Oct. 26, 2012
CULLOWHEE, N.C. - The 2012 Southern Conference Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships, hosted by The Citadel, is set to begin at the Laurel Hill Plantation in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., on Saturday, Oct. 27. The event begins with the women's 5K race at 10:00 a.m., followed by the men's 8K at 10:45 a.m. The event will be concluded with an awards ceremony to honor top team and individual performances. WCU looks to improve upon 2011's sixth place finishes on both the men's and the women's sides.
Western Carolina's men's team features four seniors - Nolan Clark, Chase Fisher, Josey Weaver and Garrett West. Senior Josey Weaver is having his best season thus far as a Catamount. He has led WCU in every meet this season, capped off by setting the WCU 8000m record two weeks ago at the Royals XC Challenge, running a 24:16.7, crushing his previous top time in the 8k by more than 30 seconds.
Weaver holds the fourth best time in the conference in the 8k. Teammate Travis Alfaro is right behind Weaver in the conference 8k standings with his best time of 24:26.50 which the sophomore ran at the Royals XC Challenge. Two more Catamounts - Clark and Fisher - are also in the top 20 rankings.
On the women's side, sophomore Jocelyn Keen has really put herself among the conference's best runners this season. The SoCon Women's Runner of the Week her last time out, Keen ran an all-time personal best in the 5k with a time of 17:46 at the Royals XC Challenge. It was the second fastest WCU 5k time in history.
Senior Mara Smith will also look to cap off an already stellar career in her final meet. Last season, Smith finished tenth overall last season when she ran the school record in the 5k, 17:35.40. Keen and Smith have led the women in every race this season. Keen and Smith have run the fifth and sixth fastest times in the 5k in the SoCon this season. Sophomore Aleshia Reese is also in the top 10, with her ninth place time of 18:11.30.
The UNCG men's cross country team was tabbed the preseason favorite in the coaches' poll and are led by 2011 SoCon Runner of the Year, Paul Chelimo, who holds the conference's fastest 8K time this season (22:59.62). The Spartans Paul Katam, the 2011 SoCon Freshman of the Year, holds the second-fastest 8K time in the conference this season (23:49.90).
In addition to Chelimo and Katam, the men's race will also feature two-time SoCon Runner of the Week Nathan Wanuch (Chattanooga), as well as SoCon Runner of the Week selections Wilkerson Given (Furman) and Mitch McLeod (Appalachian State). Elon, the preseason favorite on the women's side, is currently ranked 12th in the Southeast Region in the latest USTFCCCA Regional Cross Country Rankings. Two-time SoCon Champion Samford returns senior Lauren D'Alessio who holds the fastest 5K time in the conference this season (17:23.40).
The women's race also features SoCon Runner of the Week selections Amanda Hamilton (Appalachian State), Hayley McMahon (College of Charleston), Sara Curry (Georgia Southern), Sinead Haughey (Furman), and Jocelyn Keen (Western Carolina).