Photo courtesy of UCSD Sports Information.STARKVILLE, Miss. – UC San Diego will begin its defense of its 2011 national title as the No. 1 team in the land, according to the 2012 NFCA Division II Preseason Poll that was released by the Association on Wednesday.

The Tritons (45-13) received all 16 first-place votes and were followed in the poll by last year’s national runner-up Alabama-Huntsville (48-6-1) in second.

Perennial power North Georgia (53-12) was picked third, while Saginaw Valley (53-12) and West Texas A&M (42-18) rounded out the top five in fourth and fifth, respectively.

Arkansas-Monticello (46-16) had the biggest gain from the final 2011 poll, jumping 12 spots from 24th to 12th, while Cal State Chico followed behind with a 10 spot jump, moving from the “receiving votes” category to 15th.

Three other teams were new to the poll from the final 2011 edition, with Armstrong Atlantic, Missouri Western State and Colorado Mines, all moving into the rankings. Armstrong made its debut at No. 21, while Missouri Western and Colorado Mines followed at 23rd and 24th, respectively.

Teams that did not make the transition from last year’s final poll to the first poll of this season were No. 14 West Alabama, No. 15 Cal State Bernardino, No, 17 Nebraska Omaha and No. 22 Emporia State. Nebraska Omaha is no longer eligible for the NFCA Division II Top 25 poll, having moved to Division I in the off-season.

The NFCA Division II Top 25 Poll is voted on by 16 NCAA Division II head coaches, two representing each of the eight NCAA regions.

To view the complete poll, click here.

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