2021 NCAA DII Women’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 Women’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll that was released Wednesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
Mark your calendars for Saturday, November 20, as the 2021 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships are set to take place at Abbey Golf Course in Tampa, Florida.
NCAA Division II — Women's Cross Country
This Week's National Top Five
Grand Valley State
Colo. School of Mines
Cross Country Polls & Rankings
Top-ranked Grand Valley State received eight first-place votes and is back on top in the National Coaches’ Poll for the first time since 2017. Following the Lakers are second-ranked Adams State, third-ranked Augustana (S.D.), fourth-ranked Colorado School of Mines and fifth-ranked Southern Indiana.
Grand Valley State finished second at the 2019 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships and will come in with a new lineup. The lone returner from that runner-up team is Klaudia O’Malley, who finished 24th individually for All-America honors that year. O’Malley had an excellent year on the track for the Lakers in 2021, as she finished third in the mile indoors and fourth in the 1500 outdoors. Bolstering the Lakers’ lineup are Taryn Chapko, Hannah Roeske and Kayce Rypma. Those three women contributed to the Lakers national title at the 2021 NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships and runner-up finish at the 2021 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Defending champion Adams State will also enter the season with an entirely new team from its championship squad two years ago. Brianna Robles and Sarah Wills will be leading a young Grizzlies team; Robles finished fifth at the 2021 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships; Wills finished seventh in the steeplechase at the outdoor championships. Adams State has brought in several newcomers, including Wingate transfer and two-time All-American Franziska Althaus and Precious Robinson, the 2021 NJCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships runner-up in both the 5000 and 10,000.
Augustana (S.D.) matched its best ranking since Week 7 in 2014. The Vikings will benefit greatly from the return of their entire team from two years ago when they finished sixth at the 2019 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships. Nicholette Schmidt was their top scorer that year, finishing 43rd individually, followed by Cait Savey (53rd), Rebekah Rairdon (61st), Claire Boersma (65th), Rachel Rairdon (68th), Patty Jo English (72nd) and Haylee Waterfall (78th). English and Schmidt finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in the mile at the 2021 NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships and were part of the fourth-place Distance Medley Relay.
Colorado School of Mines finished third at the 2019 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships and will return three athletes from their team two years ago. Leading the Orediggers will be All-American Zoe Baker, who finished 19th individually. Baker boosted her resume this past spring with three All-America honors during the 2021 track & field season, finishing third in the 5000 and eighth in the 3000 indoors, and adding a seventh-place finish in the 10,000 outdoors.
Southern Indiana is back into the top-5 for the third time in program history and first since doing so in consecutive weeks (preseason and Week 1) during the 2017 season. The Screaming Eagles finished 13th at the 2019 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships and brought back five athletes from that team. Jennifer Comastri is their top returner, capturing All-America honors with a 23rd place finish individually. Comastri also placed fourth in the 5000 at the 2021 NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships. The Screaming Eagles will pair its returners with a strong incoming class.
Here are the rest of the top-10 teams in the preseason: No. 6 Lee (Tenn.), No. 7 Western Colorado, No. 8 Cal State Stanislaus, No. 9 U-Mary and No. 10 Walsh. The Flames and Warriors will enter the season with program best placements in the National Coaches’ Poll.