Milligan teams set for AAC/Region 12 meet

From left, (front) Kortney Goulds, Lindsey Davis, Jessica Carpenter, Amber Peace (middle) Megan Allen, Erika Fox, Marta Zimon, Lauren Gross, (back) Bailey Carter, Megan Lease, Rachel Carriger and Gina Jury.

  The Appalachian Athletic Conference/Region 12 Championships will be held Saturday, and the Milligan College cross county teams have been pacing themselves for success all season.
  For the first time ever, both teams managed to crack into the NAIA Top 25 in the preseason.
  After winning the AAC Championship last year, the teams are thriving for a successful finish this season as well.
  Fifth-year head coach Chris Layne is looking for big things from both teams as the men and women have combined for 54 national championship qualifiers. He has coached 55 national championship qualifiers and 19 conference champions while in his tenures at Milligan and East Tennessee State University.
  In 2004, he coached former ETSU All-American Catherine Berry, who is now running for Nike, to a 5000 meter win at the 2004 U.K. Olympic Trails and a personal best time of 15:19 at the Heusden Grand Prix II meet in Belgium. Berry is a former volunteer assistant at Milligan.

Milligan Men
From left, (front) Chris Wright, Jair Collie, Brandon Talbert, (back) Josh Ferry, Seth Harkins and Nathan Bowers.

  In his college career, Layne was named to the All-Southern Conference and All-Ohio Valley Conference Teams in the 400 meters, 800 meters, 4 x 100m relay and the 4 x 400m relay. He lead his Blue Raider team at Middle Tennessee State to a third and fifth place finish in the 4 x 100m relay and the 4 x 200m relay teams, respectively.
  The 4 x 200m relay would go on to earn a world ranking by Track and Field News. He has also competed in the 1996 USA Indoor Track and Field Championships in the 4 x 400m relay.
  Last season was the first-ever trip for the women's team to the national championships where they finished 22nd overall. They have returned everyone from last year's squad and have added six freshmen standouts.
  Marta Zimon won last year's Region 12 cross country title and Megan Lease finished 30th at the NAIA championships.
  The men's squad lost three of its top seven from last year from the team that finished 21st in the NAIA national championships.
  Leading the men this year has been All-American Chris Wright who finished 49th at last years cross country nationals. They have added three freshmen standouts.
  In the season opener at the Virginia Tech Festival in the Fields, the men's team placed fifth in the six kilometer beating out East Tennessee State, Roanoke College and Longwood University with Virginia Tech winning the team title with 37 points.
  Wright lead the team with his 18th place finish, followed by former Hilltoppers' Nathan Bowers and Jair Collie who placed a 34th and 35th place, respectively.
  All-American's Lease and Zimon finished eighth and 17th. Former Cyclone Jessica Carpenter finished 37th and former Warrior Kortney Goulds finished 24th. Erika Fox placed an overall 55th place finish.
  The women's team competed as split-squad in the event to give the entire team an opportunity to compete. Had the team competed as one, they would have placed fifth over ETSU, Longwood, Roanoke and Concord College.
  The teams then competed in the Brevard College Cross Country Invitational and took home both titles.
  Lease and Zimon placed first and second, respectively, in the 5k race. Lease finished the event in 19:33. Milligan's five scoring women finished in the top 25 overall.
  Carpenter and Fox placed 10th and 11th, respectively, and ran in the third and fourth spots while Goulds, 23rd, ran the fifth spot. Megan Allen, a former Hilltopper, and Bailey Carter also ran for the Lady Buff team.
  The men's squad finished second, third and fourth with Wright taking the No. 2 spot. Bowers and Brandon Talbert, of Volunteer, finished the third and fourth spots. Josh Ferry finished out 10th overall and Seth Harkins ran the Buffs in the fifth slot.
  On Oct. 8-9, the teams traveled to Orlando, Fla. for the Disney Classic. Lease finished with a fourth overall finish at a time of 17:49 which tied the school record held by Zimon. Zimon finished 22nd overall with an 18:49 time. Carpenter placed 32nd overall and placed her in the Milligan record book with the fourth best time in school history at 19:11. Fox ran a personal best of 21:08 and Goulds had her season best time of 21:30.
  Wright finished 10th overall with his season best 25:32. Bowers posted a 27:13 and Collie finished with a time of 28:08. Harkin also had a personal best at the happiest place on earth with a 28:18.
  On Oct. 15, both teams competed at the Appalachian State Invitational and were lead again by Wright and Lease.
  The men weren't able to field a full squad but Wright placed a 13th place finish while Ferry finished 37th and Bowers placed 47th.
  Lease finished fourth while Zimon placed 11th with teammate Carpenter just behind her.
  Regional competition begins at 10 a.m. for the women's with the men's race scheduled to start at 10:45a.m.
  After the regional competition has been completed, the teams will hopefully earn a bid to the NAIA National Championships to be held on Nov. 20. Both the regional and national events will be in Louisville, Ken at the E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park.