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Five top-10 teams among eight ranked to start the season in Pac-12 cross country

Sep 1, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO – A national-best five Pac-12 cross country teams appear in the top 10 to lead a total of eight 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)
3. Stanford
8. Colorado
10. Washington
22. Oregon State
RV: Oregon, Utah, Washington State

USTFCCCA Men’s Poll (Preseason)
4. Oregon
5. Stanford
12. Colorado
13. Washington
RV: Washington State

The only Conference with multiple programs among the top 10 in both the women’s and men’s polls, the Pac-12’s five combined top-10 teams are two clear of the next closest league (SEC – 3).

Seven former NCAA All-Americans return to Pac-12 women’s rosters this fall, including four of the national-best seven All-Americans from 2020. STANFORD boasts three returning All-Americans in Julia Heymach (2020), Jessica Lawson (2019) and Christina Aragon (2016), while WASHINGTON returns two in Allie Schadler (2020) and Mel Smart (2019). COLORADO welcomes back 2020 All-American Abby Nichols and OREGON STATE, which is ranked to start the season for the first time in program history, returns another 2020 All-American in Kaylee Mitchell. Haley Herberg, last season’s individual Conference champion and Pac-12 Athlete of the Year, is also back for the Huskies, and OREGON’s roster features Olympian Aneta Konieczek, who ran the steeplechase for Poland in Tokyo.

On the men’s side, six former NCAA All-Americans return to Pac-12 lineups, including the league’s two 2020 All-Americans in STANFORD’s Charles Hicks and Cole Sprout. COLORADO also welcomes back a pair of All-Americans in Alec Hornecker (2019) and reigning individual Conference champion and Pac-12 Athlete of the Year Eduardo Herrera (2017), while WASHINGTON’s Tibebu Proctor, a 2018 All-American, is back for the Huskies, along with Sam Tanner, who represented New Zealand in the 1,500m at the Tokyo Games.

OREGON, which didn’t compete as a team during the 2020 cross country season held this past spring, returns 2019 cross country All-American Cooper Teare along with a pair of Olympians in Cole Hocker (USA; 1,500m) and Charlie Hunter (Australia; 800m).

Eleven Pac-12 teams open their racing schedules this weekend. The 2021 Pac-12 Championships will be hosted by Utah for the first time at the Regional Athletic Complex in Salt Lake City on Friday, Oct. 29.

The NCAA Mountain and West Regionals will be held Friday, Nov. 12 in Provo, Utah and Sacramento, Calif., respectively, with teams advancing to the 2021 NCAA Championships in Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday, Nov. 20.

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.