The Toledo men's and women's cross country teams were picked sixth and first respectively, in this year's Mid-American Conference preseason polls as voted on by the league's head cross country coaches yesterday. The No. 1 ranking comes as no surprise for the UT women's squad, which currently sits as the two-time defending league champion and No. 23 ranked team in the country.
Over the last 13 years, the Rockets have now been named the preseason favorite to win the women's title 10 times. During that time span, UT has accumulated four team titles (2001, 2002, 2010 and 2011) and three Runner-up finishes (2003, 2005 and 2009).
"We embrace being the favorite and look at it as a great challenge," Head Coach Kevin Hadsell said. "We are usually the preseason favorite and take pride in the fact that we are the team to beat from year to year. We are not resting on our laurels, we take this very seriously."
The women's team looks to add to the history books this season after a record-breaking 2011 campaign. They scored 483 points in the NCAA championship race for a 21st-place finish and ranking, earning the highest national ranking ever achieved by a MAC program. The Rockets completed a repeat win at the MAC championship, capturing the fourth league title in program history with a record-low 33 points. Two weeks later, they finished third overall at the Great Lakes Regional championship for the second year in a row, earning their second At-Large bid to the national championship meet.
On the men's side, the Rockets were selected two spots ahead of last year's preseason ranking and are on the upswing. They are coming off a program-best finish at the Great Lakes Regional championship (15th) after finishing sixth at the MAC championship last season.
"The men have been training really well," Hadsell said. "I think that we are a team that is capable of continuing to move up in the rankings, despite being very young."
Both teams will run their first race of the season tomorrow night at the Mel Brodt Collegiate Opener in Bowling Green, OH. The women are scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. and the men will race at 7:00 p.m.