Weekend Preview: 2021 NCAA DIII Conference Championships Weekend

Welcome to Conference Championships Weekend.

We’ll see 40 meets featuring NCAA Division III programs over the next three days, which includes a whopping 38 on Saturday!

From The USTFCCCA InfoZone: Meets & Results | USTFCCCA Scoreboard

Let’s see which meets stand out the most, because 40 is a lot to cover.

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NESCAC Cross Country Championships

Date: Sunday, October 31 | Location: Manchester, Connecticut

The NESCAC is back.

That feels good to write.

One year after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the NESCAC athletic calendar, the NESCAC Cross Country Championships return on Sunday with a loaded field, featuring a total of 11 top-35 programs from the most recent National Coaches’ Polls. The Men’s Championship 8k is first on the Wickham Park course in Manchester, Connecticut, at noon ET, followed by the Women’s 6k Championship at 1 p.m. ET.

NESCAC Ranked Teams – National Coaches’ Polls

Men’s Teams
Women’s Teams
No. 3 Williams
No. 6 Williams
No. 14 Middlebury
No. 14 Tufts
No. 24 Connecticut College
No. 15 Bates
No. 25 Bates
No. 16 Middlebury
No. 30 Colby
No. 19 Amherst
No. 31 Tufts

The men’s race is headlined by No. 3 Williams, the defending champion. The Ephs have impressed all season long, winning team titles at the Little 3 Championships, the Purple Valley Classic and most recently, the Connecticut College Invitational on October 16. Williams had its hands full with MIT two weeks ago, but Middlebury – the second-best ranked team in the field from the NESCAC – finished a distant third. The Panthers are ranked 14th in 2021, followed by No. 24 Connecticut College, No. 25 Bates, No. 30 Colby and No. 31 Tufts.

The women’s race will see five top-30 squads in the fold, topped by No. 6 Williams. The Ephs are undefeated this fall with team titles at the Little 3 Championships, the Purple Valley Classic as well as the Connecticut College Invitational – but have yet to win convincingly. Williams has put considerable distance between itself and its conference foes in those meets, though. Tufts is the second-best ranked team in the field at No. 14 and is led by Danielle Page. The next two teams in the poll follow in order behind the Jumbos with No. 15 Bates and No. 16 Middlebury with No. 19 Amherst not too far behind. Prepare to see a lot of jostling in the Week 7 edition next week.

UAA Cross Country Championships

Date: Saturday, October 30 | Location: Rochester, New York

Drama could unfold on Saturday at the UAA Cross Country Championships.

A total of 11 nationally-ranked programs – including three top-10 squads – are ready to make some noise at Genesee Valley Park in Rochester, New York, which is hosting the meet for the first time since 2012. The Men’s 8k Championship is first on the course at 10 a.m. ET, followed by the Women’s 6k Championship exactly one hour later at 11 a.m. ET.

UAA Ranked Teams – National Coaches’ Polls

Men’s Teams
Women’s Teams
No. 9 Emory
No. 5 Washington (Mo.)
No. 13 Washington (Mo.)
No. 7 UChicago
No. 17 Carnegie Mellon
No. 17 Carnegie Mellon
No. 20 UChicago
No. 18 Emory
No. 27 Case Western Reserve
No. 24 Brandeis
No. 29 Case Western Reserve

The women’s race features two top-10 programs with six-time defending champion No. 5 Washington (Mo.) squaring off against No. 7 UChicago, the last team to top the podium before the Bears began their current streak (You have to go back to 2008 to find the last time a team not named WashU or UChicago won the women’s race – Case Western Reserve). The Bears and the Maroons treated fans to a thrilling battle just a few weeks ago at the Augustana Interregional Invitational. WashU and UChicago went toe-to-toe and finished tied with 97 points. Ultimately, the Bears earned third place thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker. Look out for No. 17 Carnegie Mellon, No. 18 Emory, No. 24 Brandeis and No. 29 Case Western Reserve, too.

A new champion could emerge in the men’s race, if Emory lives up to its pre-meet billing. The Eagles soar into the meet ranked No. 9, a huge improvement over Week 1 where they were just receiving votes in the National Coaches’ Poll. Emory made a name for itself earlier this month at the Live in the Lou Cross Country Classic when they finished a close third. No. 13 WashU and No. 17 Carnegie Mellon hope to continue their run at the top. The Bears and the Tartans have combined to win each of the past 10 conference titles (CMU is the defending champion). Right behind WashU and CMU sit No. 20 UChicago and No. 27 Case Western Reserve.

