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Hanover College hosting D-III finals on Saturday
Courier Sports Staff
Thursday, November 21, 2013 10:00 AM
The NCAA III Cross Country National Championships are coming to Hanover College this weekend, the third time the site has hosted the event since 2003.
The 2013 field includes the defending national champions from both the women's and men's 2012 finales as well as a collection of the top teams and 560 of the best runners in the nation.
Johns Hopkins (Md.) captured the women's title last season and enters the 2013 championship ranked No. 1 in D-III. The Blue Jays earned the Mideast Region crown last weekend with a 26-point effort, including six runners among the first 13 across the line.
No. 2 Williams (Mass.), Calvin (Mich.), No. 4 Middlebury (Vt.) and Wartburg (Iowa) will all be in the hunt for the championship.
Middlebury has won six national championships, with two coming on Hanover's course (2003 and 2008).
Wartburg has competed in the NCAA championship in each of the three times Hanover has hosted the event. The Knights' former standout Missy Buttry, a three-time six-kilometer champion, continues to hold Hanover's course record after winning the 2003 crown in 20:00.2.
St. Scholastica (Minn.) senior Chelsea Johnson holds the top six-kilometer time on Hanover's course this season. Johnson, the Central Region champion, claimed the Pre-Nationals' individual crown Oct. 5 in 21:25.74.
North Central (Ill.) is looking for its third consecutive men's championship and 16th overall. The Cardinals come into the event ranked No. 1 in the U.S. after earning the Midwest Regional with a 56-point effort.
Washington (Mo.), ranked No. 2 nationally, finished second in the Midwest Regional with 101 points. The Bears' Kevin Sparks placed fourth in the championship last fall and was fifth in last week's regional in 24:33.3.
St. Olaf (Minn.), at No. 3 in the poll, is coming off a first-place finish at the Central Region. The Oles placed three runners in the top six spots and totaled 51 points to hold off No. 8 Central (Iowa) by 10 points.
Williams and Middlebury will go head-to-head for the third straight week.
Williams, ranked No. 4, used two of the top three runners to defeat No. 5 Middlebury, 77-78, at the New England Regional last weekend.
Connecticut College senior Michael LeDuc holds the fastest eight-kilometer time at Hanover this fall. LeDuc, who captured the New England Regional title Nov. 16, covered the course in 25:22.82 to win the Pre-Nationals, Oct. 5.
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