Greenville, SC – Conference Carolinas announced the 2019 Women's Cross Country Preseason Poll on August 12 with the University of Mount Olive Trojans taking the first place position with nine first place finish votes.
The Trojans took first in the preseason poll with nine first place votes and a total voting score of 118. Mount Olive won their fourth straight conference championship as they ran away with the 2018 Conference Carolinas Championship title. Two of the Trojans earned a place in the NCAA Cross Country National Championship as both Leah Hanle and Celine Ritter advanced to the nationals. Hanle finished in seventh to earn a place as an All-American. Mount Olive was followed by the North Greenville University Crusaders with 107 points. The Crusaders finished in second place last season, which was their highest finish in program history with three individuals being honored on All-Conference teams. In the NCAA Southeast Regional, the Crusaders finished in 14th of 23 teams who ran.
Taking third in the poll were the King University Tornado with 102 points and one first place finish vote. The Tornado took third in the Conference Carolinas Championship race last year. Kristin Barton led the Tornado, taking fourth to earn a selection on the All-Conference First Team. The Warriors followed in fourth place with 94 points in the preseason poll. Last year, Southern Wesleyan took fourth place in the Conference Carolinas Championship as their individuals finished in 11th, 12th, 15th, 32nd and 38th places. Madison Lewellen, Kyra Hood and Maggie Rice made school history as they became the first women's cross country runners to earn All-Conference recognition. Lewellen led the team with an 11th place finish with a time of 24:20.9. Hood finished a second behind her to claim 12th place. Rice took the last All-Conference spot of the year as she finished in 15th.
Southern Wesleyan was followed in the poll by the Belmont Abbey College Crusaders with 83 points. Last season, the Crusaders of Belmont Abbey finished in fifth with Julia Otranto leading the team with a 10th place individual finish. Belmont Abbey finished in 17th place in the NCAA Cross Country Southeast Regionals. Limestone took sixth in the preseason poll with 57 points. The Saints finished last season in sixth place in the Conference Carolinas Championship with Sarah Rutto earning a slot on the All-Conference Second Team. They went on to run in the NCAA Southeast Regional where they finished in 20th place out of 23 competing teams. The Saints of Limestone were closely followed in the preseason poll by the Emmanuel College Lions with 56 points. In their first season of post season eligibility in Conference Carolinas, the Lions took eighth place.
The Lees-McRae College Bobcats picked up an eighth place spot in the poll after receiving 47 points. They were followed by the Converse College Valkyries and the Barton College Bulldogs in a tie for ninth place with 43 points. The Erskine College Flying Fleet and the Chowan University Hawks wrapped up the field in the 2019 Women's Cross Country Preseason Poll with 27 and 15 points respectively.
"We are truly excited to have back so many contributors from last year," commented Head Coach Greg Thiel and Assistant Coach Jake Simms. "These young ladies are of the highest character, determination and compassion... which makes their ceiling very high this year! We think this is the most talented distance squad in our programs history."
Southern Wesleyan will kick off their 2019 campaign at the Chick-fil-a Open in Tusculum, Tennessee. They will then host their annual Warrior Invite on September 13. The Warriors will continue to compete throughout the season in the Queen City Invite in Charlotte, the Upstate Invite in Spartanburg, and the Sand Shark Invitational in Beaufort. The Conference Carolinas Championship will be hosted in Mount Olive, NC