The Bulldogs made history a few weeks ago when they began to receive votes in the NAIA Coaches Top 25 Poll for the first time ever in school history, but this week they made it into the top 25 in the final spot with 109 voting points. This is the Bulldogs' first-ever Top 25 ranking, dating back to 1999.
St. Francis (Ill.) remains atop the rankings in the NAIA Coaches' Top 25 poll. St. Francis' selection—with 20 first-place votes and 560 total points—gives the defending national champion Fighting Saints three-straight No. 1 rankings for the first time in school history.
St. Francis, the only school to return multiple All-Americans this season, won its first meet—the Calvin College (Mich.) Knight Invitational on Sept. 14—despite resting two of its top five runners. The Fighting Saints bested the 27-team field, which included No. 3 Aquinas (Mich.) and NCAA Division III power Calvin, with a team 8k time of 2:06:10.
Southern Oregon, who was ranked No. 1 for all of the 2012 regular season, accumulated 540 total points to claim the No. 2 ranking. The Raiders still have something to prove after resting their top runners in the early going, especially following the loss of All-Americans Tyler VanDyke (19th) and Scott McIntyre (22nd).
No. 3 Aquinas (Mich.) accrued 513 points to preserve its ranking from the preseason poll. The Saints, who return All-American Grant Gunneson (20th), finished second in the Calvin College Knight Invitational behind No. 1 St. Francis with a team 8k time of 2:08:16.
No. 4 British Columbia, with 512 points, and No. 5 Shawnee State (Ohio), with 493 points, round out the top five. British Columbia finished second in the Sundodger Invitational open division on Sept. 14, with a team 8k time of 2:06:27. The Thunderbirds were outpaced by NCAA Division II Chico State (Calif.) in the meet—their first of the year—hosted by the University of Washington. Shawnee State finished third in its first race of the season, the Miami (Ohio) Invitational. The Bears placed behind NCAA Division I teams Ohio University and Miami (Ohio) with a team 5k time of 1:17:24.
There were no changes among the top five teams in the first regular-season poll, but there was significant movement throughout the rest of the Top 25. Within the poll, No. 7 Oklahoma City made the largest jump, moving up eight spots, while former No. 6 Oklahoma Baptist fell six spots, landing at No. 12.
There were four newcomers to the Top 25, three of whom received votes in the preseason poll. No. 22 Northwest Christian (Ore.), No. 23 Saint Mary (Kan.) and No. 25 Tennessee Wesleyan moved from the receiving votes category into the Top 25. No. 21 Westmont (Calif.) went from unranked directly into the Top 25.
Concordia (Ore.), Vanguard (Calif.), Missouri Valley and Southwestern (Kan.) fell out of the Top 25.
Thirteen conferences/independents/unaffiliated groups are represented in the first regular-season Top 25, led by four teams from the Cascade Collegiate Conference—Southern Oregon, No. 13 Eastern Oregon, No. 15 Oregon Tech and No. 22 Northwest Christian (Ore.)—and three teams from the Golden State Athletic Conference—No. 11 The Master's (Calif.), No. 18 Arizona Christian and Westmont.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences, independents and unaffiliated groups.
To view the entire poll, click here.