Katherine Wright | NCAA.com | December 5, 2019

How the DI college cross country championship works

2019 DI Men’s Cross Country Championships: 10k highlights

Countless hours of training and three months of fall invitationals build up to the coveted Division I men's and women's cross country championships. It's one of the most intriguing of all DI championships because of the timeline. It's among the shortest championships in college sports. 

So when does the championship usually begin, and how are the participants selected? All of the answers are provided below and are universal for both the men's and women's championships.

GLOSSARY: Get to know the basic and advanced cross country terms 

When do the cross country championships begin?

The DI men's and women's college cross country championships usually begin around mid to late November, which marks the end of the cross country regular season.

The regular season begins in mid to late August or early September and lasts into the month of October. Conference championships commence the postseason, followed by the regionals and national championships. 

Unlike other college sports championships that include several weeks of games and matches, the cross country title is decided on one day of the year and features one 10k race for the men and one 6k race for the women.

How do teams get into the cross country championships?

The regionals are a crucial event within the championships selection process. A team's advancement to the national championship is dependent on their performance at the regional championships. Once the regionals have concluded, the top two teams in each regional — there are nine in total — automatically qualify for the championships, which equates to 18 automatic qualifiers. In other words, it's the safest route to qualification. The NCAA DI Cross Country Subcommittee will then choose 13 at-large teams to fill out the 31 team field. 

At-large teams selections are based firstly on their performance at regionals, making the third- and fourth-place teams the most likely candidates.

Regular and postseason (up until the championships) results combine to create a detailed resume of a team's performance throughout the season, and that resume is also looked over by the subcommittee to determine at-large championship selections. The amount of regular season points and specifically the wins against teams that have already qualified or been selected to the national championships really matter here.

Individual selections are a different story. From the regional, the first four finishers who do not belong to an automatic qualifier or an at-large team automatically advance to the championships. All four finishers have to finish in the top 25 within their region. Altogether, 36 individuals automatically qualify and two are chosen at-large, making 38 the grand total. The two at-large selections are the highest placing individuals at a regional that were not automatic qualifiers.

See the NCAA's manual for the full list of qualifying procedures.

Which schools have won the cross country championships?

The NCAA DI men's college cross country championships began in 1938 when Indiana took home the trophy over Notre Dame. Arkansas won its first title in 1984 and has since been crowned 11 times, the most by any DI men's cross country program.

HISTORY: The fastest finishes in NCAA DI cross country championships history

Further down the road came the NCAA DI women's cross country championship. In 1981, Virginia won the first DI women's cross country title over Oregon, and since, Villanova has secured the most with nine. 

For the complete list of men's and women's programs that've won the championship, continue reading below.

