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Liberty Men's Cross Country Ranked Fourth, Lady Flames 11th In Initial USTFCCCA Regional Poll
The top four runners return to coach Brant Tolsma's men's squad, which placed seventh at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships a season ago. Josh McDougal (Peru, N.Y.), who placed second at the regional meet and 27th at the national championships in 2006, is back for his senior season. He has captured 11 total All-America honors during his three years at Liberty.
McDougal's younger brother Jordan McDougal (R-Jr., Peru, N.Y.), Jarvis Jelen (Sr., Sioux Falls, S.D.) and Josh Edmonds (So., Cooperstown, N.Y.), each all-conference team members a season ago, solidify the men's top five. Edmonds made a successful season debut this past Saturday at the Virginia Tech Invitational, winning the 6K race. His time of 18:32 was superior to the existing course record of 18:55, held by Josh McDougal, albeit on a different course layout.
N.C. State, William & Mary and Louisville, who finished 1-2-3 at the 2006 Southeast Regional Championships, are ranked in the same order to start the 2007 men's season. High Point was the only other Big South team listed in the top 15, coming in at No. 11.
On the women's side, the entire top five is back from last year's Lady Flames team, which finished 12th at the 2006 NCAA Southeast Regional Championships. Piper Newby (Sr., Hayden Lake, Idaho), Carol Jefferson (Sr., Schwenksville, Pa.), Sarah Roberts (Sr., Zeiglerville, Pa.), Rebekah Ricksecker (Jr., Laurel, Del.) and Ashley Osborne (Jr., Bristol, Va.) are all returning All-Big South performers.
Ricksecker opened her season with a bang at the Virginia Tech Invitational, placing second overall on the rolling 4K course. She was flanked by a pair of Liberty freshmen running unattached, race champion Kati Albright (Wake Forest, N.C.) and third-place finisher Dacia Bushman (Castalia, Iowa).
Liberty won its first Big South title since 2000 last season and has been picked to repeat this season, although the Lady Flames were ranked one spot behind conference rival Coastal Carolina by the USTFCCCA. The Southeast Region's top six teams hail from the ACC, headed by top-ranked Virginia and No. 2 N.C. State, the defending regional titlist.
The Flames and Lady Flames will return to action this Saturday at the Longwood Invitational, scheduled for an 11 a.m. start. The full Liberty squads will race for the first time Sept. 28, at the Notre Dame Invitational.
USTFCCCA Preseason Division I Men's Cross Country Poll
1) N.C. State
2) William & Mary
6) Virginia Tech
9) Wake Forest
10) Eastern Kentucky
11) High Point
12) North Carolina
13) Appalachian State
15) George Mason
USTFCCCA Preseason Division I Women's Cross Country Poll
2) N.C. State
4) Virginia Tech
5) Wake Forest
6) North Carolina
8) William & Mary
10) Coastal Carolina
15) Appalachian State