Four Pac-12 men's, women's teams ranked in USTFCCCA preseason polls
SAN FRANCISCO – The men’s and women’s cross country teams from COLORADO, OREGON, STANFORD and WASHINGTON appear in the 2016 preseason coaches polls released by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Tuesday.
The Pac-12 is the most represented conference at the top of both polls as all of the four men's and women's teams are in the top 11 of the season’s inaugural national rankings.
The league’s four ranked men’s teams are all in the top 8 of the poll, reflecting their top-8 finishes at last year’s NCAA Championship.
Led by the return of all five of its scorers from last year’s NCAA meet, including three-time defending Pac-12 and NCAA individual champion Edward Cheserek, Oregon (fourth at NCAA's in 2015) received one first-place vote and is ranked No. 2 behind only defending NCAA champion Syracuse. No. 4 Stanford (third at NCAA's in 2015), No. 5 Colorado (second) and No. 8 Washington (eighth) round out the Pac-12’s ranked programs, with WASHINGTON STATE and UCLA among teams also receiving votes.
Cheserek will be seeking to make history in 2016 as he can become the first four-time individual champion in NCAA cross country history. He will be joined by six other former All-Americans in the Pac-12 this fall in Colorado’s John Dressel and Ben Saarel, Stanford’s Grant Fisher, Sean McGorty and Sam Wharton, and Washington’s Colby Gilbert. The Cardinal (No. 1), Buffaloes (No. 3) and Ducks (No. 9) will also be bolstered by top 10 recruiting classes according to FloTrack.
On the women’s side, last year’s Pac-12 champion and NCAA Championship runner-up Colorado received one first-place vote and is the highest rated Pac-12 program at No. 2 behind only top-ranked and defending national champion New Mexico. The Buffaloes return six of their seven runners, including four of five scorers from the 2015 NCAA title meet. No. 4 Oregon, No. 7 Stanford and No. 11 Washington complete the league’s listings, while CALIFORNIA and UTAH are also receiving votes.
Five former women’s All-Americans return as the Buffaloes bring back Kaitlyn Benner and Erin Clark, the Ducks welcome back Alli Cash, and the Cardinal return Elise Cranny and Vanessa Fraser. A national-best four Pac-12 women’s teams added top 10 recruiting classes according to FloTrack in Stanford (No. 1), Oregon (No. 2), Colorado (No. 3) and California (No. 6).
Nine Pac-12 teams begin their competition season this week, with two months of racing ahead of the 2016 Pac-12 Championships hosted by ARIZONA at Randolph North Golf Course in Tucson, Ariz., on Friday, Oct. 28. The NCAA Mountain and West Regionals will be held Friday, Nov. 11 in Logan, Utah and Sacramento, Calif., respectively, with teams advancing to the 2016 NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., on Saturday, Nov. 19.
The Pac-12 will be looking to add to its distinction as the winningest conference in NCAA cross country history this fall as current league members boast the most combined team national championships (27 – 16 men/11 women) and individual titles (28 – 25 men/3 women) of any league in the country.