The Belmont University men’s cross country team has been selected to finish fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference by a vote of the league’s head coaches. The Bruins received 74 points in the preseason poll.
Belmont will rely heavily on a combination of youth and returning top performers this fall after losing all-conference runners Ben Naegar and Aidan Thompson to graduation.
Returning All-Ohio Valley Conference First Team members Kevin Vanderkolk and Ethan Hammer will likely lead the way this season as the Bruins added six newcomers, including five freshmen and graduate transfer Jack Zettl from defending MVC champion Drake University, who was picked second in the preseason poll with 110 points and four first-place votes.
While Belmont was chosen fifth in the predicted order of finish stepping into a new conference, the Bruins are coming off a strong 10-year run in the OVC. In each of the last six seasons, the Belmont men finished within the top three at the conference championship race and earned four runner-up finishes, including a second-place showing at the 2021 OVC Championship.
Bradley University received 112 points and six first-place votes as the preseason favorite. Illinois State University was picked third, notching 100 points and one first-place vote in the preseason poll. Southern Illinois University received 80 points in fourth place, rounding out the Bruins’ top four competitors. The complete preseason poll can be found below.
MVC Preseason Poll (Points)
1. Bradley (112) – six first-place votes
2. Drake (110) – four first-place votes
3. Illinois State (100) – one first-place vote
4. Southern Illinois (80)
5. Belmont (74)
6. Indiana State (61)
7. UIC (57)
8. Northern Iowa (52)
9. Murray State (42)
10. Valparaiso (25)
11. Evansville (13)
Belmont kicks off its 2022 campaign with the Bruins’ Belmont Opener on Friday, Sept. 2 at Percy Warner Park. The men’s 5K race is slated to begin at 9 a.m.