TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology has been selected by Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference as the preseason favorite to earn its ninth consecutive outdoor league title, in a preseason poll of league coaches released on Tuesday.
The Fightin' Engineers were the unanimous choice of the coaches in the league poll with 100 points and 10 first-place votes. Anderson was picked to finish second, followed by Bluffton and Defiance.
The women's track and field team was a strong choice in the HCAC preseason poll as well, earning the second position. Manchester was picked first with nine first place votes, followed by Rose-Hulman, Hanover and Anderson.
The men's projection comes after Rose-Hulman enjoyed a dominant performance in the 2016 indoor conference championships. The Fightin' Engineers scored 286.83 points in the HCAC Indoor Championship meet -- a mark that ranks as the most points scored by any team in NCAA Division III men's track and field conference championships this season.
Rose-Hulman returns seven men's event champions from the 2015 HCAC Outdoor Championships that resulted in the eighth straight title for the Fightin' Engineers. Sophomore Josh Hennig (400 meters), junior Matt Hill (5,000 meters), senior Brandon Loyer (1,500 meters), junior Brendon Mattiuz (800 meters), junior Andrew Okruch (discus and shot put), and senior Sam Sobczak (10,000 meters) look to duplicate their conference crowns this season.
On the women's side, Rose-Hulman returns one individual running event, one individual field event and one relay running event champion from 2015. Freshman Gabi Razma (triple jump) and junior Addie Johnson (400 meters) return, along with all four members of last year's winning 4-x-400 meter relay team in Christine Harper, Razma, Victoria Heckenlively and Johnson.
Rose-Hulman opens the 2016 outdoor track and field season this weekend, with the Early Bird Invitational at the William Welch Track & Field Complex on Saturday.