2021 NAIA Men’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll – Week 5
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A form of dominance has grown at the very top of the Pre-Championships edition of the NAIA Men’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll, which was released Monday by the NAIA National Office.
St. Francis (Ill.) improved its hold on the No. 1 position while three other squads jostled positions in the top-5 after an eventful Conference Championships Weekend.
All will be settled on Friday, November 19, at the 2021 NAIA Cross Country Championships, to be held at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in Vancouver, Washington.
NAIA — Men's Cross Country
This Week's National Top Five
St. Francis (Ill.)
Saint Mary (Kan.)
Cross Country Polls & Rankings
St. Francis garnered all but one first-place vote in the most recent poll, rising to the most dominant any program has been this season. The Saints impressed in winning the Chicagoland Conference with 21 points as Omar Paramo claimed the individual title. St. Francis last won the NAIA national championships in 2012, when the meet was also held at Fort Vancouver.
Remaining at No. 2 for the fifth week in a row is Saint Mary (Kan.), winners of the KCAC Championships behind individual champion Johnathan Bowen. The Spires – close runner-up to St. Francis at the Great Lakes Challenge two weeks ago – will be aiming for their first-ever NAIA cross country title (Saint Mary was runner-up in 2015).
Moving up a spot to No. 3 is Milligan (Tenn.), which earned a first-place vote for the second-straight poll. The Buffs were nearly perfect in winning the Appalachian Conference crown with 17 points behind individual champ Aaron Jones. Milligan finished third in the 2020 NAIA championships held this past April – their highest-finish yet in the meet.
Taylor (Ind.) rises up to No. 4. The defending NAIA national champions won the rugged Crossroads League title for the first time since 1994, this time with two other top-10 programs in their wake. Leading the way individually for the Trojans was Derek Van Prooyen, just ahead of former team No. 1 Daniel Gerber.
Indiana Wesleyan is No. 5. The Wildcats were a close runner-up to Taylor in a battle of three top-10 squads at the powerful Crossroads League Championships as Steven Ott led the team for the first time this year. IWU, previously ranked No. 1 this year, will be seeking a first-ever NAIA national crown; the program’s best-ever finish was being runner-up in 2018.
Rounding out the top-10 are No. 6 Oklahoma City, No. 7 The Master’s (Calif.), No. 8 Embry-Riddle (Ariz.), No. 9 Huntington (Ind.) and No. 10 College of Idaho.