DI men's college cross country championship history

YEAR CHAMPION COACH POINTS RUNNER-UP POINTS HOST OR SITE
2019 BYU Ed Eyestone 109 Northern Arizona 163 Terre Haute, IN
2018 Northern Arizona Michael Smith 83 BYU 116 Madison, Wisc.
2017 Northern Arizona Michael Smith 74 Portland 127 Louisville, Ky.
2016 Northern Arizona Eric Heins 125 Stanford 158 Terre Haute, Ind.
2015 Syracuse Chris Fox 82 Colorado 91 Louisville, Ky.
2014 Colorado Mark Wetmore 65 Stanford 98 Terre Haute, Ind.
2013 Colorado Mark Wetmore 149 Northern Arizona 169 Indiana State
2012 Oklahoma State Dave Smith 72 Wisconsin 135 Louisville, Ky.
2011 Wisconsin Mick Byrne 97 Oklahoma State 139 Indiana State
2010 Oklahoma State Dave Smith 73 Florida state 193 Indiana State
2009 Oklahoma State Dave Smith 127 Oregon 143 Indiana State
2008 Oregon Vin Lananna 93 Iona 147 Indiana State
2007 Oregon Vin Lananna 85 Iona 113 Indiana State
2006 Colorado Mark Wetmore 94 Wisconsin 142 Indiana State
2005 Wisconsin Jerry Schumacher 37 Arkansas 105 Indiana State
2004 Colorado Mark Wetmore 90 Wisconsin 94 Indiana State
2003 Stanford Andrew Gerard 24 Wisconsin 174 UNI
2002 Stanford Vin Lananna 47 Wisconsin 107 Indiana State
2001 Colorado Mark Wetmore 90 Stanford 91 Furman
2000 Arkansas John Mcdonnell 83 Colorado 94 Iowa State
1999 Arkansas John Mcdonnell 58 Wisconsin 185 Indiana
1998 Arkansas John Mcdonnell 97 Stanford 114 Kansas
1997 Stanford Vin Lananna 53 Arkansas 56 Furman
1996 Stanford Vin Lananna 46 Arkansas 74 Arizona
1995 Arkansas John Mcdonnell 100 Northern Arizona 142 Iowa State
1994 Iowa State Bill Bergan 65 Colorado 88 Arkansas
1993 Arkansas John Mcdonnell 31 BYU 153 Lehigh
1992 Arkansas John Mcdonnell 46 Wisconsin 87 Indiana
1991 Arkansas John Mcdonnell 52 Iowa State 114 Arizona
1990 Arkansas John Mcdonnell 68 Iowa State 96 Tennessee
1989 Iowa State Bill Bergan 54 Oregon 72 Navy
1988 Wisconsin Martin Smith 105 Northern Arizona 160 Iowa State
1987 Arkansas John Mcdonnell 87 Dartmouth 119 Virginia
1986 Arkansas John Mcdonnell 69 Dartmouth 141 Arizona
1985 Wisconsin Martin Smith 67 Arkansas 104 Marquette
1984 Arkansas John Mcdonnell 101 Arizona 111 Penn State
1983 *UTEP Larry Heiderbrecht 108 Wisconsin 164 Lehigh
1982 Wisconsin Dan McClimon 59 Providence 138 Indiana
1981 UTEP Ted Banks 17 Providence 109 Wichita State
1980 UTEP Ted Banks 58 Arkansas 152 Wichita State
1979 UTEP Ted Banks 86 Oregon 93 Lehigh
1978 UTEP Ted Banks 56 Oregon 72 Wisconsin
1977 Oregon Bill Dellinger 100 UTEP 105 Washington state
1976 UTEP Ted Banks 62 Oregon 117 North Texas
1975 UTEP Ted Banks 88 Washington State 92 Penn State
1974 Oregon Bill Dellinger 77 Western Kentucky 110 Indiana
1973 Oregon Bill Dellinger 89 UTEP 157 Washington state
1972 Tennessee Stan Huntsman 134 East Tennessee State 148 Houston
1971 Oregon Bill Dellinger 83 Washington State 122 Tennessee
1970 Villanova James Elliott 85 Oregon 86 William & Mary
1969 UTEP Wayne Vandenburg 74 Villanova 88 Manhattan
1968 Villanova James Elliott 78 Stanford 100 Manhattan
1967 Villanova James Elliott 91 Air Force 96 Wyoming
1966 Villanova James Elliott 79 Kansas State 155 Kansas
1965 Western Michigan George Dales 81 Northwestern 114 Kansas
1964 Western Michigan George Dales 86 Oregon 116 Michigan State
1963 San Jose State Dean Miller 53 Oregon 68 Michigan State
1962 San Jose State Dean Miller 58 Villanova 69 Michigan State
1961 Oregon State Sam Bell 68 San Jose State 82 Michigan State
1960 Houston John Morriss 54 Michigan State 80 Michigan State
1959 Michigan State Francis Dittrich 44 Houston 120 Michigan State
1958 Michigan State Francis Dittrich 79 Western Michigan 104 Michigan State
1957 Notre dame Alex Wilson 121 Michigan State 127 Michigan State
1956 Michigan State Karl Schlademan 28 Kansas 88 Michigan State
1955 Michigan State Karl Schlademan 46 Kansas 68 Michigan State
1954 Oklahoma State Ralph Higgins 61 Syracuse 118 Michigan State
1953 Kansas Bill Easton 70 Indiana 82 Michigan State
1952 Michigan State Karl Schlademan 65 Indiana 68 Michigan State
1951 Syracuse Robert Grieve 80 Kansas 118 Michigan State
1950 Penn State Charles Werner 53 Michigan State 55 Michigan State
1949 Michigan State Karl Schlademan 59 Syracuse 81 Michigan State
1948 Michigan State Karl Schlademan 41 Wisconsin 69 Michigan State
1947 Penn State Charles Werner 60 Syracuse 72 Michigan State
1946 Drake Bill Easton 42 New York University 98 Michigan State
1945 Drake Bill Easton 50 Notre Dame 65 Michigan State
1944 Drake Bill Easton 25 Notre Dame 64 Michigan State
1942 Indiana/Penn State Earle Hayes/Charles Werner 57     Michigan State
1941 Rhode Island Fred Tootell 83 Penn State 110 Michigan State
1940 Indiana Earle Hayes 65 Eastern Michigan 68 Michigan State
1939 Michigan State Lauren Brown 54 Wisconsin 57 Michigan State
1938 Indiana Earle Hayes 51 Notre Dame 61 Michigan State

