Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's and women's cross country teams have earned preseason recognition as both teams are ranked heading into the 2011 campaign.
The Bulldog women's squad is presently listed seventh nationally in the United States Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division II Preseason Poll. Additionally, they are ranked second in the Midwest Regional Rankings with the men's squad ranked 10th in the region.
The Ferris State women's team, which tied for the highest finish in school history by placing eighth nationally at the 2010 NCAA Division II National Championships, is among three schools from the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) found in the preseason national rankings.
Defending national champion Grand Valley State is ranked second nationally entering the year and also holds the top spot in the regional listing just ahead of FSU.
In the national rankings, Western State (Colo.) is the preseason women's favorite with GVSU second, Chico State (Calif.) third, Adams State (Colo.) fourth and Alaska-Anchorage fifth. Augustana (S.D.) holds the sixth spot with Ferris State seventh. Hillsdale is ranked 15th nationally going into the year.
Grand Valley State won its first NCAA cross country crown last season, stopping a seven-year win streak by Adams State. The Lakers graduated two top-ten national finishers, but return four that finished in the national top 35 a year ago. Meanwhile, Ferris State welcomes back six of its top seven runners from last year's squad, including senior Tina Muir (St. Albans, U.K.), who earned All-America honors for the third consecutive year by placing 11th individually at the national championships.
In the regional listing, GLIAC member Hillsdale came in third behind GVSU and FSU followed by Bellarmine (#4), Southern Indiana (#5), Ashland (#6), Tiffin (#7), Saginaw Valley State (#8), Wisconsin-Parkside (#9) and Michigan Tech (#10).
The Bulldog men are one of four teams from the conference ranked regionally on the men's side. GVSU is first followed by Southern Indiana (#2), Bellarmine (#3), Ashland (#4), Wisconsin-Parkside (#5), Drury (#6), Lewis (#7), Hillsdale (#8), Northern Kentucky (#9) and FSU (#10).
Ferris State's women's team earned runner-up honors in the region a season ago and will be aiming for its fourth consecutive national championships appearance.
Five of the seven runners who competed at the regional championships a year ago are back on the men's side for third-year head coach Steve Picucci.
The Bulldogs officially open the 2011 season by hosting their annual home meet, the Ray Helsing Bulldog Invitational, on Saturday, Sept. 10, at FSU's Katke Golf Course.
Ferris State will also play host to the 2011 NCAA-II Midwest Regional Championships on Nov. 5 at Katke Golf Course. The NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships will be held on Saturday, November 19, in Spokane, Wash.