GVSU Women Top USTFCCCA Cross Country Poll
Back-to-back NCAA Division II women's cross country champion Grand Valley State is back in 2014 as the unanimous preseason favorite in the Division II National Coaches Poll released Wednesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
Much more than a obligatory sign of respect to the defending champions, GVSU's preseason No. 1 status for the ninth poll in a row is well-earned on the strength of its returners. With five returning All-Americans, head coach Jerry Baltes has GVSU poised as perhaps the team among all three NCAA divisions and both genders best prepared to defend its national title.
Leading the way is the nation's top returning individual in three-time All-American Allyson Winchester, trailed closely by two-time All-American Jessica Janecke and All-American sophomore Kendra Foley. That trio finished third, ninth and 11th a year ago, with two more All-Americans in senior Hannah Osborn and junior Jordan Chester – the latter of whom didn't even score for the Lakers a year ago.
The Lakers' five All-Americans is equal to the combined five total from the remaining top-five teams.
Three other GLIAC schools appeared in the poll: Hillsdale No. 8. Saginaw Valley State No. 9 and Malone at No. 25.
Grand Valley State's Men Ranked Second in USTFCCCA Poll
No. 2 Grand Valley State made some history of its own as it checked in at No. 2 for the first time dating back to the beginning of the USTFCCCA archives in 2009. Head coach Jerry Baltes' Lakers' high-water mark in the poll follows their all-time best NCAAs finish as runners-up in 2013.
Returning from that team are a pair of All-Americans in senior Alan Peterson and junior Chad Cini as part of a contingent of four top-60 finishers from a year ago. GVSU will have even more wind behind its sails as it pushes on toward its first-ever national title with the addition of Adams State transfer John Luterbach, who finished 15th at NCAAs in 2012.
The Ferris State men's team appeared at No. 20 in the polling under first-year head coach Jared Kelsh.