Arkansas Ranked No. 3 in Preseason Poll
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas cross country team was picked third with 436 points by the United States Cross Country Coaches Association in the this year’s MONDO NCAA Cross Country Preseason Poll. UA is the only Southeastern Conference team ranked in the top 25. Defending champion Stanford retained top billing with 15 first place votes and 479 points. Wisconsin was ranked No. 2 with 462 points and one first place vote.
“We’re very young, but we have a few experienced guys up front, so I’m really happy to be ranked that high,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “A lot of our young guys will have to step up for us to get third. Stanford and Wisconsin have all their guys coming back and they’re all juniors and seniors. It’s nice to be ranked up there with them.”
Last year the Razorbacks finished sixth at the NCAA Championships and lost two of their top five runners from that race. For the 2003 season they are bringing a strong core of returnees with senior and 2002 national runner-up Alistair Cragg, senior Chris Mulvaney and junior Jason Sandfort. Sandfort started his season on a high note as he captured the four-mile Arkansas Invitational title with a personal-best time of 19:53.77.
Arkansas has also added many talented newcomers to its roster. Two Missouri products, Josh Harper and Adam Perkins will look to contribute immediately. At UA’s season opener on September 5, Perkins finished second behind Sandfort, while Harper was close behind in fourth. Mike Poe, a native of Etiwanda, Calif., also had a strong showing in his first outing as a Razorback when he crossed the line in eighth at the Arkansas Invitational.
Next on the Hogs’ schedule is the Missouri Southern Invitational in Joplin, Mo., on September 20, followed by the Oklahoma State Jamboree in Stillwater, Okla., on October 4.
Complete Top 25 Poll
5. Northern Arizona
8. Central Michigan
9. Iona College
10. Eastern Michigan
14. North Carolina State
15. William and Mary
18. Notre Dame
20. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
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