The stakes are clear and the storylines are well established.
Saturday's DI NCAA XC Championships in Madison, Wisconsin will provide answers to the questions that we've been wondering since the first meets of the fall.
Can Grant Fisher get his first NCAA cross country title? Will the NAU men and New Mexico women extend their winning streaks against stout opposition? Who emerges from a crowded women's field to get on the podium?
All will be answered this weekend. And while NCAA cross country is known for its unpredictability, it is possible to feel confident about a few things that will happen when the pressure is turned up to its highest this weekend in Madison.
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NAU puts four men in the top 25 to win their third straight men’s title, holding back strong challenges from BYU and Portland.
Both Wisconsin’s Morgan McDonald and Stanford’s Grant Fisher bring it on Saturday. McDonald has just enough to get past Fisher in the homestretch to the delight of the home crowd.
Weini Kelati and Ednah Kurgat of New Mexico push the pace in the women’s race. Both have trouble maintaining the tempo in the second half, but Kelati is still able to win her first NCAA title.
The deep women’s battle is as advertised with New Mexico, Oregon, Villanova, Colorado, Boise State and Arkansas all finishing within shouting distance of each other. Oregon, on their strength of their third, fourth and fifth runners, prevails.
Three freshmen finish in the top 20 of the women’s race led by Arkansas’ Katrina Robinson.