Preview: UAA Conference Champs will be the site for a showdown
Three teams at UAA Championships
Very little separates the top three UAA teams in the latest national coaches' poll, as only three voting points stand between No. 8 NYU (224) and defending champion No. 9 Chicago (221), and No. 10 Washington (Mo.) is just behind at 203 points. Needless to say, Chicago’s pursuit of a title defense will not be easy.
Easy is exactly how Chicago made their 2012 title look, as the Maroons put four finishers within the top 10 — three of whom will be returning this season — en route to a 37-96 win against NYU.
If the UW-Oshkosh Invitational two weekends ago is any indication, this year will be much closer. Led by fourth-place finisher Catherine Young, Chicago finished runner-up to No. 5 Calvin and just four points ahead of No. 10 Washington (Mo.) in third place.
Meanwhile, NYU was in almost the reverse situation, comfortably winning the Oberlin Inter-Regional Rumble against in-state rival No. 11 SUNY Geneseo behind individual winner Emily Cousens.
Prior to Chicago’s title last season, Washington had claimed each of the past three league titles, and are hoping to start a new streak this season. Lucy Cheadle has a streak of her own to continue, as the junior will look to defend her individual crown from a year ago. She finished runner-up at UW-Oshkosh most recently behind two-time National Athlete of the Week Chelsea Johnson.
Two teams at NESCAC Championships
Sixth-ranked Williams will look to defend its title for a second consecutive season, but will have to contend with No. 2 Middlebury.
This won’t be the first time these teams have met. A month ago, Middlebury edged out both No. 4 MIT and No. 6 Williams at the Purple Valley Classic and two weeks ago the Panthers were the top DIII finishers at the NEICAAA Championships in fifth overall, ahead of No. 11 Tufts in 12th and No. 21 Bates in 18th.
Led by Sarah Guth in 24th place, Middlebury was one of just two teams at the NEICAAA meet to get all five scorers within the top 50 finishers. At the Purple Valley Classic, it was fourth-place Erzsebet Nagy who led four finishers in the top eight.
Since Williams matched up with Middlebury since the Purple Valley Classic, the Ephs’ highlight of the season was a 27th-place finish at the mostly-Division I Paul Short Run out of 48 teams, second among DIII teams to only defending national champion No. 1 Johns Hopkins.
Kaleigh Kenny was the individual champion for Williams at its home Purple Valley Classic, while Shayna Barbash was the top finisher at Paul Short in 100th.
Tufts’ top performance was a narrow runner-up showing to No. 4 MIT at the Southern Maine Invitational ahead of No. 21 Bates and No. 29 Colby.
Two teams at NEWMAC Championships
No. 1 Johns Hopkins at CC Championships
Johns Hopkins will first look to extend its five-year winning streak in the Centennial Conference. The Blue Jays have been strong all season long, including a 15th-place finish out of 48 teams in the mostly-Division I Paul Short Run gold race, led by former National Athlete of the Week Hannah Oneda in 39th overall.
Oneda won the conference title as a freshman last season, and has been the top finisher for the Blue Jays in all of her races this season. Most recently she won the CNU Invitational, her second overall win of the season. No. 15 Haverford and No. 19 Dickinson are Johns Hopkins ranked challengers.
No. 5 Calvin at MIAA Championships
Calvin, led by defending MIAA champion Nichole Micherhuizen and former National Athlete of the Week Cassie Vince, will look to defend its title against rival No. 22 Hope, the lone-ranked challenger to the Knights.
Calvin has momentum following a dominant win against No. 9 Chicago, No. 10 Washington (Mo.) and No. 13 Trinity (Texas) at the UW-Oshkosh Brooks Invitational.
No. 7 Claremont-M-S at SCIAC Championships
Claremont-M-S is the three-time defending champion in the SCIAC, led by 2012 runner-up Allison Barnwell.
At the SCIAC Multi-Dual earlier this month, CMS finished 8-0 against its conference foes, led by Barnwell as the runner-up.