NCAA XC Recap: Big Ten Victories, DII/DIII Strength, Standout Freshmen

NCAA XC: Dynasties On The Line

With a few more weeks until the marquee NCAA cross country meets kick-off, the past weekend featured more season debuts from some of the top teams and individuals. It was also an opportunity to get a glimpse of a few of the best freshman in the nation and see how the best of Division II and Division III teams measure up against DI competition. 

Here are a few of the highlights:

BYU Sweeps In Debut

We got an early look at one of the favorites for the men’s team title--BYU. The number two ranked Cougars ran as a pack to sweep the BYU Autumn Classic on the 7-kilometer course in Logan, Utah. The meet was originally scheduled to take place at the East Bay Golf Course (the site of the Mountain Region meet), but was moved over concerns with smoke in the air. 

Clayson Shumway crossed the line first for BYU in 20:56.2, with Conner Mantz, Rory Linkletter, Connor McMillan and Danny Carney all running as a group. 

BYU (#18) also ran one through five in the women’s race. Erica Birk-Jarvis took the victory in 17:00.9 to take the victory ahead of teammates Whittni Orton, Olivia Hoj, Courtney Wayment and Aubrey Frentheway.

Busy Weekend Of Winning For Big Ten 

Wisconsin swept their home meet, the Badger Classic, with the men beating Arkansas 23-40, and the women getting the better of Northwestern, 23-32. The ninth-ranked men were led by Olin Hacker who won the race in 25:16.8. Most of Wisconsin’s projected top five, including Morgan McDonald, didn’t compete.

The 13th ranked women did race more of their A-squad. Junior Alicia Monson won the race in 21:06.9, ahead of Aubrey Roberts of Northwestern. Shaelyn Sorensen (third) and Amy Davis (fourth) helped the Badgers put three in the top four. 

The eighth-ranked Michigan women’s team got to preview the course for October’s Big Ten Championships during their resounding victory at Saturday’s Woody Greeno/Jay Dirksen Invitational in Lincoln, Nebraska. Iowa’s Andrea Shine won the race, but after that, it was a parade of Wolverines. Hannah Meier, Avery Evenson, Camille Davre, Claire Borchers, Haley Meier and Anna West went 2-3-4-5-6-7 as Michigan scored 20 points, well ahead of second place South Dakota. 

Minnesota dominated the men’s race in Lincoln. Sophomore Alec Basten ran 24:17 to lead the Golden Gophers to a 33-68 victory over Iowa. 

Things were a bit tighter for Indiana at the Iona College Paddy Doyle Meet of Champions in New York's Van Cortlandt Park. The 20th ranked women’s squad ran most of their top runners, but had all they could handle from Colombia. Both teams finished with 30 points, with Indiana prevailing in the tiebreaker. Indiana senior Katherine Receveur ran the 5K course in 17:30.8 to take the victory. Colombia’s Erin Gregoire was second in 17:40.8.  

The Hoosier men had a bit more breathing room, taking the team title 55-67 over Colombia. Kyle Mau was Indiana’s top finisher, running 25:06.9 for 8K to place third. Azaria Kirwa on Liberty won the race in 25:01.0, while Iona freshman Jamie Dee was second in 25:03.0.

D2/D3 Tangle With D1

The early season meets also provide a chance for the Division II and Division III teams to throw themselves in with Division I competition. The North Central men are the most successful program in Division III history so it wasn’t a shock that they were able to take second as a team at the Illinois State Invitational. Dhruvil Patel and Matthew Norvell went 1-2 to help the team score 48 points, just seven behind the meet winners from Illinois State. 

At the Spartan Invitational, Division II Grand Valley State also finished 1-2 in the men’s race. Zach Panning and Enael Woldemichael ran 24:45.5 and 24:46.3 for the Lakers. As a team, Grand Valley State (73 points) took third behind Michigan (58) and Michigan State (53).

The women’s team fared even better in East Lansing, putting five in the top 15 to finish second with 50 points. The 22nd ranked Michigan State team rode a 1-2 finish of their own from Erin McDonald and Maggie Farrell, to score 22 points. 

Mwaura, Gaughan Making Immediate Impact

Gonzaga freshman James Mwaura has transitioned seamlessly to collegiate running. Mwaura won his second straight meet, this time at the Cougar Cross Country Classic in Pullman, Washington. Two weeks ago Mwaura, the number three ranked recruit, took the victory at the Clash of the Inland Northwest Invitational. 

Jacqueline Gaughan of Notre Dame is off to an equally auspicious start to her college career. In her second competition for the Fighting Irish, Gaughan placed second at the National Catholic Invitational, three seconds behind her teammate Annie Heffernan (17:24 to 17:27). 

Gaughan, who was fifth at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships last fall, looks to be a key piece for the 10th ranked Notre Dame squad. The Irish didn’t run Anna Rohrer at Friday’s meet, but still easily took the team title with 18 points. 

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