AZUSA, Calif. – Is there any other way for the reigning Director’s Cup champion to start a new season of competition? Evidently not at Azusa Pacific.
The NAIA released the Preseason Top 25 Coaches Polls for all 6 of its fall sports, and Azusa Pacific, which was the NAIA’s top athletic program last year, is the only school to appear in all 6 polls.
Cougar football, volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s and women’s cross country are all nationally-ranked, and 5 of the teams are ranked in the Top 10. This is not the first time Azusa Pacific has had all 6 of its fall sports nationally-ranked. The Cougars accomplished the feat last year for the first time in program history.
“We want every student-athlete and every coach to have an opportunity to compete at the highest level,” said Azusa Pacific Director of Athletics Bill Odell, “and though polls don’t determine national champions they do reflect a level of talent and achievement for each program. It’s very satisfying to know that every one of our fall sports programs are considered to be among the elite in the nation.”
Cougar football, which a year ago finished 11-3 and advanced to the semifinals of the NAIA Football Championship Series, is ranked No. 4 in its respective NAIA preseason poll. Men’s cross country is ranked No. 4 as well. Women’s cross country is ranked No. 7, while men’s soccer checks in at No. 8. Women’s soccer, which has been ranked in the NAIA Top 25 longer than in program in the nation (8 years), is ranked No. 10. Women’s volleyball rounds out the list at No. 17.
The NAIA conducts coaches polls in 12 of the 14 sports Azusa Pacific sponsors (track & field does not have weekly team polls). Eleven Cougar programs were nationally-ranked at some point during the 2004-05 seasons. Last year, the Cougars went on to capture the university’s first-ever Director’s Cup trophy, signifying it as the best athletic program in the NAIA.
Go to the NAIA web site to view all 6 preseason top 25 polls.