XC Qualifying System Still Makes NO Sense

The NCAA took the logical step of making meets in September actually count, but the way any regular-season meet counts toward qualifying for the NCAA Division I cross country championship continues to be very dumb.

Quick reminder: The way that Division I cross country handles at-large qualifyication for championship is ridiculous. The first teams out at regional meets are selected based on regular-season wins over teams that have already qualified (here is an explainer I wrote on the "Kolas points" system two years ago). But a win only counts as a win if the team that lost ran at least four of what will end up being its top seven runners at regionals--i.e., the winning team only gets a point if the team it beat ran its "A team."

​Fake example: ​

Albion beats Gettysburg at the Messiah Invite in October, where Gettysburg ran exactly three of its eventual top seven; Gettysburg wins its region in November; if Gettysburg ran one more of its top seven at Messiah, Albion would have had one more point.​

​Real example​:

No. 4 Arkansas held out projected No. 1 runner Jack Bruce, No. 3 Andrew Ronoh, and No. 5 Austen Dalquist today at the Battle in Beantown (they're fine, and may have done a workout post-race). Unranked Dartmouth and Providence beat the Razorbacks as a result, and may end up with an extremely generous Kolas point in November now. Projected No. 2 Frankline Tonui and No. 4 Alex George lined up and George won. So if two more Arkansas men who started today make the regional lineup, then today's Arkansas team counts as an "A team." Arkansas will almost certainly automatically qualify out of its region; if today was an A team, and Arkansas automatically qualifies, then Dartmouth and Providence will get a point.

The Division I qualifying system is silly and bad. Don't blame Arkansas, Providence, or Dartmouth.

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