In the second year of the NAIA qualification plan for advancing to National Championship Meet, the preseason conference polls were released for the Dakota Athletic Conference (DAC) men's and women's cross country. The preseason conference polls are used to determine the NAIA's Top 25 rankings and potential at-large bids at the end of the season as a team to qualify for the NAIA Nationals. Both Trojan men's and women's had received votes to the NAIA Cross Country Top 25 Preseason Ratings released Wednesday (today).
The Trojan men's runners completed an impressive 2008 season including a third place at the snowy DAC Championship Meet in Madison. Dakota State ranks second behind the Yellow Jackets of Black Hills State in the DAC Preseason Poll. Dickinson State is third, followed by South Dakota School of Mines fourth, Minot State fifth and Jamestown sixth to round the ratings. Last year, DAC All-Conference Tyler Van Peursem and Anthony Drealan qualified for NAIA Nationals. Dakota State will return a stronger lineup for this fall including Kyle Sanderson, Cody Foreman, Matt Fideler, Andrew Manning, Devon Berkness, John Bintliff, Keith Huffman, Andrew Quenzer and Ben Harrison. Newcomers Michael Hoffman, Bryan Wolfe, Shay Baysinger, Dalton Lien and Ethan Shafer will join the Trojan Men's Cross Country team this fall.
Dakota State women's cross country team finished with a strong performance, and earned runner-up honors at the DAC Championship Meet last season in Madison. The Trojan women's runners earned their highest place ever since joining the Dakota Athletic Conference in 2000. Dakota State ranks third in the DAC Preseason Poll. Jamestown is first and Black Hills State second. Minot State ranks fourth, followed by Dickinson State fifth and South Dakota School of Mines sixth. The Trojan women's team lost one senior, Kari Scheafer, who earned DAC All-Conference and qualified for NAIA Nationals. The Trojans will return DAC Freshman of the Year and NAIA National qualifier Stephanie Warnke along with nucleus roster that includes Clarice Bauer, Suzanne Swett and Samantha Warnke. Brittany Young and Alyssa Protsch will join the Trojan Women's Cross Country team this fall.
The Trojan men's and women's team will open their tough 2009 campaign as they travel to Vermillion, S.D. on Saturday, September 5th. They will be competing in the University of South Dakota/Don Baker Invitational with the women's race starting at approximately 9:45 a.m. with men's to follow.
DAC Men's Cross Country Conference Preseason Ratings (Final 2008 rankings in parenthesis)
1. Black Hills State (1)
2. Dakota State (3)
3. Dickinson State (2)
4. SD School of Mines (4)
5. Minot State (6)
6. Jamestown (5)
DAC Women's Cross Country Conference Preseason Ratings (Final 2008 rankings in parenthesis)
1. Jamestown (3)
2. Black Hills State (1)
3. Dakota State (2)
4. Minot State (4)
5. Dickinson State (5)
6. SD School of Mines (6)
Nick Huntimer, Dakota State University Sports Information Director