American Rivers Cross Country Championships

Date: Saturday, October 30 | Location: Decorah, Iowa

The Wartburg Knights appear primed for a three-peat sweep of the men’s and women’s team titles. The Men’s 8k Championship starts off Saturday at 11 a.m. CT with the Women’s 6k Championship following at noon CT on the Luther Cross Country Course in Decorah, Iowa.

Wartburg’s men are cruising at warp speed this year, on pace for a run at a first-ever NCAA Division III national championship come November 20. While the No. 1 Knights are heavy favorites for a fourth-straight men’s ARC crown – and for good reason – No. 18 Loras has made waves recently, moving up seven positions in the latest National Coaches’ Poll, with Simpson (Iowa) in the receiving votes category.

The women’s contest should also have plenty of action as No. 4 Wartburg is favored for a third-straight ARC title. No. 35 Loras and RV Central (Iowa) look to be the strongest challengers for the crown. The battle for the individual title should be thrilling with the top-3 finishers from last fall’s race back for more: defending champion Aubrie Fisher of Wartburg, Kassie Rosenbum of Loras and Carina Collet of Wartburg.

Centennial Conference Cross Country Championships

Date: Saturday, October 29 | Location: Cockeysville, Maryland

Johns Hopkins is the host as this meet returns to the Baltimore County Agricultural Center in Cockeysville, Maryland. Racing begins Saturday at 11 a.m. ET with the Men’s 8k Championship and the Women’s 6k Championship starting at noon ET.

A showdown is set in the men’s competition, as No. 21 Johns Hopkins and co-No. 22 Haverford meet for the first time since just one point separated them at the Rowan Inter-Regional Border Battle two weeks ago. The Blue Jays earned the head-to-head back then thanks to their overall depth. Not to be overlooked is No. 35 Dickinson.

The women’s race has a solid favorite in No. 1 Johns Hopkins, the reigning national champions, looking for a 14th-straight conference title. No. 10 Dickinson, paced by individual favorite Isabel Cardi, should mount the biggest challenge. No. 28 Haverford, led by Rowan Border Battle individual champion Isabella Miller, could make some noise as well.

SCIAC Cross Country Championships

Date: Saturday, October 30 | Location: Claremont, California

Top-10 action is on the menu as both races at the SCIAC Championships feature rivals Pomona-Pitzer and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. The Pomona College Cross Country Course in Claremont, California, will be the site of the meet, and racing starts Saturday at 8:30 a.m. PT with the Men’s 8k Championship followed by the Women’s 6k Championship 45 minutes later.

Want a close finish? It will be hard to beat the 2019 edition of the men’s championship, held on the same course. CMS needed a tiebreaker to beat Pomona-Pitzer, as each scored 31 points before P-P went on to win the NCAA Division III national crown. This year, the Sagehens enter as No. 2 in the National Coaches’ Poll while the Stags rest at No. 7. CMS won the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational earlier this month when the host Sagehens had to sit out due to COVID-19 protocols.

The women’s contest may be even more thrilling, as CMS sits No. 2 in the national rankings ahead of a charging Pomona-Pitzer squad that rose six spots to No. 3. The Athenas have won this meet every year since 2010 (and 23 of the last 26), while the Sagehens are seeking their first SCIAC crown since 1991.

WIAC Cross Country Championships

Date: Saturday, October 30 | Location: Colfax, Wisconsin

Year in and year out, the WIAC always delivers.

Well, 2021 is no different.

A total of seven nationally-ranked programs will be in action between the Men’s 8k Championship and the Women’s 6k Championship, set to start at 12 pm CT and 1 pm CT, respectively, at the Whitetail Golf Course in Colfax, Wisconsin.

The men’s race features four of those top-35 programs with a strong matchup between No. 8 UW-Whitewater and No. 11 UW-La Crosse as the headliner. The Warhawks haven’t raced the Eagles yet this season, but both have posted favorable results. UW-Whitewater opened some eyes with its one-point win over Washington (Mo.) at the Tom Hoffman Invitational in September and then dominated the proceedings at the UW-Eau Claire Blugold Invitational. UW-La Crosse notched a big win at the Jim Drews Invitational and placed highly at several other meets. Don’t forget about No. 22 UW-Oshkosh or No. 29 UW-Eau Claire, either.

The women’s race has three of those top-35 programs in the guise of No. 11 UW-La Crosse, No. 20 UW-Eau Claire and No. 25 UW-Stevens Point. The Eagles appear to be in a league of their own this year, winning three of the meets they competed in by a sizeable margin and then finishing runner-up in the biggest meet of the season (Live in the Lou Cross Country Classic). The Blugold is the three-time defending champion, though, so the pedigree is real. If UW-La Crosse wins, it would be its first conference title No. 12 and first since 2016.