With runners returning to their schools to begin a new academic year, cross country teams across the nation are kicking up dust, training for the beginning of the 2016 season. While some runners are ready to defend their championship title, others are readying themselves to try to win titles for their own schools. However, no matter what college a cross country enthusiast follows, fans should be looking to see these names pop up throughout the season.  

Alice Wright | New Mexico

During the NCAA Championship last year, Wright finished fifth overall, helping her team claim the title for the first time and capturing All-American honors for her performance. Serving as team leader during the postseason, she also was honored as the USTFCCCA Mountain Region Women’s Athlete of the Year. This year, coming in as a redshirt junior, Wright is expected to outperform many of her competitors and help her team defend its championship title.

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Erin Clark | Colorado

As a true freshman, Clark earned a spot on Colorado’s varsity team, including being named to the All-Pac-12 Second Team and All-Region Team. Since then, she has continued to improve. Last year, she led the team in three of the five varsity races, running undefeated in the first two. In the championship, she placed 11th and recorded her second All-American honor. Now as a senior, she looks to lead her team higher up in the rankings.

Devin Clark | Arkansas

Only coming into her sophomore year, Clark steps away from her impressive track season and into a new cross country season where she looks to stand out as one of the most competitive young runners in DI cross country. In her first SEC Championship race, she finished eighth overall, and in the NCAA Championship race she finished second for the Razorbacks with a time of 20:31.70. As long as she continues to improve, she is likely to be a feared runner in 2016.

Catarina Rocha | Providence

Placing second in the Big East Championship and seventh in the NCAA Northeast Regionals, Rocha led her team to the NCAA Championship. From there, she earned All-American honors after finishing second for the Friars. She runs with experience, and walking into her senior year, her consistent stepping could prove to lead the Friars to finish in the top five once again.

 

Alli Cash | Oregon

While she did not claim her first collegiate victory until last year, this All-American remains a major competitor for 2016. During the NCAA Championship, she finished second for her team with a time of 20:20.9. This helped lead the team to finish within the top five. With continuous improvement, Cash could play a key role in the Ducks finishing closer to the top in 2016. 

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