ARLINGTON, Texas - Armed with their entire stables of top runners from a year ago on both sides, the reigning Sun Belt Conference men's champions and league runner-up women have each been predicted to duplicate their 2013 cross country finishes, the conference office announced today.
The men claimed all nine first-place votes in the preseason coaches poll for a perfect score of 81 points. UALR was picked second (67 points), while South Alabama ranked third (65).
All five of the Mavericks all-conference selections return from a team that dominated the 2013 SBC Championship with a score of 23 points. Craig Lautenslager (2nd), Ryan Tilotta (3rd) and Emil Blomberg (5th) all finished among the top five at last year's meet, while Eric Ojeda and Virgilio Martinez were named to the second team after finishing sixth and seventh, respectively.
The women totaled 112 points to tie Arkansas State for the most points among the 11 squads, but the Red Wolves earned the nod as favorites by receiving two more first place votes (6) than the Mavericks (4).
UTA had four all-league honorees last year with Hannah Nilsson, Gabriela Alfonzo and Ashly Wright earning second-team mention, while Katelyn Hayward was tabbed to the third team. In addition, Sydney Hampton was a mainstay in the lineup.
"We're excited about both of our teams," UTA coach John Sauerhage said. "But we know firsthand now just how good the Sun Belt Conference is, and we understand that we have a lot of work ahead of us."
The Mavs' season begins Friday night at the Bear Twilight Invitational in Waco, Texas. The Sun Belt Conference Championship will be contested on Sunday, Nov. 2 in Mobile Ala.
2014 Sun Belt Men's Cross Country Preseason Poll (First Place Votes)
1. UT Arlington (9) - 81 points
2. UALR - 67 points
3. South Alabama - 65 points
4. Appalachian State - 47 points
5. UL Monroe - 41 points
6. Arkansas State - 37 points
7. UL Lafayette - 30 points
8. Texas State - 27 points
9. Troy - 10 points
2014 Sun Belt Women's Cross Country Preseason Poll (First Place Votes)
1. Arkansas State (6) - 112 points
2. UT Arlington (4) - 112 points
3. Georgia State (1) - 96 points
4. Appalachian State - 86 points
5. South Alabama - 82 points
6. Texas State - 61 points
7. UL Lafayette - 59 points
8. Troy - 36 points
9. Georgia Southern - 29 points
10. UALR - 27 points
11. UL Monroe - 26 points
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XC: Men repeat as Sun Belt champions