FLORENCE, Ky. — The University of Rio Grande returns some of the top individuals from last year’s conference championship meet — and thus was picked as the favorite in the 2016 River States Conference Men’s Cross Country Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
Rio Grande had four of the top seven individual finishers at the 2015 conference meet, and three of those runners return for this coming season.
That gave the nod to the RedStorm as this year’s preseason pick with four of the 11 first-place votes — and a conference-best 93 points in the voting.
The poll was conducted with voting from the conference’s 11 men’s cross country head coaches.
Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own teams.
The River States Conference was known as the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference until July 1, 2016 when the league changed its name.
Point Park (Pa.) University came in second in the preseason poll.
The Pioneers won the KIAC Championship meet last year to qualify for the NAIA national meet.
Point Park received a conference-high six first-place votes in the poll — and garnered 89 points with three of its top five runners returning this season.
Asbury (Ky.) University earned the final first-place vote and placed third in the poll with 80 points.
The Eagles were third at last year’s conference meet and had its top two finishers from that meet both as underclassmen and all-conference picks.
IU East received 63 points to place fourth, followed by Brescia with 60 points to place fifth.
WVU Tech was close behind with 59 points for sixth-place, followed by Ohio Christian (47 points) and IU Kokomo (45 points) in seventh and eighth.
Carlow (28 points), Cincinnati Christian (24 points) and Alice Lloyd (16 points) round out the voting.
The River States Conference Championship meet will be held Nov. 5 at Beckley, W.Va., with WVU Tech serving as the host.
The team champion will qualify for the NAIA National Championship meet Nov. 19 at Charlotte, N.C., along with select individual qualifiers.