Promising outlook for MC cross country teams
from staff reports
The Milligan College men's cross country team returns four of its top five runners from last season's AAC Championship team, and looks to improve on its runner-up Region 12 finish.
Sophomore Chris Wright (Baltimore, MO) will once again lead the way. Wright, the 2002 AAC and Region 12 individual champion, will get support from senior Shane Oakleaf (Newark, OH), junior Ted Dubois (Rochester, IN), and sophomore Brandon Talbert (Bluff City, TN), all mainstays in Milligan's top five in 2002.
Rejoining the squad after a season off is sophomore Trevor Donovan (Rochester, NY). Donovan ran in the number three spot for the Buffaloes in 2001, earning all-conference and all-region honors as a freshman.
"We're still a young program with only one senior, but I have a lot of confidence in our returnees," said Milligan head coach Chris Layne.
The future looks bright for Milligan's men as they look to their most talented freshmen class to date.
Freshmen Sean Bowman (Nashville, IN) and Josh Ferry (Bloomington, IN) will make an immediate impact for the Buff harriers.
Bowman earned top ten state finishes in both cross country and track (mile), and also earned a top ten finish at the AAU Cross Country Nationals. Ferry ran the 12th fastest 800 in the nation by a high schooler indoors this year, and backed it up with a state title outdoors.
"Milligan College is excited about the addition of Josh and Sean, and not just from an athletic standpoint," said Layne. "These young men are capable of adding a dimension to our program we haven't seen."
In addition, the Buffs add University of Tennessee transfer Jair Collie (Johnson City, TN). Collie, who will participate in his first collegiate cross country season, finished sixth in the 2000 meter steeplechase at this summers Jr. National Championships.
Rounding out the new additions is freshman middle-distance ace Matt Cropper (Columbus, OH).
The Lady Buffaloes of Milligan are equally excited about their chances in 2003. The women's squad has yet to win a conference title, but may have their best shot to date.
NAIA Indoor National 5000 meter champion Marta Zimon (Lodz, Poland) will toe the line for her first cross country season since joining the Lady Buffs in January of 2002. Zimon has company in fellow All-American Megan Lease (Camden, NC).
Lease, a sophomore, finished 51st at the 2002 NAIA Cross Country Nationals, one of eight freshmen in the top 60.
Also returning is junior Lauren Gross (Roanoke, VA). Gross finished third at last year's Region 12 Championships, and finished a respectable 111th at the NAIA national meet. Splitting time between basketball and cross country this season will be ETSU transfer Ann Marie Gardner.
Gardner finished top ten at the North Carolina State Cross Country Champs in 2001, and was a member of the state championship 4 x 800 meter relay team.
Layne will look to sophomores Gina Jury (Bradenton, FL) and Rachel Carriger (League City, TX) for depth this season, along with newcomers Amber Peace (Knoxville, TN) and Brittany Hall (Morton, IL).
"We have a quality group of women in spots one through four, our best yet, but it takes five and often times six or seven to win titles. We need a few more of our women to step up," said Layne.
The men's team will open up at the Western Carolina Invitational on Sept. 5, while the women open up at the Creeper Trail Invitational in Abingdon, Va. on Sept. 6.
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