By: Sam Knehans, Communications & Sports Information Intern
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – St. Francis (Ill.) remains atop the rankings for the fifth-straight NAIA Men’s Cross Country Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Wednesday. The defending national champions claimed all 21 first-place votes and 591 points in the third regular-season edition.
St. Francis, which moves into a tie for seventh with former-member Oklahoma Christian on the all-time No. 1 rankings list with five, rested many of its top runners at the College of DuPage Invitational in Wheaton, Ill., on Sept. 27. The Fighting Saints finished fourth of 20 teams at the event behind NCAA Division III North Central (Ill.), NCAA Division I Illinois-Chicago and NCAA Division I Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Southern Oregon earned 560 total points to claim the No. 2 ranking. The Raiders placed fourth among non-Division I schools at the Stanford Invitational on Sept. 28 behind NCAA Division II teams Chico State (Calif.), Colorado Mines and San Bernardino (Calif.). Southern Oregon was led by Eric Avila, who finished seventh overall—and second among non-Division I runners—with an 8-kilometer time of 24:38. Avila earned NAIA Runner of the Week honors for his performance.
Aquinas (Mich.) accumulated 553 points en route to the No. 3 position. The Saints have been idle since winning the team title in the non-Division I section of the National Catholic Championships Sept. 20 in South Bend, Ind. In that meet, Grant Gunneson led the team with a second-place time of 25:40, while Jacob Towne (26:08), Brendan Molony (26:21) and Zach Stepanovich (26:24) also finished among the top 15 runners. Aquinas will return to action this weekend at the Lansing Community College Invitational in Lansing, Mich.
Rounding out the top five are No. 4 British Columbia and No. 5 Shawnee State (Ohio) with 540 and 519 points, respectively.British Columbia has not raced since winning the Sundodger Invitational in Seattle, Wash., Sept. 14.The Thunderbirds will be back in action this weekend, racing in the 39th Annual Charles Bowles Willamette Invitational hosted by NCAA Division III Willamette (Ore.) in Salem, Ore. Shawnee State has been idle since the Wake Forest Invitational in Winston-Salem, N.C. on Sept. 20. Running against a field of entirely NCAA Division I programs, Shawnee State finished fifth out of six teams. The Bears will race this weekend in the All-Ohio Championships in Cedarville, Ohio.
There were two newcomers to the Top 25 this week: No. 23 Indiana Tech, who received votes in the previous two polls, and No. 25 Dordt (Iowa), who was unranked last week after receiving votes in the first-regular season and preseason polls. This is the first Top 25 ranking for Indiana Tech since the 2009 Preseason Top 25 and the first for Dordt (Iowa) since the 2011 Postseason Top 25.
Arizona Christian and Dickinson State (N.D.) dropped out of the Top 25.
Within the poll, Concordia (Neb.) made the largest jump, moving up four spots, while former-No. 6 Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) fell seven positions, landing at No. 13. Concordia was the lone newcomer among the top 10, replacing Olivet Nazarene.
Thirteen conferences/independents/unaffiliated groups are represented in the third regular-season Top 25, led by four teams from the Cascade Collegiate Conference – Southern Oregon, No. 12 Eastern Oregon, No. 15 Northwest Christian and No. 20 Oregon Tech. The Great Plains Athletic Conference was second, placing three teams among the Top 25.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences, independents and unaffiliated groups. For the entire 2013 Coaches’ Top 25 Poll schedule, click here.
NOTES: (All information dates back to 1999) No. 1 St. Francis (Ill.) is trying to become the fifth school in NAIA history to begin the season ranked No. 1 and go on to win the national championship… Life (Ga.) in 1999 and 2000, former-member Minot State (N.D.) in 2002, Virginia Intermont in 2005 and 06 and former-member Malone (Ohio) in 2007, 08 and 09 have all accomplished this… Since 1999, only one program has been ranked No. 1 for an entire season: Malone in 2007 and 08… No. 3 Aquinas (Mich.) has been ranked among the Top 25 in 129 consecutive polls, dating back to Aug. 22, 2000… Former-member Malone has the most No. 1 rankings with 38… Following Malone are Southern Oregon with 20, Life (Ga.) with 18 and Virginia Intermont with 15… Overall, 16 different programs have claimed the No. 1 spot in the poll… St. Francis is making its fifth appearance at No. 1… Two teams held the No. 1 ranking in 2012: St. Francis and Southern Oregon.
2013 NAIA Men’s Cross Country Coaches’ Top 25 Poll – No. 3 (Oct. 2)
|RANK||LAST TIME^||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||1||St. Francis (Ill.) (21)||591|
|5||5||Shawnee State (Ohio)||519|
|8||9||Cal State San Marcos||458|
|9||10||Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)||449|
|13||6||Olivet Nazarene (Ill.)||366|
|14||11||The Master's (Calif.)||326|
|15||15||Northwest Christian (Ore.)||323|
Others Receiving Votes: Arizona Christian 124; Saint Mary (Kan.) 88; Saint Xavier (Ill.) 87; Dickinson State (N.D.) 85; Goshen (Ind.) 50; Vanguard (Calif.) 18; College of Idaho 18; SCAD Savannah (Ga.) 11; Missouri Valley 10; Park (Mo.) 8; Northwestern (Iowa) 5; Indiana Wesleyan 4; Doane (Neb.) 3.
^ 2013 NAIA Men’s Cross Country Coaches’ Top 25 Poll – No. 2