KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Expectations will be high on a national level again for Southern Oregon University's cross country teams, as the Raider men debuted at No. 1 and the women at No. 5 in the preseason NAIA Top 25 polls released Wednesday afternoon.
On the men's side, SOU was also the NAIA's preseason favorite in 2011, 2012 and '15. The Raiders started at No. 4 last year and were No. 3 heading into the national meet, where they captured their second-ever title.
The Cascade Conference, which will host this fall's national meet in Vancouver, Wash., is also represented on the men's side by No. 6 Eastern Oregon, No. 10 College of Idaho and No. 17 Oregon Tech.
The Raider women attained their highest preseason ranking since they were No. 4 going into the 2011 campaign. Last year's seventh-place finish at the NAIA Championships matched the team's best ever, though they were never ranked higher than 12th throughout the season.
College of Idaho's women are No. 4 in the poll, Northwest Christian is No. 8 and Oregon Tech is No. 12, making the CCC the presumed deepest conference in the nation.
Both SOU teams will report to campus in two weeks and open their seasons on Sept. 16 at University of Washington's Sundodger Invitational.