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NEW ORLEANS, LA - Coming off a season that saw the Penn State women's cross country team record an 18th-place finish, the second top-20 finish in as many seasons, at the NCAA Championships, the Penn State women's cross country team enters 2017 ranked No. 11, according to the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) preseason poll released Tuesday afternoon.
During the 2016 campaign, the Nittany Lion women finished runner-up at Big Ten Cross Country Championships, captured the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional and finished 18th as a team at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, competing at the NCAA Championships as a team for the seventh time in the past eight years.
The women's team returns four of the five runners that scored at last year's NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., with the lone loss from that group being Julie Kocjancic. The 2017 team is led by team captains Elizabeth Chikotas, Tessa Barrett, and Jillian Hunsberger.
Barrett (First-Team), Hunsberger (First-Team) and Chikotas (Second-Team) combined to bring home three All-Big Ten honors while five Penn State athletes were named All Mid-Atlantic Region. For the first time in the NCAA era, Penn State had two athletes earn All-American honors at the NCAA Cross Country Championships with 15th and 36th-place finishes by Chikotas and Hunsberger, respectively.
At the regional level, the women were picked as the preseason favorite holding the No. 1 spot in the Mid-Atlantic by the USTFCCCA.
On the men's side, Penn State checks in at No. 5 in the Mid-Atlantic Region behind Georgetown, Navy, Princeton, and Penn.
The 2017 cross country regular season is slated to begin Friday, Sept. 1 at 6 p.m. with the Dolan Duals in Lock Haven.
For more on Nittany Lion cross country, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com or follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC.