By Scott Barker, Communications and Sports Information Intern
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – After finishing third at the 2014 NAIA Women’s Cross Country National Championships, the Northwest Christian (Ore.) Beacons find themselves atop the 2015 NAIA Coaches’ Preseason Top 25, the NAIA National Office announced Wednesday. Northwest Christian received 14 first-place votes and 495 points overall.
This year marks the first time that the Beacons start the season atop the poll and is the highest Women’s Cross Country ranking in school history. Northwest Christian return’s top runner, Alyssa Harmon, who finished sixth at last year’s NAIA Championships. Sierra Brown is another returning All-American as she finished 18th last year. Rosa Schmidt and Michelle Fletcher, who both ran in the National Championships, will also play key roles for the Beacons this season. Northwest Christian will start its journey to a national championship as it plays host to the NCU Invitational on Sept. 9.
Carroll (Mont.) comes in at No. 2 after finishing fourth at the 2014 NAIA National Championships. This marks the highest ranking in school history for Women’s Cross Country. The Fighting Saints return three of their top five runners, including their top two. Leah Esposito finished 12th while Sandy Torres finished 38th at last year’s NAIA Championships. Returnees Regan Bold and Megan Mullaney are also top runners for Carroll. The Fighting Saints begin their season as they host the Carrol College Early Bird Open on Sept. 11.
Rounding out the top five are No. 3 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) (445 points), No. 4 Aquinas (Mich.) (436 points), and tied at No. 5, The Master’s (Calif.) and Westmont (Calif.), with 435 points.
Five new schools enter the Top 25 poll – No. 17 Milligan (Tenn.) No. 22 Hastings (Neb.), No. 23 Indiana Tech, No. 24 Texas Wesleyan and No. 25 Great Falls (Mont.).
The poll was voted upon by a panel of coaches representing each of the conferences, association of independent institutions and unaffiliated groups. The first regular-season poll will be announced Sept. 16.
For the entire 2014 Coaches’ Top 25 Poll schedule, click here.
Notes: (All information dates back to 1999) Northwest Christian makes its 41-consecutive appearance in the Top 25…Aquinas has made an appearance in six-straight Top 25 Polls…Great Falls enters the Top 25 for the first time ever…Former-member Simon Fraser (B.C.) has the most all-time No. 1 rankings with 40 … Following Simon Fraser are former-members Azusa Pacific (Calif.) and Cedarville (Ohio) with 18 each … Overall, 12 different programs have claimed the No. 1 spot in the poll … No. 2 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) has been ranked among the Top 25 for an active streak of 135-consecutive polls, dating back to Sept. 21, 2001.
2015 NAIA Women’s Cross Country Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll – Aug. 26
|RANK||LAST^||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||FINAL POINTS|
|1||3||Northwest Christian (Ore.) (14)||495|
|2||4||Carroll (Mont.) (4)||485|
|3||2||Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)||445|
|T5||13||The Master’s (Calif.)||435|
|10||12||Shawnee State (Ohio)||348|
|11||20||St. Francis (Ill.)||334|
|12||17||College of Idaho||327|
|15||16||Olivet Nazarene (Ill.)||272|
|16||22||SCAD Savannah (Ga.)||239|
|21||23||St. Ambrose (Iowa)||182|
|25||NR||Great Falls (Mont.)||104|
Others Receiving Votes: Concordia (Neb.) 68; Spring Arbor (Mich.) 55; Dalton State (Ga.) 54; Mount Mercy (Iowa) 45; Cornerstone (Mich.) 41; Trinity Christian (Ill.) 35; Cumberlands (Ky.) 31; Northwest (Wash.) 23; Columbia (Mo.) 14; Wayland Baptist (Texas) 14; Doane (Neb.) 13; Saint Mary (Kan.) 12; Huntington (Ind.) 10; USC Beaufort (S.C.) 3.
^ 2015 NAIA Women’s Cross Country Coaches’ Top 25 Poll – Preseason (Aug. 26)