Cross Country Picked Third In First Ever C-USA Preseason Poll

Aug. 25, 2016

DENTON -- The North Texas men's and women's cross country teams were picked to finish third and fifth in the first ever Conference USA preseason poll.

The season will begin Sept. 1 at the Bear Twilight Invitational hosted by Baylor University at 7 p.m. The team will compete in seven meets, concluding with the NCAA South Central Regionals hosted by Arkansas.

"Our team is always motivated to achieve very high goals for the season whether there is a Conference poll or not," cross country coach Stefanie Slekis said. "For our men's team this preseason poll is a great reminder that we didn't reach our goal last year. We need to commit to our plan for this year to be able to beat our ranking in the poll, and achieve our own ultimate goal for the season, which is always to win a conference championship."

The men's squad returns three top-five runners from a season ago in seniors James Coleman, Grady Frazier and junior Mike Lowe. The team also has a host of newcomers that will be hoping to make an immediate impact in junior Rick Nally, freshmen Florian Lussy, Tim Jones and Hayden Murphy. Also joining the team is Alex Cleveland, a transfer from Lamar, and Zach Kirkland returns to the Mean Green from the 2014 championship team. 

The women's team was tabbed to finish fifth in the preseason poll after taking home seventh in the 2015 C-USA championships. The team has a veteran group led by three seniors Susan Kemper, Kylee Kittrell and Shauna Pali.

"For the women's team the preseason poll this year is a great reminder that we are a strong program in Conference USA," Slekis said. "We had a rough day last year with some illness issues and redshirting one of our top runners, so the women moved up in the poll from last year's finish. This is great for our team because it shows that even other coaches in our conference recognize that we have a strong roster this year."

The roster has many options with 16 student-athletes on the women's team. Some of the newcomers include sophomore transfer Kellee McCann from Syracuse, freshmen Kacie Jo Corbin, Darrian Johnson, Kacie Mayberry, Tori Valka, Jennifer White, and junior Susannah Lynch, who made her Mean Green debut with track last season.

"Ultimately our goal is a lot higher than fifth," added Slekis. "I think it is a great starting point for our women to remember that we have been and are a top three program in Conference USA. If we train hard this fall and work together we can compete to win the conference championship this October."

2016 Conference USA Men's Cross Country Poll
First Place Votes in Parentheses
1. UTEP (9)
2. Middle Tennessee (1)
3. North Texas
4. Rice
5. Charlotte
7. Marshall
8. LA Tech
9. WKU
10. Florida Atlantic
11. FIU

2016 Conference USA Women's Cross Country Poll
First Place Votes in Parentheses
1. Rice (9)
2. Middle Tennessee (3)
3. Southern Miss
4. Charlotte
5. North Texas
7. WKU
9. Marshall
10. UAB
11. Florida Atlantic
12. FIU
13. LA Tech



North Texas Mean Green