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Big Sky Conference announces preseason cross country polls

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Posted at 2:04 PM, Jul 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-22 16:04:28-04

(Editor's note: Big Sky Conference media release)

FARMINGTON, Utah -- For the second straight year, the Northern Arizona men’s and women’s cross country programs were picked to sweep the Big Sky titles, the conference office announced on Wednesday.

The Northern Arizona men were a unanimous selection to repeat as champions taking all 11 first-place votes to earn 121 points. NAU is coming off a 2019 campaign in which they held the No. 1 spot in the nation leading up to the NCAA Championships where they placed second overall. The Lumberjacks return six of seven runners that competed at the national championships, including reigning Big Sky Individual Performer and Freshman of the Year, Drew Bosley, who placed 22nd at NCAA’s. Add in a virtually untouched roster from a year ago and the Lumberjacks are primed and ready to go in 2020.

With 106 points, Weber State was voted to finish in second place. Both Christian Allen and Taylor Dillon return for the Wildcats, after placing in the top 10 at the conference championships last year. Allen was the top male runner for the Big Sky at the NCAA Championships, as he raced to a 14th place finish.

Separated by three points, Montana State edged out Southern Utah with 97 points for third place, while the Thunderbirds received 94 points for fourth. Colin Buck and Duncan Hamilton placed in the top 10 for the Bobcats in 2019 giving the Big Sky a total of seven familiar faces that earned all-conference honors in 2019.

Rounding out the top five vote-getters was Idaho with 74 points as it returns a good chunk of its roster. Comparing notes from last year, the top four teams in the men’s preseason polls match the order of finish from the 2019 conference championships.

After picking up nine first-place votes in 2019, the Northern Arizona women received all 11 possible first-place votes, as they were selected No. 1 in the preseason poll with 121 points. With two all-conference runners returning in Pipi Eitel and Taryn O’Neill, the Lumberjacks look to capture their fourth title in five years in 2020.

Southern Utah, who has finished in the top 3 the last two years, was picked to finish second with 100 votes after placing third last year.

Weber State was voted to finish in third place. The Wildcats sent a pair of runners to the NCAA Championships last year. Abby Lawrence returns for Weber State, after a seventh-place individual showing at the Big Sky Championships last year.

Idaho, the conference championship runners-up from last season, were voted fourth.

Montana State, who returns the Individual and Freshman of the Year in Camila Noe, completes the top five teams in this year’s preseason polls with 85 points.

Five of the top 10 women’s finishers from last year’s championships return in 2020.

Head coaches were allowed to vote for their teams in both polls.

2020 Men's Cross Country Preseason Poll
TeamPoints (First Place Votes)
1. Northern Arizona121 (11)
2. Weber State106
3. Montana State97
4. Southern Utah94
5. Idaho74
6. Idaho State57
7. Portland State55
T8. Eastern Washington35
T8. Montana35
10. Northern Colorado33
11. Sacramento State19
2020 Women's Cross Country Preseason Poll
TeamPoints (First Place Votes)
1. Northern Arizona121 (11)
2. Southern Utah100
3. Weber State96
4. Idaho90
5. Montana State85
6. Idaho State59
7. Montana56
8. Portland State44
9. Sacramento State34
10. Eastern Washington24
11. Northern Colorado17