Weekend Recap: NAIA Conference Championships Weekend

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ll continue to update this post throughout the weekend!

All eyes are on Vancouver, Washington!

That’s because we find out which teams earned automatic bids – and put themselves in position to earn an at large bid – to the 2021 NAIA Cross Country Championships at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site on Friday, November 19.

From The USTFCCCA InfoZoneMeets & Results | USTFCCCA Scoreboard

NAIA programs qualify by virtue of finish at their respective conference championships and their position in the final National Coaches’ Polls, so a lot was on the line over the past few days.

Let’s find out what meets caught our eye over the weekend.

Crossroads League Championship


Men’s 8k Championship

No. 5 Taylor (Ind.) was overdue – long overdue. None of this year’s Trojans were born when Taylor last won the Crossroads team title in 1994. Taylor dominated the top part of the finish, taking four of the top-8 places. No. 3 Indiana Wesleyan then had five runners finish before Taylor’s No. 5 crossed the line, but the Trojans’ top-end was enough to win as their 46 points topped both the 56 of IWU as well as the 62 of third-place No. 10 Huntington, the defending champions. No. 22 Grace (Ind.) and No. 25 Marian (Ind.) followed with 115 and 157, respectively.

Haile Stutzman of Huntington regained the Crossroads title he last held in 2019, winning in 24:52.5. Steven Ott of Indiana Wesleyan was runner-up in 25:00.1, as the top-5 were completed by Bryan Hernandez-Rios of Grace (25:01.4) and the Taylor trio of Derek Van Prooyen (25:02.7), Daniel Gerber (25:06.3).

Women’s 5k Championship

No. 4 Taylor (Ind.) easily won a ninth-straight league crown, impressive even more as the Crossroads is arguably considered the nation’s deepest with five ranked teams. Taylor placed four runners in the top-10 in scoring 41 points. As expected, a close battle for second didn’t disappoint. No. 23 Indiana Wesleyan’s 91 points out-fought No. 15 Grace (Ind.) (114) and No. 18 Huntington (Ind.) for the runner-up position as No. 17 Saint Francis (Ind.) was fifth with 132 points.

Individually, Alex Ebetino of St. Francis led the way with a time of 18:32.1, which was 2.4 seconds ahead of runner-up Abbey Brennan of Taylor (18:34.5). Shelby Christman of Huntington (18:39.2), Jenna Couwenhoven of Indiana Wesleyan (18:45.1) and Sydney Lambert of Huntington (18:45.3) completed the top-5.

Cascade Conference Championships


Men’s 8k Championship

A rankings shakeup was to be expected, and the fierce competition didn’t disappoint. No. 14 College of Idaho won the team title for the third time in four years, beating three other teams ranked ahead of them. But it was tight as the Yotes’ 52 points were just four points better than the 56 of No. 12 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho), the reigning Cascade champions.

Lewis-Clark was the only squad with three in the top-10, but College of Idaho’s depth came through with placers 10-12-14-15 behind individual champion Logan Hunt.

Host No. 15 Oregon Tech (73) edged No. 8 Southern Oregon (76) for the next two positions, followed by No. 20 Eastern Oregon (113) and No. 24 Northwest (Washington) (119). The point span among the top-6 programs of 67 points was the closest in at least the last six years.

Hunt claimed individual honors in 24:52.1 over defending champ Cole Olsen of Lewis-Clark (25:03.6). Kevin VanDyke of Southern Oregon (25:24.4), Travis Running of Eastern Oregon (25:26.0) and Clayton VanDyke of Lewis-Clark (25:29.3) completed the top-5 individuals.

Women’s 5k Championship

A three-peat was in order for No. 6 College of Idaho, which placed all five scorers in the top-12 to win comfortably with 33 points. However, just 27 points separated the next four squads, led by No. 13 Southern Oregon (87) edging host RV Oregon Tech (90) for runner-up honors. RV Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) was fourth with 103 points ahead of No. 25 Northwest (Wash.) (114) as all of the top-5 teams had at least one runner in the top-10.

Ellyse Tingelstad of College of Idaho won the individual title over teammate Sage Martin, 19:06.3 to 19:14.4. Shiloh Najjar of Multnomah was third (19:19.8), followed by Sydnee Kizziar of Southern Oregon (19:30.1.) and Rebecca Kuskie of Bushnell (19:31.9).

CCAC Championships


Men’s 8k Championship

There was never a doubt. Top-ranked St. Francis (Ill.) cruised to the team title on Saturday, putting six runners in the top-8 and rolled to a 21-point score. Omar Paramo won the individual title for the Saints in 24:57.9, as he was followed in the top-5 by teammates Oscar Tejada (third, 25:24.7) and Noah Friske (fourth, 25:42.1). No. 19 Olivet Nazarene finished second with 75 points, followed by St. Ambrose (92), Judson (128) and St. Xavier (148) in third, fourth and fifth place, respectively.

Women’s 5k Championship

Top-ranked St. Francis (Ill.) can’t be slowed down. The Saints made quick work of the competition on Saturday, putting up a near perfect score of 17 points. St. Francis went 1-2-3-4 with Sabrina Baftiri taking top honors in 18:02.7, Laisha Corona finishing second in 18:17.0, Daly Galloway in third at 18:25.3 and Katerine Bakken in fourth at 18:28.4. No. 12 Olivet Nazarene took second behind the Saints with 50 points, followed by St. Xavier (101), Judson (112) and Trinity Christian (128) to round out the top-5.