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Liberty Men's Cross Country Team Tabbed to Defend Big South Title; Women Picked Second
The Liberty men's cross country team has been selected as the overwhelming favorite to defend the Big South Conference crown it captured a season ago, while the Lady Flames women's squad was picked to finish second in the Big South Conference's annual preseason poll, as voted by the league's Head Cross Country Coaches and Sports Information Directors. The polls were announced today by the conference office.
Head coach Brant Tolsma's men's squad, coming off of its first Big South title since 1999, received 17 out of 18 possible first-place votes and 161 out of a possible 162 points. Four All-Big South performers return from last year's team, highlighted by junior Josh McDougal (Peru, N.Y.). McDougal, a two-time All-American in cross country, is the two-time defending individual champion at the Big South meet.
Meanwhile, the Liberty women's team was selected to repeat its second-place finish from a year ago. The Lady Flames tallied five first-place votes and 141 points, finishing 16 points behind Coastal Carolina, a team that has captured five straight conference crowns. Juniors Sarah Roberts (Zeiglerville, Pa.) and Carol Jefferson (Schwenksville, Pa.), second and ninth, respectively, at the 2005 Big South Conference meet, return to anchor the team.
The VMI Keydets, who finished second behind Liberty in the 2005 men's championship, were picked to finish second again this season, totaling one first-place vote and 129 points. Coastal Carolina was third with 126 points, followed by High Point (119), Radford (78) and Winthrop (76). UNC Asheville (61), Birmingham-Southern (36) and Charleston Southern (24) round out the men's poll.
On the women's side, Coastal Carolina nabbed 13 first-place votes and 157 points to establish itself as the preseason favorite. High Point was predicted third with 118 points, ahead of fourth-place Winthrop (105). VMI was voted fifth with 75 points, followed by UNC Asheville (72), Radford (57), Birmingham-Southern (55) and Charleston Southern (25).
The 2005 Big South cross country season begins on Sept. 1. Liberty will open its schedule at Virginia's Lou Onesty Invitational on Sept. 9. The New Balance men's and women's cross country Conference Championship is slated for Oct. 28, and will be hosted by Charleston Southern University. The preseason polls appear below.
2006 Preseason Men's Cross Country Poll (first-place votes) – Points
1. Liberty (17) – 161
2. VMI (1) – 129
3. Coastal Carolina – 126
4. High Point – 119
5. Radford – 78
6. Winthrop – 76
7. UNC Asheville – 61
8. Birmingham-Southern – 36
9. Charleston Southern – 24
2006 Preseason Women's Cross Country Poll (first-place votes) – Points
1. Coastal Carolina (13) – 157
2. Liberty (5) - 141
3. High Point – 118
4. Winthrop – 105
5. VMI – 75
6. UNC Asheville – 72
7. Radford – 57
8. Birmingham-Southern – 55
9. Charleston Southern – 25