NEW ORLEANS, La. - Two-time defending NCAA men's cross counrty champion Oregon begins the 2009 season as the No. 1 team in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Men's Cross Country Top 30 Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the USTFCCCA announced Tuesday. The Ducks received nine first-place votes and earned 357 total points in the preseason poll.
With seven All-Americans on the roster, Oregon be looking to account for the graduation of two other All-Americans, Galen Rupp (last year’s NCAA individual champion) and Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott. The Ducks do return sophomore Luke Puskedra, who finished fifth overall as a freshman, in addition to fellow All-Americans Matthew Centrowitz, Kenny Klotz, Danny Mercado, Diego Mercado, A.J. Acosta and Andrew Wheating.
Meanwhile, the Oregon women checked in at No. 2, behind Pac-10 rival Washington. The Ducks earned 344 total points. The two-time NCAA runners-up return two All-Americans in senior Nicole Blood and junior Alex Kosinski.
Both the men and the women opened their season with wins at the Sept. 4 Pre's Trail Pre-View and return to action on Oct. 2 for the Bill Dellinger Invitational, hosted by the Ducks at Springfield Country Club.
Half of the teams in the men's race will be ranked, while the women's competition will have three of the nation's top 13 in action. The men's race features No. 1 Oregon, No. 8 Portland, No. 12 Brigham Young, No. 21 Cal Poly and No. 30 Villanova.
On the women's side, the race has No. 2 Oregon, No. 5 Villanova and No. 13 Baylor as the headliners.
Coming in at No. 2 in the preseason poll for the men was Oklahoma State. Last year the Cowboys finished eighth in the men’s team standings at the NCAA cross country championships, but return all seven runners from last year’s squad. The Cowboys host the Oklahoma State Cowboy Jamboree on October 3.
Stanford follows the Cowboys at No. 3 in the men’s preseason rankings with Wisconsin coming in at No. 4. Other Pac-10 teams in the poll include No. 24 Washington and No. 29 Arizona State.
For the women, Washington received all 12 first-place votes and earned 360 total points in the preseason poll.
Last year’s NCAA champions return five of their top seven runners from a year ago, four of which were All-Americans. The Huskies open their 2009 season at home this weekend in the Sundodger Invitational.
Florida State is ranked third followed by West Virginia at No. 4 and Villanova at No. 5. The Pac-10 was heavily represented at the top of the women's poll with No. 6 Stanford and No. 11 Arizona State joining the Ducks and Huskies.