The Austin College men’s water polo team was picked sixth in the preseason coaches poll of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, the league office has announced.

The ‘Roos enter their first season as a varsity program in 2018, with NCAA Division I programs UCLA, USC, Stanford, California, and Division III program Penn State-Behrend also competing in the MPSF.

Defending national champion UCLA leads the pack, followed by USC, Cal, and Stanford, with Penn State-Behrend, which finished 6-15 overall last season, just ahead of the ‘Roos.

The MPSF was founded in 1992, and since then the men’s water polo national champion has emerged from the conference each of the past 26 years.

The ‘Roos will compete primarily against NCAA Division III programs this season, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, La Verne, Caltech, and Cal Lutheran, before competing against its MPSF conference-mates in November at the MPSF Championships.

The ‘Roos enter the season transitioning from the club level, with 18 newcomers joining four returning players from last year’s first-ever club season at Austin College.

This year marks the first since 1976 that a varsity water polo program has competed in the state of Texas.