*Participation in the championships vacated by the NCAA Committee on Infractions

DI women's cross country championship history

YEAR CHAMPION COACH POINTS RUNNER-UP POINTS SITE
2019 Arkansas Lance Harter 96 BYU 102 Terre Haute, IN
2018 Colorado Mark Wetmore 65 New Mexico  103 Madison, Wis.
2017 New Mexico Joe Franklin 90 San Francisco 105 Louisville, Ky.
2016 Oregon Robert Johnson 125 Michigan 126 Terre Haute, Ind.
2015 New Mexico Joe Franklin 49 Colorado 129 Louisville, Ky.
2014 Michigan State Walt Drenth 85 Iowa State 147 Terre Haute, Ind.
2013 Providence Ray Treacy 141 Arizona 197 Indiana State
2012 Oregon Robert Johnson 114 Providence 183 Louisville, Ky.
2011 Georgetown Chris Miltenburg 162 Washington 170 Indiana State
2010 Villanova Gina Procaccio 120 Florida State 154 Indiana State
2009 Villanova Gina Procaccio 86 Florida State 133 Indiana State
2008 Washington Greg Metcalf 79 Oregon 131 Indiana State
2007 Stanford Peter Tegen 145 Oregon 177 Indiana State
2006 Stanford Peter Tegen 195 Colorado 223 Indiana State
2005 Stanford Peter Tegen 146 Colorado 181 Indiana State
2004 Colorado Mark Wetmore 63 Duke 144 Indiana State
2003 Stanford Dena Evans 120 BYU 128 UNI
2002 BYU Patrick Shane 85 Stanford 113 Indiana State
2001 BYU Patrick Shane 62 North Carolina State 148 Furman
2000 Colorado Mark Wetmore 117 BYU 167 Iowa State
1999 BYU Patrick Shane 72 Arkansas 125 Indiana
1998 Villanova Marcus O'Sullivan 106 BYU 110 Kansas
1997 BYU Patrick Shane 100 Stanford 102 Furman
1996 Stanford Beth Alford-Sullivan 101 Villanova 106 Arizona
1995 Providence Ray Treacy 88 Colorado 123 Iowa State
1994 Villanova Marty Stern 75 Michigan 108 Arkansas
1993 Villanova Marty Stern 66 Arkansas 71 Lehigh
1992 Villanova Marty Stern 123 Arkansas 130 Indiana
1991 Villanova Marty Stern 85 Arkansas 168 Arizona
1990 Villanova Marty Stern 82 Providence 172 Tennessee
1989 Villanova Marty Stern 99 Kentucky 168 Navy
1988 Kentucky Don Weber 75 Oregon 128 Iowa State
1987 Oregon Tom Heinonen 97 North Carolina State 99 Virginia
1986 Texas Terry Crawford 62 Wisconsin 64 Arizona
1985 Wisconsin Peter Tegen 58 Iowa State 98 Marquette
1984 Wisconsin Peter Tegen 63 Stanford 89 Penn State
1983 Oregon Tom Heinonen 95 Stanford 98 Lehigh
1982 Virginia Martin Smith 48 Stanford 91 Indiana
1981 Virginia John Varasy 36 Oregon 83 Witchita State

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from NCAA.com and our partners