St. Louis, Mo., August 30, 2018 – The Washington University in St. Louis cross country program had both the women and men's teams named to the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Preseason Top-35 Polls. The women's team was listed second as the men were selected sixth overall.
The reigning 2017 national champions were chosen as the front runners for the 2018 season. North Central College received all eight of the first place votes on the men's side. Johns Hopkins University led the women's poll with a clean sweep of first place votes as well.
Women's Cross Country
WashU returns five of seven Bears from the 2017 NCAA third-place team. Junior All-American Paige Lawler is back after capturing her first AA honor of her career by finishing 15th with a time of 21:07.30. Junior Sophie Watterson (41st-21:40.00), senior Lisa Gorham (112th-22:16.80), sophomore Lara Rix (142nd-22:32.80) and senior Jeri Glicksman (167th-22:44.30) remain from last season's national contributors.
After an injury plagued cross country season in 2017, WashU receives a boost to its group by the return of graduate student Aly Wayne. Wayne led the Bears roster to second place at nationals in 2016 with a time of 20:52.9, placing eighth overall. Two more Bears from 2016 nationals return in senior Ellie Degen (85th-21:50.6) and junior Elizabeth Hagstrom (167th-22:23.0).
Men's Cross Country
The Bears return both men that had All-American finishes last season in graduate student David O'Gara and senior Peter Johnsrud. The men's squad also adds an All-American in senior transfer Bradley Hodkinson. Hodkinson qualified for three consecutive cross country national championships individually at Pacific Lutheran University. He recorded back-to-back All-American finishes, topping out in 2017 with a seventh place finish with a time of 24:32.25.
O'Gara is also a two-time All-American, posting consecutive top-35 finishes while posting a personal-best ninth place effort in 2017, 24:36.50. Johnsrud improved upon an All-Midwest Region finish in 2016 to claim All-American honors in 2017 by placing 34th, 24:54.87.
In addition, WashU returns four of five contributors from the 2017 team that placed fifth overall. Junior Nick Matteucci (101st-25:31.09), graduate student Kirby Simon (116th-25:35.28), junior Marco Quaroni (121st-25:38.40) and senior Chris Blagg (238th-26:27.61) are back after racing for the Bears at nationals. Senior Kyle Cepeda also adds All-Midwest Regional honors and national championship experience after placing 129th in 2016 with a time of 25:34.3.
WashU's season kicks off at 8 a.m. on Saturday, September 1 with a friendly inter squad competition in Forest Park. Be sure to stay up to date on all the Bears scores and awards by following @WashUBears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.