We are just days away from the 2022 DI Cross Country Championships and there are many contenders for the title. However, three teams (handily the top three ranked teams) stand above the rest. Let’s make the case for each of the three teams to win the title and highlight their greatest strengths.
#1 NC condition
It has been 12 years since there has been a consecutive DI Women’s Cross Country Champion, and only twice has the previous champion been runner-up. NC State hopes to end this drought. The Wolfpack have won high-level invitationals like the Nuttycombe and more all season and have the top-end talent to finish the repeat as champions.
The wolfpack has Katelyn Tuohy, who is undefeated this season and arguably the top runner in the country to compete in the DI Championship race. If Tuohy is best, her teammate Kelsey Chmiel could be second best as the duo have gone 1-2 in seemingly every race.
As good as NC State’s top two runners are, third and fourth runners are what set it apart. Sydney Seymour and Samatha Bush have the potential to finish in the top 10 at the championships, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if NC State has the lowest total points among its top four runners from any school. If the Wolfpack’s fifth runner finishes fast enough, NC State could become the first consecutive women’s champion since 2010.
CHAMPIONSHIP TERMS: Follow the 2022 Cross Country Championships here
#2 New Mexico
New Mexico has been a top title contender all season. The Lobos tied with NC State (lost on a tiebreaker) at the Nuttycombe Invitational, winning their 15th straight Mountain West title and winning the Mountain Regional.
New Mexico’s success this season came from a true team effort. While the Lobos are missing a particular runner that most consider favorites in the DI Championships, they make up for it with impressive depth. Amelia Mazza-Downie, Emma Heckel and Grace Larkin are the biggest names on the New Mexico roster, while Samree Dishon, Elise Thorner and Abbe Goldstein round out the top six runners. What is special about this group is that they have shown they can achieve some of the lowest scores in the country without finishing in the top three.
It’s reasonable to think that New Mexico can place five runners in the top 30 at the DI Championships. If that’s the case, the Lobos could win their first title in five years.
REGIONALS: Summary of regional championships, automatic applications and more
No. 3 State of Oklahoma
Oklahoma State’s title chances are boosted in the DI Championships thanks to home field advantage. The Cowgirls have already shown they can dominate ranked competitions at their home course, with Natalie Cook and Taylor Roe finishing 1-2 at the Cowboy Jamboree. Cook ran the sixth-fastest time in course history at the Jamboree in her first collegiate race and was the sport’s top rookie that season. Roe was just seconds behind Cook and brings experience having finished fifth in last year’s DI Championships.
If Oklahoma State’s elite runners live up to the roster’s lead and the 3-4-5 runners use their home course to their advantage, the cowgirls have what it takes to carry the national championship trophy from the course to the campus trophy Case.
NCAA XC: How the Cross Country Championships Work
- Alabama won its first SEC championship since 1987, finishing the South Regional 2-3-4-5. As if that wasn’t enough, the Crimson Tide have last year’s DI Championship runners-up at Mercy Chelangat. If Chelangat can get over the hump, it could lead a resurgent Alabama team to a title.
- Olivia Markezich is the star of the Notre Dame women’s cross-country team, and Maddy Denner is no slouch either. With NC State serving as a litmus test for the cross-country elite, the Fighting Irish in second place – just four points behind the Wolf Pack – can hope for a title.