The Old Dominion Athletic Conference released its 2008 preseason cross country coaches polls on Tuesday afternoon and the Washington and Lee men's and women's teams were both chosen as the favorites to win the crown.
The W&L men, who have won four-straight titles, received seven first-place votes and 95 points to take first in the poll. Lynchburg had two first-place votes and 83 points and was followed by Bridgewater (82, 1 first-place vote), Roanoke (71), Virginia Wesleyan (61), Guilford (44), Hampden-Sydney (42), Emory & Henry (32), Eastern Mennonite (27) and Randolph (13).
The Generals return several of their top runners from last season's team that won the ODAC title and finished fourth in the NCAA South/Southeast Region. Seniors Michael Welsh (Tullahoma, Tenn./Tullahoma) and Vance Berry (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla./Episcopal) headline the returnees after garnering First Team All-ODAC and all-region accolades in 2007. Welsh also qualified for the NCAA National Championships, finishing in 164th place with a time of 26:10.
The W&L women, who have also won four consecutive ODAC crowns and finished third at the 2008 NCAA South/Southeast Regional, received seven first-place votes and 79 points. Roanoke ranked second with one first-place vote and 68 points and Lynchburg was third with 67 points and one first-place vote. Bridgewater was fourth with 47 points and was followed by Virginia Wesleyan (46), Eastern Mennonite (34), Guilford (29), Randolph (19) and Emory & Henry (16).
The women will also field a talented and experienced group of returnees that includes each of the top eight harriers from a season ago. Junior Kat Telfeyan (Chesapeake, Va./Great Bridge) is the headliner after earning ODAC Runner of the Year and all-region honors last season. She also competed in the NCAA National Championships, finishing 103rd overall with a time of 23:00. Seniors Becca Taylor (Hamilton, Ohio/Edgewood) and Elizabeth Webb (Middleburg, Va./Wakefield School) also return after earning First Team All-ODAC and all-region honors. Taylor joined Telfeyan at NCAA Nationals, placing 235th overall (23:56).
The W&L women open the 2008 campaign on Saturday as they participate in the Virginia Wesleyan Invitational at 10:00 am. The men open on Sept. 6 as both the men and women host the W&L Invitational beginning at 10:00 am.