Both Saint Leo University’s cross country teams will participate in NCAA Division II Cross Country National Championships on Nov. 21 in Joplin, Mo. The top seven runners from both Men and Women’s teams will represent the University competing with the best the best runners of the nation.
After a successful performance at the Regional Championships hosted by Saint Leo, the Lions will head to Joplin, Mo. to take part in the last, yet the most important, race of the season. The runners will participate in the national championship hosted by Missouri Southern State University.
Thirty-two men’s as well as thirst-two women’s teams from all around the country will try to capture the national title. The race will also include individual qualifiers whose teams did not manage to punch their tickets to nationals.
Saint Leo Men’s Cross Country will be taking part in the championships for the third consecutive year. Their victory in the Regional championships and qualification for the nationals third times in the last three years, made the Lions become the first team in the University’s history to achieve the honors.
During the last few months of their season, the Men have shown that they are capable of running well in the championships races. Their Sunshine State Conference Championships and the South Regional Championships titles are proof of their hard work.
In all the races which the Lions participated this fall, the team has had multiple top finishers. Since the runners represent such a uniform level of abilities, it is hard to indicate which individual might lead the team in the upcoming competition.
Nevertheless, the Lions will try to improve their last year’s performance from Louisville, Ky. where they finished the competition ranked as thirty-first team in the nation. The Men’s top finisher was Valentin Lenz, senior who crossed the finish line as 99th.
After dominating the championships in the last decade, Adam’s State University is considered one of the favorites again. However, since the team’s roster from last year has changed significantly, the win might not be easy and the time that will be their biggest opponent is Grand Valley State University.
For the Women’s Cross Country it will be a second consecutive appearance on the NCAA national championships. The Lions qualified for the championships finishing the Regionals in second place.
In their last year’s debut in the national championships, the Women finished ranked as 28th in the country. The Lions’ top finisher was Colett Rampf, sophomore who managed to cross the finish line as 69th best runner.
The second place in Sunshine State Conference Championships as well as the Regionals also proves that the Women have the ability to perform well in the championships races. If the Lions manage to maintain the good attitude, the result might be very satisfactory.
Unlike in the Men’s team, the Women have a clear leader. This fall, Rampf won both the Sunshine State Conference and the South Region Championship. She was the Lions’ top finisher in all the races that she participated. Also, the Lions’ top runner has been named the South Region Women’s Athlete of the Year.
Considered her outstanding performances this fall, Rampf will do her best to improve her last year’s performance. If Rampf finishes the race in the top-forty, she will become the first Saint Leo University’s All-American Division II Cross Country runner.
Similarly to the Men’s competition, Grand Valley State and Adams State are considered the potential winners of the race. Nevertheless, Hillsdale Michigan might play a role in the race as well.
The distances for both Men and Women are the same as in the Regional Championships. Once again the Men will run 10K while the Women will compete on 6K.
The races will be held at the Tom Rutledge Cross Country Course. The competition will start at 10 a.m. with the Women’s race. The Men will follow beginning their championships at 11:15.
The championships will be a conclusion of the Lions’ cross country season. Both of the teams will return after the winter break, and most of the runners will represent Saint Leo University while competing on the track.