Two-time defending champion Oklahoma City University seeks to repeat as the national champion at the NAIA Cross Country Championships at the Seminole Valley Course on Friday. The Stars who are hunting a three-peat, having won in 2018 and 2019, are ranked No. 6 heading into the championships, but the confidence in the camp is at a high level.
Oklahoma City Men’s NAIA Cross Country Championships National Titles
- OCU Won National men’s championships titles won in:
When Oklahoma City University steps on the course in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Friday it will be pursuing a sixth NAIA men’s Cross Country Championships and although the team isn’t the favorite to win the team title this year, head coach Matt Aguero is delighted that after such an unusual year, his team is still in the conversation.
The defending champion graduated its top seven runners from the last winning team, including the 2019 individual champion, Mark Shaw, who finished school last season.
“I’m excited that the men are still in the mix for a title after losing our top seven runners to graduation last year,” Aguero said on the school athletics website.
Aguero revealed that both his men’s and women’s team have looked good in recent practice sessions and he’s expecting a strong performance from both group of runners.
“Both teams are looking good right now. The last few weeks of training have gone really well. I expect strong performances.”
No. 1 Huntington Ready For Pressure
The men’s 8K race is slated to begin at 11:30 a.m. at the Seminole Valle Cross Country Course and the race will be streamed live for the first time this year and can be found HERE. You can also follow live results HERE.
Huntington (Ind.) enters as the No. 1 team on the men’s side, but coach Lauren Johnson said the team will be ready to deal with the added pressure.
“I’m excited for both our men’s and women’s program to return to the national stage for the second year in a row,” said coach Johnson. “And I am thankful for the NAIA finding a way for our athletes to still compete.”
“For the first time in program history, we are entering the National Championship meet as the number one ranked team in the country,” added Johnson, who is in her first year in charge of the Forester.
“We will have a target on our backs, but the men are ready and have worked together toward this goal for a year and a half now. It’s no secret that they fully intend to win the program’s first national team title.
Meanwhile, the women’s 5k race will start at 10:30 a.m. at the Seminole Valle Cross Country Course and all eyes will be on No. 1 St. Francis (Ill.), second-ranked College of Idaho, and No. 3 Taylor (Ind.).
Championships performers Milligan (Tenn.), Shawnee State (Ohio), Lewis-Clark State (Idaho), Aquinas (Mich.), and Carroll (Mont.) are also teams to look out for at this year’s delayed national championships.
Huntington women are also eyeing the NAIA Cross Country Championships team title.
“The women return to nationals following a very strong showing last year,” noted Johnson. “If we run smart and to our potential, we have the opportunity to be a top ten team again, and hopefully even rise above that to once again have the best team finish in program history.
“Something we will be watching is the men’s and women’s combined team scores. We have the opportunity to finish very well in this category and that would be another first for the programs.”