PIKEVILLE – For the first time in school history, both the University of Pikeville men and women are ranked in the NAIA Coaches’ Preseason Top-25 Polls. The UPIKE men are ranked second and the women are 22nd in the polls released by national office officials Tuesday night.
While this is the women’s first preseason national ranking, the UPIKE men have been ranked in five straight.
Last season, women’s head coach Joanna McNamee got the Bears back in the poll for the first time since 2005 when they entered at No. 22 on Feb. 24. Tuesday’s national ranking comes on the heels of being picked to finish fourth in the Mid-South Conference preseason poll, the team’s highest spot ever.
National polls have become a common occurrence for men’s head coach Kelly Wells as his group is ranked for the 40th consecutive week that the NAIA has released its rankings. UPIKE was also in the No. 2 spot in last season’s preseason poll and is the favorite to win the MSC championship for the second straight season.
The UPIKE men picked up 238 voting points in the poll and received one first-place vote while Dalton State (Ga.) is preseason No. 1 with the remaining nine first-place nods. Talladega (Ala.), which beat the Bears in the quarterfinals of last season’s NAIA National Tournament, rounds out the top three.
Other MSC teams in the men’s preseason poll include Georgetown at No. 6 and Campbellsville at No. 18. Cumberlands is also listed in the others receiving votes category.
On the women’s side, the Bears earned 59 voting points to come in at No. 22, one spot ahead of where it finished in last season’s final rankings. MSC rival Campbellsville, which UPIKE beat at home last season, is the preseason No. 1 with eight first-place votes, Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) is No. 2 with one first-place nod and Vanguard (Calif.) is third.
Also ranked from the conference is Cumberland (Tenn.) at No. 12 and Shawnee State (Ohio) at No. 16. Lindsey Wilson is receiving votes (10), but is not ranked.
These current rankings will last for a while as the NAIA will not release the first regular-season poll until Dec. 8.