The Missouri Southern men’s cross country program was a unanimous pick to repeat as MIAA Champs as the league announced its preseason coaches poll today.

The Southern men have won three of the last four MIAA Championships, including the last two in a row. The Lions are the two-time defending MIAA and NCAA Regional Champs, while Gidieon Kimutai has won both the MIAA and Regional Individual Championship the last two seasons. Kimutai went on to finish fifth at the 2019 Division II National Championships.

Southern returns five runners off that 2019 Championship team, as well as another runner that picked up experience in both the Indoor and Outdoor seasons this past season. Kimutai is joined by Kevin KoesterGabe McClainJarod Ozee and Ryan Riddle, while JP Rutledge will have four years left in cross country eligibility but ran during the indoor and outdoor seasons in 2021. Riddle and Ozee earned All-MIAA and All-Region selections along with Kimutai in 2019, while Rutledge earned All-MIAA in the indoor and outdoor 5k and outdoor 10k.

The Lions earned all ten possible first-place votes with Pittsburg State picking up the other vote as coaches cannot vote for their own program. Northwest Missouri was second, while Nebraska-Kearney, PSU and Central Missouri round out the top five. Fort Hays was sixth, followed by Washburn, Emporia State, Missouri Western, Rogers State and Newman. The complete poll is listed below.

Southern opens the 2021 season on September 4 as the Lions travel to compete at Southwest Baptist.

2021 MIAA Men’s Cross Country Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Missouri Southern (10) – 100 points
2. Northwest Missouri – 87 points
3. Nebraska Kearney – 79 points
4. Pittsburg State (1) – 69 points
5. Central Missouri – 60 points
6. Fort Hays State – 59 points
7. Washburn – 40 points
8. Emporia State – 38 points
9. Missouri Western – 33 points
10. Rogers State – 30 points
11. Newman – 10 points