PORTSMOUTH, Ohio – The Shawnee State women’s cross country team was named the No. 8 team in the country according to coaches, as the NAIA released the 2014 Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll on Wednesday.
The Bears finished last season ranked No. 13 after finishing in said position at the NAIA National Championship. The Bears jump perhaps comes because the squad returns six runners with experience at the NAIA National Championship, including the Mid-South Conference Runner of the Year and an All-Americans.
Sarah Biehl enters her junior season after gathering a trophy case full of awards last season. As a sophomore, Biehl was named the Mid-South Conference Runner of the Year, First Team All-MSC, Academic All-MSC and MSC Runner of the Week on Oct. 28, 2013.
Halle Richards finished 17th at the NAIA National Championship en route to All-American recognition. Richards was also a two-time First Team All-MSC honoree and the 2012 Mid-South Freshman of the Year. She has qualified for the NAIA championships twice, and was named MSC Runner of the Week on Oct. 14, 2013.
Behind the top two, SSU features one of the deepest squads in the country with four more runners with national experience. Jamie Retherford, Megan Day, Emily Richmond and Jasmine Smith all competed in the National Championship last season.
The Bears also add freshman Anna Havranek, who finished 20th in the Ohio High School state championship last season.
Like the men’s side, the SSU women are seeking their fifth-straight Mid-South Conference championship.