Harding Cross Country teams lead GAC preseason polls

From Harding University

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – The Great American Conference cross country coaches have picked Harding University to win both the men's and women's championships in 2011, the first season of competition in the league.

Harding received seven first place votes and one second place vote on the women's side, which includes all nine charter members of the GAC. The Bisons received themaximum amount of first place votes on the men's side with three. The GAC will field four teams in men's cross country this season. The coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams.

Harding's 63 points on the women's side comfortably edged second place prediction, Arkansas Tech University, which received six second place votes, one third place vote and one seventh place vote for a total of 50 points.

Despite receiving a pair of first place votes, East Central University was picked to finish third with a final count of 49 points. In addition to its first place votes, the team received one second place vote, three third place votes, one fourth place vote and one sixth place vote.

Southwestern Oklahoma State University followed at fourth with four third place votes and four fourth place votes for a total of 44 points. Following SWOSU, in order, are Ouachita Baptist University (32 points), Henderson State University (28), Southeastern Oklahoma State University (21), Southern Arkansas University (20) and the University of Arkansas at Monticello (17).

In addition to Harding's three first place votes on the men's side, East Central turned in one first place nod and two second place picks for a total of seven points and a second place prediction. Southern Arkansas comes in at third with two second place votes and one third place vote for five points, while Arkansas-Monticello rounds out the field with three third place votes.

Harding was selected to host the 2011 GAC Championship prior to the release of the preseason poll. The championship run, featuring all nine women's teams and all four men's teams, is scheduled for Saturday, October 22 in Searcy, Ark.

During Harding's 11 seasons in the Gulf South Conference, the Harding men won 10 conference championship and the Harding women won eight.