LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Rio Grande women were picked fourth, while the RedStorm were tabbed fifth in the 2012 Mid-South Conference preseason cross country poll released late last week by league officials.
Rio tallied 67 points in the women’s voting, while the men received 60 points in the balloting of the league’s coaches. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team.
Shawnee State University, the two-time defending champion in both divisions, is again the team to beat on both lists. The Bears received 97 points and eight of the 11 first-place votes on the women’s side, while the SSU men - who dominated the conference field at the 2011 MSC Championships and eventually finished ninth at the national championships - grabbed all but one first-place nod and had 100 points.
University of the Cumberlands finished second in the women’s voting with 91 voting points and a pair of first-place votes, while Georgetown College was third with 79 points and the final first-place vote.
Campbellsville University followed Rio Grande in fifth with 62 points, while Lindsey Wilson College (58) and UVA-Wise (43) were sixth and seventh, respectively. Cumberland University (39) was eighth, with the University of Pikeville (25), St. Catharine College (23) and Bluefield College (21) completing the poll.
Among the men’s teams, the University of the Cumberlands was second with 83 points and the final first-place vote. Georgetown College finished third with 72 points, followed by Campbellsville University (69) and Rio Grande.
UVA-Wise (50) placed sixth and Lindsey Wilson College (49) was seventh, while the list is rounded out by Cumberland University (40), the University of Pikeville (30), St. Catharine College (29) and Bluefield College (23).
The top returnees for Rio Grande include sophomore Samantha Barnes (Gallipolis, OH) and senior Nick Wilson (Barlow, OH). Barnes placed 11th in last year’s MSC women’s championship, while Wilson took eighth place on the men’s side.
Wilson also qualified for the national championship meet, but elected not to run.
Veteran head coach Bob Willey will return for his 30th season at the helm of the RedStorm teams.
The 2012 MSC Championships are scheduled for Nov. 3 at the University of Rio Grande.