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Lobo women’s cross country team ranked No. 1 in country

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — They have yet to run a regular-season meet, but the New Mexico cross-country women nonetheless are No. 1 in the first regular-season poll.

The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association National Coaches’ Poll released Tuesday had the Lobos, the preseason No. 2 team, swap places with preseason No. 1 Iowa State.

It is the first women’s athletic team in school history to be ranked No. 1 in its sports’ poll. New Mexico men’s soccer is the only other program to achieve that status.

“It’s a great honor that the coaches of the coaches association think that we’re No. 1,” New Mexico head coach Joe Franklin said. “It’s a really long way away to the national championships. There’s eight to 10 teams that have a shot to win it, and it’s nice to be considered one of those.”

The Lobo men inched up one spot to No. 20, making New Mexico one of just 10 schools with both its men’s and women’s program ranked in the Top 25.

The Lobos were supposed to open their 2015 season with a Sept. 5 home meet, but they canceled the collegiate division of the Lobo Invitational when not enough teams could commit to participating. So UNM opens its 2015 season in Oct. 2 at the Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind.

UNM is also the only current member of the Mountain West to ever have either its men’s or women’s team ranked No. 1 in the USTFCCCA national cross-country poll. Former member BYU is the only other institution with MWC ties to ever claim the top rank in cross-country.

The women, who placed third as a team at the 2014 NCAA Cross-Country Championships, return Alice Wright and Calli Thackery, both of whom placed top 50 at the NCAAs, and Heleene Tambet, a top 100 finisher at the NCAAs.

UNM also adds UMKC transfer Courtney Frerichs, Harvard transfers Molly Renfer and Whitney Thornburg, and Rhona Auckland from Scotland.

The Lobos claimed eight of the 12 first-place votes, putting UNM ahead of preseason favorite and current No. 2 Iowa State (three first-place votes), No. 3 Colorado and No. 4 Michigan State (one first-place vote).

It’s the 25th consecutive week the New Mexico women’s team has been ranked in the national poll. The Lobos’ previous high in the polls was No. 2 this preseason and for four weeks in 2011.

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