With basketball still a few weeks away and the other Fall sports still not quite at the end of their regular seasons, let’s get you caught up on how cross country is shaping up this year in the West Coast Conference. The WCC Championships are this Saturday, and the teams are gearing up for what is the biggest meet of the year as they try to qualify for the NCAA Championships both as teams and individual runners.
For those of you not in the know, the Portland Pilots have long dominated cross country in the WCC with their rich tradition. This season has been no exception as both the men’s and women’s teams were picked to finish first in the preseason poll. The men are outperforming the women right now, but both teams are having strong seasons.
On the men’s side, things are looking great. the Pilots are currently #8 in the country and #2 in the west region. The Pilots placed five runners on the Preseason All-WCC team, which makes for a very deep team. The program has owned the WCC to the tune of winning 32 of the last 35 championships. No on else in the conference is close to them in the rankings, and they should cruise to another WCC Championship. Being out for revenge after coming up just short in second last year will probably help the cause as well.
BYU will be their biggest challengers as they currently sit at #19 in the country. BYU outdid the Pilots last year winning the WCC Championship and finishing fourth in the NCAA Championships while the Pilots finished seventh. They should go neck and neck again, and the Cougars could steal the Pilots’ thunder yet again.
Over on the women’s side, the Pilots are again out for redemption after finishing second last year. It is predicted to be a much tighter race as the San Francisco Dons actually got more first place votes in the preseason poll. But the Pilots had a better overall score and were picked to win it by just one point. The Dons also outdid the Pilots on the Preseason All-WCC team placing three runners on the list while the Pilots only had two.
However despite all that, right now one the favorites is BYU. They were #30 in the country but fell out of the rankings this week. They were picked to finish fourth, but they garnered a first place vote and placed two runners on the Preseason All-WCC team. Portland is now ahead of them picking up top 30 votes, but it’s pretty close right now.
The Dons and Cougars finished 18th and 28th respectively in the NCAA Championships last year, so their success is no fluke. Between them still being strong and the Pilots doing well, anything could happen on the women’s side on Saturday.
Stay tuned to the WCC website for breaking race results on Saturday, and we will bring you results and analysis after the WCC Championships.