NEW ORLEANS - Fresh off winning the BIG EAST title over the weekend, the Villanova women’s cross country team made a big move in the national and regional rankings announced by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) this week. In the new rankings, the Wildcats leaped to No. 9 in the national poll and reclaimed the top spot in the Mid-Atlantic Region for the second time this season.
Villanova moved up six spots in the national rankings from their No. 15 position entering the BIG EAST Championships and surged to their highest spot in the national top 30 poll since also being ranked No. 9 entering the 2013 NCAA Championships. There are three BIG EAST teams in this week’s national poll, with the Wildcats followed by Providence (No. 10) and Georgetown (tie-No. 27).
The Mid-Atlantic Region is the only one of nine regions in Division I to have a change in the top spot of this week’s regional polls. Villanova swapped places with Penn State for the third consecutive poll and moved to No. 1 in the region for the second time this year. This is the first time since 2011 that the Wildcats occupy the top spot in the Mid-Atlantic poll heading into the NCAA regional meets.
Strong performances throughout the lineup carried Villanova to a BIG EAST title on Saturday at the Wayne E. Dannehl National Cross Country Course in Kenosha, Wis. Junior Bella Burda (Pleasant Valley, N.Y.) led the Wildcats with at third place individual finish and was one of four Villanova runners to earn first team All-BIG EAST honors. Junior Nicole Hutchinson (West Vancouver, B.C.), freshman Lauren Ryan (South Yarra, Australia) and junior Kaley Ciluffo (LeClaire, Iowa) also finished in the top 10, while seniors Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (Dublin, Ireland) and Katie Fisher (Uxbridge, Ont.) claimed second team all-conference honors.
Next up for the Wildcats is the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional on November 10 in Bethlehem, Pa. The regional meet returns to the Goodman Campus Course at Lehigh for the fifth time overall and the first time since 2013 when the Villanova won its last regional title. It will be the second time this season that the Wildcats run at the site, as they competed in the Paul Short Run at Lehigh earlier this year.
The top two teams at each of nine regional meets around the country earn automatic bids to the NCAA Championships next month. Entering the regionals, the top teams in the Mid-Atlantic are Villanova, Penn State, Georgetown, West Virginia and Princeton.
USTFCCCA National Poll – October 31, 2017
Top 10 Teams
2. New Mexico
4. San Francisco
5. North Carolina State
USTFCCCA Mid-Atlantic Region Poll – October 30, 2017
Top 5 Teams
2. Penn State
4. West Virginia