St. Louis, Mo., Aug. 27, 2014 – The Washington University in St. Louis men's cross country team begins the 2014 season ranked No. 10 in the NCAA Division III Men's Cross Country National Coaches Poll released Wednesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). The Washington U. women just missed cracking the top-10 with a No. 11 ranking in the women's preseason poll.
The WUSTL men return four of the seven runners from last year's lineup that raced to a fourth-place finish at the 2013 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships. Senior Drew Padgett is the top returner for the Bears after earning All-America honors with a 25th-place finish at last year's national championships. Seniors Garrett Patrick, Brett Baker and Ryan Senci also return after racing for the Bears at the national meet.
Senior Lucy Cheadle leads the way for the WUSTL women, who also return four members of last year's squad that raced to 21st at the NCAA Championships. Cheadle, a three-time All-American, placed fifth at the 2013 national championships. Junior Ellen Toennies and sophomores Annie Marggraff and Sarah Curci competed at the NCAA Championships for the first time last year. The Bears also return graduate student Sarah Fisher, who was an All-American on WUSTL's 2011 National Champion team.
Defending champion St. Olaf College is ranked No. 1 to start the season in the men's rankings, while women's defending national champion Johns Hopkins University also begins the season atop the rankings. The WUSTL men were joined by the University of Chicago (No. 21) as the only two University Athletic Association (UAA) teams in the men's preseason rankings. Six UAA women's teams are ranked in the preseason poll – No. 4 Chicago, No. 9 New York University, No. 11 Washington U., No. 28 Brandeis University, No. 31 Emory University and No. 34 Case Western Reserve University.
The Washington University men's and women's cross country teams are scheduled to begin their seasons with a pair of home meets this weekend. The Bears host the Greenville Dual Friday, Aug. 29, before hosting the Gabby Reuveni Early Bird Invite at 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 30, at Forest Park in St. Louis.