No. 1 Colorado women lead 11 Pac-12 Cross Country teams in preseason polls

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SAN FRANCISCO – Seven Pac-12 Conference cross country teams appear in the top 10, highlighted by defending NCAA champion COLORADO atop the women’s poll, to lead a national-best total of 11 men’s and women’s programs in the preseason United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) national rankings released on Tuesday.

USTFCCCA WOMEN’S POLL (Preseason)
1. Colorado
3. Washington
5. Stanford
9. Oregon
21. UCLA
22. Utah
RV: Oregon State

USTFCCCA MEN’S POLL (Preseason)
3. Washington
4. Colorado
10. Stanford
11. Oregon
22. UCLA

The Pac-12’s combined 11 ranked teams are the most of any conference in the country, with five men’s top-30 teams leading all leagues and six ranked women’s programs tied for the most with the Big Ten. Seven of the Conference’s 11 ranked programs appear inside the top 10, more than double the next closest leagues (Big Ten – 3, WCC – 3).

Seven former NCAA All-Americans return to Pac-12 women’s rosters this fall, including five of the national-best 13 All-Americans from 2018. Colorado, Stanford and Washington boast two returning All-Americans apiece – Sage Hurta (2016, 2017, 2018) and Tabor Scholl (2018) for the Buffaloes, Christina Aragon (2016) and Fiona O’Keeffe (2017, 2018) for the Cardinal, and Lilli Burdon (2017, 2018) and Katie Rainsberger (2016, 2017, 2018) for the Huskies. CALIFORNIA also welcomes back 2017 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Brie Oakley, who redshirted the 2018 season.

The CU women enter the year No. 1 for the second time in the past three seasons, while No. 3 UW owns its highest preseason ranking since 2012. No. 21 UCLA appears in the initial poll for the first time since 2004 and No. 22 Utah is ranked to start the season for just the second time in program history (No. 22 in 2017).

On the men’s side, six former NCAA All-Americans return to Pac-12 lineups, including five of the national-best eight All-Americans from 2018. Colorado paces the league with three returning All-Americans in John Dressel (2015, 2016, 2018), Eduardo Herrera (2017) and Joe Klecker (2016, 2018). Two-time defending Conference champion Stanford brings back Alex Ostberg (2017, 2018) and Alek Parsons (2018), while Tibebu Proctor (2018) returns at Washington, which holds its highest preseason ranking on record at No. 3.

Seven Pac-12 teams open their racing schedules this weekend, followed by NCAA Championship countable events beginning on Sept. 13.

The 2019 Pac-12 Championships, originally set to be contested at Trysting Tree Golf Club in Corvallis, Ore., will now be held at Ash Creek Preserve in nearby Monmouth, Ore., with Oregon State remaining as host institution. Extensive flooding of the Willamette River and Trysting Tree this spring prompted the shift. The Championships will be televised live on Pac-12 Network for the third consecutive year with racing starting at 11 a.m. PT.

The NCAA Mountain and West Regionals will be held Friday, Nov. 15 and hosted by Pac-12 programs Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah and Washington State in Colfax, Wash., with teams advancing to the 2019 NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., on Saturday, Nov. 23.

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 (29 – 16 men/13 women) and individual titles (29 – 25 men/4 women) of any league in the country.

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