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2023 NCAA Men’s & Women’s Cross Country Title Previews

Several teams from the West and Mountain Regions will be represented at the meet

Posted on November 17, 2023

  By Steve Ritchie, SuperWest Sports

A total of 10 men’s teams and 10 women’s teams from the West and Mountain regions will compete in the Division 1 NCAA Cross Country Championships on Saturday.

Hosted by the University of Virginia at the Panorama Farms course in Earlysville, VA, the meet begins at 6:30 a.m. PT and will be televised live on ESPNU and the ESPN app.

I preview both the men’s and women’s races below.

Men’s Preview: Northern Arizona Poised to Win Again
Of the 31 men’s teams that automatically qualified at eight regional meets last week—or were selected as at-large entries—10 hail from the West and Mountain regions:

West and Mountain Region Men
Northern Arizona
Brigham Young
Air Force
California Baptist
Montana State
New Mexico

Missing from the list are Oregon and Washington, both of which finished behind Stanford, Gonzaga, Portland, and California Baptist, failing to qualify out of the stacked West Region.

The Ducks, who have won six national titles in cross country, and the Huskies were both ranked in the Top 25 heading into the regional meet but did not receive at-large invites.

Stanford was the favorite going into the 2022 NCAAs but had a less-than-perfect day and ended up in fourth place.

The Cardinal had a slow start to their 2023 season but have come on strong at the Pac-12 Meet and the West Regional, winning both. Stanford was ranked ninth in the coaches’ poll following the regional meet.

Stanford’s Ky Robinson | Spencer Allen/Stanford Athletics

The team championship figures to come down to a two-team race between NAU and Oklahoma State.

Last year these teams tied for first with 83 points, but NAU took the title by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker with the top five runners.

This year looks very tight again, with NAU at the top of the poll by a single point. If NAU wins again, it will be their seventh championship in the last eight years.

The top individual runners from the West and Mountain Regions are Ky Robinson (Stanford), Drew Bosley (NAU), Nico Young (NAU), and Matt Strangio (Portland).

Graham Blanks of Harvard is the ostensible favorite. A total of 245 runners will toe the line.

Women’s Preview: NAU, Stanford & Oregon Lead Way
There are 10 qualifying teams from the West and Mountain Regions headed to Virginia, the same number as men.

But while just two Pac-12 men’s teams made the cut, there are five Pac-12 women’s teams advancing in the final year of the Pac-12.

The full list of 10 includes five teams currently ranked in the top ten nationally (rankings in parentheses):

West and Mountain Region Women
Northern Arizona (1)
BYU (3)
Stanford (5)
Oregon (9)
Washington (10)
Utah (14)
Colorado (17)
California Baptist (21)
Utah Valley (22)
Colorado State (28)

As in the men’s race, all eyes will be on the battle between the top two teams, North Carolina State and Northern Arizona.

The Wolfpack is the two-time defending champion and is led by previous individual champion Katelyn Tuohy. But NC State has fallen behind NAU in the polls this season, and the Lumberjacks might sweep both titles on Saturday.

A decisive winner over BYU in the Mountain Region, the NAU women are chasing their first national title.

After NAU and BYU, Stanford is the western team most likely to make the podium.

The Cardinal are deep and experienced, but a lot will depend on their star frosh Amy Bunnage, who won Pac-12s impressively but dropped to 14th at the West Region race.

Oregon State’s Kaylee Mitchell |

Competing in her third high-pressure meet in just over three weeks will be a challenge.

Oregon and Washington also have hopes of a Top Four finish. UW upset Stanford at Pac-12s on their home course in late October, but Stanford and Oregon turned the tables at regionals, going 1-2 in the team race.

Both squads are led by veterans, and if each team’s top five runners have a good day, the Ducks and Huskies could make some noise in Charlottesville.

Individually, Oregon State’s Kaylee Mitchell and Grace Fetherstonhaugh figure to be in the Top 10 finishers. Mitchell won the West Region race for the second consecutive year, while her teammate was third.

NC State’s Tuohy and Florida’s Parker Valby are likely to stage another epic duel for the individual title.

Tuohy won last year in Stillwater, but Valby took the multiple NCAA champion down convincingly at the Nuttycombe Invite in October. That battle alone makes the Saturday races a must-see for cross country fans.

TV Coverage and Results

The NCAA D1 Cross Country Championships will be televised live on ESPNU and the ESPN app with coverage beginning at 6:30 am PT on Saturday.

  • Women’s race,  7:20 a.m. PT
  • Men’s race, 8:10 a.m. PT.

Live updates and results can be found here.

The ESPN coverage of the recent championships has been impressive, making cross country a fun watch even for casual fans.

—More from Steve Ritchie—