FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fresh off capturing their fourth Northeast Conference title in five years in 2017, the Sacred Heart women's cross country program has been selected as the favorite to defend their title, having been picked No. 1 in the NEC Preseason Coaches' Poll, which was released on Friday.
The Pioneers received eight of the 10 available first-place votes, edging out preseason No. 2 Central Connecticut, who collected a pair of first-place votes. Saint Francis U., Bryant and Mount St. Mary's rounded out the top five.
The Pioneers have won a total of six Northeast Conference titles since 2005. Last year's squad placed four runners in the top five, and five in the top 12 at the NEC Championships, finishing with 24 points, 19 points ahead of runner-up CCSU. Despite losing 2017 individual conference champion Kate Svensen to graduation, SHU returns runner-up finisher Tara Connelly (18:01.1), fourth-place finisher Jody DiCicco (18:05.3), in addition to junior Jacqueline Thorne and senior Emma Cary, all of whom can be expected to lead the SHU pack in 2018. Six-time NEC Coach of the Year Christian Morrison returns for his 24th season as the Pioneers head coach.
Sacred Heart opens up the 2018 season on Sept. 1 at the Stony Brook Season Opener. This year's Northeast Conference Championships will take place at Bryant University on Saturday, Oct. 27.
2018 NEC Women's Cross Country Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Sacred Heart (8 first-place votes)
2. Central Connecticut (2)
3. Saint Francis U.
5. Mount St. Mary's
6. Robert Morris
8. Fairleigh Dickinson
9. LIU Brooklyn
10. St. Francis Brooklyn