The 2021 NAIA Women’s and Men’s Cross Country National Championship will take place in Vancouver, Wash. on November 19 and you can watch and follow all the action on Friday.
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A total of 36 teams and 82 individuals will line up in the men’s field, while we will also see 36 teams and 90 individuals competing in the women’s category with the meeting being staged for the sixth year in Vancouver, Wash., and the Cascade Collegiate Conference playing as the host conference.
The men’s 8k race will kick off the championships at 10:30 a.m. PT (1:30 p.m. ET) at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Championship Course, while the women’s 5k race will begin at 11:30 a.m. PT (2:30 p.m. ET).
The 2020 NAIA men’s cross country national champion team, Taylor (Ind.), returns to the championship this year as the No. 4 ranked program while defending women’s champion St. Francis (Ill.) comes in as the No. 1 rank team in the last Top 25 poll.
BATTLE FOR THE NAIA CROSS COUNTRY MEN’S TITLE
On the men’s side reigning champion Taylor (Ind.) looked very good in its conference championships, but current No. 1 St. Francis (Ill.) seems to be peaking at the right time, especially after putting away a strong field to win the 2021 Aquinas College (Mich.) NAIA Great Lakes Challenge last month.
Among the teams beaten by the Saints were the then-No. 1 Indiana Wesleyan University, No. 2 University of Saint Mary and Taylor.
Individually, the men’s 8K race should be very interesting with Zouhair Talbi of No. 6 Oklahoma City seeking to become the first repeat men’s champion since 2010-11. Haile Stutzman of No. 9 Huntington (Ind.), the winner at the Crossroads League and NAIA Great Lakes Challenge title, and Santiago Hardy of Antelope Valley (Calif.) are also among the top contenders for the individual men’s race.
EASY WIN FOR ST. FRANCIS (III)?
On the women’s side, St. Francis (Ill.) which has sat at the No. 1 spot all season, will look to close out the campaign with another championships title and we expect them to do so with the fantastic pack-running the team has been showing all season.
No. 2 Milligan (Tenn.), No. 3 Cornerstone (Mich.), No. 4 Taylor (Ind.) and No. 5 Saint Mary (Kan.) are the teams expected to challenge the Saints for the title at this year’s meeting.