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Flames, Lady Flames Tabbed to Repeat as Big South Cross Country Champions
Head coach Brant Tolsma's Lady Flames took 13-of-16 first-place votes and accumulated 125 total points, outdistancing Coastal Carolina by 10 points. The Chanticleers, who saw their string of five-straight Big South championships halted a year ago, earned the other three first-place votes. High Point is picked to finish third, after totaling 95 points, and UNC Asheville is listed fourth with 70 points. Winthrop (fifth place, 67 points), Radford (sixth, 54), VMI (seventh, 33) and Charleston Southern (eighth, 17 points) round out the poll.
Liberty returns five All-Big South performers from last season's women's team, which captured its fourth conference title in program history. Piper Newby (Sr., Hayden Lake, Idaho) placed third at the 2006 Big South meet, Carol Jefferson (Sr., Schwenksville, Pa.) was fifth, Sarah Roberts (Sr., Zeiglerville, Pa.) took sixth, Rebekah Ricksecker (Jr., Laurel, Del.) came in seventh and Ashley Osborne (Jr., Bristol, Va.) finished eighth.
On the men's side, Liberty is a unanimous pick to win its third-consecutive Big South crown and the ninth conference title in program history. The Flames received all 16 first-place votes and the maximum of 128 points. Coastal Carolina, the 2006 Big South runner-up, racked up 111 points for second place. High Point is projected for a third-place finish with 95 points, and Winthrop's 68 points put the Eagles in fourth. VMI (fifth place, 65 points), Radford (sixth, 55), UNC Asheville (seventh, 36) and Charleston Southern (eighth, 18) comprise the remainder of the conference squads.
The Flames boasted four All-Big South runners at the 2006 conference meet, and the entire quartet is back this season. Eleven-time All-American Josh McDougal (Sr., Peru, N.Y.), Jarvis Jelen (Sr., Sioux Falls, S.D.) and Jordan McDougal (R-Jr., Peru, N.Y.) swept the top three spots at the 2006 Big South Championship, while Josh Edmonds (So., Cooperstown, N.Y.) came in ninth.
Liberty will open the 2007 season on Sept. 8 at the Virginia Tech Invitational. The Flames and Lady Flames will then attempt to defend their respective Big South Conference titles on Oct. 27, at Jackson Park in Hendersonville, N.C.
2007 Big South Women's Cross Country Preseason Poll (First-place votes) – Points
1) Liberty (13) – 125 points
2) Coastal Carolina (3) – 115
3) High Point – 95
4) UNC Asheville – 70
5) Winthrop – 67
6) Radford – 54
7) VMI – 33
8) Charleston Southern – 17
2007 Big South Men's Cross Country Preseason Poll (First-place votes) – Points
1) Liberty (16) – 128 points
2) Coastal Carolina – 111
3) High Point – 95
4) Winthrop – 68
5) VMI – 65
6) Radford – 55
7) UNC Asheville – 36
8) Charleston Southern – 18