Weekend Preview: Conference Championships Weekend (Part II)

Conference Championships Weekend continues!

From The USTFCCCA InfoZoneConference Championships Central

There will be 11 meets this weekend with league bragging rights on the line across two different divisions: NAIA (10) and NCAA Division III (1).

Here is a glance at a few of those NAIA meets that have the most ranked teams from the most recent NAIA Cross Country National Coaches’ Polls, as well as a look at what promises to be an exciting meet at the American Rivers Conference Championships.

Crossroads League Championships

Date: Friday, November 6 | Location: Marion, Indiana (Host: Indiana Wesleyan)
Times: Women’s 5K Race – 2 pm CT | Men’s 8K Race – 4 pm

You’ll see top-10 battles galore in Marion, Indiana!

Both races feature identical rankings of the top teams: No. 1 Taylor (Ind.), No. 3 Huntington (Ind.) and No. 7 Indiana Wesleyan. It’s a little different behind those programs as the men’s race features No. 14 Goshen (Iowa) and two programs that received votes in the most recent National Coaches’ Polls – Grace (Ind.) and Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio) – while the women’s race has No. 12 St. Francis (Ind.) and both of those same RV squads.

Based on recent results, it would be tough to think anybody other than the Trojans sweep the crowns here. Each of the Taylor (Ind.) programs thumped some extremely talented fields at their own Midwest XC Challenge two weeks ago. The Trojan men won by 21 points over several top-10 programs (namely Indiana Wesleyan), while the women cruised to a comfortable 33-point victory over three top-10 programs, at the time (namely No. 4 St. Francis (Ill.)).

Pay close attention to the tussle for individual titles as several former National Athletes of the Week are in action: Two-time honoree Landon Miller of Indiana Wesleyan and Adrien Gentie of Huntington (Ind.) headline the men’s race and three-time honoree Emma Wilson of Huntington (Ind.) is the favorite to win the women’s race.

The women’s race begins at 2 pm CT with the men’s race scheduled to start two hours later.

Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) Championships

Date: Saturday, November 7 | Location: Yankton, S.D. (Host: Mount Marty)
Times: Women’s 5K Race – 10:45 am CT | Men’s 8K Race – 11:30 am CT

A total of nine teams that were either ranked or received votes in the most recent NAIA National Coaches’ Polls will compete at the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) Championships on Saturday morning at the Fox Run Golf Course in Yankton, South Dakota.

Two top-10 teams square off in the men’s race – No. 6 Dordt (Iowa) and No. 10 Doane (Neb.) – with No. 20 Northwestern (Iowa) and RV Concordia (Neb.) looming. Just a few weeks ago, all four of those teams tangled at the Mount Mary Invite on the same course that they’ll run this weekend. The Tigers prevailed after putting five runners in the top-10 and totaled just 26 points. The Defenders finished runner-up with 41 points.

The women’s race features No. 4 Dordt (Iowa), No. 16 Morningside (Iowa), No. 22 Concordia (Neb.), RV Hastings (Neb.) and RV Northwestern (Iowa). The Defenders won three of the four meets they entered this year, including a championship effort at the Mount Marty Invite where they had the top-2 individuals – individual champion Eden Winslow and runner-up Jessica Kampman – and outscored the Mustangs by 23 points.

The women’s race begins at 10:45 am CT with the men’s race scheduled to start 45 minutes later.

American Rivers Conference (A-R-C) Championships

Date: Saturday, November 7 | Location: Pella, Iowa (Host: Central)
Times: Women’s 6K Race – 2 pm CT, Men’s 8K Race – 3 pm CT

A longstanding record could be in danger at the A-R-C Championships this weekend.

The fastest 8K time in meet history was set by Keith Solverson of Wartburg in 2005. He ran 24:59 to lead the Knights to their eighth consecutive team title (Wartburg began its streak in 1998 and wouldn’t be defeated at the conference meet until eight years later).

Fast forward 15 years and – You guessed it – a Wartburg star is hoping to leave his individual mark and help the Knights string together yet another impressive set of team titles.

Joe Freiburger enters as the prohibitive favorite to win the men’s race. He is undefeated this season across four meets and recently lowered his own all-time best at the Max Cross Country Course to 24:32. If the Central College Cross Country Course runs similarly, Solverson’s record could meet its demise, as Freiburger is already 27 seconds faster on a solo effort.

While the Knights are favored to win the women’s team title as well, the individual title should be Kassie Rosenbum’s to lose. Just a few weeks ago, Rosenbum soundly dispatched her toughest challengers at the Wartburg Triangular, winning by 15 seconds in a course record 21:13.3.

Is the 16-year-old 6K meet best in danger? That’s highly unlikely. Missy Buttry of Wartburg ran an otherworldly 20:15 (5:26/mi pace) back in 2004 to win her third consecutive league crown.