By Scott Barker, Communications and Sports Information Intern
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Southern Oregon Raiders begin the 2015 Cross Country season in the No. 1 spot in the 2015 NAIA coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll, the NAIA National Office announced Wednesday. The 2014 NAIA National Championships runner-up received 17 first-place votes and 528 points.
The Raiders start at No. 1 for the first time since 2012. This year marks the fourth time that Southern Oregon will start No. 1 and the 31st time overall that the Raiders will be No. 1, dating back to 1999. Southern Oregon looks to join Oklahoma City (2014) and former NAIA member Malone (Ohio) (2007 & 2008) as the only programs to go the entire season ranked No. 1.
The Raiders return a strong core this season. Jared Hixon, the lone finisher from the 2014 NAIA second-place team, looks to improve on his 16th-place finish at the championships. Senior Dylan Alexander finished 18th at the Cascade Collegiate Conference Cross Country Championships. Zach Boyd-Helm and Ray Schireman finished 21st and 12th at the conference championships. The first meet for Southern Oregon is the Cascade Conference Preview Meet on Sept. 18.
Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) comes in at No. 2 with 513 points. The Tigers finished 2014 at No. 3 after finishing third at the NAIA National Championships. Olivet Nazarene will return four of their top six finishers from last year. NAIA All-American’s Dylan Creger and Caleb Drake finished 20th and 26th, while Ron Milbocker and Matt Meehan came in at 48 and 59, respectively. Olivet Nazarene opens its season on Sept. 11, as they will participate in the Midwest Classic.
St. Francis (Ill.) comes in at No. 3 with 489 points, while No. 4 Aquinas (Mich.) (477 points) and No. 5 Carroll (Mont.) (464) round out the top 5.
This year’s preseason poll features six newcomers in the Top 25. Marian (Ind.) is No. 19 and Milligan (Tenn.) comes in at No. 20. Goshen (Ind.), Vanguard (Calif.) SCAD Savannah (Ga.) and Dordt (Iowa) are 21-25 respectively. Vanguard is the only team that was not receiving votes from last year’s postseason poll.
This poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences/independent/unaffiliated groups. The first regular-season poll will be announced Sept. 16.
For the complete Men’s Cross Country ratings calendar, click here.
Notes: (All information dates back to 1999) Southern Oregon has finished second in the NAIA three seasons in-a-row and have not finished lower that fourth since 2008…This marks the third consecutive year that St. Francis (Ill.) has appeared in the preseason top 5…No. 4 Aquinas (Mich.) has appeared in the Top 25 for an NAIA record 146-consectutive polls, dating back to Aug. 22, 2000…Malone (Ohio) has the most No. 1 rankings with 38, followed by Southern Oregon with 31…Overall, 17 different programs have held the No. 1 ranking.
2015 NAIA Men’s Cross Country Coaches’ Top 25 Poll – Preseason (Aug. 26)
|RANK||LAST^||SCHOOL (1st PLACE VOTES)||FINAL POINTS|
|1||2||Southern Oregon (17)||528|
|2||3||Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) (2)||513|
|3||8||St. Francis (Ill.)||489|
|7||10||Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)||435|
|11||14||Saint Mary (Kan.)||341|
|12||18||The Master’s (Calif.)||336|
|13||21||College of Idaho||334|
|14||17||Shawnee State (Ohio)||327|
|17||25||Wayland Baptist (Texas)||235|
|24||RV||SCAD Savannah (Ga.)||132|
Others Receiving Votes: Northwest Christian (Ore.) 110; William Carey (Miss.) 92; Dalton State (Ga.) 55; Rocky Mountain (Mont.) 43; Cornerstone (Mich.) 38; Concordia (Neb.) 23; Westmont (Calif.) 21; Baker (Kan.) 16; Bethel (Ind.) 12; Eastern Oregon 9; Biola (Calif.) 7; St. Ambrose (Iowa) 6; Campbellsville (Ky.) 6; Dickinson State (N.D.) 4.
^ 2015 NAIA Men’s Cross Country Coaches’ Top 25 Poll – Preseason (Aug. 26)