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Milligan women's cross country team ranked No. 19

Staff Report • Aug 29, 2013 at 2:23 PM

MILLIGAN COLLEGE -- The Milligan College women's cross country team was ranked No. 19 in the NAIA Women's Cross Country Coaches' Preseason Poll, which was released by the NAIA national office on Tuesday afternoon.

"It's always good to know you have a rank-able team, but it's early and this team will ultimately be defined by what we look like in October and November," Milligan coach Chris Layne

Milligan received 250 points, placing them 12 points behind No. 18 Huntington. The Buffaloes were 69 points ahead of No. 20 Concordia. Defending national champion British Columbia was ranked first in the poll.

The Buffaloes return three of five runners from last season's NAIA National Championship 19th-place squad in senior Natalia Rivas, junior Mackenzie Patten, who ran as Sullivan South, and sophomore Megan Wright.

Rivas is coming off a 16th-place finish in the NAIA marathon, while Patten was the Buffaloes' top

finisher in the cross country national championships. Wright had a stellar freshman season including being the Appalachian Athletic Conference's Most Outstanding Female Athlete for outdoor track.

In addition to the strong showing at the NAIA nationals, Milligan claimed their 10th straight AAC title, and it was the squad's 10th straight top 25 finish at the NAIA National Championships.

"I'm excited about the talent and leadership returning, but we'll definitely need to see a few new faces step up," Layne said. "They will need to bolster our top seven or eight places if we're going to do the things we want to do."

Lauren Grindstaff, a former standout at Dobyns-Bennett, and David Crockett alum Cassie St. John will look to break into the Milligan top five. The Buffaloes will also look to a strong group of freshmen to contribute to the team's success.

The Buffaloes will begin the 2013 season on Sept. 7 when they host the inaugural Buffalo Valley Cross Country Stampede at Buffalo Valley Golf Course in Erwin.

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