NEW ORLEANS - The Division I Cross Country regional polls were announced today by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Nine regions represent D-I cross country with last year's men's national champion, Colorado, leading the way as they are the number one ranked team in the men's Mountain regional.
Last year's women's champion, Stanford, starts the year ranked first in the women's West regional.
The 2006 women's national champ, Stanford, returns as the top ranked team in the West. The Cardinal will also be going for the cross country "triple crown" on the women's side as they look to defend their 2006 Pac-10 Conference, West region and NCAA titles. Arizona State comes in at number two followed by Washington at number three. Oregon (no. 4) and UC-Santa Barbara (no.5) make up the top five in the women's West region. Washington State is ranked seventh in the pre-season poll
The women's team will be led by NCAA championships qualifier at 5000 meters Anita Campbell, and will be backed by a strong group, including 2006 NCAA outdoor 1500m champ Amy Lia; NCAA qualifier at 1500 meters, Amanda Miller; and a strong freshman class, which includes Mel Lawrence from Reno, who competed at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships and World Junior Track & Field Championships in 2006, and Lauren Saylor from Buchanan HS in Fresno, California.
Washington State will be led by the trio of Haley Paul (Phoenix, Ariz.), Collier Lawrence (Reno, Nev.) and Pac-10 steeplechase champion Sara Trané (Pixbo, Sweden).
With depth, experience, and talent, Washington State cross country coach Jason Drake believes the Cougar women have the potential to be as successful as the men, which qualified for the NCAA championships in 2006.
The Oregon Ducks lead the way for the men in the West region as they return five of their top seven from a year ago. The team finished fifth (tied with Arkansas) at nationals. Following the Ducks at number two are the Stanford Cardinal. Stanford finished fourth last year at the national meet, only one point ahead of both Oregon and Arkansa
Portland (no.3), UCLA (no. 4) and California Poly (no.5) complete the men's West region top five.Washington State is ranked sixth, while the University of Washington is ranked eighth in the pre-season polls.
The Cougars, who qualified for last year's NCAA championships, are projected to be led by senior Alex Grant, along with freshmen Sean Coyle, from Spokane Valley, and David Hickerson, from Spokane.
The Huskies will be led by 2006 NCAA qualifier Jeremy Mineau from Menlo Park, Calif., along with 2007 NCAA steeple qualifier Carl Moe, and a freshman class led by Seattle Prep's Max O-Donoghue-McDonald.