FLORENCE, Ky. — Defending conference champion Point Park (Pa.) University was on top at the end of last year — and starts this season predicted first in the 2016 River States Conference Women’s Cross Country Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
Point Park garnered eight of the possible 11 first-place votes in the poll, which was conducted with voting from the league’s 12 women’s cross country head coaches.
Point Park received 111 points in the poll to edge out the University of Rio Grande, which got two first-place votes and 109 points to place second.
Asbury (Ky.) University received one first-place vote and was picked third with 103 points.
The top three teams separated themselves with each getting over 100 points.
The River States Conference was known as the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Confernece until July 1, 2016 when the league changed its name.
Point Park won the 2015 KIAC Championship Meet to qualify for the NAIA National Championship.
The Pioneers return conference individual champion Katie Guarnaccia and welcomed in recruits capable of joining the top five placements on the team.
Rio Grande was second in the conference last year and returns all three of its all-conference runners.
All but one team member is back this year for the RedStorm.
Asbury is led by senior Katy Falkenberg, the 2014 KIAC champion and a two-time NAIA national qualifier.
The top five spots in the preseason poll reflect the top five finishers at last year’s conference meet with WVU Tech predicted fourth with 81 points and IU Kokomo predicted fifth with 76 points.
IU East was picked sixth with 67 points followed by Brescia in seventh with 60 points.
Ohio Christian (52 points), Carlow (49 points) and Cincinnati Christian (35 points) round out the top 10.
Alice Lloyd (Ky.) and Midway (Ky.) were 11th and 12th with 29 and 20 points, respectively.
The 2016 River States Conference Cross Country Championship meet will be held Nov. 5 at Beckley, W.Va., and hosted by WVU Tech.
The team champion and select individual qualifiers will advance to the NAIA National Championship meet Nov. 19 at Charlotte, N.C.