FARMINGTON, Utah – All 22 Big Sky cross country programs will converge on Hillsboro, Oregon, this Friday as Portland State University hosts the 2021 Big Sky Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships, as championship season on the NCAA XC circuit is officially underway.
The 2021 Big Sky Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships will be ran at Meriweather National Golf Club in Hillsboro, Oregon, and are being hosted by Portland State.
The women’s race will take place first, with the starting gun set to go off at 11 a.m. PT, followed by the men’s race at 12 p.m. MT.
Live results can be found here.
2021 Big Sky Cross Country Championships
- 11 AM PT – Women’s Championship Race Start Time
- 12 PM PT – Men’s Championship Race Start Time
- 1:00 PM PT – Awards Ceremony
Your Defending National Champions
To say No. 1 Northern Arizona has dominated the NCAA XC landscape over the last handful of years might be an understatement.
The Lumberjacks claimed four of the previous five NCAA National Championships, taking home the title in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020. Since the year 2000, they’ve won over 80 percent of available Big Sky Conference titles.
This weekend, they’ll be seeking their 30th.
The Northern Arizona has been the No. 1 team in the NCAA all season, dating back to even the preseason rankings. And after their team victory at Pre-Nationals, they became a unanimous No. 1 claiming all available first-place votes.
In NAU’s two big victories this season, first at Oklahoma State and then Florida State, they’ve been paced by All-American Abdihamid Nur. Nur has been named Big Sky Men’s XC Athlete of the Week twice during the season, and is also the reigning Big Sky individual champion.
Thunderbird Title Defense
Even though the Lumberjacks are the defending national champions, they are not the defending Big Sky Conference champions. That title belongs to Southern Utah University.
The Thunderbirds claimed the 2020 trophy last winter, scoring just 35 points to beat NAU by three points.
SUU put four student-athletes in the top-10, paced by Stefen Rasmuson, who finished in third place. Aidan Reed, Nate Osterstock and Christian Ricketts all secured top-10 finishes to push the Thunderbirds to their second-ever Big Sky title.
Since 2007, Southern Utah is the only program in the Big Sky not located in Flagstaff, Arizona to win a men’s cross country title, claiming one in both 2015 and 2020.
While they spent a strong percentage of the season inside the USTFCCCA top-30, they are only receiving votes heading into the conference championship.
Bobcats Making History
After not appearing in the USTFCCCA national men’s rankings all season, the Bobcats of Montana State find themselves ranked heading into the Big Sky Conference Championship as the No. 30 team in the country.
This marks their first national ranking in 17 years.
Paced by All-American Duncan Hamilton, the Bobcats are having a banner season with hopes they can parlay it into a trip to the NCAA National Championships.
The Lady Lumberjacks
When they step to the line in Hillsboro, NAU’s women will be looking to win their 22nd Big Sky Conference title, an incredibly impressive number when you consider that this will only be the 34th trophy handed out in the league’s history.
The Lumberjacks have spent the whole season in the USTFCCCA national top-20, and are the No. 19 team in the NCAA heading to the Pacific Northwest.
NAU is the defending Big Sky Champion, after winning the 2020 trophy last winter, as the meet was pushed to 2021 due to COVID-19 concerns.
Northern Arizona is paced in most meets by reigning Big Sky individual champion, Taryn O’Neill, who has been named Big Sky Women’s XC Athlete of the Week twice during this season. One of those honors came after she claimed the individual champion at the Paul Short Run.
Depth On The Women’s Side
While NAU will be the only women’s team ranked going into the championship, that doesn’t mean they have an easy road to repeat, as the Big Sky is full of talent on the women’s side just like it is on the men’s side.
It wasn’t too long ago that both Weber State and Southern Utah were both receiving votes for the USTFCCCA national coaches’ poll, and both feature some of the top individuals in the country.
Weber State’s Summer Allen and Southern Utah’s Alison Pray have both had incredibly strong performances this year, after qualifying for the national championship meet individually last season. Allen finished right behind O’Neill last year at the nation meet, as the Big Sky duo finished sixth and seventh respectively.