MONTGOMERY, Ala. (dsroadrunners.com) — Defending SSAC champion Dalton State was unanimously selected as the favorite to claim this year's SSAC crown in the 2015 SSAC Women's Cross Country Coaches' Preseason Poll, the conference office announced Monday. The Roadrunners received all nine first-place votes and accumulated the maximum 81 points en route to the No. 1 ranking.
Dalton State returns five All-Conference selections from 2014—including SSAC Freshman of the Year Gloria Pascual and SSAC Newcomer of the Year Natalie Hensley—and will look to repeat as SSAC women's cross country champion in just its second year of conference membership.
The Roadrunners claimed their first-ever SSAC title—in any sport—in 2014, tallying 46 points at the conference championship meet, 13 fewer than their closest opponent. Dalton State was also the lone SSAC team to compete at the NAIA Women's Cross Country National Championship, placing 35th in the 38-team national championship field.
Returners Hensley (199th), Pascual (230th), Nayeli Jacobo (282nd), Mallory Edwards (283rd), Olivia Bird (310th), Jessica Brock (314th) and Kuersten Gallivan (316th) all gained national championship experience in Dalton State's first-ever appearance in 2014.
No other SSAC team returns a 2014 national championship qualifier.
Brenau (Ga.) and Blue Mountain (Miss.) each accrued 66 points to share the No. 2 position in the preseason poll. The Golden Tigers return two All-Conference selections from their SSAC runner-up squad a year ago, while the Toppers return four All-SSAC performers.
Loyola (La.) (51 points), Mobile (Ala.) (45 points), Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) (35 points), William Carey (Miss.) (34 points), Bethel (Tenn.) (18 points) and Brewton-Parker (Ga.) (9 points) round out the nine-team preseason poll.
Rank School (First-Place Votes) Total Points
1. Dalton State (Ga.) (9) 82
T2. Brenau (Ga.) 66
T2. Blue Mountain (Miss.) 66
4. Loyola (La.) 51
5. Mobile (Ala.) 45
6. Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) 35
7. William Carey (Miss.) 34
8. Bethel (Tenn.) 18
9. Brewton-Parker (Ga.) 9