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Eight regional meets across the country went down on Saturday in Division II to build the 2019 NCAA XC Championship field.
Here were the highlights:
Colorado Mines Men Crush No. 3 Western Colorado, No. 2 Adams State In NCAA Tune-Up
The No. 1-ranked Colorado Mines men passed their final test before NCAAs with flying colors on Saturday in Canyon, Texas, as they dominated the South Central regional 41-69 over third-ranked Western Colorado. Second-ranked Adams State finished a close third with 70 points.
With Western and ASU likely representing Mines’ top competition for nationals on Nov. 23 in Sacramento, the Orediggers' easy victory was the latest sign that they are likely to win their first title since 2015 in two weeks. In the most competitive region in the country, Mines put four runners in the top ten and all five in the top 12. Led by freshman Kyle Moran (fifth) and sophomore Dylan Ko (sixth), CSM had a 45-second spread. While that may not sound overly impressive, Western (1:59) and Adams (1:43) each approached two minutes in an incredibly deep race.
At this rate, it looks like nothing can stop the Orediggers in their pursuit of a national title. And with zero seniors in their top five, they may only be getting started in 2019.
Adams State Women Put Five In Top 10, Will Be Massive Favorites At NCAAs
As they did at the RMAC Championships two weeks prior, the top-ranked Adams State women decimated their competition on Saturday led by a 1-2 sweep from Stephanie Cotter and Eilish Flanagan en route to a 24-51 shellacking of No. 3 Colorado Mines at South Central. For the Grizzlies it was even more evidence that they will dominate on Nov. 23, especially since senior All-American Roisin Flanagan didn’t even compete at regionals.
#RMACxc teams showed up today at the South Central Regional Championships! @ASUGrizzlies won the women's race and had the individual champ in Stephanie Cotter. The top 8 teams all were RMAC schools! @MinesAthletics won the men's race and had the top 3 teams! #EverythingElevated pic.twitter.com/T6pU9orVlr— RMAC Sports (@RMAC_SPORTS) November 9, 2019
With her second straight win over Eilish Flanagan— the 2018 NCAA runner-up-- the sophomore Cotter has established herself as the women’s individual favorite. At nationals she’ll go for her third individual title in 2019 after previously winning the NCAA indoor mile and outdoor 1500m.
Ida Narbuvoll, Allie Ludge and Leah Hanle Are The Underdogs Who Could Challenge The Adams State Duo
If anyone is going to prevent Cotter and Flanagan from sweeping the top two places in Sacramento, three senior women— U-Mary’s Ida Narbuvoll, Grand Valley State’s Allie Ludge and Mount Olive’s Leah Hanle— are the most logical candidates. Narbuvoll and Ludge are each undefeated against DII competition this season, while Hanle’s lone DII defeat was to Flanagan at Paul Short in late September. All three won their respective regional races over the weekend.
Narbuvoll presents the most interesting case as she has not been tested at all in 2019. After winning her conference race by 84 seconds on Oct. 26, she put 75 seconds between her and second place at the Central regional on Saturday. Across three 6k races in 2019, her average margin of victory is 74 seconds.
Meanwhile, Ludge has methodically positioned herself to make a run at the individual title. Fifth a year ago at NCAAs, the redshirt senior won her third consecutive race with a 10-second victory at the Midwest regional. Given GVSU’s propensity to run controlled at regionals over the years, Ludge’s decisive victory signals bigger things to come at nationals.
ALLIE LUDGE FOR THE WIN! pic.twitter.com/1F44pgANhp— GVSU Track and Field (@GVSU_XC_TF) November 9, 2019
Hanle has been as consistent as they come in Division II throughout her career at Mount Olive. In Sacramento, she'll go for her fourth straight cross country All-American nod after finishing 25th in 2016, 14th in 2017 and seventh a year ago. Hanle, who was runner-up in the outdoor 10k last spring and third in the 5k, won her fourth consecutive Southeast regional title over the weekend.
Regional Champ!!! pic.twitter.com/5rdOTM9Zrc— UMO XCTF (@UMOXCTF) November 9, 2019
Missouri Southern’s Gidieon Kimutai Scores Another Easy Win In Quick 29:14
I know we’re not supposed to evaluate the clock too much in cross country, but Gidieon Kimutai’s 29:14 10k win at the Central regional in Joplin, Missouri, seems particularly significant given its historical context.
MSSU REPEATS— Jacob Lenard (@j_lenard) November 10, 2019
Gidieon Kimutai and the Missouri Southern men win back-to-back regional championships to advance to nationals in Sacramento. @mososports @MoSoXCTF @koamfox14sports pic.twitter.com/bPaiMqt8vZ
Consider this: when Joplin hosted NCAAs in 2015, the winning time was 29:24 by Alfred Chelanga, the same Alfred Chelanga who would go on to finish 12th at DI NCAAs three years later. After placing fourth at NCAAs in 2018 and then going undefeated through regionals this year, Kimutai is an easy pick to win it all in Sacramento. In running faster than a future DI star did on the same course, that’s never been more evident.