Both the Carleton College men’s and women’s cross country teams placed in the Top 8 as The Stride Report announced its annual preseason rankings of the premier NCAA cross country teams and runners.
Despite the absence of a fall sports season for many colleges this year, TSR released its “If everything was normal” Division III team rankings with the Carleton women’s team landing at No. 5 and the men’s squad coming in at No. 8 in the country. Additionally, four Knights were recognized by the website as some of the best athletes in the sport.
Despite the losses of stalwarts Helen Schuda, Marietta Geist, and Ruthie Boyd to graduation, the women’s team reached fifth in the projected rankings on the strength of their fifth-place finish at last year’s NCAA Championships, as well as their third consecutive MIAC title win. The men’s program was not far behind, as they earned the eighth-place spot on TSR’s listing due to the return of 6-of the Knights’ top-7 scorers, two consecutive top-15 finishes at Nationals, and three straight MIAC crowns.
A quartet of Carleton runners were recognized in the website’s individual rankings. Matthew Wilkinson (Sr./Greenwood, Minn./Minnetonka) and Lucas Mueller (Sr./St. Paul, Minn./Nova Classical Academy), described as “easily the best 1-2 punch in Division III,” earned spots No. 1 and No. 18, respectively, on the men’s leaderboard. Wilkinson’s MIAC and Central Region titles, along with a runner-up finish at the national championships were enough to propel him to the title of the best men’s D-III runner heading into the 2020-21 season. Mueller was buoyed by his two All-American nods in cross country and top-three finishes at both last year’s MIAC Championships and NCAA Central Region Championships.
On the women’s side, both Clara Mayfield (So./Manhattan, Kan./Manhattan) and Amanda Mosberg (Sr./Bloomington, Minn./Edina) earned spots in the women’s top 20. Mayfield, considered “one of the best freshmen in D3 last year,” landed at No. 13 as a result of a trio of top-7 finishes last year, along with a pair of top-11 times during the indoor track & field season. Mosborg’s sixth-place finish at the Connecticut College Invitational last fall, third-place result at the Central Region Championship, and first All-American nod at the NCAA Cross Country Championships were good enough to earn her the No. 14 spot in this year’s rankings.