Cross Country: Northwestern breaks into national rankings at No. 29


Photo courtesy of Megan Slamkowski

Senior Kalea Bartolotto and graduate students Rachel McCardell and Ari Marksrun as a pack. Northwestern is ranked No. 29, its first time in the national rankings since 2002.

Kate Walter , Assistant Sports Editor

Cross Country

For the first time since 2002, Northwestern is ranked in the NCAA Division I Women’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll, coming in at No. 29 in Tuesday’s poll. 

The ranking comes after the Wildcats’ win at the Bradley Pink Invite on Friday. At that meet, NU’s top three finishers all achieved personal best times and the team placed ahead of Big Ten rival Illinois. Graduate student Rachel McCardell spearheaded the Cats’ effort with a fourth place finish. 

Since Jill Miller became head coach in 2019, the program has grown on the regional and national scale. After placing 13th at the Midwest Regional Championships in 2019, the Cats finished fourth last season, marking their highest finish in 20 years. McCardell qualified as an individual for the NCAA Division I Championships with a historic third-place finish at Regionals, a program record in recent history. 

NU also ranked second in the Midwest Region in the most recent poll, up two spots from its fourth place ranking at the beginning of the season.

Last week’s win at the Bradley Pink Classic follows a successful string of performances by the Cats this season. In addition to a win at the NIU Huskie Challenge, NU took third at the Michigan Big Ten Preview, third at the Gans Creek Classic and seventh at the Loyola Lakefront Invite.  

Next week, the Cats will toe the line at Michigan for the Big Ten Championships, looking to improve upon their seventh place finish in 2021. Currently, No. 17 Wisconsin, No. 22 Ohio State, No. 23 Michigan State and No. 26 Michigan rank ahead of NU in the national poll. 

To qualify for Nationals as a team, the Cats will need to place in the top two at the Midwest Regional Championships on Nov. 11 or receive an at-large bid based on season performance.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @katewalter03

Related Stories: 

Cross Country: Northwestern wins Bradley Pink Classic, McCardell leads the way

Cross Country: Northwestern places third at Gans Creek Classic, builds on solid performances

Cross Country: Northwestern earns highest regionals finish in 20 years, McCardell qualifies for nationals