Head coach Kregg Einspahr’s men’s and women’s cross country squads will begin the 2012 campaign in familiar territory – among the nation’s top 25 in the country. The women, which have finished in the top 20 at the National Championships in 17 of the last 18 years, come in at No. 10 in the NAIA Women’s Cross Country Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, released on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the men will start the 2012 season at No. 19 in the NAIA rankings.
The women’s squad, led by 2011 All-American Sarah Kortze, concluded last season at No. 17 after rising as high as 11th. Kortze returns this season along with another All-GPAC performer in fellow senior Jena Schwalenberg. With the team’s top-two runners back in the fold this season, expectations are high once again. Kortze and company are determined to bring the GPAC crown back to Seward, where it remained in 2004 and 2005.
On the other hand, the men struggled down the stretch in 2011 and missed the National Championships for the first time in 11 years and were unranked in the postseason poll. The Bulldogs checked in as high as No. 13 in the coaches’ poll, but faltered with top runner Colin Morrissey’s injury issues playing a part in the disappointing finish. Morrissey, the 2010 GPAC runner up, is back for his senior season and hopes to bring the squad back to national prominence.