D2 Review: A Return To Action

Updated: Sep 30

Although Division One has secured most of the cross country headlines so far this season, we wanted to take a look at a few D2 results and breakdown some of the action that we have seen so far. Let's jump into it...

Alabama-Huntsville Soundly Defeats Lee

This happened a couple of weeks ago and we briefly touched on it in our team rankings. However, we felt that it was appropriate to backtrack and do a deeper dive into this race.

It was truthfully stunning to see the Chargers take down the Flames with relative ease despite Christian Noble taking the overall victory. A nine point win may not seem like a lot, but when you consider that the race was essentially between UAH and Lee, it was a bit surprising.

Alabama-Huntsville, a squad that has thrived with depth and pack-running, took down a Lee team that (in theory) has a ton of firepower -- something that we didn't necessarily see the last time they toed the line.

Even so, it's hard to look at those results and think that this was the most Lee was capable of. They didn't run Ben Tabor and we feel extremely confident that many of their top scorers from last year could have performed much better.

Regardless, kudos to the men of Alabama-Huntsville. They came out strong and took down a program that received a ton of attention from us this offseason. Jay Day looks like a promising talent and his teammates continue to produce strong results behind him.

Bailey Takes Down Comastri By Almost A Full Minute

We were treated to a matchup between two top-tier distance runners this past weekend as Indianapolis' Lauren Bailey (TSR #2) went head-to-head with Southern Indiana's Jennifer Comastri (TSR #13).

Despite the excitement that this matchup had on paper, the race ended up not being close...at all.

Bailey dominated the field, running a time of 17:07 for 5000 meters and beating Comastri -- who is one of the better D2 distance runners in the country -- by nearly a full minute (59.8 seconds).

For perspective, 3rd place finisher Melissa Spencer (Indianapolis) was another full minute behind Comastri in a time of 19:06.

We knew Bailey was good, but taking down an upper-echelon name by such a heavy margin is wildly impressive. After an incredible 2020 indoor track season, the Indy ace looks like she is just as good as advertised.

Southern Indiana Men Post Odd Results

Sticking with Southern Indiana, we saw their men's team (TSR #7) debut this past weekend and the results were...confusing.

The Lewis University Flyers took home the win over the Screaming Eagles, scoring 34 points to USI's 41 points. The Indianapolis men were 3rd with 47 points.

You have to give Lewis credit for showing up and taking home the win (they finished 1-2-6-12-13 in the final standings), but we would be remiss to not mention the results that we saw this from this highly-ranked USI squad.

The group of Gavin Prior, Silas Winders, Wyat Harmon and Grady Wilkinson all secured top-10 finishes, but guys like Noah Hufnagel (a transfer from Indiana State) and Braden Nicholson (a transfer from North Central) were much further back in the results than we expected. We also didn't see Titus Winders (TSR #14) toe the line.

It is admittedly hard to gauge USI's effort from this past weekend. In theory, they should have taken care of business with relative ease, but that just didn't happen. As is the case with most of these September meets, it's important that we don't look too heavily into the first set of results that we see for any team (especially during this year).

Still, I think it's safe to say that this was a head-scratching result.

And who knows? Maybe Lewis is just that good.

Colo. Christian Men, UCCS Women Take Home Wins

One of the more overlooked team in Division II may be the Colorado Christian men, a team that finished 17th at the NCAA Championships last fall. They are often overshadowed in the loaded Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference by the likes of Adams State, Western Colorado, Colorado Mines, UC-Colorado Springs and a few others.

However, this team has consistently produced and they continued to that two weeks ago as they edged a respectable UC-Colorado Springs team (which finished 20th at the national meet last fall) by two points. Despite the Mountain Lions having Afewerki Zeru (TSR #22) take home the individual win, it was the Cougars who took home the team victory, 27 points to 29 points. However, UCCS did not run their typical #2/#3 scorer (Matt Schramm).

Overall, there isn't a whole lot to talk about from this race, but both teams should be encouraged by the results. The Colorado Christian men got a nice confidence boost by taking home a win over a respectable program while the men of UCCS finished just two points out from a team that beat them in Sacramento last fall.

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As for the women's race, UC-Colorado Springs packed together with overwhelming depth, taking spots 3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10. The women of MSU-Denver secured the top two individual spots of the race, led by Alden Gruidel (TSR #7).

There's not a ton of analysis or insight that we can draw from this race, but both teams should be encouraged by the results.

Erin Norton, who last competed for Western Colorado in 2018, seems to be very fit as she was just one second behind Gruidel in this race. As for UCCS, they showed great pack-running and comfortably took home a win over their conference rival.

That's all that you can ask for at this point in the season.

G-MAC Rivals Clash In September

The Walsh women were a team that were certainly on our radar coming into this season, especially after their success last fall. However, the Cavaliers fell to both Hillsdale (1st) and Cedarville (2nd) at the Hillsdale Invitational a little over two weeks ago -- two conference and regional rivals.

Not only that, but Cedarville would take home another win over the Walsh women at the Cedarville Open this past weekend in a field scattered with unattached runners.

Alexa Leppelmeier has looked like a strong front-runner for Walsh so far this season, but the rest of their team may need to pack together and bridge some of the gaps within their top five.

As for Hillsdale, their initial win was about what we expected as we figured that they would be very competitive this fall regardless of the circumstances. We listed them at TSR #9 in our preseason rankings.

When it comes to Cedarville, you have to give credit where credit is due. They have taken down a respectable Walsh team on two occasions now. After finishing 10th in their region last fall and failing to qualify for the NCAA Championships, the Yellow Jackets seem to be off to a strong start in the month of September.