The Toledo women's cross country team has received the No. 23 ranking in the 2012 U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) national preseason coaches' poll, the NCAA announced Tuesday. The Rockets are the only team in the Mid-American Conference to receive recognition in the poll.
The No. 23 ranking is the second-highest in program history behind the No. 21 ranking received at the 2011 NCAA Championships. It is also the highest preseason ranking of any school in MAC history.
Led by head coach Kevin Hadsell, Toledo is the two-time defending MAC champion and is coming off back-to-back third place finishes at the NCAA regional championships, as well as back-to-back NCAA championship bids.
"The challenge for us will be to work hard all season to prove ourselves," Hadsell said. "We take nothing for granted and have always been a program that feels as though we have something to prove. That sort of tension keeps us focused from day to day."
The Rockets are ranked No. 3 in the NCAA Great Lakes Region, behind only Michigan and Michigan State, but ahead of prestigious programs such as Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Indiana.
This year marks the fourth consecutive season that the Rockets have appeared in the USTFCCCA national coaches' poll. Since 2000, Toledo has received a national ranking nine times, more than the rest of the Mid-American Conference combined during that time period.
Toledo will open the 2012 season Friday night at the Mel Brodt Collegiate Opener hosted by Bowling Green. The women's race is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.