2019 NCAA DI Women’s Cross Country Regional Rankings – Preseason
NEW ORLEANS – Every year 18 women’s teams automatically qualify for the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships by finishing in the top-2 at their respective regional meets.
Want an idea of what could happen come Friday, November 15? You’re in luck.
Here are the first NCAA DI Women’s Cross Country Regional Rankings of the 2019 season, which were released on Monday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). Thirteen of those 18 teams that punched automatic tickets to NCAAs last year, including five regional champions, are expected to make a return trip in 2019 when the meet is held at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Indiana.
SEE ALSO: Preseason Men’s Regional Rankings
Great Lakes Region
For the second year in a row and the just the third time since 2009, Wisconsin begins the season as the top-ranked team in the Great Lakes Region. The Badgers, who finished runner-up in the region last year, return a strong majority of athletes who competed on that team. Alicia Monson is the top returner as she was the regional champion and had a tremendous outing at the ensuing NCAA Championships, not to mention during the indoor season where she won a national title in the 3000. Amy Davis is another talented returner for Wisconsin, as she finished 11th at the regional meet in 2018.
Michigan enters the season ranked No. 2 for the third time in the past four years. The Wolverines return just four of the seven athletes from their regional title-winning team in 2018, but two of those finished in the top-15 – Anne Forsyth (3rd) and Camille Davre (14th) – to lead a potent attack. Plus, Michigan landed a strong recruiting class in the offseason that has several talented freshman and transfers who could make an impact.
The preseason top-5 is rounded out by Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State.
Penn State might have finished third in the Mid-Atlantic Region last year, but its depth and experience pushed it to its fourth year in a row as the preseason favorite. The Nittany Lions return six of their top-7 runners from last year, including regional top-10 finishers Alison Willingmyre (sixth) and Danae Rivers (seventh). Kathryn Munks and Moria O’Shea also finished in the top-25 last year at the regional meet.
Princeton, last year’s runner-up, starts the season ranked No. 2. The Tigers lost a significant portion of their roster from last year, but return eighth-place regional finisher Sophie Cantine and bring in four talented freshmen who can make an immediate impact. This is the best preseason ranking for Princeton since 2012.
The preseason top-5 is rounded out by Penn, Villanova and West Virginia.
For the second year in a row and the seventh time since 2010, Iowa State is the top-ranked team to begin the season in the Midwest Region. The Cyclones return four athletes who competed in the NCAA postseason last year, namely rising junior Cailie Logue. She won the regional title last year by 10 seconds and finished 53rd at NCAAs. Logue had a strong outdoor season in which she set PRs in the 5000 (15:40.33) and 10,000 (33:36.00).
Oklahoma State is ranked second to begin the season for the sixth time since 2010. The Cowgirls, who finished runner-up at the regional meet last year, return four of their top-7 athletes from that team. Taylor Somers is the top returning after Sinclaire Johnson turned professional after the outdoor season. Somers finished 24th at the regional meet in 2018.
The preseason top-5 is rounded out by Minnesota, Illinois and Northwestern. This matches the best regional ranking received by the Fighting Illini since the 2012 season.
Big things are expected from New Mexico in 2019 as Joe Franklin’s team enters the year ranked No. 1 in the Mountain Region. The Lady Lobos, who have been the top team entering the season in four of the past five years, have a stacked roster with Weini Kelati and Ednah Kurgat leading the way. Kelati finished runner-up at NCAAs last year, while Kurgat finished fifth overall, not to mention their regional accomplishments. New Mexico got even stronger as Adva Cohen got her feet wet in the NCAA system and hit PRs of 15:31.01 (5000) and 9:44.41 (steeplechase) on the track.
2018 national champion Colorado sits second regionally to begin the season. It is the fourth time in the past five years that the Buffaloes opens the season in that spot. Colorado only returns two of its seven athletes from last year’s regional meet, but one of them is Tabor Scholl, who finished eighth at that meet and then placed 15th at NCAAs. The Buffs also added two dynamic transfers in the offseasion: Emily Venters (Boise State) and Rachel McArthur (Villanova).
The preseason top-5 is rounded out by BYU, Utah and Air Force. This matches the best preseason ranking received by the Utes since the 2011 season.
