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UMAC women's CC coaches vote CSS as 2014 favorite

UMAC Information

ST. PAUL – The Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) Women's Cross Country coaches once again predict that the College of St. Scholastica will win the conference championship in 2014. The Saints, who have won 13 consecutive UMAC Championship races, received six first place votes and 48 points in the annual coaches' preseason poll while Bethany Lutheran College and the University of Northwestern each received one first place nod.

2014 UMAC Women's Cross Country Coaches' Poll

1. 48 Points – College of St. Scholastica (6 First Place Votes)

2. 41 Points – University of Minnesota Morris

3. 34 Points – Bethany Lutheran College (1)

4. 28 Points – Martin Luther College

5. 26 Points – University of Northwestern (1)

6. 24 Points – North Central University

7. 14 Points – Northland College

8. 9 Points – Crown College

1. College of St. Scholastica Saints

2013 UMAC Finish: 1st

Runners Returning: 18

Runners Lost: 10

The St. Scholastica women's cross country team has won 13 straight UMAC Championships. The Saints return a majority of their top tier runners with one big exception, defending NCAA Division III individual national champion Chelsea Johnson. Johnson moves to an assistant coach role for head coach Steve Pfingsten.

CSS returns its next four top runners in juniors Liz Braml and Andrea Mogren. Both were all-region performers last season. The Saints also return sophomores Jordan Johnson and Taylor Gibson. Johnson and Gibson were All-UMAC competitors as freshmen.

Coach Pfingsten will have to find that fifth scoring member if they want to compete for a Nationals spot as a team. Senior Molly Burgstahler returns and freshman Lizzy Fudge could be that runner.

2. University of Minnesota Morris Cougars

2013 UMAC Finish: 2nd

Runners Returning: 4

Runners Lost: 1

The women's cross country team returns a majority of their squad from the 2013 campaign. Top runners Amanda Peters, Laura Borkenhagen and Rachel Wingenbach are all back. Peters finished in fifth place overall at the 2013 UMAC Championship will Borkenhagen and Wingenbach came in 12th and 13th overall respectively.

Hannah Goemann, who was out last year but ran track for the Cougars will add skill at the top of the Cougars list. Transfer Kiley Hallgren will also help Minnesota Morris stay near the top of the UMAC. Last season UMM took second at the conference meet and hopes to again challenge for the conference title this season.

3. Bethany Lutheran College Vikings

2013 UMAC Finish: 3rd

Runners Returning: 4

Runners Lost: 2

The Bethany women's cross country team returns two UMAC All-Conference runners from a squad that placed third at the UMAC Cross Country Championship last season.

The future of the program looks bright as both all-conference returnees are sophomores. Lauren Farquhar, who also earned all-conference honors in outdoor track and field, placed third at last year's championships and has the work ethic and talent to claim the top spot. Megan Sauer placed 11th and is primed to move up the charts as well.

A pair of newcomers should be able to fill in for some departed veterans. Kirsten Elyea averaged just over 16 minutes for 4000 meters and Arianna Emmons should also be a good edition.

4. Martin Luther College Knights

2013 UMAC Finish: 4th

Runners Returning: 6

Runners Lost: 1

The 2014 Martin Luther College women's cross country team is looking to improve on last season's fourth place finish at the UMAC Championships.

The Knights return their top five runners from last season, led by Emilee Koltz, Amara Biebert and Brooke King. Julie Kent, Becca Rehberger and Sarah Hackbarth also return to provide strong depth, while newcomers Alanna Habben, Mary Meyer and Rachel Winter hope to crack the line-up after impressive high school careers.

5. University of Northwestern Eagles

2013 UMAC Finish: 6th

Runners Returning: 4

Runners Lost: 3

With a lineup of 11 women, Northwestern looks to improve upon its sixth place finish from last year's UMAC championship race. The Eagles lost longtime runners Sammy Wong and Maria Long, but look forward to the return of Maria Olson, who had UNW's top time in last year's event. Olson's top 6k time of 25:44 came on that November morning, as did fellow returner Lisa Greenslade (28:04). Also back for Northwestern is Sara Brook and Charissa Wedin.

Newcomer Megan Reece has state track and field experience from her high school career, but 2014 will be the freshman's first stab at cross country races.

6. North Central University Rams

2013 UMAC Finish: 5th

Runners Returning: 6

Runners Lost: 1

The Rams look to move up from their fifth place UMAC finish a year ago by returning six of their scoring seven from 2014. Coach Trey Meadows will be back for his sixth year heading the women's program at North Central with fifth year assistant coach Bree Williamson continuing her work at her alma mater.

The Rams will be led by junior Annalise Schroeder, a two time All-UMAC medalist, who looks to become just the second woman in any NCU sport to earn three all-conference accolades. The rest of the top five also returns for the Rams including seniors Amanda Schexneider, Rachel Hovland, Emily Devine and Rebekah Davis.

The Rams have added freshman Hannah Foster to the stable after she was a two year captain in the Roseville High School (Minn.) cross country program and she should give the Rams a top five that looks to be their fastest since earning a third place finish at the UMAC meet in 2012. Sophomore Naomi Taylor will likely battle for a top seven spot as well for the Rams in her first year of competitive running.

7. Northland College LumberJills

2013 UMAC Finish: 7th

Runners Returning: 3

Runners Lost: 0

Northland women's cross country is gearing up for another exciting season. Jen Taft begins her second year as the head coach of the program. She's looking forward to the continuing the development of her veteran group. Many of her athletes achieved personal bests last season. Taft is pleased with the effort and enthusiasm from the cross country team and believes that this year will be another step in the right direction for the program. This year is filled with promise regarding both returners and newcomers.

Key returners to the Northland College Women's Cross Country are junior Kim Oldenborg, senior Beth Maschmeyer and sophomore Marina Hein. The new faces of on the team will be Jena Miles (Three Lakes, Minn.) and Katie Nolan (Guilford, Conn.).

8. Crown College Storm

2013 UMAC Finish: 8th

Runners Returning: 3

Runners Lost: 1

New Crown head coach Nate Metzger will boast a much expanded roster heading into the 2014 season. 10 runners will begin the season, including seven new runners to the program. Sarah Holmquist will return as Crown's top runner from a year ago, but is expected to be challenged by several of the incoming student-athletes.

Headlining that list is Shawna Heilman, who ran at Division II Augustana two seasons ago. After a year off, Heilman will be returning to the course this year. Freshman BreAnna Robertson shows real promise and will be joined by three other freshman on a young roster for Crown in 2014.

All eight teams will run in multiple races throughout the fall before meeting in Hermantown, Minn. for the 2014 UMAC Championship race on Saturday, November 1.

Brooke Kern

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