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Stan Becton | NCAA.com | November 17, 2022

Making the case for 3 schools to win the DI women's cross country championship

2022 DI women's NCAA cross country south regional | FULL RACE

We're days away from the 2022 DI cross country championships and there are plenty of contenders for the title. However, three teams (conveniently the top three ranked teams) stand above the rest. Let's make a case for each of the three teams to win the title, highlighting their biggest strengths.

No. 1 NC State

tuohy

It's been 12 years since there was a back-to-back DI women's cross country champion and only twice has the previous champion finished as runner-up. NC State hopes to end that drought. The Wolfpack have won high-level invitationals like the Nuttycombe and more all season and they have the top-end talent to end the repeat as champions.

The Wolfpack have Katelyn Tuohy, who's undefeated this season and arguably the best runner in the country entering the DI championship race. If Tuohy's the best, her teammate Kelsey Chmiel might be second-best as the duo has gone 1-2 in what seems like every race.

As good as NC State's top two runners are, its third and fourth runners are what sets it apart. Sydney Seymour and Samatha Bush have the potential to finish inside the top 10 at the championships, and it would be no surprise if NC State has the lowest combined point total across its top four runners of any school. If the Wolfpack's fifth runner can finish fast enough, NC State could become the first back-to-back women's champion since 2010.

CHAMPIONSHIP COVERAGE: Follow the 2022 cross country championships here

No. 2 New Mexico

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New Mexico has been a top title contender all season. The Lobos tied with NC State at the Nuttycombe Invitational (lost on a tiebreaker), won their 15th straight Mountain West title and won the Mountain Regional.

New Mexico's success this season has been from a true team effort. While the Lobos may lack one specific runner that most consider a favorite at the DI championships, they make up for it with impressive depth. Amelia Mazza-Downie, Emma Heckel and Grace Larkin are the biggest names on New Mexico's roster, while Samree Dishon, Elise Thorner and Abbe Goldstein round out the top six runners. What makes this group special is that they've shown that they can put together some of the lowest point totals in the country without any finishing inside the top three.

It's reasonable to think New Mexico can place five runners inside the top 30 at the DI championships. If that's the case, the Lobos could win their first title in five years.

REGIONALS: Recapping the regional championships, auto-bids and more

No. 3 Oklahoma State

OK State

Oklahoma State's title chances will be bolstered at the DI championships thanks to a home-course advantage. The Cowgirls have already shown the ability to dominate ranked competition on their home course, with Natalie Cook and Taylor Roe finishing 1-2 at the Cowboy Jamboree. Cook ran the sixth-fastest time in course history at the Jamboree in her first collegiate race and has been the best freshman in the sport this season. Roe was only seconds behind Cook and brings experience after finishing fifth at the DI championships last year.

If Oklahoma State's elite runners at the top of the roster live up to expectations and the 3-4-5 runners use their home course to their advantage, the Cowgirls have what it takes to walk the national championship trophy from the course to the campus trophy case.

NCAA XC: Here's how the cross country championships work

Other teams

Alabama

  • Alabama won its first SEC championship since 1987 and finished 2-3-4-5 in the South regional. If that wasn't enough, the Crimson Tide have last year's DI championship runner-up in Mercy Chelangat. If Chelangat can get over the hump, it could be what leads a resurgent Alabama team to a title.

Notre Dame

  • Olivia Markezich is the star of Notre Dame's women's cross country team, and Maddy Denner is no slouch either. With NC State serving as a litmus test of the cross country elite, the Fighting Irish can look to their second-place finish — just four points behind the Wolfpack — for hope toward a title.

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