SOMERSET, NJ – The Saint Francis University men’s cross country team was picked to finish second in the Northeast Conference (NEC) Preseason Coaches’ Poll for the second consecutive year.

“Being picked second is a tribute to the program in previous years, the student athletes have been working very hard to uphold that tradition,” head coach Doug Hoover said. “The NEC is getting tougher every year and it is an honor to be picked second, but we still have a battle in front of us.”

The Red Flash earned two first-place votes, while Central Connecticut State was picked to finish at the top of the conference, earning eight first-place votes.

The Red Flash only return two of their top seven runners from the team that finished second at the NEC Conference Championship in 2011.

Sophomore Ryan Kennedy will most likely miss the upcoming season with an injury. Last season, he earned NEC All-Conference honors as a freshman. Kennedy finished second for Saint Francis in the NEC Championship meet with a 13th overall finish.

Returning for the Red Flash is junior Sean Kirby and senior Shaun Foley who placed 15th and 17th overall in the NEC Championship, respectively.

The Red Flash will also be looking to replace contributions from NEC All-Conference runner Chris Mills, who placed sixth in the NEC Championship and 45th in the Mid-Atlantic Regional.

Saint Francis opens up the season Aug. 31 at the Bucknell University Bison Open.

2012 Northeast Conference Men’s Cross Country

Preseason Coaches Poll

1.     Central Connecticut (8)

2.     Saint Francis (2)

3.     Monmouth (1)

4.     Mount St. Mary’s

5.     Sacred Heart

6.     Robert Morris

7.     Quinnipiac

8.     Wagner

9.     Bryant

10.  St. Francis (NY)

11.  Fairleigh Dickinson