MIAA Cross Country Coaches Polls released

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- The two-time defending Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association men's champion Missouri Southern Lions and 2006 NCAA Division II women's regional runner-up Pittsburg State Gorillas were the top selections in the 2007 MIAA Cross Country Preseason Coaches Polls.

Southern claimed all seven available first-place votes (coaches cannot vote for their own team) to top the men's survey with a perfect score of 49 points.

PSU's women scored five of the seven available top votes and edged defending champion MSSU in their poll, 45-44. The Lions picked up the remaining three first-place votes.

The Central Missouri Mules, the only men's team other than the Lions to claim an MIAA title in the last five years (2004), was second in the men's voting with 42 points and the only other first-place vote.

Fort Hays State (31 points) nipped PSU (30 points) and Southwest Baptist (29 points) for third. Truman edged Northwest Missouri State for sixth, 20-18, with Emporia State coming in eighth with seven points.

Missouri Southern's men have all five scoring runners from last season back in the fold for 2007, including four All-MIAA performers -- juniors Dustin Dixon (third in '06) and Bret Musser (eighth) along with seniors Ryan Arthur (ninth) and Kyle Davis (10th).

UCM boasts the top returning finisher from last season's conference meet in senior Adam Akers -- he was the MIAA's top finisher at the regional (seventh) and national (46th) meets in 2006.

Two top-20 finishers are also back in senior Dennis Hill (16th) and junior David Fuchs (20th).

The Central Missouri Jennies were third in the women's ranking with 38 points, followed by Southwest Baptist with 30. The second four were only separated by six points -- led by FHSU (20 points), Truman (18), ESU (17) and Northwest (14).

All-MIAA performers return for Pitt State in the form of junior Rachel Sneddon (sixth) and senior Lucinda Fortney (10th), along with senior Venessa Lee (20th) and sophomore Megan Ballock (30th), but the key to the Gorillas winning the title could hinge on the health of junior Stacy Kentzler.

Kentzler was PSU's top runner in the 2006 regular season, but didn't compete in the postseason due to injuries. Also back from injury is the 2005 MIAA runner-up, senior Erica Ogle, who missed all of last season.

Southern returns it's two All-MIAA finishers in sophomore Kimi Shank (seventh) and junior Alison Walker (eighth). The Lions also have their other three scorers from '06 back -- junior Kara Eckard (13th) along with sophomores Courtney Waltbillig (15th) and Ashley Bunch (24th).

Emporia State senior Jonel Rossbach is back to lead the Lady Hornets and try to become the ninth runner in MIAA history to capture two league championships. UCM's Kristin Anderson was the last to do so in 2003-04.

Truman will host the MIAA Championships Oct. 20. Southern will be the site of the NCAA Division II South Central Regional on Nov. 3, as well as the National Championships Nov. 17.

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2007 MIAA Men's Cross Country Preseason Coaches Poll

School Pts.
1. Missouri Southern (7).......... 49
2. Central Missouri (1)........... 42
3. Fort Hays State................ 31
4. Pittsburg State................ 30
5. Southwest Baptist.............. 29
6. Truman......................... 20
7. Northwest Missouri State....... 18
8. Emporia State.................. 7

Points awarded on an 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.
Coaches could not vote for their own school.

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2007 MIAA Women's Cross Country Preseason Coaches Poll

School Pts.
1. Pittsburg State (5)............ 45
2. Missouri Southern (3).......... 44
3. Central Missouri............... 38
4. Southwest Baptist.............. 30
5. Fort Hays State................ 20
6. Truman......................... 18
7. Emporia State.................. 17
8. Northwest Missouri State....... 14

Points awarded on an 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.
Coaches could not vote for their own school.


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