SOU men's cross country ranked No. 1 in NAIA poll

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The defending national champion Southern Oregon men's cross country team is ranked No. 1 in the NAIA preseason Top 25 poll and the SOU women's squad is fourth.

Nine Cascade Collegiate Conference programs were listed among the rankings, with Concordia (No. 9), College of Idaho (No. 11) and Eastern Oregon (No. 18) joining the Raiders in the men's poll and C of I (No. 5), Concordia (No. 8), Northwest Christian (No. 17) and Eastern Oregon (No. 19) following SOU in the women's poll.

Southern Oregon was a unanimous top choice in both the men's and women's preseason CCC coaches' polls, which were also released Wednesday.

In the men's NAIA poll, SOU picked up 15 of 18 first-place votes to reach a total of 496 points and its first-ever preseason No. 1 ranking, ahead of No. 2 Wayland Baptist and No. 3 Oklahoma Christian. Fourth-ranked Shorter (Ga.) picked up the final first-place vote. Southern Oregon has held the top spot for seven straight polls dating back to Oct. 6, 2010.

On the women's side, two-time defending champion Cal-State San Marcos earned 16 first-place votes to rank No. 1. Azusa Pacific picked up a first-place vote and ranked second, with Biola in third with 459 points and SOU getting the final first-place vote to rank fourth with 458 points.

In the CCC preseason polls, which are voted on by the conference head coaches, the Raiders led the way by sweeping all nine first-place votes in both genders. The SOU men enter the 2011 campaign having won three consecutive CCC crowns; the SOU women, who finished second to CCC champion Concordia last year, are seeking their first-ever conference title.

The CCC Championships are scheduled for Nov. 5 in Ashland. The conference team champions will earn automatic berths to the NAIA Cross Country National Championships, which will be held Nov. 19 in Vancouver, Wash.

RAIDERS IN BIOLA INVITE — Fresh off last weekend's upset of top-ranked Fresno Pacific, No. 14 Southern Oregon will travel to La Mirada, Calif., to participate in the Biola Invitational. The Raiders will play four total matches, with two each on Friday and Saturday.

First up will be a game against Vanguard at noon on Friday.

The Lions were 14-15 overall last season. First-year head coach Eryn Leja leads the team, which opened the season 1-2 at last weekend's Cougar Classic.

The Raiders will face California State-San Marcos at 6 p.m. Friday. The 2011 season marks the first year of intercollegiate volleyball for the Cougars, and San Marcos defeated Holy Names in three sets in its first-ever match last weekend en route to a 3-2 showing at the Cougar Classic.

Saturday's first matchup for Southern Oregon will be a 10 a.m. match against Westmont. The Warriors finished the 2010 season with a 14-15 overall record and were 8-12 in conference play.

Southern Oregon's final game will be against No. 7 Lewis-Clark State, which returns three first-team all-Frontier Conference performers from last season's 31-3 team. Lewis-Clark State, which advanced to the NAIA tournament quarterfinals last fall, returns eight total players, including senior middle blocker Nicole Graybeal, a first-team NAIA All-American and the Frontier Conference player of the year.

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