GREENVILLE, Pa. (pacathletics.org)--After securing its fifth-straight Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) Championships team title last spring, the Waynesburg University women's cross country program was selected as the league favorite in 2021, according to the league's annual preseason coaches' poll. The results of this year's poll, voted on by the conference's 10 head coaches, were revealed with the PAC's Runners to Watch List Thursday afternoon.
Waynesburg, led by 12th-year head coach and six-time PAC Coach of the Year Chris Hardie, collected eight first-place votes and 89 total points to headline this year’s poll.
Last spring the league held a five-kilometer championship race that was hosted by Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia on March 20. Waynesburg's five scoring runners finished in the top 15 of the nine-team, 63-runner field. The Yellow Jackets totaled 40 points at the event.
Waynesburg was recently slotted in the No. 8 spot on the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Mid-Atlantic Region preseason regional rankings.
Geneva College and third-year head coach Phil Thompson earned one first-place vote and 75 total points to finish second in this year's preseason coaches' poll. Geneva registered a third-place finish in the five-kilometer championship last spring with 105 points.
Franciscan University and 20th-year head coach Dr. Dan Kuebler were third in the poll, totaling 71 points. Franciscan was the runner-up last spring.
Grove City College, winners of a league-best 27 PAC titles, finished fourth in the preseason poll with 63 points. Saint Vincent College finished fifth (62) and was followed by Chatham University, which collected the final first-place vote and 46 points to finish sixth. Washington & Jefferson College was seventh (45), Westminster College was eighth (39), Bethany was ninth (27) and Thiel College was 10th (23).
This season’s runners to watch list includes five All-PAC First Team selections, three All-PAC Second Team selections and five All-PAC Honorable Mention selections from last spring. The last three PAC Runners of the Year are all expected to compete this fall.
Franciscan senior Alison Bryant (Arlington, Texas | Nolan Catholic) and Bethany sophomore Nina Wilke (Esslingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany) highlight this year's runners to watch list. At the conference championships last spring Bryant earned the event’s individual title and PAC Runner of the Year honors after posting a winning time of 18 minutes, 27 seconds. The 2020-21 academic year was Franciscan's first year as a full member of the conference. Wilke was recognized as the PAC Newcomer of the Year, finishing in fourth place at the conference championships after posting a time of 19:25.
The runners to watch list also includes 21 members of the 2020-21 PAC Academic Honor Roll, which recognizes student-athletes on varsity sports teams who have earned a grade-point average (GPA) of 3.6 or higher on a 4.0 scale during their semester of competition.
On Saturday, September 30 Chatham, at its Eden Hall campus, will host this year's PAC Cross Country Championships.
The NCAA Division III Men’s and Women’s Track and Field and Cross Country Committee, as well as the Division III Championships Committee, recently approved a 10-region realignment model for cross country that will be effective on September 1, 2021. Bethany, Chatham, Geneva, Grove City, Saint Vincent, Thiel, W&J, Waynesburg and Westminster will compete in the Mid-Atlantic region, while Franciscan will compete in the Great Lakes region.
The 10 Division III regional championships are scheduled for Saturday, November 13.
Dickinson College will host this year’s Division III Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships at Big Spring High School in Newville, Pa. Franklin College will host the Division III Great Lakes Regional Championships at Blue River Memorial Park in Shelbyville, Indiana.
The Division III Championships are scheduled for Saturday, November 20 and will be hosted by Spalding University and the Louisville Sports Commission at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Kentucky.
2021 PAC Women's Cross Country Preseason Coaches' Poll (Predicted order of finish)