The East Central University women’s cross country team was picked to finish second as the Great American Conference released its preseason coaches’ poll on Friday from the league office in Russellville, Ark.
Coach Steve Sawyer’s Lady Tigers, who were runner-up in the first-ever GAC meet last year, earned one first-place vote and 56 points in the poll, finishing just behind defending conference champion Harding University, which had the other eight first-place votes and 56 total points.
Arkansas Tech was picked to finish third with 48 points, followed by Southwestern Oklahoma State (39), Southern Arkansas (34), Ouachita Baptist (32), Henderson State (23), Southeastern Oklahoma State (20) and Arkansas-Monticello (8).
ECU returns its top four all-conference runners led by sophomore Amber Walker, who posted a fifth-place effort at last year’s GAC meet by finishing with a school-record 5-kilometer time of 17:56.09. Also back are senior Samantha Bartlett, who took sixth at that meet; sophomore ReGina Germaine, who was seventh; and senior Colleta Maiyo (former last name was Songol as she was married over the summer), who ended up 10th.
The Lady Tigers will host the conference championship meet this season on Saturday, Oct. 20 at the Pontotoc Technology Center in Ada. ECU will also host its annual Tiger Chase on Sept. 8.