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Women's team ranked 6th, men's team 14th in cross country preseason poll - The Pitt News

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Women’s team ranked 6th, men’s team 14th in cross country preseason poll

Sophmore+Gillian+Schriever+racing+towards+the+finish+line++last+season+at+the+University+of+Minnesota.+%28Courtesy+of+Pitt+Athletics%29
Sophmore Gillian Schriever racing towards the finish line  last season at the University of Minnesota. (Courtesy of Pitt Athletics)

Sophmore Gillian Schriever racing towards the finish line last season at the University of Minnesota. (Courtesy of Pitt Athletics)

Christopher Mitchell / Sport Sho

Christopher Mitchell / Sport Sho

Sophmore Gillian Schriever racing towards the finish line last season at the University of Minnesota. (Courtesy of Pitt Athletics)

By Ashwini Sivaganesh / Assistant Sports Editor

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New rankings for NCAA cross country released this week placed both Pitt’s men’s and women’s teams in the top 15 in the region.

The women’s team placed sixth, and the men’s team placed 14th in Tuesday’s NCAA Division I Mid-Atlantic Region rankings by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

This is the second consecutive year both teams made the list. The women’s team improved, having placed 13th last year while the men’s team fell from its 12th place spot last season.

The women’s projections are tied to the strong group of athletes that already make up the team, while the drop in the men’s rank could be a testament to the uncertainty of how the six new freshmen will contribute to the overall program.  

The Athletic Department said the women’s rank could be the highest rank in the program’s history –– even after the departure of 12 seniors, including Hillary Boxheimer. Boxheimer finished her senior year 34th overall in the 6K at the 2015 NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships with a time of 21:55.4, placing second for Pitt behind sophomore Gillian Schriever, who finished 30th.

Schriever, one of Pitt’s top returning performers from 2015, led the Panthers at the ACC Championships with a 6K time of 21:26.3 and appeared on the All-ACC Academic Team. Along with teammates senior Dee Dee Adams and redshirt junior Ariel Pastore-Sebring, the trio are expected to lead the pack this year.

Among the returning runners on the men’s side are senior Chris Montgomery and junior Ryan Hughes, who led the Panthers at the 2015 NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship by placing 43rd and 66th, respectively, out of 174 runners in the 10K.

In total, 30 female and 12 male athletes will be returning with 14 new names making an appearance on the rosters.

“It’s an exciting way to kick off the season, but we have a long way to go, and anything can happen,” women’s coach Adam Bray said in a press release Monday. “We have a lot of really great teams in our region, and it is an honor to be able to compete with those teams in the near future.”

All 15 ACC schools made the regional rankings with NC State topping the Southeast region, while 11 men’s teams made appearances from the ACC with Syracuse taking the top spot for the Northeast.

As a team the women’s cross country team came in seventh against 30 other competitors in the NCAA Regional Championship and took ninth in the last ACC Championship. The men took 13th in the last ACC Championship.

With a third of this year’s men’s team consisting of new freshmen talent, men’s coach Bryan Jackson said the team has the potential to climb the ranks.

“This is a preseason poll that’s a reflection of how we finished the 2015 season,” Jackson said in the release. “We have grown from last year and with that, so have our expectations.”

The Panthers’ first races will be Saturday, Sept. 3, at Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park. The women’s 5K race will start at 9 a.m., and the men’s 8K race will start at 9:45 a.m.

 

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Women’s team ranked 6th, men’s team 14th in cross country preseason poll