FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- Both Covenant cross country teams have been picked second in their respective USA South preseason coaches' polls that were released by the conference on Thursday.
The head coach at each institution ranks each team to comprise the poll. Head coaches do not vote for their own teams.
The Covenant men tallied 106 total points and one first place vote to be tabbed second in the 12-team league. The Scots are coming off a second place finish in last year's USA South championship and head coach Katie Stanford's squad returns several key runners from a season ago, including last year's USA South Rookie of the Year in Caleb Aikens.
Berea, the defending conference champion, took 11 of the 12 first place tallies and 121 overall points to earn preseason favorite status. Piedmont (100 points), Methodist (88 points), and Maryville (72 points) rounded out the top five in the poll.
For Stanford's women's team, the Scots had 239 total points and five first place votes in the 17-team poll. Covenant was also the runner-up on the women's side a season ago and, much like the men, return a bulk of the talent from that team including the reigning Runner of the Year in senior Lilly Smith.
Defending champion Berea is once again the favorite as the Mountaineers totaled 12 first place votes and 252 points. Piedmont (223 points), Methodist (197 points), and Meredith (179 points) completed the top five in the women's poll.
The USA South Championships will be held on Friday, Oct. 26 in Maryville, Tenn.
Covenant opens the season on Friday, Aug. 31 when it hosts the Mountaintop Invitational. The women's two-mile race begins at 6 p.m., while the men's 5k will follow at 6:30 p.m.
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