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North Central College, Johns Hopkins University Return To Defend National Titles

North Central College, Johns Hopkins University Return To Defend National Titles

The two-time defending national champion North Central College (Ill.) men and Johns Hopkins University (Md.) women headline the field at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships that will be held Saturday (Nov. 17) at the Lake Breeze Golf Club in Winneconne. 

The championships begin with the 38th edition of the women’s 6,000-meter race at 11:15 a.m. and conclude with the 46th version of the men’s 8,000-meter race at 12:15 p.m. Both championship races feature 32 teams and 280 runners while being comprised of student-athletes from 109 different institutions hailing from 27 different states.

At last year’s championship, North Central College claimed its second straight and division-record 18th overall men’s national title by scoring 57 points to easily outpace runner-up University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s total of 196. On the women’s side, Johns Hopkins University secured its second straight and fifth national championship in the past six seasons with 96 points while University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire finished a distant second with 191.

New individual champions will be crowned as Khia Kurtenbach of University of Chicago (Ill.) and Darren Lau of UW-Eau Claire won last season’s titles as seniors in Elsah, Ill. Kurtenbach won the women’s race by more than five seconds with a time of 20:39.20, which ranks sixth in championship history. Lau claimed the men’s title by nearly nine seconds in 24:03.59.

Top-ranked Johns Hopkins University’s and North Central College’s pursuit of their third straight title will be a challenge as each of the top 32 men’s and 32 women’s teams in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll earned bids to the national meet.

Top challengers to North Central College, the Midwest Regional champion, for the men’s title are second-ranked Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.), third-ranked Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (N.Y.), fourth-ranked UW-La Crosse and fifth-ranked Calvin College (Mich.). Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute secured the Atlantic Regional title last Saturday (Nov. 10) while Calvin College clinched the Great Lakes Regional championship.

Claiming the other men’s regional titles were sixth-ranked Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) in the Mideast, eighth-ranked Amherst College (Mass.) in New England, 10th-ranked Pomona-Pitzer Colleges (Calif.) in the West, 13th-ranked Wartburg College (Iowa) in the Central and 22nd-ranked Rhodes College (Tenn.) in the South/Southeast.

Rounding out the top 20 men’s programs are Haverford College (Pa.) in seventh, State University of New York at Geneseo in ninth, Williams College (Mass.) in 11th, Johns Hopkins University in 12th, UW-Eau Claire in 14th, Carleton College (Minn.) in 15th, Middlebury College (Vt.) in 16th, Otterbein University (Ohio) in 17th, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges (Calif.) in 18th, Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 19th and University of Wisconsin-Stout in 20th.

Trailing Johns Hopkins University, the Mideast Regional champion, in the USTFCCCA women’s poll are matching regional winners in second-ranked Washington University from the Midwest, third-ranked SUNY Geneseo from the Atlantic and fourth-ranked Massachusetts Institute of Technology from New England.

Securing the remaining regional championships were 10th-ranked Carleton College in the Central, 12th-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps College in the West, 18th-ranked Baldwin Wallace University (Ohio) in the Great Lakes and 25th-ranked Emory University (Ga.) in the South/Southeast.

Completing the USTFCCCA top-20 women’s programs are Middlebury College in fifth, Dickinson College (Pa.) in sixth, UW-Eau Claire in seventh, Williams College in eighth, UW-La Crosse in ninth, Brandeis University (Mass.) in 11th, University of Chicago in 13th, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 14th, Tufts University (Mass.) in 15th, Wheaton College (Ill.) in 16th, St. Lawrence University (N.Y.) in 17th, Allegheny College (Pa.) in 19th and Oberlin College (Ohio) in 20th.

The crowded competition for the women’s individual title includes regional champions Elise Ramirez from SUNY Geneseo in the Atlantic, Carina Collet from Wartburg College in the Central, Claire Lamb from Otterbein University in the Great Lakes, Felicia Koerner from Johns Hopkins University in the Mideast, Hannah Roeske from Wheaton College in the Midwest, Kaitlyn Mooney from U.S. Coast Guard Academy (Conn.) in New England, Annie Rodenfels from Centre College (Ky.) in the South/Southeast and Helen Guo from Pomona-Pitzer Colleges in the West.

The top returning women’s competitors from last year’s championship are Johns Hopkins University’s Ellie Clawson and Coast Guard Academy’s Mooney, who finished third and fourth, respectively, a year ago as well as seventh-place finisher Abigail Nadler from Middlebury College.

The field for the men’s individual championship is headlined by regional champions Grant O’Connor from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the Atlantic, Tris Dodge from Carleton College in the Central, Ian McVey from the Ohio Northern University in the Great Lakes, Harley Moyer from Washington & Jefferson College (Pa.) in the Mideast, Brad Hodkinson from Washington University in the Midwest, Sam Brunette from Plymouth State University (N.H.) in New England, Logan McKenzie from Berea College (Ky.) in the South/Southeast and Andy Reischling from Pomona-Pitzer Colleges in the West.

North Central College’s Dhruvil Patel, who placed third individually at last season’s national meet, is the highest returning runner on the men’s side.

O’Conner and Hodkinson finished fourth and seventh, respectively, a year ago while North Central College’s Al Baldonado placed eighth, Washington University’s David O’Gara ninth and McVey 10th. Hodkinson produced his seventh-place performance as a member of the Pacific Lutheran University (Wash.) program last season.

A total of 20 institutions qualified both their men’s and women’s programs to the Division III Championships, including SUNY Geneseo, UW-La Crosse and Washington University, who each boast top-nine teams in the men’s and the women’s USTFCCCA rankings.

This year’s women’s championship features five sets of sisters competing, including Candace and Lucile Ionescu and Allyson and Sarah Yanega from Dickinson College. Other sets of sisters running on Saturday will be Emily and Julia Bryson from Brandeis University, Hannah and Hilary Reigle from University of Mount Union (Ohio), and Andrea and Jessica Squeri from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Franciscan University (Ohio) will be represented Saturday by the brother and sister combination of Liam and Grace Galligan.

The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh is hosting the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships for the fourth time at the Lake Breeze Golf Club. The Titans, who will be represented by Evlyn Noone in the women’s race and Lucas Weber and Cody Chadwick in the men’s race, also hosted the event in 1999, 2011 and 2015.

UW-Oshkosh and the Lake Breeze Golf Club will host the NCAA Division III Midwest Regional next fall, while the NCAA Division III Championships move from Winneconne to Louisville, Ky., in 2019.

2018 NCAA Division III Men's Cross Country Championship Website • National Site (NCAA)

2018 NCAA Division III Women's Cross Country Championship Website • National Site (NCAA)

2018 NCAA Division III Men's & Women's Cross Country Championship Website • Host Site (UW-Oshkosh)

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