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USTFCCCA Preseason Poll
NEW ORLEANS, LA – Coming off a season that saw the Penn State women’s cross country team capture the second Big Ten title in program history and record a 16th-place finish at the NCAA Championships, the Penn State women's cross country team enters the 2016 season ranked No. 13, according to the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) preseason poll released Tuesday afternoon.
During the 2015 campaign, the women won the Big Ten Cross Country Championships, captured the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional and finished 16th as a team at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, competing at the NCAA Championships as a team for the sixth time in the past seven years.
The women return four of the five runners that scored at last year's Big Ten Championships in Chicago, Ill., with the lone loss from that group being Tori Gerlach. The 2016 team is led by team captains Elizabeth Chikotas, Tessa Barrett, and Julie Kocjancic.
Chikotas, Barrett, and Kocjancic were a part of the team that won the Mid-Atlantic Regional last November. Barrett claimed fourth-place at that meet (21:02.2) while Chikotas and Kocjancic finished 10th and 19th, respectively. Redshirt-Sophomore Tessa Barrett ,who earned second-team All-Big Ten honors and finished the season as an NCAA cross country All-American, paired with Chikotas and Jillian Hunsberger gives the Nittany Lions experience as they were all on last year's NCAA team.
Penn State cross country also received some attention in the Saucony Flo50 XC Countdown, presented by Flotrack.org, checking in at No. 17 on the women's side.
With the mix of youth and experience, the 2016 cross country season should be one for the record books for the Penn State women.
At the regional level, the women were picked as the preseason favorite holding the No. 1 spot in the Mid-Atlantic by the USTFCCCA.
The 2016 cross country regular season is slated to begin Friday Sept. 2 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.