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Lions Picked Third, Lady Lions Fourth In Preseason Poll

Both the UAFS men’s and women’s cross country teams are picked to compete for their respective Heartland Conference championships this upcoming season.

The Lions are picked to finish third in their six-team league, while the Lady Lions are picked to finish fourth in their six-team league.

Both the UAFS cross country teams will be under the leadership of new head coaches this fall. Justin Bailey, who also is an assistant men’s basketball coach, will assume the duties of men’s head coach, while Lauren Unger, who also is an assistant women’s basketball coach, will assume the duties of women’s head coach.

Former cross country head coach Shohn Doty, who coached both programs for two seasons in addition to being associate head baseball coach, will now focus on his baseball duties as well as other administrative duties.

The Lions received 47 total points in the voting conducted by the conference’s head coaches and sports information directors to earn the third spot in the preseason poll that was released on Monday.

Dallas Baptist is picked to repeat as conference champion, earning 67 points in the voting. The Patriots, however, are far from unanimous favorites, receiving seven of the 12 first-place votes.

Newman is picked to finish a close second, receiving 65 points and five first-place votes. The University of Texas of the Permian Basin is fourth (36 votes), followed by Texas A&M International (24) and Oklahoma Panhandle State (13).

Lubbock Christian, McMurry, Oklahoma Christian and Rogers State also will compete in the conference, but all are provisional NCAA Division II members and ineligible to compete for the conference championship or qualify for postseason play.

“The rankings show the respect we are receiving and the progress we are making with the growth of this program,” first-year UAFS men’s cross country coach Justin Bailey said. “We will have great leadership from our seniors this year, and I am looking forward to having a great season.

The Lady Lions received 33 total points in the voting – 39 points behind unanimous favorite Dallas Baptist. The Lady Patriots, who are the defending conference champions, received 72 points and all 12 first-place votes.

Newman received 58 points and is second, and UTPB received 50 points and is fourth. Texas A&M International is fifth (23), and OPSU is sixth (16).

Lubbock Christian, McMurry, Oklahoma Christian and Rogers State also will compete in the conference, but all are provisional NCAA Division II members and ineligible to compete for the conference championship or qualify for postseason play.

“The rankings reflect the progress we are making as a program. This season, we not only have returning runners but have also added very strong runners to our roster whom I feel will continue to advance our program in the right direction,” Unger said. “I am extremely excited about the upcoming season and have high hopes and expectations for our runners.”

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