2021 NJCAA DI Men’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll – Week 1
NEW ORLEANS – There’s a new name at the top of the NJCAA Division I Men’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll as New Mexico JC has its first-ever No. 1 ranking.
The Week 1 edition of the poll previews a potential thrilling season as the T-Birds are just one point ahead of defending champion Iowa Central CC. The 2021 NJCAA Division I Cross Country Championships are set for Saturday, November 13 at Pole Green Park in Richmond, Virginia.
NJCAA Division I — Men's Cross Country
This Week's National Top Five
New Mexico JC
Iowa Central CC
Cloud County (Kan.) CC
Northwest Kansas Tech
Cross Country Polls & Rankings
New Mexico JC opened the year at the Texas Tech Open on September 4, finishing fifth in a field of mostly NCAA Division I and Division II programs. Freshman Evans Polotet led the T-Birds with an eighth-place finish in 20:09.8 over the 4-mile course. NMJC’s previous high ranking in the polls was No. 2 in Week 1 of 2020. However, the program does have some notable legacy – in 1979 the T-Birds won the NJCAA title prior to there being any divisions.
Iowa Central CC actually outgained NMJC in first-place votes, 4-3. The Tritons are led by defending individual national champion Kelvin Bungei, who won the Hawkeye Invitational on September 3 in 18:21.4 for 6K on a muddy course.
No one is counting out Cloud County (Kan.), the 2019 champions who were fourth last year. The T-Birds return four scorers from last year and convincingly won the Terry Masterson Classic on Sept. 3 with 65 points, led by second-place finisher Awet Beraki (20:06.5 for 4 miles).
Northwest Kansas Tech is No. 4, the highest ranking in program history. The Mavericks (22nd last year) are led by freshman Oliver Kiptoo, who was third in the Nebraska-Kearney Invitational (18:10.6 for 6K).
No. 5 College of Southern Idaho received the only first-place vote not given to NMJC or Iowa Central CC, and for good reason. The Golden Eagles return six runners from last year’s runner-up team.
Completing the top-10 are No. 6 Indian Hills (Iowa) CC, No. 7 Fort Scott (Kan.) CC and No. 8 Butler (Kan.) CC, with Central Arizona and Garden City (Kan.) CC tied for No. 9.