Updated: Jan 13
Note: Keep in mind that what our writers value for the women's rankings varies from the criteria that we use to rank the men.
25. Bree Erickson, Senior, U-Mary
This fall, Erickson will be looking to make her third-straight NCAA Cross Country Championship meet and pick up another All-American trophy. After finishing 14th at regionals and helping U-Mary to a regional title, Erickson captured her first cross country All-American finish, placing 40th overall and acting as the fifth scorer on an ultra-talented U-Mary team that finished 2nd at the National Championships.
However, maybe the most impressive race of her 2018 cross country season was seeing her place 22nd in the Roy Griak Maroon race against some of the top D2 and D3 teams in the country. Clearly, Erickson can hold her own in large fields of talent.
Erickson kept her momentum going during the indoor season, as she picked up a PR in the mile and qualified for her first individual event at an Indoor NCAA Championship, finishing 13th in the mile. Her outdoor season did not yield the results that she probably expected, but it was Erickson’s best year thus far as a collegiate athlete.
With two of U-Mary’s top finishers graduating, Erickson is going to need to take that next step forward in her fitness if they want to be in contention for a national title again.
24. Tiffany Christensen, Senior, Adams State
In her first season running in an Adams State singlet, Christensen was a key part of the Grizzlies 3rd place team finish at NCAA's. After finishing 7th at regionals, and helping Adams State grab a regional title, she finished 39th at NCAA's, scoring as the fifth runner for the team and earning All-American honors. Her 7th place finish at the RMAC Championships, which came after a 46th place finish in a loaded Stanford Invite field, makes Christensen one of the best kept secrets in the NCAA this year.
During the indoor season, she picked up a 3k PR and qualified for Nationals in both the mile and 3k, finishing 15th and 19th respectively. We have not seen Christensen since, as she did not compete during the outdoor season.
With the entire top seven from Adams State returning, Christensen could be a vital part in a run at a national title for the women in green.
23. Nancy Jeptoo, Junior, Alaska Anchorage
Jeptoo’s first year at Alaska Anchorage was an extremely successful one. After finishing 2nd individually and winning a team title at regionals, Jeptoo picked up her first All-American trophy at Nationals, placing 38th overall and helping her team to a 6th place finish.
Her success did not stop there, as she picked up PR's in the mile, 3k, and 5k during the indoor season, culminating with a 14th place finish in the mile at Indoor Nationals. Jeptoo’s outdoor season looked a lot like her indoors, as she picked up PR's in the 800, 1500, and 5k, en route to a 17th place finish in the 1500 at Nationals.
What makes Jeptoo so impressive is her range. Clearly she can do almost anything well, and cross country may be her best season. After securing a handful of PR's, I imagine that Jeptoo will ride that momentum into the coming months where she will continue the reign of low-sticks that Alaska Anchorage has had over the past few years.
22. Arena Lewis, Senior, Hillsdale
Last fall, Lewis made NCAA's for the second straight year. After finishing 5th at her regional meet and leading her team to a runner-up finish, she picked up her first All-American trophy by placing 37th at Nationals. She was the top scorer on a Hillsdale team that finished 19th at the national meet.
Additionally, be sure to not overlooked her 21st place finish at the MSU Spartan Invite which took place in the middle of September. That field included a handful of top talents from Michigan State as well as the eventual national champions in Grand Valley State.
Lewis is definitely more of a cross country runner than a track runner, having only qualifier for one national meet on the track. She did, however, pick up PR's in both the 10k and the steeplechase this past outdoor season.
With four of the top five returning for Hillsdale, Lewis has a chance to lead her team towards a very successful season, along with grabbing another All-American trophy for herself.
21. Olivia Willett, Junior, Simon Fraser
Simon Fraser’s top runner from last fall will be returning in the form of Olivia Willett. After finishing 4th and leading her team to a runner-up finish at regionals, Willett led her team to a 9th place finish at NCAA's, finishing 36th overall and capturing her first All-American trophy. Her 15th place finish at the Lewis Cross Over meet should have told us that she was going to at least be in contention for an All-American performance.
During the track season, she picked up a PR in the 5k during indoors. During the spring track season, she ran PR's in the 800, 1500, mile, and steeplechase. Even though she did not make an NCAA meet, she definitely had her best track seasons to date and showed that she was gaining some serious confidence in her fitness.
Willett will be looking to make her third NCAA XC Championship in three years, and lead her team to a finish better than 9th from last year's national meet.