Which team can take down the Cowboys?
Season Preview: Oklahoma State looks for fourth title in five years
The Cowboys return four scorers from their title-winning squad a year ago, three of whom are now seniors who finished in the top 25 as individuals. Tom Farrell finished ninth overall in 2012, while teammates Shadrack Kipchirchir and Joseph Manilafasha finished 18th and 24th, respectively. Junior Shane Moskowitz (53rd) also returns for the 2013 season.
“It’s always great to earn recognition,” OSU coach Dave Smith said. “However, this is just a preseason ranking. They don’t award trophies for preseason rankings. We have to go out there and back it up.”
Coach has the right idea. There are plenty of other schools in the running to take the title away from OSU. But the question is, who?
Northern Arizona returns all five scorers from its fourth-place national finish from the 2012 season. Senior Brian Shrader is the elder statesman of the Lumberjacks, having finished a team-best 15th overall at the NCAA championship in 2012, and will lead the way for a group of young returning scorers that features juniors Matt McElroy (66th) and Caleb Hoover (75th) and two sophomores in Futsum Zienasellassie (31st) and Nathan Weitz (80th).
The Lumberjacks were also picked to repeat as Big Sky Conference champions.
This group has the experience and talent to live up to and even surpass expectations.
Colorado starts the 2013 campaign in exactly the same spot it finished 2012 — No. 3 — behind the strength of four returning scorers from a year ago.
The Buffaloes return seven letterwinners, including six postseason scorers from the 2012 team that placed third at the NCAA Championships after winning the second consecutive Pac-12 Conference title.
In that group of returners is All-Americans senior Jake Hurysz (32nd), the lone returning senior scorer. He is joined by junior Blake Theroux (39th) and sophomores Pierce Murphy (45th) and Connor Winter (65th).
The men have also added some talent with the addition of five newcomers; David Emmert, Zach Perrin, Adam Peterman, Ben Saarel and Panos Smyrnios to their roster.
The No. 5 national ranking is the highest position for the Golden Hurricane in the coaches' poll. Tulsa's previous high position was No. 9 last October. Tulsa is currently tied with Arkansas for the number five spot in the preseason.
The Golden Hurricane is the underdog in this race, it trails four spots behind OSU. But Tulsa has something up their sleeve. They moved up four spots in one offseason.
Tulsa has junior Brian Tabb and sophormore Marc Scott leading the squad.