JOLIET – After claiming the program’s first national title in April, there are high expectations for the University of St. Francis women’s cross country team heading into the fall. The Fighting Saints will open their 2021 campaign as the unanimous top team in the country, earning all 20 of the possible first place votes in the NAIA national poll released Thursday morning.
“We are very excited and looking forward to the start of the season,” head coach Jeff Barker said. ” We are focusing on doing the little things right daily and weekly. If we are able to remain discipline and train at a high level, then we feel really good about what we can accomplish in November.”
The ranking comes on the heals of the first national title for any women’s program in St. Francis history. The team returns a number of top runners from last season, including 2020 All-Americans Daly Galloway(Sr./Dwight, Ill.), Katherine Bakken (Jr./Rochelle, Ill.), Sabrina Baftiri (Sr./Morris, Ill.) and Laisha Corona(Sr./Lockport, Ill.).
The Saints will make their 2021 debut on Friday, Sept. 3 when they host the St. Francis Twighlight Invite at Channahon State Park