Calvin, Middlebury Tied for No. 1 in Women’s Division III XC Preseason Poll

By Keith Nunez, USTFCCCA

August 26, 2009   

NEW ORLEANS (August 26, 2009) – Last year’s NCAA Division III cross country national champion, Middlebury, and last year’s runner-up, Calvin, open up the 2009 women’s cross country season deadlocked in the women’s Cross Country Top 35 Preseason Coaches’ Poll released by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Wednesday afternoon.

Middlebury, the top-ranked team in the New England Region, will field a young but experienced team for the ’09 cross country season as five of the top seven runners from last year’s championship squad all return. Middlebury will look to repeat as NESCAC champions as well as New England Region champions. Middlebury received five of eight first place votes and earned 275 total points for this week’s preseason poll.

Calvin is tied with Middlebury with 275 total points but only received three of the eight first place votes in the preseason poll. The Knights were the runners-up at last year’s championship meet and will look to win their first women’s Division III cross country title since 1999. As the top ranked team in the Great Lakes region, the Knights could take home the ’09 XC title as they return five of their seven runners from the runner-up squad from last year. Calvin is led by seniors Lauren Bergstrom, Jessica Koster, and Jesi Hale. Bergstrom finished 21st individually at the national meet last year.

Washington University (Missouri) rings in 2009 as the No. 3 ranked program in the preseason poll with 265 total points. The Bears return all seven runners from last year’s 12th place finishing team at the national meet including team captains Molly Schlamb and Hope Rathnam. Washington (Missouri) finished third overall at the Midwest Region meet and was second at the University Athletic Association conference championships.

Coming in at No. 4 on the USTFCCCA Division III Women’s preseason poll is Wartburg University. Wartburg finished fourth overall last year and will return six of those seven runners from last year’s championship squad. The Knights won the Central Region championship as well as the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Championship cross country title in 2008.

Completing the top-five is Johns Hopkins University, led by Coach Bobby Van Allen. The Blue Jays finished 13th as a team at the national meet a year ago but return their top three runners from that squad and have added more front-line depth than the team had in 2008. Johns Hopkins won the Mideast Region championship as well as the school’s first-ever Centennial Conference cross country title in ’08.

To view the complete 2009 USTFCCCA Division III Cross Country Preseason Top 35, click here.