KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Fort Hays State men's cross country team was ranked fifth in the 2018 MIAA Men's Cross Country Preseason Poll released Friday by the league office. The Tigers picked up 54 points in the balloting process, tied with Pittsburg State for the fifth spot in the poll.

Fort Hays State also tied with Pittsburg State at last year's conference championships, both finishing with 142 points, good for sixth place. Layton Werth was the lone Tiger to earn All-MIAA honors, crossing the line in 12th place.

Jason McCullough returns five of his top runners from a year ago to go along with a strong incoming class and multiple student-athletes returning from a redshirt year. Werth was one of three runners to score in all five meets for the Tigers alongside fellow returners Reed Rome and Brett Meyer. Other top returners include sophomores Robbie Schmidt and Alex Barbosa, who both finished in the top five for the Tigers four times as true freshmen a year ago.

Six runners coming off their redshirt season will complement that group of returners, including Israel Barco, Oscar Carmona, Kaleb Crum, Justin Moore, Bill Oyet and D'corian Williams. All have had success at the collegiate level in the past and look to make big contributions for the Tigers this season.

McCullough rounds out his roster with eight newcomers, including six freshmen and a pair of transfers. Seppe van 't Westende hits the outdoor course for the first time as a Tiger this fall after transferring in last winter and contributing in the track and field season.

The Tigers will open the season next week (Sept. 1) when they traverse the Sand Plum Nature Trail for the 32nd annual Sand Plum Alumni Open. The men's 5k is set to start at 9:45 a.m. After hitting the road twice in September, FHSU will wrap up the regular season back at home for the 7th annual FHSU Tiger Open on October 13.

2018 MIAA Men's Cross Country Preseason Poll

1. Missouri Southern (4) - 94

T-2. Central Missouri (3) - 75

T-2. Lindenwood (3) - 75

4. Nebraska Kearney (1) - 72

T-5. Fort Hays State - 54

T-5. Pittsburg State - 54

7. Emporia State - 52

8. Washburn - 46

9. Northwest Missouri - 44

10. Southwest Baptist - 28

11. Missouri Western – 11