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Cross Country - Tue, Sep. 7, 2010
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JACKSON, Tenn. - In the 2010 TranSouth Conference preseason cross country polls, Union (Tenn.) University is favored by the coaches to repeat as conference champions. Five of the nine conference schools sponsor cross country teams, including Bethel (Tenn.) University, Blue Mountain (Miss.) College, Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) University, Trevecca Nazarene (Tenn.) University and Union.

The women's poll has Union first, followed by Blue Mountain in second, Bethel third, Freed-Hardeman fourth and Trevecca Nazarene fifth. Union has won the conference title for seven straight seasons.

The men's poll has Union first, followed by Bethel in second, Blue Mountain third, Freed-Hardeman fourth and Trevecca Nazarene fifth. Union has won the conference title for six straight seasons.


Trevecca Nazarene is in their first season of competition in cross country, while Lyon (Ark.) dropped cross country after last season. With just five teams, the TranSouth will continue to have to compete with another smaller conference in a qualifying meet to earn the automatic bid to the NAIA National Meet.

The TranSouth Conference Championships will be hosted by Union on October 23. The NAIA qualifying meet will be in Nashville on November 5 at Percy Warner Park.

#TRANSOUTH#

TranSouth Cross Country Preseason Poll (voted by the coaches)
WOMEN
     1. Union University
     2. Blue Mountain College
     3. Bethel University
     4. Freed-Hardeman University
     5. Trevecca Nazarene University

MEN
     1. Union University
     2. Bethel University
     3. Blue Mountain College
     4. Freed-Hardeman University
     5. Trevecca Nazarene University



TEAM OUTLOOKS:



BETHEL UNIVERSITY WILDCATS
WOMEN
The Bethel University Women's Cross Country team has several key returners who Coach Brandon Kilburn will look to for leadership this season.

Senior Mallory Blankenship is the lone senior. She is joined by juniors, Emily LaForce and Mitzi Murphee. LaForce recorded the best times last season for the Lady Wildcats.

The Lady Cats will miss Anna Martin who holds the school record in the 5K.

Coach Kilburn is in his second season as head coach. He welcomes several newcomers to the 2010 squad. Junior Jennifer Chepkemboi is a transfer from Rend Lake Junior College. Vanessa Cocum is a transfer from Dubuque College in Iowa. Sophomore Cassie Hassell joins the team after running track for Bethel last year. Two local freshmen will hopefully make their mark on the squad. Rikki Greenfield of Lexington and Ashley Dawkins from Jackson North Side join the Lady Cats.

Coach Kilburn feels good about the depth of his squad. "We hope our experience will help us be successful this year. We have more depth and some of the newcomers could really help us."

MEN
Anchored by junior Nelphat Bor and sophomore Bethuel Boinett the Bethel University Men's Cross Country team shows promise to have a fine year. Bor was region and conference champion his freshman year and All-Conference as a freshman and sophomore. He was conference Newcomer of the Year as well. Boinett is coming off a freshman season as All-Conference and Newcomer of the Year.

Junior Emmanuel Tavares, along with sophomores Jacob Robertson and Brett Adams all return.

Key additions include, sophomore Peter Kiplagat from Rend Lake Junior College, Jacob Reeves from Jo Byrns High School, and Michael Holt along with teammate Ben Malin from Big Sandy High School.

Key losses from the squad are Ryan Niewenhuis and Bill Robertson. Robertson will serve as a graduate assistant coach this season.

Coach Brandon Kilburn is in second season with the Cats. He is excited about the potential of his team. "We are excited about the season. We have a good core coming back, along with some key additions. If we achieve our potential we have a chance to be successful.



BLUE MOUNTAIN COLLEGE TOPPERS
WOMEN
Coach Heather Duley will have four experienced runners in her first season as BMC's cross-country coach.

Tuesdae Rowland, a junior, is the most experienced of the Toppers women's program, and her maturity has been obvious in the early training runs.

Stephanie Dillard, Beth Goolsby and Megan Wilburn, all sophomores, also give the Toppers some experience, and three freshmen - Emma Baxter, Mary Chunn and Ashlee Girsham - are making noises in their first year.

"We've got some good runners back from last year who are really pushing our freshmen," she said. "And there are a couple of those freshmen who are really pushing our upper classmen. It's a good situation."

MEN

With five runners returning to BMC, first-year coach Heather Duley will have plenty of experience this season. How that translates into improved times remains to be seen.

Richard Feist, Hunter Flanagan, Nathan Young are all juniors; Austin Epting, who paced the Toppers in most races last fall, and Derek Scott are both strong sophomores. Casey Bales and Cesar Virto are newcomers to the program.

"Austin still leads the team," Duley said. "He's a very intense runner and he works hard at improving his times. The next four guys - Young, Feist, Scott and Flanagan - are packing up and really pushing each other. It's going to be interesting to see how they all break out."



FREED-HARDEMAN UNIVERSITY LIONS
WOMEN
The Freed-Hardeman women's cross country program enters its second season with a new head coach and a larger roster than last year. Derrick Spradlin takes over the coaching duties in place of Lain Hinson. Spradlin, who was an assistant coach last year, has assembled a roster of six runners.

The team returns two runners in juniors Brianna Steffy and Hannah Leach. Leach emerged as the team's top runner last year, placing 11th in the TranSouth Conference championship meet. They will be joined this season by senior Elise Beisel, sophomore Staci Irwin, and freshmen Mary Faust and Jordan Saliba. After having too few runners to score as a team in meets in 2009, the women are eager to establish themselves as legitimate competitors in the TranSouth.

MEN
The Freed-Hardeman men's cross country program enters its second season with a new head coach and a larger roster than last year. Derrick Spradlin takes over the coaching duties in place of Lain Hinson. Spradlin, who was an assistant coach last year, ran both cross country and track at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn.

