RICHARDSON, Texas — Suffice it to say there’s a big split between the top four and the bottom three in the Lone Star Conference South Division.
Eastern New Mexico University is at the bottom of the bottom.
The Greyhounds were picked seventh in the seven-team division in results of voting by league coaches, sports information directors and various media representatives, announced Monday.
ENMU received 31 points in the voting. The top four teams, led by favorite Abilene Christian, finished with 100 or more points and garnered all 20 first-place votes.
Abilene Christian, which had 128 points and 12 first-place votes, won its first seven games last season en route to an 8-3 record last season and its first NCAA Division II playoff appearance. The Wildcats edged out Midwestern State, Tarleton State and defending champion West Texas A&M.
Texas A&M-Kingsville was fifth with 49 points, while Angelo State came in sixth with 42.
“I think Abilene Christian’s a pretty good pick,” third-year ENMU coach Mark Ribaudo, who typically doesn’t put much stock in the preseason poll. “It’s a heck of a (division) when the defending champion (WT) is picked fourth.”
In the North Division, two-time defending champion Southeastern Oklahoma earned 88 points and 10 of 15 first-place votes, with Southwestern Oklahoma second with 79 points and five first-place votes.
ENMU is coming off a 3-7 season, including 1-5 in the South. In addition to beating Kingsville, the Hounds’ wins in 2006 were at the expense of North member East Central and Oklahoma Panhandle State.
Ribaudo said he thinks the top four in the South — Abilene Christian, Midwestern State, Tarleton State and WT — should all be strong.
“The North is tough too, but I think the South has four potential top-20 teams,” Ribaudo said.
Ribaudo said about 130 players are scheduled to check in on Saturday at ENMU, adding that they will go through strength testing on Sunday. The first practice is set for 8:30 a.m. Monday.
The Hounds open the season on Aug. 25 against Bacone College in Muskogee, Okla. Their first home game is Sept. 6, a Thursday, in an LSC crossover contest against North Division member Northeastern State.