Aug. 31, 2010
New Orleans - The Stanford men's cross country team will begin the season as the No. 1 team in the nation after the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Association announced its preseason poll early on Tuesday. The Cardinal received 349 points, 10 more than defending national champion, No. 2 Oklahoma State.
The Cardinal were ranked No. 1 nearly all of last season, before suffering its first bad day of the year at the NCAA Championships and placing 10th. The Cardinal earned four of 12 first place votes, with Oklahoma State earning seven and Northern Arizona earning one. NAU and Oregon each had 329 points overall and are tied as the preseason No. 3 team.
The Stanford men return six of its seven runners that ran at last year's NCAA meet, including All-Americans in cross country, Chris Derrick and Elliott Heath. In addition, Stanford is coming off a great track season that saw Jacob Riley earn All-America honors in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, J.T. Sullivan place fourth overall in the steeplechase and Derrick place fourth in the 5K.
The Cardinal also return Brendan Gregg, Benjamin Johnson and Miles Unterreiner who each ran at last year's NCAA meet and were in the top five at different points during the 2009 cross country season.
Stanford will be looking to win its national title in men's cross country since 2003. Overall, the men have won four national titles. Stanford will have extra motivation this season with the next NCAA title won by a Stanford team being the 100th in the school's history.
In addition to the USTFCCCA ranking, the Cardinal were recently named the No.1 team in the nation to watch by flotrack. You can see the video below or the link is HERE
Track and Field Videos on Flotrack
On the women's side, Stanford is ranked No. 12 preseason by the USTFCCCA. Stanford earned 217 points, while Villanova earned the top ranking with 360. Villanova is the defending national champion and received all 12 first-place votes. Other Pac-10 teams in the top 10 are Washington at No. 3 and Oregon at No. 6.
The Cardinal also returns nearly all of last year's team that was third in the West Regional and advanced to the NCAA Championships, taking 16th. Stephanie Marcy and Kathy Kroeger return after All-America track seasons and Alexandra Gits has shown the health that made her an All-American her freshman season. Also returning is breakout freshman Alex Dunne and veterans Georgia Griffin, Emilie Amaro and Madeline Duhon.
Both the men and the women have nationally heralded recruiting classes stepping onto campus as well. However, with so much depth returning it will be difficult for any rookie to crack the top seven.
Stanford opens the season this weekend with a small meet in Reno, Nevada. The Cardinal will likely run just five each race at the Jim Vanden Heuvel Twilight Invitational this Friday, Sept. 3, under the lights for a rare evening cross country meet.