STARKVILLE, Miss. – A year after finishing a program-high 15th in the nation, the Mississippi State cross country women’s team has garnered a preseason ranking of No. 23 by the USTFCCCA.

The Bulldogs are also ranked No. 2 in the South Region and were predicted to finish fourth in the SEC Cross Country Preseason Coaches’ Poll.

Arkansas, the 2016 SEC Champion, was predicted to finish first in the conference, while Missouri and Ole Miss were projected to finish second and third, respectively.

“Our goal every year is to compete for championships, and a poll is a nice headline for article but a poll isn’t going to win any meets for us,” Franks said. “It is nice to be picked up toward the top of a great conference, but we aren’t going into the year aiming for fourth. We are excited to get started.”

Last season’s South Region Coach of the Year Houston Franks returns nine members of his squad that placed fourth at the SEC Championships and won the South Regional Championships.

In the national poll, Colorado sits atop at No. 1, followed by Oregon, Michigan, New Mexico and Stanford, respectively. Also representing the SEC is No. 12 Arkansas, No. 15 Missouri and No. 18 Ole Miss.

“We’ve worked hard to get noticed nationally,” Franks said. “But like the SEC rankings, I’m more concerned where we will finish in November. Our team is looking forward to living up to the expectations and they are ready for the challenges we will face.

The Bulldogs open their season on Sept. 2 at the Golden Eagle Cross Country Invite in Cookeville, Tenn.

MSU will also compete in four additional tournaments before the SEC Championships in Athens, Ga., on Oct. 27.

The 2017 NCAA South Regional Championships are on Nov. 10 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and the NCAA Championships will be the following weekend in Louisville, Ky.


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