AMC MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY PRESEASON COACHES' POLL/SEASON PREVIEW
Men's Cross Country - Wed, Aug. 30, 2017
ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The Cougars from Columbia College enters the season as the favorites to win the American Midwest Conference (AMC) Men's Cross Country Conference Championship, the conference office announced Wednesday. The Cougars received nine first-place votes and 99 total points.
Park University Pirates is second after receiving one first-place vote and 91 total points. The final first-place vote went to William Woods University. The Owls had 81 points and comes in ranked No. 3.
No. 1 – Columbia College Cougars – 99 total points (nine first-place votes)
The Cougars are the only AMC team that is featured in the NAIA Men's Cross Country Preseason Coaches' Top 25 Poll, where they are ranked No. 25.
Columbia has been dominate lately, winning four-of-the-last-five conference meets.
Columbia returns Malik Holman, who finished first at the 2016 AMC Men's Cross Country Conference Championships. The freshman was crowned AMC Runner of the Year and Freshman of the Year.
In addition to Holman, the Cougars return the same team that won the conference title a year ago, including Travis Line, Seth and Alex Slater, who all posted top-10 finishes in the conference.
The Cougars season starts on Sept. 2, when they travel to Bolivar, Mo. to take part in the Southwest Baptist University Invite.
No. 2 – Park University Pirates – 91 total points (one first-place vote)
The Pirates are ranked second after a third place finish at the conference meet a year ago.
Christian Skinner returns to the lineup, after finishing second at last year conference meet. With a time of 26:10.07, Skinner earned an automatic individual qualifier to the NAIA Men's Cross Country National Championships.
Ryan Zitter also qualified for the NAIA Men's Cross Country National Championships, after turning in a time of 27:18.42 for an 11th-place finish.
The Pirates lose Luke Bailey, who finished 18th at the conference meet a year ago.
Park's first meet is on Sept. 2, as they participate in the Maple Lead Invitational in Baldwin, Kan.
No. 3 – William Woods University Owls – 82 total points (one first-place vote)
The Owls are coming off a 2016 season that saw them finish second at the conference meet and earn the AMC's second automatic qualifier berth to Nationals.
William Woods returns AMC All-Conference runner, Kyle Gabrielson, who finished ninth at conference.
Jamie Porter looks to build on a 27th-place finish at the Conference Meet last season.
The Owls have big shoes to fill, losing senior Kaleb Wilson (fifth-place finish) and Alex Thompson (sixth-place finish), who is transferring.
The Owls will hit the course on Sept. 2 at the Principia Invite in Elsah, Ill.
No. 4 – Hannibal-LaGrange University Trojans – 67 total points
The Trojans finished fourth in the conference last season.
Hannibal-LaGrange looks to build on the performance, returning David Ballew, Tyler Byars and Shawn Geralds, who all competed in the conference meet last year.
The Trojans lose top runners Andrew Daw and Austin Matters, who led the team across the finish line at the conference meet a year ago.
The Trojans first meet is on Sept. 1 at the Great River Open in Quincy, Ill.
No. 5 – Lindenwood University-Belleville Lynx – 66 total points
The Lynx are returning a strong core from last year's team that finished fifth in the conference.
Fabian Munoz Jr. – was the team's top finisher in all but one meet last season.
Paco Roslaes – two-time qualifier for cross country nationals. Finished for the Lynx in last season's conference meet. Roslaes finished fourth overall at the conference meet with a time of 26:19.06.
Cisco Zaragoza – 2015 NAIA Cross County National Championships qualifier.
The team does not lose any key runners from a season ago.
The first meet for the Lynx is on Sept. 8, as they take part in the Forest Park XC Festival in St. Louis, Mo.
No. 6 – Freed-Hardeman University Lions – 49 points
The Lions return top runner from 2016, in Tyler Alverson. Alverson finished third in the conference with a time of 26:12.93.
Dillon Tucker, finished second on the team and 26th overall at the conference meet, is expected to be a key contributor in the Lions success this season.
The Lions also return Same Elliott and Adam Dunlap, who both finished in the top-five on the team a year ago.
The Lions first race is on Sept. 2, when they travel to Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic in Memphis, Tenn.
No. 7 – Williams Baptist College Eagles – 47 points
The Eagles return Alex Van Herpen, who's 8k PR is 27.24 that he ran in 2016. Van Herpen finished 17th at the conference meet, leading the Eagles to a seventh-place team finish.
The team welcomes back John Farris and John Guyton, who both posted sub-30 8K times last season.
The Eagles first race is on Aug. 31, when they compete in the Lyon College Invitational in Batesville, Ark.
No. 8 – Missouri Baptist University Spartans – 44 total points
The Spartans are returning their top five finishers from the AMC meet last season:
Jacob Pinkley led the team, finishing 14th overall with a time of 27:39.16.
Brian Jordan ran a sub-30 8K, finishing 35th overall with a time of 29:34.02.
Logan Jaggie, Zachary Ogg and Daniel Evans all finished in the top 54 last season.
The Spartans are young, fielding a team that consists of five freshmen, three sophomores and two seniors.
The first meet for Missouri Baptist is on Sept. 2, when they travel to Elsah, Ill. to participate in the Principia College XC Meet.
No. 9 – St. Louis College of Pharmacy Eutectics – 28 total points
The Eutectics return top runner, Murphy Affolder, who posted a PR of 27:23 in 2016. Affolder finished first for the team in all meets.
St. Louis Pharmacy loses Fred Jaeger, who finished second on the team at the conference meet last season.
The Eutectics start their season on Sept. 9th when they participate in the Ozarks Ambush in Point Lookout, Mo.
No. 10 – Central Baptist College Mustangs – 23 total points
In just the second year of the program, Central Baptist welcomes back almost everyone from the team a year ago.
Kevin Perez comes back to the team after running a PR of 35:24 and finishing first on the team in three meets.
Sophomore Dalton Parker, top Mustangs finisher in two meets, returns after posting a PR of 35.11 at the Ozarks Invitational.
The Mustangs will be in action on August 31st, with they run in the Lyon College Invitational in Batesville, Ark.
No. 11 – Lyon College Scots – 10 total points
The Scots will restart its cross country program in 2017 after a seven year hiatus.
Adam Trausch has been named the head coach of the men's and women's program after serving as an assistant cross coach at Defiance College in Defiance, Ohio since January of 2016.
Lyon will see the cross country season in action, for the first time since 2007, on Aug. 31st, as they host the Lyon College Invitational in Batesville, Ark.
2017 AMC Cross Country Conference Championships
The AMC Cross Country Conference Championships will be on Nov. 3rd at Principia College in Elsah, Ill.
The AMC receives one automatic qualifier to the NAIA Men's Cross Country National Championships – meet champion – as well as four individual qualifiers:
The top four individuals, not on a qualifying team, make up the four individual qualifiers provided they finish in the top-20 of the conference meet.
The NAIA Cross Country National Championships will take place on Nov. 18th at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in Vancouver, Wash.
2017 AMC Men's Cross Country Preseason Coaches' Poll