NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association released its national team preseason rankings for the 2011 NCAA Division II cross country season. The men’s team of Adams State was picked as the season’s first No. 1 team as the Grizzlies will be defending a three-peat of NCAA crowns. Western State was picked as the top-ranked team on the women’s side while defending champ Grand Valley State was chosen at No. 2.
|2||Grand Valley State|
Adams State has won the past three NCAA cross country titles and took last year’s event 57-102, ahead of nearest challenger current-No. 2 Western State. At last year’s snowy championships, the Grizzleies placed five of their runners in the race’s top 25. Of that group, Craig Hugger and Keegan Calmes are expected to return along with Edwin Cruz and Nathaniel Sellers who were ASU’s six and seven, placing in the race’s top 35.
The preseason top six in the men’s rankings follow the exact order of finish from the 2010 NCAA Cross Country Championships as Grand Valley State stands at No. 3, followed by No. 4 Colorado Mines, No. 5 Chico State, and No. 6 Augustana (S.D.).
The RMAC placed six men’s teams in the national top 25 to lead all conferences. Along with having three of the nation’s top four ranked teams, the RMAC has No. 17 Metro State, No. 21 New Mexico Highlands, and No. 23 Nebraska-Kearney ranked in the preseason. The GLVC, GNAC, and PSAC follow with three teams in the top 25 apiece.
On the women’s side, Western State will begin the season as No. 1 following their runner-up team showing a year ago. The Mountaineers were second to current-No. 2 Grand Valley State at last year’s national championships, but return third-place finisher Lauren Kleppin and top-15 finisher Sara Lyle.
GVSU won its first NCAA cross country crown last season, stopping a seven-year win streak by Adams State. The Lakers graduated two top-ten national finishers, but return four that finished in the national top 35 a year ago. Chico State is ranked No. 3 while Adams State is at No. 4 and Alaska-Anchorage takes the No. 5 post.
The PSAC has four women’s teams ranked, including No. 8 Shippensburg, No. 14 Edinboro, No. 19 Millersville, and No. 22 East Stroudsburg. The NSIC and GLIAC follow with three.