After a strong third place finish in 2005, the Valparaiso University women's cross country team has been picked to finish fourth in the Mid-Continent Conference by a preseason poll of the league's eight head coaches.
Valpo's top three finishers from the 2005 Mid-Con Championships are back, led by record-setting sophomore Laura Rolf (Rochester, Mich./Lutheran Northwest) who earned First Team All-Conference and All-Region honors as a freshman. Rolf finished fourth overall at the Mid-Con meet, earning Newcomer of the Year honors, and broke her own school record in the 6K at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championships, finishing in 19th place in a time of 22:04.3.
The Crusaders earned 30 points in the poll, which awarded seven points for a first place vote on a scale that earned teams one point for a seventh place pick. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams.
Oral Roberts, the defending league champions, were picked first and earned five of eight first place votes. Southern Utah garnered the other three first place votes and came in second in the poll.
Valpo opens the 2006 season at home with the 18th annual Crusader Invitational at Sunset Hills Farm on September 8. The women's 4K race is scheduled to begin at 5:00 p.m.
2006 Mid-Continent Conference Preseason Poll
1. Southern Utah - 47 (5)
2. Oral Roberts - 43 (3)
3. Oakland - 32
4. Valparaiso - 30
5. Western Illinois - 26
6. UMKC - 22
7. IUPUI - 17
8. Centenary - 8
first place votes in parentheses