NEW ORLEANS--The University of Washington women's cross country team is ranked number five in the USTFCCCA's pre-season poll, released Tuesday.
The Providence Friars are the country's #1 team in the pre-season polls, gaining 11 of the 12 first place votes from the national panel.
|Washington's Liberty Miller & Katie|
Flood at the 2012 Pac-12 meet.
Photo by Paul Merca
The top three scorers from the Friars’ runners-up effort a year ago return in sophomore Sarah Collins, who finished 10th overall as a freshman last year; and seniors Emily Sisson (15th) and Laura Nagel (35th).
No. 2 Florida State has been knocking on the door of a national team title for the last six years, having finished fourth the past two seasons, runner-up in 2009 and 1010, and third in 2007 and 2008.
Reigning champion Oregon lost many of its scorers from last year — its top three scorers, to be precise — but the Ducks enter the season at No. 3 in the country. Junior transfer Lindsay Crevoiserat, who finished 42nd overall last year while at Connecticut, will join returning Ducks Allie Woodward (44th) and Annie Leblanc (68th) in the title defense effort.
Expectations are high for #4 Duke, which will rely on the experience its top three returning scorers to build on a 2012 season that saw the Blue Devils record a seventh-place finish — the program’s best since a third-place showing in 2005.
No. 5 Washington likewise improves from its ninth-place showing at NCAAs in 2012 behind the return of four returning scorers from last year — all of whom are seniors who experienced the Huskies’ narrow runners-up finish to Georgetown at the 2011 NCAA Championships. A strong crew featuring Megan Goethals (48th), Katie Flood (t89th), Justine Johnson (t89th) and Liberty Miller (152nd) will get one final shot at bringing the program its first title since 2008.
The Huskies also add heralded in-state freshmen Amy-Eloise Neale (Glacier Peak HS) and Katie Knight (North Central HS), both of whom competed at the IAAF world cross country championships in the junior race in March.
Besides the Ducks and Huskies, Arizona (#7), Stanford (#8), and Colorado (#14) gives the Pac-12 five teams in the national pre-season top 30.
In the national men's poll, Oklahoma State, Northern Arizona, Colorado, BYU, Arkansas and Tulsa are ranked by the voters as the country's top five teams (Arkansas/Tulsa tied for fifth).
The top team in the West region goes to the Portland Pilots at #8. Besides Colorado (which is in the Mountain region), Oregon at #12, UCLA at #13, and Stanford at #16 are the other three teams from the Pac-12 ranked in the national pre-season top 30.
Washington opens the 2013 season with a low-key non-scoring meet Friday at Magnuson Park in Seattle starting at 4 pm, featuring Seattle University and invited unattached runners.
NOTE: The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.