High Point, NC- After taking the conference title two years ago, Queens University of Charlotte looks to return to the top of the Conference Carolinas podium for 2009. The Royals have been selected to the No. 1 spot in this year’s preseason poll as voted on by league head coaches.
The Royals sat out the 2008 conference tournament but dominated the NCAA Southeast Region meet and finished seventh at the NCAA National Championships. The Royals will be led by junior Michael Crouch who took the bronze at the NCAA meet before winning NCAA 5,000- and 1500-meter national titles in the spring. Returning for Queens will be individual region champion Oscar Ogwaro and All-Region runners Futsum Mebrahtu and Matt Rowell. Adding depth for the Royals will be newcomers Edgar Santoyo, Simon Stuetzel, Alex Schilling and Nelson Mwangi.
"We hope to continue our progression this year," said Coach Scott Simmons, "and with added depth we should be more competitive at the conference, regional and national levels. Across the board on this team, we are seeing solid development from good consistent work."
The Lees-McRae College men’s cross country team brings back their top seven runners and looks excited for what the 2009 season will bring. Reigning Freshman of the Year Craig Simpkins, and All-Conference performers Nathan Trimble and Chris Holstein will lead the way for the experienced Bobcat squad. Michael Davis and Jordan Gillespie are also expected to make a significant impact with Sondre Thorbergsen joining the team to add more quality depth for the Bobcats.
New to the Bobcats this year will be Head Coach Thomas Cason. After a brief retirement from coaching he returns with a passion to help continue the tradition of the Lees-McRae College Cross Country program.
“I am thrilled to see what this team can do, with the talent, hard work, dedication, and commitment; to go along with Coach Cason’s guidance, this group can attain a lot of goals this fall,” Lees-McRae College Athletic Director and assistant coach Craig McPhail said.
St. Andrews Presbyterian College is the defending Conference Carolinas men’s cross country champions and will be looking for a large group of veteran runners to fill the vacancy left by two-time Conference Carolinas Runner of the Year, Mitch Cooper, who graduated in May. The Knights have a veteran team that will consist of seven harriers that are either in their junior or senior campaign. Junior Doug Holt, a two-time All-Conference honoree, will look to pace the Knights scoring five runners. The experience from a cluster of letter winners, along with this year’s freshman class, should give St. Andrews the opportunity to be competitive both in league and in the Southeast Region.
“It definitely will be a competitive season, but these guys have put in a lot of miles this summer, building up their base and I feel confident that they will be up for the challenge,” said reigning Conference Carolinas Coach of the Year, Jim Walters, who enters his second season at the helm of the St. Andrews cross country program.
Erskine finished fourth in the poll with Anderson fifth followed by Limestone, Coker, Mount Olive, Pfeiffer, Belmont Abbey, and Barton respectively rounding-out the poll standings.
Conference Carolinas Men’s Cross Country Pre-Season Poll
(# of First Place Votes in Parenthesis)
1. Queens (9) 98
2. Lees-McRae (1) 89
3. St. Andrews (1) 79
4. Erskine 69
5. Anderson 62
6. Limestone 52
7. Coker 46
8. Mount Olive 35
9. Pfeiffer 30
10. Belmont Abbey 29
11. Barton 16