West Babylon, N.Y. - After capturing the past three East Coast Conference Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships, Roberts Wesleyan were nearly unanimous selections atop the league's preseason coaches' poll. Josiah Ottolini (Spring Arbor, Mich.) of Roberts Wesleyan and Talya Williams (Schenectady, N.Y.) of LIU Post were named the ECC Preseason Runner of the Year for their respective gender.
The Roberts Wesleyan's men's team earned all eight first place votes and the women's squad earned eight of nine first place tallies to top the polls. On the men's side, the Redhawks graduated the top three finishers, but still return three other All-Conference honorees including Ottolini and seven runners who came in the top-21 in last year's ECC Championship.
The Redhawks women don't have as many top finishers back as their male counterparts but still have two All-Conference honorees and four runners who placed in the top-21 at the ECC Championship returning. The Roberts Wesleyan women's team is also looking to make their fourth straight trip to the NCAA Division II National Championship meet.
The top three was identical in both the men's and women's polls with St. Thomas Aquinas coming in at No. 2 and Daemen at No. 3. In the women's poll, Molloy, who comes in at No. 6, earned the final first place vote.
In his debut season, Ottolini was an ECC All-Conference First Team selection after crossing the finish line in fourth place in a time of 26:19.5 at the ECC Championship meet. He was the first freshman across the finish line as well, earning him ECC Rookie of the Year honors.
Williams once again had an outstanding season in 2016, earning ECC Runner of the Year honors by crossing the finish line first at the ECC Championship in a time of 17:42.7. It was the second time she earned the award in her career, also doing so in her freshman year of 2014. The six-time ECC Runner of the Week also finished first in the Fordham Fiasco, Monmouth Invitational, LIU Post Invitational, and Albany Invitational during her standout campaign. In addition, she also qualified for the NCAA Division II Championship meet for the second time in her career after a fourth place finish at the NCAA East Region Championship.
2017 ECC Men's Cross Country Preseason Poll
|1. Roberts Wesleyan (8)
|2. St. Thomas Aquinas||50|
|5. LIU Post||33|
2017 ECC Women's Cross Country Preseason Poll
|1. Roberts Wesleyan (8)||79|
|2. St. Thomas Aquinas||65|
|4. LIU Post||54|
|6. Molloy (1)||41|
|9. Dist. Columbia||15|
() - first place votes