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SOU men favored, women second in polls

ASHLAND — Coming off its second national championship, the Southern Oregon men's cross country team is favored to hit double digits in consecutive Cascade Conference titles this fall. Behind a pair of All-Americans, the Raider women are projected to stay on an upward trajectory, too.

SOU has won the last nine CCC men's championships, most of them handily, and received every first-place vote to pick up another title in the preseason coaches' poll released Monday by the league office.

Eastern Oregon, College of Idaho and Oregon Tech — each coming off NAIA Championship meet appearances of their own — were picked second, third and fourth, respectively.

On the women's side, College of Idaho was selected to dethrone three-time defending champ Northwest Christian, though both received four first-place votes.

SOU — which finished fourth at the 2016 conference meet and seventh at the national meet, matching its best showing ever at the latter event — got the other first-place vote and tied with NCU at second in the poll with 66 points. C of I compiled 74.

The Raider men are slated to bring back All-American senior Connor Cushman, all-conference runners Noah Oberriter and Ray Schireman, and one more who contributed to their national championship score, Kevin Poteracke.

The women will have three of their top four finishers back: nine-time overall NAIA All-American and two-time champ Jessa Perkinson, All-American Kayle Blackmore and Bree Weber.

SOU opens its season Sept. 16 at University of Washington's Sundodger Invitational.This year, the CCC will host the NAIA Championships at Fort Vancouver Park in Vancouver, Wash.