W&L, Hornets Earn First Place Considerations
FOREST, Va. --- Six places shuffled location in the 2018 coaches survey, but it is just the opposite in the 2019 ODAC Women's Cross Country Preseason Poll as the top eight positions in the chart are unchanged from a season ago. Washington and Lee University holds down the top spot with 142 points (one more than last year) including 10 first place votes. The University of Lynchburg corralled the remaining three top nods on the way to 131 markers.
Bridgewater College and Shenandoah University each cleared the 100-point plateau with 119 and 106 tallies, respectively. Just four points separates fifth-ranked Eastern Mennonite University (92) from sixth-place Roanoke College (88).
While the Generals' women helped Washington and Lee secure its fourth straight sweep of the ODAC team trophies, the environment was much different than from the season prior. In 2017, W&L ran away with the crown via a 40-point margin of victory. Last year, the Generals felt a considerable squeeze with W&L claiming a record 18th championship by just five points over Lynchburg.
Nine of the top-14 finishers wore Washington and Lee or Lynchburg shirts, including all but one of the 7-woman All-ODAC First Team. The story about which team will win this season takes on further depth with just three first teamers back on any campus and seven total All-ODAC competitors on league rosters.
RELATED: 2018 All-ODAC Awards
W&L features Katie Bearup (4th | 23:01.2) from the first team and Julia Moody (9th | 23:32.6) and Sarah Hollen (14th | 24:02.5) from the All-ODAC Second Team. Depth certainly won't be an issue for W&L with six runners returning from a group of nine that finished 20th or better at last year's championships.
Lynchburg will have its work cutout even with a strong returning cast as they'll need to replace Kaitlyn Johnson, the first All-American in program history following a strong national showing last season. Michela Cholak (6th | 23:18.8) will look to help in that regard after earning a first team spot in 2018. Stephanie Burnett (15th | 24:03.5) crossed the line exactly one-second behind W&L's Hollen to come up just shy of the final second team position.
No one should count out Bridgewater as the Eagles feature a pair of strong All-ODAC runners. Calista Ariel burst out from an early tight group to win the individual ODAC crown at 22:16.8. Her strong postseason continued with a fifth place showing at the NCAA South/Southeast Regional (22:43.9), which punched her ticket to the NCAA Division III Championships in Winneconne, Wis. There, she and Johnson (formerly of Lynchburg) represented the ODAC well with 93rd (22:30.3) and 36th (21:54.4) place finishes, respectively, in a field of 279 runners.
Joining Ariel in boosting Bridgewater's 2019 squad is English Jackson. Jackson, who was followed up by former teammate Jenna Rea, placed 10th (23:38.0) in last season's ODAC meet to earn second team honors.
The remaining All-ODAC returner also competes out of the Harrisonburg-area. Elizabeth Nisly is back to lead Eastern Mennonite squad. Nisly, much like BC's Jackson, was followed up by a since-graduated teammate in Laurie Serrell as the pair finished 12th (23:46.4) and 13th in the conference race.
RELATED: 2018 ODAC Championship Results | 2018 Regional Results | 2018 NCAA Results
The 2019 season begins with a series of events on Friday, August 30. The ODAC Preview will be hosted by eventual conference championship-host Roanoke College on Saturday, September 14. The conference championships will be Saturday, November 2. Both the preview and championship will be conducted at Green Hill Park in Salem, Va..
The NCAA postseason opens with the regional competition on Saturday, November 16. The Division III South/Southeast Regional Championship will be hosted by Rhodes College at Shelby Farms Park in Memphis, Tenn. The NCAA Division III National Championship is slated for Saturday, November 23 at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky.
Listed below is the 2019 ODAC Women's Cross Country Preseason Poll. Be sure to check out the preseason capsules for each team as well (online version only click HERE for the online release).
For more information on ODAC women's cross country, visit the websites of any of the participating schools, or go to the ODAC's home on the Internet at www.odaconline.com. Don't forget to become a fan of the ODAC on Facebook and follow @odacathletics on Twitter and Instagram.