NEW ORLEANS--With the start of the Division II season for Washington's four schools in nine days, the United States Track and Field & Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) released its national pre-season rankings.
The Western Washington Vikings are the only Washington squad with both men's and women's teams ranked in the national pre-season poll, as their men's team is ranked #18, and their women's squad is ranked #19.
Western Washington will be led by sophomore Cory Johnson, junior Isaac Griffith, and senior Jonathan Quimby, who were the top three returning finishers at last year's NCAA championships.
Senior All-American Katelyn Steen (#7, above/photo courtesy Western Washington University) is the clear leader of the Viking women's squad, after finishing 34th in the national cross country championships, and parlaying it into a fourth place finish last spring in the steeplechase at the Division II track and field championships.
However, the Viking women's team are not the state's top team in the eyes of the coaches' poll, as the Seattle Pacific Falcons, who return six runners from last year's squad that went to the national championships, are ranked #13 in the pre-season poll. In fact, the Falcons are the top women's team from the Great Northwest Athletic Conference in the national poll, ahead of #16 Simon Fraser, and #19 Western Washington.
In the national men's poll, the top three schools are defending champion Adams State, followed by Grand Valley State (MI) and Western State (CO). Alaska Anchorage, the reigning GNAC champs, are the top squad from the conference in the poll at #8
Grand Valley State, Adams State, and Western State are the country's top three women's team in the pre-season poll. Simon Fraser at #16 is the other GNAC school in the national top-25 poll.
Western Washington opens the season on September 13th at the Central Washington University Invitational, while the Falcons open the following week at the Sundodger Invitational.
In other news, two former members of the Washington State University track and field staff have landed on their feet, and found new homes.
Former Washington State hurdles coach Mark Macdonald now becomes the sprints, hurdles and relays coach at Oregon State, as the Beavers transition to a full-fledged track & field program from being a primarily distance-oriented team since OSU reinstated the sport.
Macdonald, a former All-American in the 400 hurdles at WSU, has 22 years of Division I coaching experience, and is best known for coaching three-time NCAA 400 hurdles champ Jeshua Anderson during his time on the Palouse.
According to Oregon State head coach Kelly Sullivan, “Any time you can get a hire of Mark’s caliber, and the fact he’s been in the Pac-12 for 20 years, is perfect. It’s perfect timing for us, perfect timing for him and he brings a lot of Division I and Pac-12 experience.”
Meanwhile, former cross country coach Tim Riley was hired at the University of Arizona as a distance assistant, working with head cross country/distance coach James Li.
Riley, who was a volunteer assistant at WSU from 2008-12, was elevated to cross country coach before the start of the 2012 season when Pete Julian resigned to become an assistant coach at the Nike Oregon Project.
Prior to WSU, Riley was an assistant coach of track and field and cross country at the College of Idaho from 2004 to 2006.
NOTE: The USTFCCCA and the sports information offices at Western Washington University, Seattle Pacific University, Oregon State University, and the University of Arizona contributed to this report.