What is the Capital One Cup?
The Capital One Cup commends the best women’s and men’s programs in NCAA Division I college athletics across all sports. In order to provide the most updated information, the standings are re-evaluated and updated every time a NCAA Championship takes place, and the points are determined by individual schools’ placements in each of the competitions. These points are awarded based on Top-10 finishes in NCAA Division I championships and polls taken by coaches in the top women’s and men’s sports.
As it stands, USF’s women’s athletic program shares 13th place with Princeton, USC and Virginia with 12 points. In the 2016-2017 academic year, the Cup was awarded to the men of Ohio State University and the women of Stanford University; the latter of which have received this honor for four years running.
How did we get here?
The honor of placing in the standings can be largely attributed to the wild success of USF’s Women’s Cross Country program, which has excelled for nearly a decade. In 2009, the team came in 1st overall at the West Coast Conference Championships; this success marked the first in a win streak that lasted five years. Coming off of this streak, they experienced a three-year “dry spell” – if you could call it that, being that the team still placed in the Top 5 consistently in that time. In fall 2017, they reignited their fire for 1st place and dominated not only the WCC Championships, but the West Region Championships as well. They managed to come in 2nd overall at the NCAA Championships – an incredible accomplishment for a team that has qualified for the final leg of the competition only five times in the program’s history. On her team’s contribution to USF’s standing, Women’s Cross Country coach Helen Lehman-Winters said, “Our team has extremely high goals and is comprised of an incredible group of women who work very hard on a daily basis. We are very happy to have played such a strong role in contributing toward our departments’ Capital One Cup standings and look forward to accomplishing more on the track this spring.”
The Cross Country program is not USF’s only hope for allowing USF to proceed in the Capital One Cup standings. While the women of Cross Country played the long game in the fall, the ladies of Track and Field have begun tearing up the grass and polyurethane in their usual stellar fashion. If their track record – pun not intended – continues, the Dons could see themselves climbing up the Cup rankings.
How can we win?
At the moment, Stanford is leading both the men’s and women’s standings with 91 points. With 12 schools ahead of us – and with 12 points to our name – it may seem as though the Dons are a far cry away from winning the Cup. However, athletic competitions are notoriously volatile, and standings can change in the blink of an eye. Remaining are both the winter athletics season and the spring athletics season, giving USF plenty of opportunity to rack up even more points.
If USF does succeed in snagging the Capital One Cup, the department will receive $200,000 in athletic scholarship funds as well as the platinum cup itself. While there is a gaggle of tough competition in their path, the Dons have made it abundantly clear that they are willing to go the distance and stay in it for the long haul in order to take the crown.
Featured Photo: The success of the Women’s Cross Country team, pictured at the USF Invitational in the Fall, propels USF further in the running for the Capital One Cup. USF DONS ATHLETICS/FLICKR