NEW ORLEANS — The Occidental men's and women's cross country teams are both ranked No. 4 in the West Region headed into the 2016 season.
The Oxy men finished fourth in the West in 2015 and the women are up two spots from ending the season at No. 6.
"We're excited to be ranked among the top DIII cross country teams in the West Region at such an early stage of the season," Oxy head coach Rob Bartlett said. "We believe it speaks to our potential as a team and now it's up to us now to prove we belong at the top of the Region. We can't wait to get started"
The women return their entire roster from last season and added a solid incoming class of first year runners. They are led Roxanne Valle, Aria Blumm, Mel Devoney and Eva Townsend, who have all been All-West Region selections.
Catherine Teasdale, a standout newcomer on the women's side, already tied Valle's Oxy women's preseason time trial record. Another newcomer to watch is Fiona Pedrick who has very similar high school personal records to Teasdale.
The men are led by Austin Sankaran, who broke out at the SCIAC Championship meet as the 10,000m champion. He's joined by fellow All-Region cross country runners Keenan Leary, Jovani Barajas and Harrison Luft.
Brody Barkan, a middle distance standout who was fourth in the 800m in track in the Spring, has joined the team and looks better than expected. In his first race longer than a mile, Barkan blew everyone away in the last 400m of the Oxy men's time trial for a surprising victory.
The top first year on the guys side has been Tom Engelburt, who also ran well at the time trial.
The Tigers open their season on Thursday at Pomona-Pitzer at 5 p.m. for a dual meet, maintaining their friendly rivalry with the Sagehens. The women are set to race a 4,000m and the men will be going 6,000m.
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