By Mike DeVader, Communications and Sports Information Intern
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Fresh off its first men’s cross country national championship in school history in 2013, the top-spot of the 2014 NAIA Men’s Cross Country Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll belongs to Oklahoma City, the NAIA National Office announced Wednesday.
The ranking marks the Stars’ second-straight and second No. 1 ranking in program history, dating back to 1999, as the school regained first-place from its postseason ranking a year ago after capturing the national title at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence, Kan. Oklahoma City received 591 points and amassed 20 of the 21 first-place votes.
As the Stars look to defend their title this season, the squad returns three All-American athletes from the national championship team one year ago – juniors Arya Bahreini and Peter Koskey, and sophomore Mackenzie Wahpepah-Harris.
Southern Oregon, the 2013 national runner-up, will begin the new season in the second position. This is a familiar spot for the Raiders, as the squad ranked in the top-two during the entire 2013 season. Southern Oregon received 569 points and one first-place vote, the second and final team to earn top spot votes.
The rest of the top 5 rankings include No. 3 Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) (550 points), followed by Aquinas (Mich.) in fourth (525) and St. Francis (Ill.) in fifth position (505).
Tennessee Wesleyan led the charge of teams that made the biggest leap from the 2013 postseason poll, jumping up seven spots from No. 17 all the way to No. 10. Indiana Tech fell four slots from No. 18 to No. 22.
Fourteen conferences/independents/unaffiliated groups are represented in the Preseason Top 25, led by five schools from the Cascade Collegiate Conference: Southern Oregon, No. 8 Concordia (Ore.), No. 12 Eastern Oregon, No. 18 College of Idaho and No. 25 Oregon Tech. Seven conferences – AII, CCAC, CL, FC, GPAC, GSAC and WHAC – tied for second with two schools in the rankings each.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of coaches representing each of the conferences, independents and unaffiliated groups. For the entire 2014 Coaches’ Top 25 Poll schedule, click here. The first regular season Top 25 poll will be Sept. 17.
NOTES: (All information dates back to 1999) No. 1 Oklahoma City was one of just three teams to be ranked No. 1 during the 2013 season, joining St. Francis (Ill.) and Southern Oregon… Since 1999, only one program has been ranked No. 1 for an entire season: former member Malone (Ohio) in 2007 and 08… No. 4 Aquinas (Mich.) has been ranked among the Top 25 in an NAIA-best 136 consecutive polls, dating back to Aug. 22, 2000… Following Aquinas are Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) with 83, Cal State San Marcos with 61 and Southern Oregon with 59… Malone has the most No. 1 rankings with 38… Following Malone are Southern Oregon with 21, Life (Ga.) with 18 and Virginia Intermont with 15… Overall, 17 different programs have claimed the No. 1 spot in the poll… Oklahoma City looks to become the second program in NAIA men’s cross country history to run the table being ranked No. 1 since Malone in 2008.
2014 NAIA Men’s Cross Country Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll (Aug. 27)
|RANK||LAST^||SCHOOL (1st PLACE VOTES)||FINAL POINTS|
|1||1||Oklahoma City (20)||591|
|2||2||Southern Oregon (1)||569|
|3||6||Olivet Nazarene (Ill.)||550|
|5||4||St. Francis (Ill.)||505|
|7||7||Shawnee State (Ohio)||465|
|9||13||Cal State San Marcos||418|
|11||9||Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)||391|
|13||15||The Master's (Calif.)||360|
|18||20||College of Idaho||256|
|19||22||Saint Mary (Kan.)||232|
Others Receiving Votes: Wayland Baptist (Texas) 78; Cumberlands (Ky.) 77; Milligan (Tenn.) 73; Rocky Mountain (Mont.) 64; Doane (Neb.) 41; Columbia (Mo.) 36; Vanguard (Calif.) 33; Central Methodist (Mo.) 33; Southwestern (Kan.) 17; Cornerstone (Mich.) 11; Dickinson State (N.D.) 7; Indiana East 3.
^ 2013 NAIA Men’s Cross Country Coaches’ Postseason Top 25 Poll (Nov. 27)