By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- The Willamette University men's cross country team is ranked #31 in the NCAA Division III National Preseason Poll for the 2017 season, as released by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). In addition, both of Willamette's teams are listed in the West Region Preseason Rankings, with the men's team ranked fourth and the women's team ranked fifth.
In the Men's Preseason Poll, North Central College (Ill.) was ranked #1 with all eight first place votes and 280 points. NCC is the defending NCAA Division III champion. SUNY Geneseo (N.Y.) was ranked #2 in this year's poll with 272 points. University of Wisconsin-La Crosse held the #3 position with 263 points.
Williams College (Mass.) was ranked #4 with 252 points. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire followed at #5 with 232 points. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was #6, just one point behind UWEC with 231 points. Another point back was Johns Hopkins University (Md.) in seventh place with 230 points. Christopher Newport University (Va.) was eighth at 223, with Loras College (Iowa) in ninth at 217 and Pomona-Pitzer (Calif.) was #10 at 206.
Pomona-Pitzer and Willamette were two of the four West Region teams included in the Men's Preseason Poll. Occidental College (Calif.) was ranked #18 and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Calif.) was listed at #22.
Johns Hopkins topped the Women's Preseason Poll with seven of eight first place votes and 279 points. Washington College (Mo.) was #2 with the remaining first place vote and 270 points. MIT placed #3 in the poll with 255 points, while UW-La Crosse was #4 at 247. SUNY Geneseo was one point behind UWL to earn a ranking of #5 with 246 points.
Listed at #6 was Williams with 244 points. Ithaca College (N.Y.) followed at #7 with 227 points, and Calvin College (Mich.) was #8 at 221. Middlebury College (Vt.) held the #9 spot with 208 points. Tufts University (Mass.) was #10 at 199.
In the West Region men's rankings, Pomona-Pitzer owned the top spot. Occidental was ranked #2, with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at #3 and Willamette at #4. University of Califorinia, Santa Cruz was #5. Pacific Lutheran University was next at #6, while Whittier College (Calif.) was #7 and Lewis & Clark College followed at #8. George Fox University was #9 and California Institute of Technology was #10.
Whitworth University was ranked #1 on the West Region women's list. CMS held the #2 position, and Occidental was #3. Pomona-Pitzer was listed at #4, with Willamette at #5 and UC Santa Cruz at #6. Rounding out the West Region rankings were Linfield College at #7, Whittier at #8, University of Redlands at #9 and Colorado College at #10.
Several Bearcats will open the season on Friday, Sept. 8 in Monmouth, Oregon, at the Ash Creek Preserve Invitational. The first race is set to begin at 5 p.m. (PDT).