MARSHFIELD, Mass. – Defending champions Southern Vermont College has been picked to win its fifth-straight NECC Men's Cross Country title. The Mountaineers collected 62 points and seven first place votes in the 2018 NECC Preseason Coaches Poll. Southern Vermont has big shoes to fill, losing four-time NECC Runner of the Year, Marc Brandmeyer to graduation. Led by head coach Jarrett Blankenship, the Mountaineers will look to their two top-five finishers from last year's championship team, Devante Smith (Ellenville, N.Y.) and Caldwell Holden (Pittsburgh, Pa.) to lead the way. Smith and Holden were both First Team All-NECC performers a season ago, finishing with times of 28:52.61 and 29:53.40, respectively.
Dean College landed in second, with 50 points. The Bulldogs will be under the direction of first-year head coach Joe Cabral, and will be returning three top-15 finishers from the 2017 NECC Championship, Ryan Glynn (Abington, Mass.), Matt Alport (Glen Rock, N.J.), and Ross Rubin (Annadale, Va.). Glynn finished at 30:41.61, and was named First Team All-NECC for his performance. Alport finished with a time of 31:37.28, while Rubin finished at 32:18.40, as both were named Second Team All-NECC.
Finishing third in the poll with 45 points, including the remaining first place vote, is Elms College. The Blazers, led by first-year head coach Jill Bigos, will look to returner Rich Hernandez (North Branford, Conn.) to make an impact. Hernandez finished 10th at the 2017 NECC Championship, with a time of 31:18.68, earning Second Team All-NECC accolades.
Newbury College was voted into the fourth slot, with a total of 40 points. Led by head coach Henry Morales, the Nighthawks return the 2017 NECC Men's Cross Country Rookie of the Year, and First Team All-NECC performer, Geralson Withrow (Mystic, Conn.). Withrow finished fourth at the 2017 NECC Championship, with a time of 29:11.23.
Mitchell College rounds out the top five, finishing with 29 total points. The Mariners return the third place finisher from the 2017 NECC Championship, David Still (New London, Conn.). Still finished the race with a time of 29:00.44, earning First Team All-NECC honors.
Newcomers New England College (23) and Eastern Nazarene College (20), came in at the sixth and seventh spots, respectively. Lesley University (19) closes out the 2018 NECC Men's Cross Country Preseason Poll in the eighth spot.
2018 NECC Men's Cross Country Preseason Coaches Poll
- Southern Vermont- 62 (7)
- Dean- 50
- Elms- 45 (1)
- Newbury- 40
- Mitchell- 29
- New England- 23
- Eastern Nazarene- 20
- Lesley- 19