USF Cross Country Tabbed Fifth and Ninth in NSIC Preseason Poll
"Our main focus for the season is to be able to compete our best at the conference, regional, and national championship meets," said USF first year head coach Grant Watley. "The NSIC is an extremely competitive conference in cross country and we're excited about the opportunity to compete in this conference."
"We're looking to run our very best at the end of the season and don't look too much into pre-season rankings, instead, we look at what we can do each and every day to get better," he added.
Returning runners for the USF men's squad include redshirt sophomores Billy and Bobby Brockmueller, sophomore Jared Noyes, juniors Blaze Killian, Grant Schouten and Blake Stevenson, and seniors Tyler Voss and Chase Ward.
Bobby Brockmueller was picked as USF's male cross-country athlete to watch. Competing unattached as a redshirt in 2011, the Brandon Valley product recorded runner-up finishes at both the Augie Twillight (19:00.35- 4 mile run) and Briar Cliff meet (23:58.36).
Three-time defending NSIC champion Augustana College was selected as the 2012 favorites. The Vikings received 12 first-place votes and a total of 144 points. Minnesota State, Mankato was picked second in the preseason poll earning one first-place mark and 133 points. Minnesota Duluth came in at third, earning 118 points and the University of Mary notched the No. 4 spot, tallying 109 points. USF rounded out the top five.
MSU Moorhead (6th, 89), Northern State (7th, 74), St. Cloud State (8th, 69), Winona State (9th, 56), Minot State (10th, 46), Wayne State (11th, 39), Southwest Minnesota State (12th, 22) and Concordia (13th, 20) completed the men's poll.
The women's cross country team has both youth and experience and will be under the guidance of senior Michelle Johnson and juniors Shelbie Pettie, Sierra Harder and Carrie King. Sophomores Becca Steadman and Lindsey Mettler return and joining the group is freshman and former Watertown standout Tessa Stoltenberg.
Shelbie Pettie was named as USF's female cross-country athlete to watch. A native of New Windsor, Ill., she posted a trio of top-3 finishes last year for USF, including a victory at the Dakota State University Herb Blakely Invite (18:42). Pettie, who led Iowa Central Community College to a national crown in 2010, also finished third at Briar Cliff Invite (18:04.20) and the USF championship meet (18:36.7).
Augustana garnered nine top votes as they amassed 165 points. The University of Mary was a close second with 161 points and the other five first place votes. Winona State was third with 138 points followed by Minnesota Duluth in fourth with 137 points. Minnesota State came in fifth with 123 points.
St. Cloud State (6th, 89), Northern State (7th, 86), MSU Moorhead (8th, 83), USF (9th, 80), Minot State (10th, 67), Bemidji State (11th, 54), Wayne State (12th, 46), Southwest Minnesota State (13th, 23) and Concordia (14th, 22) rounded out the poll.
Both Cougar squads will open the 2012 season at the Augustana Twilight on Friday, Aug. 31.
The NSIC Cross Country field has expanded in 2012 with the addition of Minot State and Sioux Falls to the conference. Southwest Minnesota State also added men's and women's cross country this season, to amass a total of 14 women's teams and 13 men's teams.
NSIC Cross Country teams will compete in various meets throughout the fall with the season culminating in St. Paul, Minn. on Saturday, October 20th at the NSIC Cross Country Championships. The NCAA Regional will take place two weeks later on Saturday, November 3rd in Joplin. Mo. The NCAA DII National Cross Country Championships will also be in Joplin, Mo. on November 17th.