NASHVILLE, Tenn. - In a preseason vote of head coaches in the Ohio Valley Conference, the Tennessee State University men's and women's cross country teams were both picked to finish 10th for the 2009 season.
The women lost last season's top runner Rahab Kagaruki to graduation. Kagaruki led the Tigerbelles finishing first on the team in five of six competitions. Returning is junior Jaleeca Jacobs who steadily completed the season as the Tigerbelles second runner. The team also returns Pia Perez and Jasmine Jacobs.
The men return three experienced runners in Phillip Myton, Isaiah Marshall and Chris Hobbs.
Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) men's squad and Murray State's women's team were picked as favorites. Last season the EKU men's team claimed its 17th OVC championship and third in a row while the Murray State women's team finished second, just five points behind the champion EKU women's squad.
On the men's side, Eastern Kentucky (80 points, 8 first-place votes) was followed by Eastern Illinois (74 points, 1 first-place vote), Southeast Missouri State (69 points, 1 first-place vote), Morehead State (61), Jacksonville State (49), Austin Peay (37), Murray State (30), Tennessee Tech (30), UT Martin (18) and Tennessee State (10) in the polling.
On the women's side, Murray State (79 points, 7 first-place votes) was followed by Eastern Kentucky (74 points, 2 first-place votes), Southeast Missouri State (66 points, 1 first-place vote), Eastern Illinois (57), Tennessee Tech (41), Austin Peay (40), Jacksonville State (32), Morehead State (32), UT Martin (20) and Tennessee State (10).
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, who joined the OVC in July 2008, is still in a reclassification process to Division I and will not compete at the OVC Championship this season.
Tennessee State University will serve as the host of the 2009 Ohio Valley Conference Cross Country Championships will be held October 31 at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Tenn. The first regular season action of the 2009 season occurs the first weekend of September.