Who to look out for at the upcoming NCAA cross country season
The GIST: On your marks! The NCAA cross country season hits its starting line today, so run through our primer, then let’s, ahem, meet the women and men racing toward national glory.
The top women’s teams: With legendary senior Katelyn Tuohy leading a slate of Wolfpack vets, it’s no surprise that two-time defending champ NC State is the No. 1 women’s team to beat. Perennial contenders Northern Arizona and Oklahoma State begin racing as the nation’s Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, and Notre Dame’s star, Olivia Markezich, has the Irish at No. 4.
- The transfer portal lit up this offseason, with No. 5 Colorado adding top NCAA finishers Natalie Cook and Samree Dishon to create a trio of contenders alongside grad Ella Baran this year.
- But don’t sleep on No. 9 Florida: The Gators have spoiler written all over their chompers after grabbing three national Top 40 transfers to keep pace with their lone 2022 natty runner, redshirt junior Parker Valby, who sped to NCAA silver last year.
The best men’s squads: Most fast fellas stayed put since last season, including Lumberjack duo junior Nico Young and senior Drew Bosley, who will likely contend for the individual trophy while leading dynasty No. 1 Northern Arizona toward a possible seventh team title in eight seasons. Sheesh.
- Hot on their heels? No. 2 Oklahoma State senior Alex Maier, whose Cowboys missed last year’s natty by the narrowest of margins.
- And while No. 3 BYU looks strong behind returning star junior Kenneth Rooks, it’s No. 4 Stanford who could surprise. The loss of now-pro Charles Hicks was a blow, but the Cardinal added stellar freshmen twins to their still-robust roster.
What to watch: As you read this, Oklahoma State’s annual season kickoff meet, the Cowboy Preview, is underway, with Arkansas’ No. 19 women and No. 20 men, and the No. 21 Tulsa fellas (among other teams) battling the No. 3 Cowgirls and No. 2 Cowboys.
- Then tomorrow, NAU’s No. 1 men and No. 2 women host their own invitational starting at 4:30 p.m. ET. Catch ’em if you can.