The University of Virginia's Panorama Farms is set to be the backdrop for the prestigious 2023 NCAA Division 1 Cross Country Championships, taking place on Saturday, November 18. All eyes are on the Northern Arizona University (NAU) Lumberjacks women's team as they strive to secure their first-ever women’s title in the history of the NCAA Cross Championships. This year's competition is expected to be intense, with Northern Arizona and Oklahoma State, both finishing with an equal score of 83 points in last year's championships, emerging as the primary contenders once again. The stage is set for a thrilling showdown in the world of collegiate cross country running.
The Lumberjacks Northern Arizona University (NAU) team will chase their first women’s title in NCAA Cross Championships history. The NAU won the Nuttycombe and the Big Sky competitions this year.
The NAU will fight against North Carolina State for the NCAA title. The top two contenders of the women’s race at the NCAA Cross Country Finals are NC State’s Ketelyn Tuohy and Florida’s Parker Valby, who finished first and second in last year’s edition of the collegiate championships.
Tuohy leads the North Carolina State, who won the past two editions of the NCAA Cross Country Championships. Tuohy is the reigning NCAA Cross Country champion. She also won the NCAA title in the 5000 metres in Eugene 2022 and two NCAA Indoor titles in the 3000 and 5000 metres in Albuquerque 2023. She clocked PBs of 4:06.84 in the 1500 metres and 15:03.12 in the 5000 metres. The North Carolina State also features Kelsey Chmiel, who finished third in last year’s edition of the NCAA Championships, freshmen Leah Stephens, who finished 14th at Nuttycombe and 8th at ACCs, Grace Hartman (26th at Nuttycombe and 8th at Sooutheast Regional). Stephens finished seventh at Foot Lockers and 9:54 in the 2 miles on the track.
The Cougars BYU team will feature Aubrey Frentheway and Lexy Halladay Lowry, who finished 32nd and 34th respectively at last year’s edition of the NCAA Championships, Carmen Alder, who won the Pre-Nationals and Riley Chamberlain, 10th at the Pre-Nationals.
Many of the top 10 finishers from last year’s edition will return this year. The list of top contenders include this year’s Great Lakes regional champion Olivia Markezich, 2023 regional champions Maia Ramsden (Harvard) and Kayla Mitchell, Kailah Jepkirui (second at the Big 12 Cross Country Championships), Taylor Roe (3000 metres champion at the 2022 NCAA Championships), Molly Born (fifth at the Big 12 Cross Country Championships), Florida Gators team runners Flomena Asekol (16th at Nuttycombe), Amelia Mazza Dowdie (22nd at the 2022 NCAA Cross Country Championships and 8th at South Eastern Conference, and Elise Thorner (40th at the 2022 NCAA Championships) and 17th at the South Eastern Conference in 2023).
Laura Pellicoro, an Italian middle-distance runner who studies at the Portland University, qualified for the NCAA Cross Country Championships after finishing seventh at the NCAA Regionals West in Sacramento. Last summer Pellicoro won two World University Games in Chengdu in the 800 and 1500 metres.
Northern Arizona and Oklahoma State finished level with 83 points in the men’s race at last year’s edition of the NCAA Championships. Northern Arizona NAU team prevailed in a tiebreaker to win its third consecutive title and six of the last seven editions.
The NAU Lumberjacks team will feature Nico Young and Drew Hunter, who finished second and third at last year’s edition of the NCAA Championships. The team is completed by Aaron Las Heras, who finished 26th in last year’s edition of the NCAA Cross Country Championships, and Santiago Prosser (19th at the NCAA Championships in 2022).
Oklahoma State will feature four athletes with a potential to finish in the top 10, including two Kenyan athletes Denis Kipngetich and Brian Misau. Kipngetich won two races at the Cowboy Jamboree and Midwest Regional. Misau claimed the win at the Big 12 title. The new addition to the Cowboy team is Adisu Guadie from Israel, who finished fifth at Midwest Regional and set a PB of 28:17 in the 10 km on the road. The Oklahoma team is completed by Alex Meier, who finished fifth at the 2022 NCAA Cross Country Championships, and Fouad Messaoudi, 12th at the NCAA Cross Country Championships and NCAA indoor champion in the 3000 metres in Albuquerque in 2022.