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Summit League Releases Preseason Cross Country Polls

Summit League Releases Preseason Cross Country Polls

ELMHURST, Ill. – South Dakota State's men and South Dakota's women were picked as preseason favorites to claim The Summit League Cross Country Championships in a poll of the league's head coaches.


South Dakota State, the defending Summit League champion, totaled 25 points and received the maximum possible five first-place votes to finish first in the men's poll. The Jackrabbits return three All-Summit performers, including a pair of first team honorees in Ayub Kassim (3rd at 2016 Summit League Championship) and Kyle Burdick (6th). North Dakota State finished second with 21 points and the remaining first-place vote while South Dakota (17 points) placed third.


On the women's side, South Dakota had 33 points and four-of-six first-place votes to edge past South Dakota State's 32 points and two first-place votes. The Coyotes won their third consecutive Summit League Championship last season and return their top four finishers – Julia Noah (3rd), Erin Wetzstein (4th), Megan Billington (9th), Lindsay Joyce (12th) from last year's title meet. The Jackrabbits return the top two top finishers at last season's league championship, reigning Summit League Athlete of the Year Emily Donnay (1st) and Rachel King (2nd).


The cross country season begins Sept. 1 with The Summit League Championships, hosted by the University of South Dakota, set for Oct. 28 in Vermillion, S.D.

2017 SUMMIT LEAGUE MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY PRESEASON POLL

Rank

School (1st)

Points

1.

South Dakota State (5)

25

2.

North Dakota State (1)

21

3.

South Dakota

17

4.

Fort Wayne

11

5.

Western Illinois

9

6.

Oral Roberts

7

 

Men's Athletes to Watch (selected by league head coaches)

Bryce Choate, Jr., Oral Roberts
-Transferred from Tennessee Wesleyan
-All-American in outdoor 800m and in first season running cross country

Grant Kaiser, Jr., Western Illinois
-Recorded league's seventh-best 6k time in 2016
-Team's top finisher at five meets, including Summit League Championship

Ayub Kassim, Jr., South Dakota State
-Posted league's fourth and eighth fastest times last season
-Owns the league's fastest 8k time among returnees
-Finished third at Summit League Championship and 26th at NCAA Midwest Regional

Logan Kitchen, Jr., Fort Wayne
-Recorded four top-five finishes, including one victory in 2016
-Posted team's second-best 10k and 8k times and top 6k mark last season

Elliott Stone, Jr., North Dakota State
-Team-best 11th-place finish at Summit League Championship
-Recorded a victory and runner-up finish during the 2016 season
-2015 Summit League Newcomer of the Championship

Eldon Warner, Jr., South Dakota
-Team's top performer in three meets during 2016 season
-Recorded a season-best time and top-finish (8th) at NCAA Regional Preview meet

2017 SUMMIT LEAGUE WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY PRESEASON POLL

Rank

School (1st)

Points

1.

South Dakota (4)

33

2.

South Dakota State (2)

32

3.

North Dakota State (1)

28

4.

Fort Wayne

20

5.

Omaha

17

6.

Oral Roberts

10

7.

Western Illinois

7

 

Women's Athletes to Watch (selected by league head coaches)

Nicole Beebe, So., Western Illinois
-Posted league's fifth-best 4k time last season
-Team's second-fastest finisher at 2016 Summit League Championship

Megan Billington, Jr., South Dakota
-Posted league's sixth-best time in 2016 and finished ninth at Summit League Championship
-Clocked a personal-best time at NCAA Midwest Regional
-Team's top finisher in two meets last season
Emma Kusch Dahle, Jr., North Dakota State
-Ranked seventh and 10th on league's best 5k times list last season
-Placed eighth at Summit League Championship
-Team's top finisher at NCAA Midwest Regional

Emily Donnay, Jr., South Dakota State
-2016 Summit League Women's Cross Country Athlete of the Year
-NCAA All-Region selection
-Won Summit League Championship with best time of the season

Karo Garcia, Sr., Omaha
-Sat out 2016 season due to military service
-Paced team in all six races run during 2015 campaign

Emma Rafuse, Jr., Fort Wayne
-Recorded league's ninth-fastest 4k time last season
-Had three top-five finishes in 2016, including one runner-up placing

Jessica Romero, So., Oral Roberts
-Owns team's best time among returnees
-Recorded a top-10 finish during freshman campaign

ABOUT THE SUMMIT LEAGUE
Through 35 years of Division I athletics, The Summit League offers 19 championship sports and has a combined enrollment of nearly 100,000 at eight institutions, including three located in top 60 U.S. metro populations and two land-grant universities. Member institutions include: Denver (University of Denver), Fort Wayne (Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne), North Dakota State University, Omaha (University of Nebraska Omaha), Oral Roberts University, the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University and Western Illinois University with the University of North Dakota becoming an official member on July 1, 2018. Previously known as the Mid-Continent Conference, The Summit League rebranded in 2007 and has since produced nine NCAA Champions along with over 90 Academic All-Americans, nearly 100 All-America selections and numerous former student-athletes competing at the highest professional level. For more information about the league, visit www.thesummitleague.org website, follow The Summit League on Twitter @thesummitleague.

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