The Fort Hays State menís cross country team was picked fourth in the 2015 MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll, released on Thursday.
Coaches across the conference agree that the Tigers should improve on their seventh-place finish at the MIAA Championships in 2014. Even one coach in the conference voted FHSU as the favorite.
Fort Hays State returns its top two runners, Cory Keehn and Jonny Bernasky, who redshirted in 2014.
With both fully healthy and a solid group of returners from last year, the Tigers are primed to make plenty of noise at the MIAA Championships this year. Keehn and Bernasky were All-MIAA performers in 2013, and Keehn was the MIAA Champion individually in 2012.
Add in 2014 All-MIAA performer Isaac Williams and Colby Community College transfer Michael Kinuthia, the Tigers will have several strong runners up front.
Kinuthia transferred to FHSU from Colby Community College for the Spring 2015 semester, but he ran cross country at Colby last year and won the Region 6 and KJCCC individual championship. He then earned All-American honors by finishing eighth overall at the NJCAA Championships. Kinuthia was an All-MIAA performer in track and field for the Tigers last spring.
Troy Wineinger had a breakout season for the Tigers last year, nearly grabbing All-MIAA honors by finishing 23rd at the conference championship in 2014.
Ryan Hopkins, Seth Parres, and Brock Elgin also had great seasons, contributing to the team scoring on a regular basis.
If this yearís team stays healthy, head coach Jason McCullough feels they can compete for a conference championship. The Tiger men won the MIAA Championship in 2012.
The FHSU womenís cross country team was also picked fourth in the MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll.
The Tigers finished fourth at the MIAA Championships last season under head coach Jason McCullough, who believes a top-three finish is attainable this year.
Two returning runners, Chelsea Jackson and Micki Krzesinski, received All-MIAA honors last season and are looking for solid performances again in 2015.
Amanda Morgan came on strong at the end of the season and nearly grabbed all-conference status as well.
Shea Bonine and Jordan Schulte also return to the team this year. McCullough expects several newcomers to compete and possibly have an immediate impact on the team scoring.
The Tigers host the FHSU Alumni Run at the Sand Plum Nature Trail, just outside the west edge of Victoria, Kan., on Saturday, August 29 at 9:30 am. Bethany College will be coming to compete with the Tigers in the exhibition event.