although the battle for the top spot might have been tighter than many expected.

No. 1 St. Francis (Ill.) overcame a solid contingent from No. 3 Cornerstone (Mich.) to win with 62 points, 14 ahead of the Golden Eagles, who placed two runners in the top-5. The Saints, reigning national champions, retaliated with better finishes in the rest of the scoring positions to win the title.

No. 4 Taylor (Ind.) was third with 112 points, followed by No. 5 Saint Mary (Kan.) with 155 and No. 7 and host Aquinas (Mich.) at 187. Completing the top-10 were No. 13 Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) (243), RV Grace (Ind.) (270), No. 17 St. Francis (Ind.) (286), Huntington (Ind.) (307) and Indiana Tech (315).

Anna Martin of Cornerstone won the individual race in 17:34.1 ahead of Laisha Corona of St. Francis (Ill.) at 17:36.6.

RMAC Cross Country Championships

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Women’s 6k Championship

Adams State stood tall for the eighth time in the past 10 years.

The second-ranked Grizzlies stormed to both the individual title and the team title on Saturday in Golden, Colorado. Brianna Robles covered the 6k tract in 21:18.4, 18 seconds ahead of runner-up Layla Almarsi of UC-Colorado Springs and Adams State put four more runners in the top-15 to win going away, 40-71 over No. 4 Colorado School of Mines.

Four different teams had multiple top-10 athletes, as the Grizzlies, Orediggers, Cougars and CSU Pueblo all fit that bill. Would you believe that they all finished among the top-5 teams? Come to think of it, they all finished in that order: Adams State won the team title, followed by Colorado School of Mines with No. 6 UCCS (90) and No. 7 CSU Pueblo (142).

Defending champion Western Colorado, ranked tenth in the most recent National Coaches’ Poll, finished fifth with 150 points. The Mountaineers were led by Katie Doucette in third place.

Men’s 8k Championship

Don’t expect Colorado School of Mines to slow down any time soon.

The top-ranked Orediggers, behind Dillon Powell’s dominant 20-second individual win, cruised to their fifth team title in the past sixth years. Powell covered the 8k tract at the Applewood Golf Course in 24:07.2 and his teammates finished 3-4-9-11 behind him for a 28-point total. Kyle Moran and Dylan Ko were the other Colorado School of Mines athletes in the top-5 in third and fourth, respectively, as Afewerki Zeru of UC-Colorado Springs took runner-up honors.

No. 3 Adams State settled for runner-up team honors with 47 points. The Grizzlies put all five of their scoring athletes in the top-15, led by a blanket finish by Isaiah Rodarte, Ahmed Sado and Yonas Haile in sixth, seventh and eighth place, respectively, just seven seconds apart.

No. 13 UC-Colorado Springs, thanks to Zeru’s low stick, took third, with No. 10 Western Colorado in fourth (118) and unranked Colorado Mesa fifth (131). No. 5 Colorado Christian, which entered the meet as the third-best team in the field, according to the form chart, finished seventh behind unranked New Mexico Highlands.

NSIC Cross Country Championships

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Women’s 6k Championship

With a nearly flawless race, No. 3 Augustana (S.D.) stormed to the team title after finishing as runner-up in the last two editions (2018 and 2019, with no meet last year). In capturing their first NSIC title since 2014, the Vikings scored 20 by blanketing the finish line with positions 2-3-4-5-6.

After Lindsay Cunningham of Winona State ran away with the individual title in 21:21.42, the Vikings followed in impressive fashion as their five scorers finished within 21 seconds of each other, led by P.J. English (21:40.98) capturing individual runner-up honors over Megan Means (21:42.06).

Team competition suspense remained, however, with four nationally ranked squads battling for positions 2-5. No. 11 U-Mary claimed the runner-up spot with 84 points, with No. 21 Minnesota Duluth close behind at 86. No. 22 Minnesota State was fourth with 99 points and No. 29 Winona State was fifth with 104 points.  

Men’s 8k Championship

No. 4 Augustana (S.D.) was perfect, going not just 1-5 but 1-6 in scoring 15 points to win its 11th NSIC crown in the last 12 editions (there was no meet last year). Austin Miller led the Viking surge across the finish line in a course-record 24:48.65 with Ryan Hartman (25:01.08) taking team and conference runner-up honors as the Augustana top-5 finished within a tight 19.64 seconds of each other (top-6 within 22 seconds).

