CANTON -- St. Lawrence University's women's cross country team was ranked 20th in the pre-season national polls by the USTFCCA, one of five Atlantic Region teams to crack the national list.
The Saints, 10th in the country last season, open the 2014 campaign at Plattsburgh State on Sept. 6. They will be after a 13th straight Liberty League championship and an eighth straight trip to the NCAA Championships despite losing three of their top five runners from a year ago to graduation.
"We watched the largest senior class in the history of our program walk across the stage last spring as we graduated eight seniors, including three of our top five and All America Amy Cymerman, so we certainly have a lot of shoes to fill this fall both in terms of quality and depth," said veteran Saint coach Mike Howard.
Joining St. Lawrence in the national poll from the Atlantic Region are ninth ranked NYU and 10th ranked SUNY Geneseo. SUNY Oneonta is tied for 14th with Ithaca College is 22nd and the College of New Jersey is 27th.
"Maturity will key so although we're thrilled to be ranked among the top 20 going into the season we understand that our ability to be back among the nation's best in November will be largely determined by how quickly our younger runners develop as the season progresses. I'm very excited to watch this team come together," said Howard.
Captains Anne Martino, Anna Rabideau and Lisa Grohn will lead the Saints into the upcoming season. Martino is a three-year member of Saint championship teams while Rabideau was the fifth Saint finisher in last year's NCAA race. Grohn is a sophomore, and was the Liberty League Rookie of the Year in cross country, indoor and outdoor track a year ago and an NCAA participant in all three seasons.
The Saints also return Margaret MacDonald who was a top runner for the Saints in the 2012 season, but missed most of last year due to injury. Other key returnees include junior Melanie Swick, who was a top seven runner for the Saints in the Atlantic Regional. The Saints also added eight promising newcomers to the roster for the upcoming season.
"I could not be happier with the training the ladies have put in over the summer months and the results of our preseason workouts. It's clear that our returners are eager to maintain the successful tradition we've built on a national level over the past decade with four out of five top ten finishes in the last five years and it's equally clear that we have a very talented group of first years poised to make some very immediate impacts," Howard concluded.