BURNSVILLE, Minn. – The Bemidji State University women’s cross country team has been picked to finish 11th in a preseason poll of Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) head coaches announced today by league officials. Senior Tina Larson (Morris, Minn.) was announced as a 2012 Women’s Cross Country Athlete to Watch in the same release.
The Beavers, who garnered 54 points in the voting, return nine student-athletes from a 2011 roster that placed ninth at the 2011 NSIC Championships and finished 20th at the NCAA Division II Central Regional.
Larson, who is back for a third year of collegiate competition, was among the Beavers’ top two finishers in five of six events last fall, which included clocking a time amongst the top 20 event finishers on two occasions and a 72nd-place finish (24:32.0) in the 2011 NSIC Championships.
Defending conference team champion Augustana College picked up nine first-place votes and 165 points to take top honors in the preseason poll. University of Mary secured the other five first-place votes and was slotted in second place with 161 points.
Two-time defending NSIC Champion Runa Falch, of Augustana, was selected as the NSIC Preseason Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive season. As a sophomore, the native of Steinkjer, Norway, earned All-America status after finishing 33rd at the NCAA Division II Central Regional Championships and 11th at the NCAA Championships to lead the Vikings to the team title.
The Bemidji State cross country team lifts the lid on the 2012 campaign Aug. 31 when it travels to Valley City, N.D. to complete in the Valley City State Invitational.
2012 NSIC Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. Augustana (9) 165
2. U-Mary (5) 161
3. Winona State 138
4. Minnesota Duluth 137
5. Minnesota State 123
6. St. Cloud State 89
7. Northern State 86
8. MSU Moorhead 83
9. Sioux Falls 80
10. Minot State 67
11. Bemidji State 54
12. Wayne State (Neb.) 46
13. Southwest Minnesota State 23
14. Concordia-St. Paul 22
Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).