FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- The Covenant men's cross country team was picked first and the women's team second in their respective USA South preseason polls, announced the conference on Wednesday.
On the men's side, Covenant received four of the eight first place votes in a close race for the top spot. The Scots garnered 46 total points, four ahead of second place Piedmont and seven more than third place Maryville. Piedmont gained three first place tallies and Maryville got one. Methodist (fourth) and Averett (fifth) round out the top five teams.
Covenant is the two-time defending conference champion on the men's side and this is the second straight year the Scots have been the preseason favorite. Covenant has not won three straight conference titles since 1993-1995 as a member of the TVAC in the NAIA.
For a second consecutive year, the women are picked to finish second. Covenant tallied two first place votes and 90 total points for a second place finish. Meredith, the two-time defending conference champion, received nine of the 11 first place votes and 99 total points.
Maryville, Mary Baldwin and Piedmont complete the top five teams in the poll.
Covenant returns All-USA South runner Ruthie Cargill along with 2013 All-USA South performers Esther Anderson and Spookie Eaves. Covenant has finished second at the USA South Championships in each of the last two seasons.
Both teams open the 2015 season on Sept. 4 in the Mountaintop Invitational on Lookout Mountain. The women's two-mile race begins at 6 p.m. and the men's 5k will start at 6:30 p.m.
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