The Shawnee State men’s and women’s cross country programs both earned top 10 positions in the NAIA Preseason Coaches’ Polls, which were released on Wednesday evening. SSU’s women were ranked sixth, and the men were selected ninth.
SSU’s women earned the sixth spot, getting 445 points in the poll. With the ranking, Shawnee State is tied with Wayland Baptist (Texas) for the sixth spot. The No. 6 ranking is better than last season’s preseason ranking for Shawnee State, who began 2016 ranked No. 13. The ranking is also better than any spot Shawnee State ended up in one season ago in any poll. In addition to those points, Shawnee State’s preseason ranking is also their highest ever preseason ranking in program history. SSU finished ninth in the 2016 NAIA National Championships en route to collecting the same finish in the poll.
SSU’s men earned the No. 9 position, which is also higher than any ranking the team earned one season ago. The Bears got 402 votes, just three behind No. 8 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho). Shawnee State’s No. 9 ranking is their highest since being ranked seventh in the 2014 preseason poll. Shawnee State finished 10th at the 2016 NAIA National Championships.
“It is such an exciting time for our programs to be so well regarded by our NAIA peers to be ranked so high in the pre-season polls,” said head coach Eric Putnam. “We have a very hard working group of student athletes and we are very excited to try and live up to what we are ranked in the pre-season poll.”
The Shawnee State cross country programs begin the season on Sept. 8 at the Mid-South Conference Preview Meet in Bowling Green, Ky.