North Central, Johns Hopkins picked to defend titles

The North Central College (Ill.) men's team and the Johns Hopkins University (Md.) women's squad have been tabbed by the nation’s coaches as preseason favorites to repeat as NCAA Division III cross country team champions.

North Central and Johns Hopkins highlight the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) preseason national coaches poll. FULL POLLS: Men’s Poll Women’s Poll

Both squads are coming off of national-title seasons in 2012 and both return at least three scoring members of their NCAA championship squads. North Central is the men’s preseason pick for the fourth time in the past five seasons, while Johns Hopkins is the preseason team to beat for the first time.

Right behind North Central in the men's poll are No. 2 Haverford College (Pa.), No. 3 University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, No. 4 Washington University (Mo.) and No. 5 Bowdoin College (Me.).

Rounding out the women’s top five are No. 2 Wartburg College (Iowa), No. 3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, No. 4 Williams College (Mass.) and No. 5 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges (Calif.).

In terms of recent history, three of the last four men’s preseason favorites have gone on to claim the national title in November — North Central all three times. Recent history has been less than kind to women’s preseason No. 1 teams, as none of the past four claimed the ultimate prize.

The NCAA Division III National Championships will be held Saturday, Nov. 23, in Hanover, Ind.