Wisconsin-La Crosse steals No. 1 spot after top-five finish in championship
NEW ORLEANS -- Division III has two new top-ranked teams as the UW-Oshkosh women reclaimed the top spot and the UW-La Crosse men reached the pinnacle of the rankings for the first time this season in this week’s U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Team Computer rankings, the first edition that doesn’t use preseason data as a factor.
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UW-Oshkosh’s appearance atop the rankings marks the second time in the past three weeks it has been No. 1 in what has become a back-and-forth affair between the Titans and defending indoor champion Wartburg. The Titans made a 12.52 net-point gain for a team total of 177.09. Three-time National Athlete of the Week Christy Cazzola led the way for the Titans with two DIII all-time indoor records in the 800 (2:05.76) and the mile (4:43.13).
Displaced to No. 2, Wartburg was largely unaffected by the removal of preseason data, losing just 2.89 net points for a total team score of 162.09. The Knights turned in five DIII top-10 performances this weekend, including the fastest 4×400 relay at 3:49.61 OT, converted to 3:52.67 for qualifying purposes.
Despite losing 12.07 net points, Illinois Wesleyan held steady at No. 3 (88.01), while UW-La Crosse jumped nine spots to No. 4 (77.52). Washington (Mo.) moved up one spot to round out the top five with a team score of 65.89.
The UW-La Crosse men are ranked No. 1 for the first time since the final two weeks of last season prior to a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships, claiming the top spot from the UW-Oshkosh men and preventing the Titans’ second No. 1 sweep of the season. The Eagles gained 18.81 net points for a team total of 184.43, boosted by four top-10 performances, including the Division’s top 4×400 relay at 3:13.98 OT, converted to 3:17.09 for track size.
The UW-Oshkosh men virtually stayed even from last week at 171.10 team points, while UW-Whitewater moved up a spot to No. 3 with 132.61 team points. Defending DIII champion North Central (Ill.) was the hardest hit of the top-five teams by the removal of preseason data, as the Cardinals slid 22.53 net points and a position to No. 4 with 120.58. Haverford jumped four spots to No. 5 (90.00).