BURNSVILLE, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University women’s cross country team has been picked to finish 10th in a preseason poll of Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) head coaches, announced August 25 by league officials. Senior Kirsten Maras (Ramsay, Minn.) was announced as a “2011 Athlete to Watch” in the same release.
The Beavers, who garnered 20 points in the voting, return nine student-athletes from a 2010 roster that placed 10th at the 2010 NSIC Championships and finished 20th at the NCAA Division II Central Regional.
Maras, back for a third year of collegiate competition was among the Beavers’ three finishers in all six events last fall, which included a 54th-place finish (25:36.91) in the 2010 NSIC Championships. In addition, head coach Craig Hougen looks to fellow senior Ali Hougen (Sr., Bemidji, Minn.) for leadership. Hougen was among BSU’s top finishers in three races during the 2010 camapign.
Defending conference team champion Augustana College picked up nine first-place votes and 99 points to take top honors in the preseason poll. University of Mary secured two first-place votes to hold down second place with 92 points.
Augustana College’s Runa Falch, the NSIC’s individual champion in 2010, was selected NSIC’s 2011 Preseason Athlete of the Year. As a rookie, the native of Steinkjer, Norway, earned All-America status by finishing 29th at the NCAA Division II Championship and was a fifth-place finisher at the central region meet.
The Bemidji State cross country team breaks the seal on the 2011 campaign Sept. 2 when it travels to Valley City, N.D. to complete in the Viking Invitational.
2011 NSIC Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. Augustana (9) 99
2. U-Mary (2) 92
3. Minnesota Duluth 78
4. Minnesota State 71
5. St. Cloud State 65
6. Winona State 56
7. MSU Moorhead 43
8. Northern State 37
9. Wayne State (Neb.) 34
10. Bemidji State 20
11. Concordia-St. Paul 10