2019 NCAA DIII Women’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll – Preseason
NEW ORLEANS – Is that an echo?
Nope. The coaches who voted in the NCAA Division III Women’s Cross Country Preseason National Coaches’ Poll are just expecting a repeat.
NCAA Division III — Women's Cross Country
This Week's National Top Five
Cross Country Polls & Rankings
After winning its second team title in program history, Washington (Mo.) is projected to win it again when the meet returns to E.P. “Tom” Sawyer Park in Louisville, Kentucky, for the first time since 2016 on November 23. This is also the first time that the Bears have ever headlined the poll, at least according to our records, which go back to 2006.
WashU is the unanimous No. 1, receiving all of the eight possible first-place votes. The Bears beat Johns Hopkins by a single point last year (98-99) and return a healthy number of those athletes who helped them do so, including Paige Lawler and Sophie Watterson. Lawler won the individual title in 2018, while Watterson finished 13th overall to bolster WashU’s title bid.
Speaking of those Blue Jays, they’re No. 2 to begin the season. This is just the seventh time in the past 57 weeks that Johns Hopkins hasn’t been ranked No. 1.
The Blue Jays welcome back four athletes from last year’s runner-up squad, including two All-Americans in Caelyn Reilly (6th) and Therese Olshanski (35th). Look for Sam Levy to be up there with her teammates this year as she improved quite a bit during the outdoor track season, pushing her PR in the 5000 to 17:06.80.
UW-Eau Claire holds down the No. 3 spot for the second year in a row. The Blugolds finished fourth last year and return five of their top-7 athletes, including Lexie Tremble (57th), Emma Drangstveit (68th) and Sam Slattery (70th), who all packed up well throughout the 6K race to allow them to have as small as a spread as possible. Slattery picked up valuable experience in the outdoor season racing at NCAAs in the 10,000.
Williams is the fourth-ranked team in the preseason, giving the team its best preseason billing since the 2016 season when it was No. 1 after winning the 2015 national title. The Ephs finished seventh in the team standings last year and got a wealth of experience from that result. Williams is counting on Emma Hermann and Audrey Rustad to lead the way in 2019. Hermann had a strong outdoor season where she PR’d in the 800, 1500 and 10,000.
For the second year in a row, MIT begins the season ranked fifth. The Engineers have been a model of consistency recently as they’ve been on the podium in four of the past five years (The only outlier was 2016 when they finished fifth). Katie Collins should be a strong contender to have a breakthrough sophomore year after she finished 72nd in cross country and then placed 10th in both the indoor and outdoor 5000 at NCAAs.
There is a tie for the No. 6 ranking between Carleton and SUNY Geneseo. This ties the best ranking in program history for the Minnesota-based Knights, who return five of seven athletes who competed at NCAAs last year.
Pomona-Pitzer is ranked seventh, one year after finishing 32nd out of 32 teams at NCAAs. The Sagehens were among the youngest teams in the nation last year with a bunch of freshmen on the roster, but all of that experience should pay dividends. Be sure to look out for Lila Cardillo, who was the top finishing freshman at NCAAs (30th place).
The preseason top-10 is rounded out by No. 9 RPI and No. 10 U of Chicago.
Elsewhere in the poll, there are seven teams that didn’t reach NCAAs last year that are expected to this year: No. 19 St. Thomas (Minn.), No. 21 Wesleyan (Conn.), No. 26 St. Olaf, No. 30 Haverford, t-No. 32 Coast Guard, t-No. 32 UC Santa Cruz and No. 34 UW-Stevens Point.
The next NCAA DIII Women’s National Coaches’ Poll will be released on Wednesday, September 18.