ASHLAND — In terms of expectations, the Southern Oregon University cross country teams will find themselves in familiar positions entering the new season.
The Raider men are the favorites to win an 11th consecutive Cascade Conference championship, according to a preseason coaches’ poll released Monday by the league office. The Raider women are picked third, which is right where they finished in 2017.
The Cascade was the highest-performing conference on both sides at last year’s NAIA national meet: Four of the top 11 men’s teams represented the CCC, as well as four of the top 16 women’s teams.
The Raider men will be following up a fourth-place national finish that was preceded by another dominant showing at the CCC Championships. They’ve been among the top four in nine of the last 10 seasons. Noah Oberriter, now a senior, is their top returning finisher after placing 16th last season to attain All-America status.
SOU received seven of nine first-place votes. College of Idaho picked up the other two and tied with Eastern Oregon for No. 2 in the poll ahead of Oregon Tech.
OIT won its first-ever CCC women’s title last season and is picked to win another with six first-place votes. College of Idaho is No. 2 in the poll, having received the other three first-place votes, and SOU is third ahead of Corban.
The Raiders will return five of their top-six scorers from the conference meet — the exception being Jessa Perkinson, the CCC champion and national runner-up. SOU finished 15th in last year’s NAIA team standings.