Follow our 2017 FloXC Countdown, where FloTrack ranks the top ten cross country teams and individuals in the NCAA this season which will be LIVE on FloTrack. The No. 4 women's spot goes to U-Mary, and here's why:
Probable Top Five:
SR Alexis Zeis (9:22 3K; 16:20 5K; 2nd at '16 NCAA XC)
JR Ida Narbuvoll (34:39 10K; 12th at '16 NCAA XC)
SO Kate Fox (4:37 1500; 47th at '16 NCAA XC
JR Jaiden Schuette (75th at '16 NCAA XC)
SR Kaycie Stewart (74th at '15 NCAA XC)
The U-Mary Marauders return their top seven and will look to accomplish something never before done in school history: reach the podium. After placing seventh a year ago, this group finally looks poised to do it. And with the 2015 national champion as their ace and four ladies total who finished inside the top 75 last season, U-Mary doesn't necessarily have to limit their aspirations to just any podium spot. On paper, this roster appears to be as deep as any in the country.
Senior Alexis Zeis won the 2015 NCAA DII cross country title and has essentially been a superstar ever since she started college. Runner-up a year ago, Zeis atoned for her defeat to chief rival Kendra Foley by narrowly beating her to win the indoor 5K crown in March. If not for Western State's Alicja Konieczek winning four national titles on the track this past spring, Zeis would definitely be the favorite for this fall. Regardless, U-Mary can count on a top-three finish from her.
The Marauders could have two in the top 10 if junior Ida Narbuvoll can improve on her 12th-place finish from last season. Narbuvoll has been an All-American each of her first two collegiate seasons. Kate Fox had the third-best finish by a freshman last November and should fill the third slot on this team. If she takes the big jump that sophomores often do, U-Mary could become a legitimate title threat. That will be especially true if No. 4 and 5 runners Jaiden Schuette and Kaycie Stewart -- who have each finished inside the top 75 at nationals -- can improve as well.
With nothing close to the long NCAA XC history of the teams above them, U-Mary yields a few spots in the rankings to the squads with similar talent that have been there and done it. But don't be surprised if they Marauders rise all the way to the top on their first trip to the podium.
FULL WOMEN'S RANKINGS HERE