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Lumberjack Cross Country Tops the Conference in Preseason Poll

OGDEN, Utah – The Lumberjack men's and women's cross country teams were picked to finish atop of the Big Sky today in the preseason coaches' poll released this morning by the conference office.

The men topped the poll with 142 points and 10 first-place votes. They are coming off their seventh consecutive Big Sky Cross Country Championship and produced the Big Sky individual champion the last nine years.

Champion Matt McElroy and third-place Nathan Weitz return from inside the top-10 and 15th-place Korey Krotzer also returns.

Joining the Lumberjacks this season are All-Americans Futsum Zienasellassie, who sat out last year's Big Sky Championships, and Tyler Byrne, a transfer from Louisville.

Southern Utah followed Northern Arizona, earning two first-place votes. They return Nate Jewkes, Big Sky Champion in the 10,000m last spring, after he sat out the 2013 cross country season.

The women earned the top spot with 141 points and nine first-place votes. They edged out defending champion Weber State who earned 130 points and two first-place votes. Eastern Washington also garnered one first-place vote.

Last year, the women finished second at the Big Sky Championships, led by all-conference runner Rolonda Jumbo. They return four of their five scorers from the Big Sky Championships and get Melanie Townsend back after missing 2013 due to injury.

Weber State loses 2013 champion Summer Harper but keeps all-conference Jamie Stokes and Hailey Ricks.

North Dakota hosts the Big Sky Championships on Nov. 1, 2014.