Augustana’s perfect score of 15 points matched the NSIC record that Minnesota Duluth set in 1999.

U-Mary registered its highest-ever NSIC men’s finish, taking second place with 83 points. Sioux Falls – the last team to beat the Augustana men in this meet (2018) – claimed third with 105 points, with Minnesota Duluth (113) and Minnesota State (122) completing the top-5.

GLVC Cross Country Championships

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Women’s 6k Championship

Seven different programs had at least one top-10 finisher on Saturday.

When the dust settled, though, No. 12 Southern Indiana topped the podium for the 14th time in program history and its second title in the past three years (The Screaming Eagles also won seven in a row before that, too). USI was the only team with more than two runners in the top-15, as it won with 44 points, 36 fewer than runner-up No. 18 Lewis. Jennifer Comastri gave the Screaming Eagles the ultimate low stick with the individual title in 21:11.26.

No. 14 Southwest Baptist, paced by individual runner-up Elysia Burgos, took third place in the team standings with 86 points. The Bearcats entered the meet as the reigning champions.

Men’s 8k Championship

Lewis was flying high on its home course.

The 16th-ranked Flyers are now back-to-back champions as they captured their second team title in a row. Lewis was one of two programs with four runners in the top-15 (third-place Southern Indiana was the other), but distanced itself when that number got to five. The Flyers went 3-4-10-11-14 for 42 points, as runner-up Illinois-Springfield could only muster 53 points, just one point less than the Screaming Eagles in third place (54).

Blake Jones of Illinois-Springfield nabbed the individual title as he covered the 8k tract in 23:49.7. Noah Hufnagel of USI earned runner-up honors with Anthony Farmer and Dustin Macuiba of Lewis taking third and fourth, respectively, to pilot Lewis on Saturday.

Other Meets of Note

Here are a few other meets that caught our eye this weekend.

GLIAC Cross Country Championships

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Grand Valley State made it look easy at the GLIAC Cross Country Championships on Saturday. The highlight of the day was a historic perfect score by the Lakers in the women’s race, as their second-ranked squad went 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 with Hannah Becker leading the way in 22:04.3 (It was the first 15-point total by a women’s team since 1994). GVSU’s top-ranked men also flexed its muscles, winning by 51 points over Michigan Tech with Isaac Harding earning the individual title in 24:35.6.

Gulf South Cross Country Championships

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There was an upset in the Men’s 8k Championship – at least in the rankings – as No. 11 Alabama-Huntsville knocked off No. 8 Lee (Tenn.), 37-47. The now three-time defending champion Chargers were able to overcome a 1-2 finish by the Flames by putting their entire scoring lineup in the top-10. UAH went 3-7-8-9-10 after Christian Noble won the individual title in 23:56.3 and Silas Eckenroad was second in 24:19.6. No drama unfolded in the Women’s 6k Championship as Celine Ritter captured the individual title and fifth-ranked Lee (Tenn.) rolled to a 43-point win over Mississippi College for its fourth consecutive team title.

Peach Belt Cross Country Championships

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It had been 27 years since a men’s team put up a perfect score at the Peach Belt Championships. Well, that ended today when Augusta left no doubt en route to winning its fourth consecutive title. The Jaguars went 1-2-3-4-5 (plus 6-7) with Kai Brickey picking up the individual title in 24:05.5. The women’s race wasn’t as close as Flagler cruised to the team title with 31 points, compared to North Georgia’s 52.

NAIA Southern States Challenge

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Milligan (Tenn.) swept the proceedings at the NAIA Southern States Challenge in Bluffton, South Carolina. The Buffs’ second-ranked women and fourth-ranked men both posted 20-point scores to beat ranked squads. Lemi Wutz led a 1-2-3 finish for Milligan in the women’s race, as the Buffs topped No. 8 Montreat (N.C.), 20-61. Aaron Jones paced another 1-2-3 finish by the Buffs in the men’s race, as they beat No. 17 Montreat (N.C.), 20-51.

LVC Last Chance Run Fast

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Just one point decided the team title in the men’s race at the LVC Last Chance Run Fast Invitational today: DeSales beat York (Pa.), 45-46. It wasn’t that close through three runners, though, as the Spartans went 1-5-8 for 13 points, compared to Bulldogs’ 2-7-10 for 19 points, but it shifted with the next two finishers. DeSales got three points back on its fourth runner (11-14) and then three more from its fifth runner (15-18) to win the team title.