Weekend Preview: NCAA DII & NAIA Conference Championships

The postseason isn’t slowing down!

We saw some incredible action over Conference Championships Weekend in both NCAA Division I and NCAA Division III that really shook up the ensuing National Coaches’ Polls.

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Now, it’s time for NCAA Division II and the NAIA to have its fun.

Stakes are high in the NAIA, as every conference meet has one team automatic qualifier per gender to the for the 2022 NAIA Cross Country Championships, which are set for Friday, November 18, at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, Florida.

Conferences with 12 or more teams can earn a second automatic qualifier, but that’s contingent on the runner-up being included among the top-30 in the final NAIA National Coaches’ Poll, which is slated to be released on Monday. The rankings also will be crucial for the at-large berths that will fill the national field to its 36-team full field in both genders.

Let’s see which meets have our attention this week in both divisions.

RMAC Championships – Ranked Teams

Men’s Poll
Women’s Poll
No. 1 Colo. School of Mines
No. 1 Adams State
No. 2 Adams State
No. 3 Colo. School of Mines
No. 9 Western Colorado
No. 4 UC-Colorado Springs
No. 10 Colorado Christian
No. 9 Western Colorado
No. 16 UC-Colorado Springs
No. 12 Colorado Christian
 
No. 22 CSU Pueblo

Eleven.

That’s how many ranked teams between the most recent NCAA DII Cross Country National Coaches’ Polls will descend on the Hill Crest Golf Course in Durango, Colorado, on Saturday for the RMAC Cross Country Championships.

The RMAC saved the best for last, as the Women’s 6k will close out the day at 11:30 am MT. What makes this race so good? Try six of the 11 ranked teams, including a savory No. 1 vs. No. 3 vs. No. 4 matchup between top-ranked Adams State, second-ranked Colorado School of Mines and fourth-ranked UC-Colorado Springs. Add in No. 9 Western Colorado and No. 12 Colorado Christian, and you have yourself a party. The Grizzlies have been a force at this meet over the years, winning eight of the past nine conference titles and a slew of them before that. Any team other than Adams State and Western Colorado is still looking for its first title.

Five ranked teams will compete in the Men’s 8k at 10:40 am MT: No. 1 Colorado School of Mines, No. 2 Adams State, No. 9 Western Colorado, No. 10 Colorado Christian and No. 16 UC-Colorado Springs. The Orediggers and the Grizzlies have either shared or been ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in some configuration every week this season. Colorado School of Mines has been the team to beat over the past six years, as it has won five team titles – including each of the past three. If the Orediggers four-peat, they’d join Adams State and Western Colorado as the only programs in conference history to string together that many consecutive conference crowns.

Crossroads League Championships – Ranked Teams

Men’s Poll
Women’s Poll
No. 4 Indiana Wesleyan
No. 1 Taylor
No. 12 Huntington (Ind.)
No. 9 Huntington (Ind.)
No. 13 Grace (Ind.)
No. 12 Indiana Wesleyan
No. 16 Taylor (Ind.)
No. 15 Grace (Ind.)
No. 20 Spring Arbor (Mich.)
 
No. 24 Goshen (Ind.)
 

Action is set Friday at Marian (Ind.)’s Blue River Cross Country Course in Shelbyville, Indiana, with the women’s 5k starting at 10:30 a.m. ET, followed by the men’s 8k at 11:15.

Last year, five women’s teams and six men’s squads from the Crossroads qualified for the NAIA nationals.

Four ranked women’s teams this year are led by national No. 1 Taylor (Ind.), which is looking for a 10th-straight league crown. Two weeks ago, the Trojans easily won the stacked NAIA Great Lakes Challenge by 80 points. Their most likely competition looks to come from No. 9 Huntington (Ind.), No. 12 Indiana Wesleyan and No. 15 Grace (Ind.). Goshen (Ind.) and host Marian both received votes in the latest national coaches poll.

An even deeper collection of ranked teams – six – will assemble for the men’s race. No. 4 Indiana Wesleyan – which earlier this year was rated No. 1 – leads the ranked programs and aims to win its first men’s title since 2019. Challenges are sure to come from No. 12 Huntington, No. 13 Grace, No. 16 Taylor, No. 20 Spring Arbor (Mich.) and No. 24 Goshen. Host Marian also received votes in the latest poll. Taylor won last year’s title by 10 points over Indiana Wesleyan.

Other Meets Of Interest

GLIAC Cross Country Championships

CLICK HERE FOR LIVE RESULTS FROM THE MEET

Twenty-two years.

That’s how far you’d have to go back to find the last time Grand Valley State didn’t win at least one title at the GLIAC Cross Country Championships. Back in 2000, right after the turn of the millennium, the Hillsdale men and the Northern Michigan women topped the podium. The next year, the Lakers captured the women’s crown and it was off to the races until present day.

A sweep is most likely in the cards this year, as GVSU owns the highest-ranked teams in the conference, by a long shot. The women, who race at 10 am CT on Friday, are ranked second in the most recent National Coaches’ Poll, while the third-ranked men toe the line at 10:45 am CT.

The true battle begins for second, especially in the women’s race. That’s where three programs aren’t separated by much: No. 21 Wayne State (Mich.), No. 25 Saginaw Valley State and No. 27 Michigan Tech. That trio is also ranked No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 in the Midwest Region.

Willow Metropark in New Boston, Michigan, plays host to the meet.

Cascade Conference Cross Country Championships

CLICK HERE FOR LIVE RESULTS FROM THE MEET

The Cascade Conference also boasts impressive numbers. Indeed, last year the CCC sent more squads to the NAIA Championships than even the Crossroads League (12 vs. 11).

This year’s meet is set for Friday at Colver Roads Park in Talent, Oregon, with Southern Oregon as the host. The men’s 8k kicks off the racing at 10 a.m. PT followed by the women’s 5k at 11.

No. 5 Eastern Oregon leads six ranked men’s teams as the Mountaineers – seeking their 13th men’s team crown, but first since 2007 – are joined by No. 11 Southern Oregon, No. 14 College of Idaho, No. 15 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) and No. 22 Oregon Tech. Don’t be surprised by a close finish – the last two titles have been decided by four points or less.

The women’s race has three ranked programs, led by No. 7 College of Idaho as the Yotes have won the last three straight team titles. Host No. 11 Southern Oregon has never won a CCC women’s title, nor has No. 21 Lewis-Clark, now in its third year in the conference.