It’s expected to be a battle atop the Northeast Region this season.
Columbia earned just its fourth No. 1 ranking in the Northeast Region since 2010 – and for good reason. The Lions return four athletes from the team that romped to the regional title last year by a score of 41-88 over Dartmouth. Columbia put five athletes in the top-15 last year and three of them return in 2019: Katie Wasserman (eighth), Maria Kogan (ninth) and Alexandra Hays (13th).
Dartmouth sits second to begin the season and has five of its top-7 runners from the team that finished runner-up at the regional meet last year. The Big Green put four athletes in the top-20 and they all return: Glendora Murphy (10th), Lauren Sapone (11th), Georgia Fear (14th) and Julia Stevenson (16th).
The preseason top-5 is rounded out by Boston College, Iona and Syracuse. The Eagles were called “probably the most improved team in the region” and it shows since they earned their best regional ranking since 2014.
For just the second time in program history, Ole Miss is ranked No. 1 in the South Region to open the season. The Rebels, who finished third at the regional meet last year, have a strong top-3 with Clio Ozanne-Jaques, Lisa Vogelgesang and Madeleine King, and have depth with Victoria Simmons and Ylva Traxler, among others.
Florida State has its own 1-2-3 punch at the top of the lineup with Elizabeth Funderburk, Megan Mooney and Maudie Skyring, not to mention depth with Jodie Judd and Jennifer Lima. The second-ranked Seminoles also added Villanova transfer Lauren Ryan and a few talented freshmen who could make a difference. This is the second year in a row that Florida State has been ranked No. 2 to begin the season.
The preseason top-5 is rounded out by Georgia Tech, Florida and Vanderbilt. This is the best preseason ranking received by the Yellow Jackets in program history and the best preseason ranking the Gators have received since the 2013 season.
South Central Region
For the eighth year in a row and the 50th consecutive week, the Arkansas Razorbacks are ranked No. 1 in the South Central Region. Arkansas enters the season with six of the seven athletes it brought to the regional championship meet last year. Those same athletes who helped the Razorbacks score just 21 points as Katrina Robinson, Taylor Werner, Lauren Gregory and Carina Viljoen went 1-2-3-4 with Micah Huckabee and Maddy Reed not too far behind in 13th and 14th place, respectively.
Texas is ranked second to begin the season for the fourth time in the past five years. The Longhorns finished runner-up at the regional meet last year and return two of their top-3 athletes from that performance, including Destiny Collins (seventh) and Abby Guidry (20th).
The preseason top-5 is rounded out by Texas A&M, Rice and Texas State. This is the best ranking in program history for the Bobcats.
NC State enters the 2019 season as the favorite in the Southeast Region. The Wolfpack return six of its top-7 runners from last year, including Elly Henes and Dominique Clairmonte, who finished second and fifth at the regional meet. They’ll be flanked by a strong core, including Savannah Shaw, who earned valuable racing experience this past March at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships with Team USA.
Furman is ranked second to begin the season and it returns all seven of its runners from last year’s regional runner-up team. The Paladins are led by Savannah Carnahan, who finished third at the regional meet, and expect big things from Emma Grace Hurley (11th) and Gabrielle Jennings (16th) as they enter their senior years.
The preseason top-5 is rounded out by Duke, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech.
For the first time since the 2010 season, Washington is ranked No. 1 to begin the season in the West Region. The Huskies return six of the seven athletes from a team that finished fourth at the deep regional meet last year and jumped from 21st to 9th place at NCAAs between 2017 and 2018, including a formidable top-2 in Katie Rainsberger and Lilli Burdon.
Boise State must find a way to replace its top-end depth, but our regional ranker doesn’t think that should be an issue. The Broncos are ranked No. 2 to begin the season, tying its best preseason billing in the past eight years. Clare O’Brien is expected to be the leader for Boise State in 2019 after a strong junior year in which she finished sixth at the regional meet in cross country and then double qualified for the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds in the 5000 and 10,000.
The preseason top-5 is rounded out by Stanford, Oregon and UCLA. This is just the second time in the past nine years that the Ducks were ranked outside of the top-2 in the preseason.