Expectations already are high for successful seasons by the Stanford men's and women's cross-country teams, each of which has been ranked among the nation's top 10 teams in the preseason.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) released its preseason national cross country coaches' poll for the 2011 NCAA Division I season. The Stanford men were ranked No. 2 while the women earned a No. 7 spot.
Stanford is one of three schools, along with Colorado and Florida State, to have both teams ranked in the top 10.
The addition of Colorado to the conference makes the Pac-12 an even more formidable than it was as the Pac-10. On the men's side, Stanford, Oregon and Colorado are ranked in the top seven. On the women's side, five teams are ranked in the top 16 with Colorado leading the way at No. 4, followed by the Cardinal and Arizona at No. 7 and 8. Washington is ranked No. 11, while Oregon is ranked No. 16.
Oklahoma State, the two-time defending NCAA men's champion, earned 10 of 12 first-place votes to remain as the No. 1 team in the country to start the season while Georgetown was selected as the top women's team for the first time in school history.
The Stanford men return much of the squad that was ranked No. 1 for most of the regular season and finished fourth at the 2010 NCAA Championships. Only Elliott Heath of the seven that ran at nationals was lost to graduation. Chris Derrick and Jake Riley both return after finishing fifth and sixth, respectively, at last year's NCAA meet.
The Cardinal women also return nearly the whole team as six of seven are back from the NCAA meet. Only Alex Gits has graduated. All-Americans Kathy Kroeger and Stephanie Marcy both return. The women are also boosted by an exceptional recruiting class, including Aisling Cuffe, the Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.
The Cardinal opens the season on Saturday at the USF Invitational before hosting the annual Stanford Invitational on Sept. 24 at the Stanford Golf Course.