2021 NCAA DII Men’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll – Preseason
NEW ORLEANS – Cross country is (finally) back!
Here is the preseason edition of the 2021 NCAA Division II Men’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll that was released Wednesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
The 2021 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships are set for Saturday, November 20 at Abbey Golf Course in Tampa, Florida. A lot could happen between now and November, but if this is any indication of what could transpire, we have an exciting battle brewing for the national title.
NCAA Division II — Men's Cross Country
This Week's National Top Five
Grand Valley State
Colo. School of Mines
Cross Country Polls & Rankings
Grand Valley State will start the season as the top-ranked team after receiving five first-place votes. Defending champions and second-ranked Colorado School of Mines received three first-place votes, followed by third-ranked Adams State, fourth-ranked Chico State and fifth-ranked Western Colorado.
The Lakers, who finished fourth at the 2019 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships, return five of their seven athletes from two years ago, including three All-Americans in Tanner Chada (24th), Noah Steffen (27th) and Ben Zaremba (34th). The Lakers will also welcome back Enael Woldemichael, a sixth place finisher at the 2018 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships. Although he is no stranger on the track, Isaac Harding will have his cross country debut for the Lakers. Harding finished 44th individually at the 2019 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships while at Michigan.
Grand Valley State is also carrying momentum from the outdoor season after winning the team’s first title at 2021 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championship. A big part of their success was from their distance runners, led by Harding’s 5000 crown and runner-up finish in the 10,000 as part of a strong double.
Colorado School of Mines will return five athletes from its championship team two years ago, which include four All-Americans that recorded top-20 finishes – Kyle Moran (4th), Dylan Ko (7th), Luc Hagen (15th) and Jake Mitchem (20th). Luke Julian, Dillon Powell and Loic Scomparin are also expected to bolster this Oredigger lineup and keep them in contention to successfully defend their crown. The distance athletes shined on the track for the Orediggers during the 2021 season, as six of those men combined for a total of 10 First Team All-America honors between indoors and outdoors.
The Grizzlies, who finished second at the 2019 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships, will be faced with a rebuilding year as they return just two of those athletes from their runner-up squad. Carson Bix finished 10th in 2019 and also finished runner-up in the 5000 at the 2021 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Bix will be joined by Isaiah Rodarte, who finished 54th in 2019, and All-American steeplechaser Ahmed Sado, who finished seventh this past May. Adams State will mix in several newcomers that can make an immediate impact.
Chico State finished third at the 2019 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships and will return to any sort of competition in over a year. The Wildcats bring back four athletes from their third-place team, which features cross country All-Americans Wyatt Baxter (26th) and Jack Emanuel (30th), along with a top-45 finisher in Rory Abberton (42nd). The Wildcats have signed several newcomers that could make some noise and find themselves in the mix.
The Mountaineers, who finished seventh at the 2019 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships, only return two athletes from its NCAA qualifying team. Ryan Outler, one of the returnees from that 2019 squad, qualified for the 1500 at the 2021 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Other Mountaineers expected to make an impact are Cade Michael and Michael Grabowski, along with San Francisco University transfer Jacob Hernandez and several other redshirts.
Here are the rest of the top-10 teams in the preseason: No. 6 Queens (N.C.), No. 7 Missouri Southern, No. 8 Alabama-Huntsville, No. 9 Augustana (S.D.) and No. 10 Lee (Tenn.). The Chargers will start the season with a program best placement in the National Coaches’ Poll as they come back with six athletes from their 19th place team in 2019.