Cross Country Teams Welcome New Season With Western Carolina Opening

By Kaitlyn Mullis

Sports Writer

The men’s and women’s Catamount cross country team opened the 2008 season Friday, Aug. 30 at the Western Carolina Open. The meet featured five other teams from around the state, including Gardner Webb and the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

The distances set for the race were two miles for the women and three for the men. The course was located on the lawn of Norton Village, with the trail winding its way around the track, soccer, and softball complex.

The women’s cross country team commanded the entire race, covering the top four spots. Lindsey Groce, a junior, ran a time of 11:56:96 to capture first place. Close behind were sophomore Jordan Gaddy, running 11:59.43, and senior Megan Isaacs, running 12:06.67. Finishing in fourth place with a time of 12:29.32 was junior Danielle Shaurette.

The scoring runners from Western Carolina placed in the top eight of a field of forty-four participants.

The Lady Catamounts won with a score of 18. Second place went to Gardner Webb with a team score of 52, UNC-Asheville took third with 82 points, followed by King College with 95, Newberry College with 150, and Warren Wilson College with 162.

The men’s team, missing one of their top runners, ran a tough race against rival UNC-Asheville, managing to pull off a narrow win with a score of 34 against the Bulldogs’ 37. Both teams had all five of their scoring runners in the top twenty of the forty-three member field.

Junior Stephen Hammond ran a 15:50.90 to finish in first place for the Catamounts. Running for second-place points was freshman Josey Weaver with a time of 16:21.43. Sophomore Drew Tucker ran 16:48.92 and took eighth, Jake Clawson, a junior, placed twelfth with 16:57.07. Following was senior Field Miller, who finished fourteenth with a time of 17:06.78.

The team stepped up to take the win after sophomore runner Stephen Roach was unable to run due to sickness.

Western closed the day with a close win, collecting 34 team points to nudge UNC Asheville’s 37 out of the top spot. King College took third with 64 points, followed by Gardner Webb’s 101, Newberry College’s 138, and Warren Wilson College’s 149.

The next race for the Catamounts cross country teams will be the Catamount Classic on September 20.

This looks to be an exciting and successful season for the men and women’s teams. The men’s team was ranked eighth in the Southern Conference pre-season poll and the women’s team was picked seventh in their conference.

Last year, the men’s team finished seventh in the Southern Conference Championship and the women’s team closed the conference season with a sixth place finish.

With most of their runners returning for the 2008 season, both teams will be looking to improve on their standings in the competitive conference, which includes the number-one ranked Appalachian State men’s team and the number-one ranked Chattanooga women’s team.