In just the second year of the cross country program, hopes are high that the men will improve upon their performances of the 2009 season. Returning runners Joseph McKenzie (Sr.) and Jason King (So.) are joined by newcomers Luke Searcy (Jr.), Bryan Davis (Jr.), and Zac Cook (So.). Cook, who transferred to FHU from Birmingham Southern, is projected to be the team's top runner.



TREVECCA NAZARENE UNIVERSITY TROJANS
WOMEN
The 2010-2011 Trevecca's women's cross country is the first in the history of Trevecca. In March of 2010 Trevecca announced it would start a women's cross country program, beginning in the Fall of 2010.

In June of 2010 Trevecca announced that Dean Cole would lead the new women's cross country program. Cole is a veteran high school track and cross country coach with experience in South Carolina and Middle Tennessee.

Cole was able to find several prospects already on Trevecca's Nashville campus and built the nine person roster with more recruits for the Fall 2010 season.

At the first-ever meet for Trevecca women's cross country there will be nine runners on the team. The team includes; CJ Childs (Macon, Ga.), Devon Eby (Rocky Mount, N.C.), Brittany Gerrell (Wakulla Springs, Fla.), Anne Marie Kengne (Yaounde, Cameroon), Alylson Merki, Brandi Owens (Memphis, Tenn.), Lydia Seymour (Owens Cross Roads, Ala.), Emily Smith (Olathe, Kan.), and Erin Tillson (Wilmore, Ky.).

The team will compete in four regular season meets, followed by the TranSouth Championships and the NAIA Direct Qualifying Meet. Three of those events will take place at the Vaughn's Gap Course in Nashville at Percy Warner Park.

MEN
The story of Trevecca's men's cross country for the
2010-2011 season begins in 1978 when Trevecca ended its four-year old men's cross country program. In March of 2010 Trevecca announced it would restart the men's cross country program in the Fall of 2010.

In June of 2010 Dean Cole was tipped to lead the restart of the men's cross country program at Trevecca. Cole had coached track and cross country on the high school level in South Carolina and in the Middle Tennessee area.

Will fall fastly approaching, the roster had to be built quickly. Cole found some able bodies already on campus and ready to participate on the new team.
Then Cole began to add recruits for the fall schedule.

As the first meet approached, nine young men were ready to suit up for the program restart. Lim Chol (Nashville), Spencer Cole (Hendersonville), Alex Hall (Culleoka), Mark Hewitt (Bothell, Wash.), Alex Hodge (Pleasant Grove, Ala.), Dale Mattox (Vancleave, Miss.), Mark Michel (Columbia), Cory Phillips (Warmsprings, Ga.), and Frank Wheeler (Clermont, Fla.).

Hewitt (baseball), Hodge (soccer), and Michel (soccer) are originally from other Trevecca athletic programs.

The team will compete in four regular season meets, followed by the TranSouth Championships and the NAIA Direct Qualifying Meet. Three of those events will take place at the Vaughn's Gap Course in Nashville at Percy Warner Park.



UNION UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS
WOMEN
The Union University women's cross country team is coming off their seventh straight TranSouth Championship. As Union tries to continue that streak in 2010, the Lady Bulldogs will return their top five runners from last year. Union has also added two runners to help strengthen their 2010 team.

Union has two seniors, Kayla Hauss and Carrie Moore. Both Hauss and Moore were all-conference runners on last year's championship team.

Two juniors star on the 2010 roster including Hannah Clardy and Carissa Wilson. Clardy won the TranSouth individual title last season and represented Union as an individual qualifier in the NAIA National Meet. Wilson was an all-conference performer as well.

Sophomores Cally Howell and Lilli Harmon look to contribute more following successful freshmen seasons. Harmon was an all-conference runner as a freshman.

Two freshmen join the Union cross country program in 2010. Ashlee Stewart and Allison Martin will try to make an immediate impact as they enter college with outstanding high school resumes.

Johnson says, "I am excited to see how our new runners fit in with an established group. We have a strong cast returning for both teams and that encourages me about the prospects of competing for our conference championship and trying to qualify for the national meet. We only graduated one runner from the top 5 of either team, so this group is experienced and understands the expectations we have for them. It should be an exciting and challenging year."

MEN
The Union University men's cross country team is coming off their sixth straight TranSouth Conference Championship. Union lost one runner from last year's team, but is returning each of their top three runners. Union has also added a runner who was a state qualifier in high school.

Union has one senior, Dan Ramer, returning to complete his running career. Ramer has been a solid runner and leader for Union during his career.

Three juniors lead the way for Union in 2010 including Zach Covington, Joel Wellum and Alex Bett. Bett was the TranSouth individual champion last season, while Covington finished second. Both Bett and Covington represented Union as individual qualifiers at the 2010 NAIA National Meet. Wellum has been a steady runner for Union for two seasons.

The sophomore class has two runners, Drake Ott and Logan Smith. Ott finished fourth in last year's conference meet, earning him an all-conference award. Smith posted solid times as a freshman and looks to contribute more as a sophomore.

Union's lone freshman is Caleb Creel who comes in with a solid high school resume. He will look to make an immediate impact on Union squad.

Union's men have been to two NAIA National Meets as a team and have boasted six straight conference titles. Johnson is looking to lead his squad to their seventh conference title and a third team appearance at nationals.

Johnson says, "I am excited to see how our new runners fit in with an established group. We have a strong cast returning for both teams and that encourages me about the prospects of competing for our conference championship and trying to qualify for the national meet. We only graduated one runner from the top 5 of either team, so this group is experienced and understands the expectations we have for them. It should be an exciting and challenging year."