General News

2016 NAIA Men’s and Women’s Cross Country National Championships Preview

2016 NAIA Men’s and Women’s Cross Country National Championships Preview

By: Spencer Scheve, Communications and Sports Information Intern

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The field is set for the 61st annual Men's and 37th annual Women's NAIA Cross Country Championships at North Farm Cross Country Course in Elsah, Ill. This is the first time in history that Illinois will host the Championships. The women's race will begin at 10:30 a.m. CST and the men's at 11:30 a.m. CST.

The NAIA Network – the association's official video streaming home – will broadcast the men's and women's championships at North Farm Cross Country Course in Elsah, Ill., for free. The video platform, powered by Stretch Internet, allows users to access live video content on a number of devices, including mobile. To access the free live video, visit www.NAIANetwork.com or the Direct link to stream.

Men's qualifiers highlights (historical information dates back to 1956):

•The field is made up of 24 automatic qualifiers, 11 at-large berths and one host berth. A team received an automatic bid by winning the conference meet or was the meet runner-up. 
• The 11 at-large berths are determined by the final regular-season Top 25 Poll. These teams received an at-large berth – College of Idaho, Westmont (Calif.), Biola (Calif.), Oklahoma City, Taylor (Ind.), Oregon Tech, Bethel (Ind.), Eastern Oregon, Siena Heights (Mich.), Cornerstone (Mich.) and Aquinas (Mich.).
• In addition to the team qualifiers, 86 athletes compete as individuals at this year's championships. To qualify as an individual, must be a top four finisher, top six finisher, or top two finisher depending on the size of the conference.
• Geoffrey Kipchumba of William Carey (Miss.) returns as the defending individual champion with a race time of 23:55 at the 20115 National Championship. Kipchumba earned the final NAIA Runner of the Week award of 2016 as he beat his national championship time by posting a 23:52 at the St. Louis Classic on Oct. 22.
• Defending National Champion Oklahoma City looks to win its fourth-straight national championship title as the Stars earned an at-large berth and finished runner-up in the Sooner Athletic Conference Championship.
• The last team to win four championship titles in a row was Life (Ga.) from 1998 to 2001.
• The biggest threat to dethrone the Stars is No. 1 British Columbia. The Thunderbirds have claimed the No. 1 ranking for four-straight editions of the Coaches Top 25 poll. British Columbia earned an automatic berth by winning its second-consecutive Association of Independent Institutions Championship.
• The second team that can end the Stars title streak is St. Francis (Ill.).  The Saints have been active in the top-five of the Top 25 in the last seven polls, dating back to Nov. 25, 2015.
• The Saints earned an automatic berth to the National Championships by winning the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship.
• Southern Oregon has been ranked in the top-five in the last six editions of the Top 25.  The Raiders earned an automatic berth to the National Championship by winning its ninth-straight Cascade Collegiate Conference Championship.

Women's qualifiers highlights (historical information dates back to 1980):

• Thirty-six teams and 88 individuals make up the championship field. A team that wins its conference meet or was the meet runner-up received an automatic berth.
• In addition to the team qualifiers, 86 athletes compete as individuals at this year's championships. To qualify as an individual, must be a top four finisher, top six finisher, or top two finisher depending on the size of the conference.
• Ten teams received an at-large bid – The Master's (Calif.), College of Idaho, Oregon Tech, Southern Oregon, Westmont (Calif.), Lewis-Clark State (Idaho), Wayland Baptist (Texas), Dordt (Iowa), Indiana Wesleyan and Hastings (Neb.). The at-large berths are determined by the final regular-season Top 25 Poll.  
• Northwest Christian (Ore.) has its eyes set on winning back-to-back national championship titles, as the Beacons earned their third-straight Cascade Collegiate Conference title.
• Northwest Christian has earned the No. 1 ranking in 12 straight-polls. All four of the Beacons runners that finished in the top 13 of the 2015 National Championship will be returning to Elsah, Ill. to help defend their title.
• The Beacons biggest threat is Biola (Calif.) and British Columbia. The Eagles won the Golden State Athletic Conference Championship, while the Thunderbirds won the Association of Independent Institutions Championship.
• Biola has been ranked in the Top five for the past 13 polls, including No. 2 for the past six polls.
• Oklahoma City claimed its second-consecutive Sooner Athletic Conference, as the Stars finished the season ranked No. 4 in the Top 25.
• Aquinas (Mich.) finished the season at No. 5 in Top 25, as the Saints dominated the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Championship (WHAC) to earn their third-straight WHAC title.