The 3 Biggest Questions From The Pre-Nats Women's Race

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Less than 24 hours after the Nuttycombe Invitational, the second big NCAA cross country meet of the weekend gets going in Terre Haute. The Pre Nationals meet at the site of this year’s NCAA Championships features four of the top seven women’s teams in the nation. Here are three big questions that will be answered in the race: 

Watch The 2019 Under Armour Pre-National XC Invitational Live On FloTrack

Will BYU Cement Their Status As A Podium Contender? 

Thus far, the Arkansas women’s team is as good as advertised. The rest of the podium spots look up for grabs. 

BYU’s dominant victory at the Bill Dellinger Invitational put them in the mix with a handful of other teams in a tier just below Arkansas at this point in the season. 

Currently, the Cougars are ranked third, but there should be a bunch of movement this weekend with New Mexico (#2), Stanford (#4), Michigan (#5), Colorado (#6), Washington (#7), and Utah (#8) racing either in Terre Haute or in Wisconsin. 

This weekend, BYU won’t race their top finisher from two weeks ago, Whittni Orton. Orton beat teammate Erica Birk by five seconds in Oregon. It was a surprise result, but one that bolstered BYU’s team chances (Birk is one of the top runners in the nation) and moved Orton into the individual top 10. 

BYU still has a nice core racing on Saturday with Birk, Courtney Wayment, and Olivia Hoj. Beating Michigan, Colorado, and Washington without Orton would be a significant show of strength.

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How Will Colorado Bounce Back From Loss At Joe Piane?

On paper, the matchup between Colorado and BYU should be close. Two weeks ago, the defending champions finished second at the Joe Piane Invitational, six points behind upstart Utah. Colorado got good performances from Sage Hurta (10th) and Tabor Scholl (12th), but the 32 places between their fourth and fifth runners were too much to overcome. 

It’s a safe bet that in those past two weeks, they’ve shored up that No. 5 spot. The team is too deep not to be able to tighten up that gap. Colorado didn’t run their full roster at Notre Dame as well, so there could be relief coming from their bench. In addition to Hurta and Scholl, Colorado’s third and fourth runners at Notre Dame (Annie Hill and Rachel McArthur) ran well in 20th and 21st. 

Another steady performance like that and Colorado will be fine. This race should be a bit deeper than Notre Dame, though, magnifying any vulnerabilities that teams have with their scoring five.  

Can Freshmen Lead Washingon Or Michigan To Surprise Win?

The seventh-ranked Huskies have turned in solid performances this fall. They were third at the John McNichols Invitational and then fourth at the Joe Piane Invitational two weeks ago. In both those races they were led by freshman Melany Smart. 

Smart — from Perth, Australia — introduced herself to the country with a fifth-place finish at McNichols. Then she was fourth at Joe Piane, beating established NCAA stars Ednah Kurgat and Anna Rohrer. There’s still a long way to go in the season, but to have her as a low scorer is a huge help for the Huskies.

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Michigan finished nine points behind Washington at McNichols and is also led by a freshman. Ericka Vanderlende was fourth in that race and has been the Wolverines top runner in all three of their meets this year. After her prep career, it was expected that she’d contribute right away. Like Washington, Michigan will need their veterans to close the gap if they want to get a win on Saturday. 

Seven Lingering Questions Ahead Of NCAAs

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The NCAA fields are set and for the most part we have a good idea of who will be contending for the team and individual titles in Terre Haute. But several crucial questions still remain.

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ENTER HERE: 2019 FloXC Fantasy Challenge

2019 FloXC Fantasy Challenge: Final Round, NCAA Championships (POINTS WORTH QUADRUPLE!!!)

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Play FloXC Fantasy & Win A Trip To The 2020 NCAA XC Championships

This year's season-long FloXC fantasy league will give you a chance to compete against the FloTrack staff and be in the running to win the ultimate prize: a FREE trip to the 2020 Division I NCAA XC Championships!

2019 FloXC Fantasy Standings

Here are the current standings for this year's 2019 FloXC Fantasy league. The winner this year will receive a free trip to the 2020 DI NCAA XC Championships! After three rounds 'You've Kurgat to be kidding me!' is our current leader with 1,133 points.

2019 DIII NCAA XC Championship Qualifiers

Below are the team and individual qualifiers for the 2019 DIII NCAA XC Championships in Louisville, Kentucky, per NCAA:

2019 DI NCAA XC Individual Qualifiers

Here are the individual qualifiers for the 2019 DI NCAA XC Championships per the NCAA:

Great Lakes Champ Aaron Bienenfeld To Skip NCAAs In Favor Of German Champs

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University of Cincinnati senior and 2019 DI NCAA Great Lakes XC Regional champion Aaron Bienenfeld has elected to skip next Saturday’s NCAA XC Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana, in favor of the German U23 Cross Country Trials, according to his school’s athletic website.

2019 DI NCAA XC Official Team Qualifiers

Here are the official 2019 DI NCAA XC Championship team qualifiers:

How To Watch The 2019 DI NCAA Cross Country Championships Live

FloTrack will provide exclusive live and on-demand coverage of the 2019 Division I NCAA Cross Country National Championships. The DI NCAA Championships will take place on Nov. 23 at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Indiana. The broadcast will begin with the pre-show at 9am EST, followed by the women's race at 11:15am and the men's race at 12:15pm. Sign up today to watch all three NCAA XC Championships live and get access to all of FloTrack's pre and post-race coverage. A subscription also gives users access to MileSplit and all of the events and premium content across the network of 25 FloSports sites.

NCAA West Preview: Stanford/Washington Battle Again

Top women's teams Stanford and Washington meet for the third time this season, while a loaded men's field features three teams in the top 10. Here's what to watch at Friday's West Regional meet in Colfax, Washington.