The Southern Oregon University men’s cross country team will start at No. 3 and the Raider women at No. 12 in the NAIA Top 25 coaches’ polls, the preseason editions of which were released Wednesday by the national office.
The Cascade Conference was the most prominent circuit among the top teams in both sets of rankings. The men had four among the top 10: SOU, No. 6 The College of Idaho, No. 7 Eastern Oregon and No. 10 Oregon Tech. The women were represented by No. 4 Oregon Tech, No. 8 The College of Idaho and SOU.
Two weeks ago, SOU’s men were picked to win their 11th straight CCC championship and the women were tabbed No. 3 in the conference poll, exactly where they finished last season.
The Raider men are coming off their ninth top-four national finish in 10 seasons. The Raider women finished 15th in the 2017 NAIA team standings.
Oklahoma City, last year’s third-place men’s finisher, is the preseason No. 1 with 14 of 20 first-place votes. Columbia (Mo.) is No. 2, and SOU picked up one first-place vote.
Wayland Baptist (Texas) is No. 1 on the women’s side after finishing second last year. It collected 19 first-place votes and No. 2 Taylor (Ind.) got the other.
SOU opens the season on Sept. 21 at the Cascade Conference Preview Meet in Issaquah, Wash., which will also be the site of the CCC Championships.