.)—West Virginia Wesleyan sits atop both sets of WVIAC team cross country power rankings to open the 2008 season as voted upon by league coaches.
The defending champion Bobcat women received nine of eleven first place votes. Seton Hill grabbed the other two first place votes to place second in their first season of team championship eligibility. Wheeling Jesuit, Concord, and Alderson-Broaddus round out the women’s preseason top five.
Wesleyan’s men outpointed Wheeling Jesuit and defending title holder Concord in that poll. The Bobcats garnered seven first place votes, while second place Wheeling Jesuit picked up a single nod for the top spot. Concord got two votes for first, but placed third in the poll. Seton Hill and Davis & Elkins complete the top five.
WVWC, which has captured 14 of 19 WVIAC women’s cross championships all-time, returns five of seven runners that stormed to last season’s title. Senior Allison Teter recorded a second place finish at the WVIAC Championship in 2007. Sophomore Jenna Brock (6th) and senior Heidi Webb (10th) are other returning All-WVIAC honorees for Jesse Skiles’ Bobcats.
Seton Hill should be a strong contender for the women’s team title. 2007 WVIAC individual champion Anna Cote will lead a young, but talented group that only boasts one senior among the Griffins’ projected top seven.
Wheeling Jesuit has three returnees that placed among the top eleven in last season’s conference meet. Sophomore Sarah Campanelli earned All-WVIAC honors after a third place finish in the conference event. Her 23rd place finish at the East Regional was the top effort by a WVIAC runner in 2007.
The women’s program at Concord has been overshadowed at times by the successful men’s squad, but this fall could belong to the Lady Lions. Amanda Blankenship and Dani Pye were All-WVIAC performers in 2007.
Eric Cooper, the defending WVIAC champion and a qualifier for the NCAA nationals, leads the way for Wesleyan’s men. Seniors Zach Williams, Justin Coughlin, and Tom Wood add depth for the Bobcats.
Head coach Ricky Moore, a member of league championship squads at Wheeling Jesuit, hopes to add a coaching title in 2008. The Cards welcome back Dustin Hall, a fourth-place finisher at last season’s meet and 2006 All-WVIAC honoree Scott Bonnette, a red-shirt in 2007.
Concord, which has won three of the past four league championships, will look to rebuild in 2008 and build for the future. The Mountain Lions are redshirting a trio of key members of their 2007 championship squad, so look for head coach Mike Cox to turn a heralded recruiting class.
Seton Hill coach Tim Creamer seeks big falls from a pair of WVIAC distance champions from the 2008 conference track championships. Jess Bradley, the league’s best in the 1500m, and Josh Wilks (800m champion) will lead the Griffins.
Davis & Elkins has five of their top six runners back from a team that placed third in the WVIAC championship during 2007. Seniors Joel Turley, Lance Hines, Kevin Thurston, and Troy Higgins form one of the conference’s most experienced groups.
The 2008 WVIAC Cross Country Championship will again take place on the hilltop at Wheeling Park. Wheeling Jesuit University serves as host for the October 25 event.
League coaches will again provide team and individual rankings on a weekly basis throughout the fall. The complete pre-season team power ranking voting results follow:
Men’s Team Pre-Season Top Five:
|1.||West Virginia Wesleyan (7)||46|
|2.||Wheeling Jesuit (1)||31|
|5.||Davis & Elkins||16|
Others receiving votes: Alderson-Broaddus 6.
Women’s Team Pre-Season Top Five:
|1.||West Virginia Wesleyan (9)||50|
|2.||Seton Hill (2)||39|
Others receiving votes: West Liberty 1.