PORTSMOUTH, Ohio – The Shawnee State men’s cross country squad is the No. 7 team in the country according to coaches across the country, as the NAIA released the 2014 Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll on Wednesday.
The Bears lose a pair of NAIA qualifiers in Brad Liston and Adam Schroeder to graduation, however have three returners with experience at the NAIA National Championship, where the squad finished seventh overall.
Breydon Gates represents the top returner, having finished 71st at nationals last season. Joe Stewart came in just behind him at 73rd. Wil Doering also ran in the national meet, finishing 129th.
The SSU roster also features several newcomers who figure to make an immediate impact on the squad. Freshmen Ethan Richter and Parker Blain will help fill the void left by Liston and Schroeder, as both were All-State runners in Ohio.
The Bears will be looking to capture their fifth-straight Mid-South Conference championship this season. The team finished in the top-10 at the NAIA National Championship in each of those five seasons.