By: Sam Knehans, Communications & Sports Information Intern
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — St. Francis (Ill.) remains atop the rankings in the first regular-season NAIA Men’s Cross Country Coaches’ Top 25 poll, the national office announced Wednesday. St. Francis’ selection—with 20 first-place votes and 560 total points—gives the defending national champion Fighting Saints three-straight No. 1 rankings for the first time in school history.
St. Francis, the only school to return multiple All-Americans this season, won its first meet—the Calvin College (Mich.) Knight Invitational on Sept. 14—despite resting two of its top five runners. The Fighting Saints bested the 27-team field, which included No. 3 Aquinas (Mich.) and NCAA Division III power Calvin, with a team 8-kilometer time of 2:06:10.
Southern Oregon, who was ranked No. 1 for all of the 2012 regular season, accumulated 540 total points to claim the No. 2 ranking. The Raiders still have something to prove after resting their top runners in the early going, especially following the loss of All-Americans Tyler VanDyke (19th) and Scott McIntyre (22nd).
No. 3 Aquinas (Mich.) accrued 513 points to preserve its ranking from the preseason poll. The Saints, who return All-American Grant Gunneson (20th), finished second in the Calvin College Knight Invitational behind No. 1 St. Francis with a team 8-kilometer time of 2:08:16.
No. 4 British Columbia, with 512 points, and No. 5 Shawnee State (Ohio), with 493 points, round out the top five. British Columbia finished second in the Sundodger Invitational open division on Sept. 14, with a team 8-kilometer time of 2:06:27. The Thunderbirds were outpaced by NCAA Division II Chico State (Calif.) in the meet—their first of the year—hosted by the University of Washington. Shawnee State finished third in its first race of the season, the Miami (Ohio) Invitational. The Bears placed behind NCAA Division I teams Ohio University and Miami (Ohio) with a team 5-kilometer time of 1:17:24.
There were no changes among the top five teams in the first regular-season poll, but there was significant movement throughout the rest of the Top 25. Within the poll, No. 7 Oklahoma City made the largest jump, moving up eight spots, while former-No. 6 Oklahoma Baptist fell six spots, landing at No. 12.
There were four newcomers to the Top 25, three of whom received votes in the preseason poll. No. 22 Northwest Christian (Ore.), No. 23 Saint Mary (Kan.) and No. 25 Tennessee Wesleyan moved from the receiving votes category into the Top 25. No. 21 Westmont (Calif.) went from unranked directly into the Top 25.
This is Tennessee Wesleyan’s first-ever Top 25 ranking, dating back to 1999. All other newcomers were ranked in multiple polls last season.
Concordia (Ore.), Vanguard (Calif.), Missouri Valley and Southwestern (Kan.) fell out of the Top 25.
Thirteen conferences/independents/unaffiliated groups are represented in the first regular-season Top 25, led by four teams from the Cascade Collegiate Conference—Southern Oregon, No. 13 Eastern Oregon, No. 15 Oregon Tech and No. 22 Northwest Christian (Ore.)—and three teams from the Golden State Athletic Conference—No. 11 The Master’s (Calif.), No. 18 Arizona Christian and Westmont.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences, independents and unaffiliated groups. For the entire 2013 Coaches' Top 25 Poll schedule, click here.
NOTES: (All information dates back to 1999) No. 1 St. Francis (Ill.) is trying to become the fifth school in NAIA history to begin the season ranked No. 1 and go on to win the national championship… Life (Ga.) in 1999 and 2000, former-member Minot State (N.D.) in 2002, Virginia Intermont in 2005 and 06 and former-member Malone (Ohio) in 2007, 08 and 09 have all accomplished this… Since 1999, only one program has been ranked No. 1 for an entire season: Malone in 2007 and 08… No. 3 Aquinas (Mich.) has been ranked among the Top 25 in 127 consecutive polls, dating back to Aug. 22, 2000… Southwestern (Kan.), who fell out of the Top 25 this week, had been ranked for 21-straight polls dating back to Aug. 24, 2011… Former-member Malone has the most No. 1 rankings with 38… Following Malone are Southern Oregon with 20, Life (Ga.) with 18 and Virginia Intermont with 15… Overall, 16 different programs have claimed the No. 1 spot in the poll… St. Francis has been ranked No. 1 on just two prior occasions, in the 2012 postseason poll and the 2013 preseason poll… Two teams held the No. 1 ranking in 2012: St. Francis and Southern Oregon.
2013 NAIA Men’s Cross Country Coaches’ Top 25 Poll – No. 1 (Sept. 18)
|RANK||LAST TIME^||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||1||St. Francis (Ill.) (20)||560|
|5||5||Shawnee State (Ohio)||493|
|8||12||Olivet Nazarene (Ill.)||440|
|9||9||Cal State San Marcos||400|
|10||8||Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)||394|
|11||9||The Master's (Calif.)||386|
|16||17||Dickinson State (N.D.)||274|
|22||RV||Northwest Christian (Ore.)||163|
|23||RV||Saint Mary (Kan.)||121|
Others Receiving Votes: Emmanuel (Ga.) 90; Concordia (Ore.) 79; Park (Mo.) 66; Saint Xavier (Ill.) 54; Vanguard (Calif.) 50; Missouri Valley 48; Indiana Tech 46; Southwestern (Kan.) 37; Dordt (Iowa) 23; Carroll (Mont.) 20; SCAD Savannah (Ga.) 4; College of Idaho 3.
^ 2013 NAIA Men’s Cross Country Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll