No change among top five for second-consecutive poll as many top teams remain idle

By: Sam Knehans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — British Columbia remains atop the rankings in the third regular-season NAIA Women’s Cross Country Coaches’ Top 25 poll, the national office announced Wednesday. British Columbia’s selection—with all 23 first-place votes and 653 total points—gives the defending national champion Thunderbirds six-straight No. 1 rankings for the first time in school history.

Prior to its current streak, British Columbia had been ranked No. 1 on just two prior occasions—both during the 2012 season. British Columbia, which returns four of its top five runners from last year’s national championship squad, has been idle since placing first in the Sundodger Invitational open division on Sept. 14, with a team 6-kilometer time of 1:48:41. The Thunderbirds bested the 17-team field, which included NCAA Division II teams Simon Fraser (B.C.) and Chico State (Calif.). British Columbia 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.

College of Idaho accumulated 631 total points en route to the No. 2 ranking. The Yotes, who return three runners that placed in the top 10 at the 2012 national championship including individual titlist Hillary Holt, have been idle since finishing first at the Coyote Twilight/Cascade Collegiate Conference Preview Meet on Sept. 21 with a team 5-kilometer time of 1:35:53.

Cal State San Marcos compiled 611 total points to claim the No. 3 spot. The Cougars have not competed since winning the open division of the Mustang Challenge, hosted by The Master’s (Calif.) on Sept. 21, with a team 5-kilometer time of 1:31:34. At that meet, the five scoring Cal State San Marcos runners finished among the top 10, securing the Cougars’ victory over a 17-team field.

No. 4 St. Francis (Ill.), with 585 points, and No. 5 Biola (Calif.), with 574 points, round out the top five. St. Francis’ varsity team has been idle since placing second at the Calvin College Knight Invitational on Sept. 14, but will race this weekend at the Greater Louisville Classic in Louisville, Ky. Biola has not raced since placing second at the Aztec Invitational, hosted by NCAA Division I San Diego State (Calif.)  on Sept. 21. At the invitational, the Eagles were bested by NCAA Division I Arkansas, but outpaced other NCAA Division I teams including Southern California and San Diego State. The Eagles next scheduled race is the Vanguard Invitational in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Oct. 12.

There were no newcomers to the Top 25 this week. No. 10 Texas Wesleyan makes its first top 10 appearance, dating back to 1999. The Rams received their first Top 25 ranking, dating back to 1999, in the first regular-season coaches’ poll.

Within the poll, Texas Wesleyan made the largest jump, moving up ten spots, while former No. 6 Oklahoma Baptist fell seven positions, landing at No. 13.

Thirteen conferences/independents/unaffiliated groups are represented in the third regular-season Top 25, led by the Cascade Collegiate Conference, Golden State Athletic Conference, Frontier Conference and Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference, which each boast three ranked teams.

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 British Columbia is trying to become just the third school in NAIA history to begin the season ranked No. 1 and go on to win the national championship… Former member Simon Fraser (B.C.) accomplished this in 2004, 05, 06 and 07 and No. 3 Cal State San Marcos did so in 2011… Since 1999, only two programs have been ranked No. 1 for an entire season: Simon Fraser in 2005, 06, and 07 and Northwest (Wash.) in 2003… No. 17 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) has been ranked among the Top 25 in 118 consecutive polls, dating back to Sept. 21, 2001… During that streak Lewis-Clark State has never been ranked among the top five teams… This season, Texas Wesleyan and Columbia (Mo.) each earned its first Top 25 ranking… Former-member Simon Fraser has the most all-time No. 1 rankings with 40… Following Simon Fraser are former-members Azusa Pacific (Calif.) and Cedarville (Ohio) with 18 each… Overall, 11 different programs have claimed the No. 1 spot in the poll… Two teams held the No. 1 ranking in 2012: British Columbia and Cal State San Marcos.

2013 NAIA Women’s Cross Country Coaches’ Top 25 Poll – No. 3 (Oct. 2)

1 1 British Columbia (23) 653
2 2 College of Idaho 631
3 3 Cal State San Marcos 611
4 4 St. Francis (Ill.) 585
5 5 Biola (Calif.) 574
6 8 Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) 541
7 9 The Master’s (Calif.) 508
8 7 Dordt (Iowa) 495
9 10 Northwest Christian (Ore.) 476
10 20 Texas Wesleyan 454
11 11 Carroll (Mont.) 453
12 12 Westmont (Calif.) 403
13 6 Oklahoma Baptist 398
14 13 Rocky Mountain (Mont.) 385
15 15 Taylor (Ind.) 355
16 14 Cornerstone (Mich.) 346
17 16 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) 321
18 17 Doane (Neb.) 288
19 21 Columbia (Mo.) 260
20 19 Milligan (Tenn.) 251
21 18 Aquinas (Mich.) 240
22 23 Embry-Riddle (Fla.) 197
23 22 Indiana Tech 190
24 25 Southern Oregon 173
25 23 Shawnee State (Ohio) 157

Others Receiving Votes: Baker (Kan.) 127; St. Ambrose (Iowa) 89; Indiana Wesleyan 80; SCAD Savannah (Ga.) 74; Wayland Baptist (Texas) 62; Central Methodist (Mo.) 19; Arizona Christian 15; Emmanuel (Ga.) 8; Cumberlands (Ky.) 3.

2013 NAIA Women’s Cross Country Coaches’ Top 25 Poll – No. 2