NCAA DIII Cross Country Regional Championships Saturday Preview

Regional Championships Saturday is almost here!

You can feel the excitement in the air.

From The USTFCCCA InfoZone: Meets & Results | USTFCCCA Scoreboard

Let’s find out which teams and individuals are headed to the 2022 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships NEXT SATURDAY at the Forest Akers East Golf Course in East Lansing, Michigan.

Remember that the winning team (one) per gender in each region automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships, while the other 22 teams will be at-large selections.

Here are two of the ten meets that offer the most intrigue.

Midwest Region – Ranked Teams

Men’s Poll
Women’s Poll
No. 3 North Central (Ill.)
No. 1 UChicago
No. 5 Wartburg
No. 2 Wartburg
No. 22 Loras
No. 6 Washington (Mo.)
No. 24 UChicago
No. 22 Loras

Do you see those two top-5 matchups?

No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the women’s race.

No. 3 vs. No. 5 in the men’s race.

No other region offers close to that this weekend.

UChicago and Wartburg, along with No. 6 Washington (Mo.) and No. 22 Loras, will be first on the course at the Northwest Medicine Cross Country Course on Saturday at 11 am CT. Look back a little less than one month to figure out why we’re excited about this meet. The Maroons squared off with the Knights – and a host of other ranked teams, including the Bears – at the loaded Augustana Interregional Invitational. UChicago and Wartburg put on a racing masterclass, finishing 1-2 with 54 and 57 points, respectively. The Knights had the best low stick in Aubrey Fisher (runner-up), but the Maroons brandished the most depth with three athletes in the top-10 (six in the top-20). WashU put up a good fight there and at the recent UAA Championships, finishing second to UChicago, 36-46. All signs point toward another thrilling battle on Saturday since the race for the individual title is almost a foregone conclusion with Kassie Parker of Loras leading the charge.

The men’s race, second on the course at noon CT, sees No. 3 North Central (Ill.) and No. 5 Wartburg in addition to No. 22 Loras and No. 24 UChicago. The Cardinals, who are perennial juggernauts at the regional and national level, have worked their way back into the national conversation over the past several weeks. NCC did so by taking runner-up honors behind the top-2 teams in the National Coaches’ Poll in back-to-back weeks: first it was to No. 2 MIT at the NCAA DIII National Preview Meet; then it was second behind No. 1 Pomona-Pitzer at the Augustana Interregional Invitational. Those performances allowed the Cardinals to soar from No. 13 to No. 5 to No. 4 and then to No. 3. The Knights have been a mainstay in the top-5 this season, starting the season at No. 5, hitting No. 3 three times and now back to No. 5. Wartburg took third at the Augustana Interregional Invitational, 15 points behind NCC. Look for Christopher Collet of Wartburg to be in the mix for the individual title along with Connor Riss of NCC.

North Region – Ranked Teams

Men’s Poll
Women’s Poll
No. 4 UW-La Crosse
No. 8 Carleton
No. 10 UW-Whitewater
No. 9 UW-La Crosse
No. 12 St. Olaf
No. 12 St. Olaf
No. 28 UW-Stout
No. 15 UW-Eau Claire
No. 33 UW-Eau Claire
No. 34 Saint Benedict

St. Olaf will play host to the North Region Championships on Saturday at the Tostrud Athletic Center in Northfield, Minnesota, situated less than 45 miles due south from Minneapolis.

The women’s race, first on the course at 11 am CT, piques the most interest due to the nature of just one automatic bid to the NCAA DIII Championships up for grabs and four teams ranked within seven spots of each other going for it: No. 8 Carleton, No. 9 UW-La Crosse, No. 12 St. Olaf and No. 15 UW-Eau Claire. All four of those teams are trending in the right direction ahead of the meet, as Carleton, UW-La Crosse, St. Olaf and UW-Eau Claire improved their ranking in the past two editions of the National Coaches’ Poll. UW-Eau Claire has been the biggest mover, going from No. 26 in Week 5 to No. 15 in Week 7. You’d be hard-pressed to discount Carleton, though, as it won the MIAC title over St. Olaf and finished a close – we mean, close – runner-up to former No. 1 SUNY Geneseo at the Rowan Interregional Border Battle back on November 15. Those efforts sent the Minnesota-based Knights from No. 17 to No. 8.

The men’s race, second on the course at noon CT, is a tale of UW-(insert town here) and St. Olaf. Four of the five ranked teams in the field are from the UW system: No. 4 UW-La Crosse, No. 10 UW-Whitewater, No. 28 UW-Stout and No. 33 UW-Eau Claire. UW-La Crosse and UW-Whitewater, who finished first and second at the WIAC Championships, respectively, have been stalwarts in the top-10 all season, while St. Olaf slowly improved its rank since Week 2, going from No. 18 then to No. 12 now. The Oles just won the MIAC title going away, so they’re peaking at the right time. Ethan Gregg of UW-La Crosse is a favorite to win the individual title, but don’t count out Mohammed Bati of Augsburg, among others. Gregg posted impressive wins this season at the Roy Griak Invitational (25:01.4), the NCAA DIII National Preview (24:12.4) and the WIAC Championships (23:38.4).

Checking The Other Regions

Here are how many ranked teams are in the other eight regions:

East Region: 7 (4 men’s, 3 women’s)

Great Lakes Region: 11 (6 men’s, 5 women’s)

Mid-Atlantic Region: 4 (2 men’s, 2 women’s)

Mideast Region: 9 (4 men’s, 5 women’s)

Metro Region: 2 (1 men’s, 1 women’s)

Niagara Region: 3 (1 men’s, 2 women’s)

South Region: 6 (3 men’s, 3 women’s)

West Region: 9 (4 men’s, 5 women’s)