Oct. 29, 2002
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina's men's and women's cross country teams are in preparation this week for the Southern Conference Championships, set for Saturday, Nov. 2, in Charleston, S.C. Both meets will take place at Dixie Plantation beginning at 10:00 am with the women's race, followed by the men at 10:45 am.
Competition should be tight this year as there are several teams that have a chance to claim the team titles. There are no clear cut favorites in 2002 as there have been in years past. It may come down to who can give the best total team effort this year.
"We want to continue with the momentum that we generated at last year's championships," stated WCU head coach Danny Williamson. "We felt that last year was one of the best championship performances that our squads have ever had at a SoCon championship. Our goal for this year, of course, is to bring home a first place trophy, but we also want to have a better team finish than last season (the women recorded their highest finish ever - third - and the men recorded their second-highest finish ever, also third)."
Western will be led on the men's side by its front-running foursome of Caleb Bailey, Jesse Norman, Adam Puett and Ben Watkins. The key for this squad will come from the production of the next three youg men: James Irwin, Philip Ramsey and Eddie Vick.
"To improve on last season's team finish, the men will have to be strong on the front end of the race, but must also have a strong effort and production out of the 5-6-7 positions," added Williamson. "Those positions are as important as the 1-2 slots. This will be the key to our success."
Last year's individual champion and SoCon Runner of the Year, Jesse Norman, will provide the type of leadership that it will take to move Western up in the team standings, along with last year's third place finisher, Caleb Bailey, and Ben Watkins, the 15th place finisher in 2001.
"Our women's team will rely heavily on a pack-style group effort," said Williamson. "Our ladies are all very similar in ability and could pose a serious threat if this pack stays together and in good position throughout the race. The key for a better finish than last season for us, or even a conference championship, will be if this entire group runs a smart and competitive race from start to finish and if someone out of the group steps up and becomes a front-runner for us."
The Western Lady pack will consist of Tonya Edmonds, Megan Kellogg, Deanna Kulesz, Randi Miles, Jerrine Peeler, Alissa Short and Whitney Woods.
For more information on the meet, including directions, log on to www.soconsports.com.