National poll ranks NIU cross country fifth in Midwest Region


Northern Star file photo

Juniors Mackenzie Callahan and Ashley Tutt start their engines Sept. 6, 2019 during the Huskie Challenge at the North 40 Course on NIU campus.

By James Krause

DeKALB — Claiming the Mid-American Conference championship in the fall has led to the women’s cross country team capturing national attention and achieving a program-high regional ranking.

The Huskies ranked fifth among Midwest Region schools in the first U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll of the season. It’s the highest USTFCCCA ranking in program history.

The Huskies are ranked only behind Iowa State University and Oklahoma State University of the Big 12, and the University of Minnesota and University of Illinois of the Big Ten. Iowa State and Minnesota also won championships in their respective conferences this season.

The Huskies won the 2020 MAC championship on Nov. 21 in Bowling Green, Ohio. Redshirt junior Ashley Tutt and senior Mackenzie Callahan were NIU’s high finishers, earning second and third respectively in a field of 95 runners.

The NCAA Cross Country Championships will be March 15 in Stillwater, Oklahoma, after the NCAA moved the event from fall to spring. Schools will be able to declare candidacy for selections by the NCAA on March 3.