Weekend Preview: Top-Ranked Women’s Teams Battle In South Bend

It’s officially fall.

Cross country is in full swing.

From The USTFCCCA InfoZoneMeets This Weekend | USTFCCCA Scoreboard

Does it get any better? We don’t think so.

Here are some meets that stand out the most to us this weekend.

Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational

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New Mexico started a trend in 2015.

Providence followed suit in 2016.

Then came Colorado in 2017 and 2019.

And now, NC State carries the torch.

What do those teams have in common?

Well, when September turns to October, the top-ranked team in that years’ respective NCAA DI Women’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll heads to South Bend, Indiana, to compete at the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational. And usually, they fare well: New Mexico steamrolled the competition in 2015; Providence ran to victory in 2016; Colorado earned a hard-fought win over New Mexico in 2017; and NC State asserted itself with a 56-point triumph in 2021.

Now, the defending national champion Wolfpack returns to the Burke Golf Course to face quite the formidable cast of opponents: No. 3 New Mexico should finally debut its top roster with a pair of 2021 All-Americans leading the way (Emma Heckel and Gracelyn Larkin); No. 8 Notre Dame has its own talented 1-2 punch with 2021 All-American Olivia Markezich and Tennessee transfer Katie Thornson; No. 10 Alabama has a trio of bona fide low sticks, none more dynamic than Mercy Chelangat, who won the individual title at the 2020 NCAA Championships and finished runner-up behind Whittni Orton last year.

Upsets aren’t uncommon at the Joe Piane Invitational, though. Back in 2019, Utah came into the meet just receiving votes in the most recent National Coaches’ Poll. What happened? The Utes shocked everybody (but themselves) with a 110-116 victory over the top-ranked Buffs. Utah went from RV to No. 6 in the next National Coaches’ Poll for its best ranking in program history.

The Women’s Blue 5k goes off at 9:30 am CT, followed by the Men’s Blue 5 Mile at 10:15 am.

Other Meets of Note

Don’t forget about these, either!

Chile Pepper Festival

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Cross-division competition will highlight collegiate races at the Chile Pepper Festival in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Five of the six men’s top-10 ranked teams in the meet are slated to line up for the McDonnell Memorial college men’s 8K at 5 pm CT: NCAA DII No. 6 Missouri Southern, NAIA No. 7 Oklahoma City, along with three NJCAA DI powers in No. 1 Colby (Kan.) CC, No. 2 Iowa Central CC and No. 9 Butler (Kan.) CC. The leading NCAA DI program is No. 16 Arkansas. Three individual M-F Athletic National Athletes of the Week will be racing head-to-head in Shimales Abebe of Oklahoma City, Sanele Masondo of Colby and Rodgers Rotich of Butler.

In the college women’s 5k (4:30 pm), Hutchinson (Kan.) CC – No. 2 in NJCAA Division I – is the highest-ranked squad, while two other JUCO teams – No. 5 Iowa Central CC and No. 10 Butler (Kan.) CC – are entered in the Prairie Fire Pepper 5K at 3:15 pm.

Live In The Lou Classic

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Look for some exciting competition at the Live in the Lou Classic in Louisville, Kentucky!

Eight leading women’s programs are scheduled to compete, with four top-10 ranked NCAA DII squads in the Gold race at 10:15 am ET) – No. 2 Grand Valley State, No. 5 UC-Colorado Springs, No. 6 Cedarville and No. 10 Lee (Tenn.). At 11:30, the women’s Blue race will feature four highly ranked NAIA teams in No. 2 Taylor (Ind.), No. 3 St. Francis (Ill.), No. 7 Cornerstone (Mich.) and No. 8 Grace (Ind.).

A pair of top NCAA DII men’s teams are slated for the opening Gold race at 9:30 with No. 3 Grand Valley State and No. 8 Lee (Tenn.). Meanwhile, NAIA No. 8 Cornerstone has NAIA No. 10 Grace (Ind.) as its highest-ranked opponent in the Blue race at 10:45.

NCAA DIII National Preview Meet

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You can’t have the feature film without previews.

That’s why the Greater Lansing Sports Authority is coming in clutch by putting on the NCAA DIII National Preview Meet, less than two months away from the NCAA DIII Championships.

Top-10 matchups dot both the men’s and women’s races on Saturday at the Forest Akers East Golf Course in Lansing, Michigan: four top-10 men’s teams square off as No. 2 MIT goes up against No. 3 UW-La Crosse, No. 5 North Central (Ill.) and No. 8 UW-Whitewater; two top-10 women’s teams will vie for top honors as No. 7 MIT and No. 9 UW-La Crosse are entered.

Paul Short Run

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The Murray Goodman Cross Country Course in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, will once again be the site for the Paul Short Run, hosted by Lehigh University. This is the 48th edition of the meet.

Four nationally ranked programs are entered in the College Men’s Gold, including a trio of NCAA DIII programs: NCAA DII No. 7 Wingate, NCAA DIII No. 6 Johns Hopkins, NCAA DIII No. 7 John Carroll and NCAA DIII No. 10 RPI. It could be five top-10 programs across the two divisions, but NCAA DIII No. 9 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps is in the College Men’s Brown.

Don’t forget about the College Women’s Gold, though. That’s where NCAA DII No. 7 Wingate and NCAA DIII No. 4 Johns Hopkins will compete as the only non-NCAA DI programs out of 47 teams in the race. The Blue Jays, who are two-time defending national champions, already have several notable results under their belt with a strong, fourth-place showing at the MSU Spartan Invitational as their most recent effort.

Ted Castaneda Classic

No. 1 vs. No. 1?

That’s what you’ve got on the men’s side at the Ted Castaneda Classic on Saturday in Durango, Colorado.

Rocky Mountain rivals Adams State and Colo. School of Mines are co-No. 1s in the latest NCAA Division II national coaches poll, and they’re slated to square off on the same course that will host the powerful RMAC Championships in early November.

The women’s race is also well represented by highly ranked programs as Adams State, defending national champion, is No. 1 and Colo. School of Mines is No. 3. No. 5 UC-Colorado Springs is also entered, although the Mountain Lions will have a split squad as they are sending many of their best to the Live in Lou Classic.