The East Tennessee State University Cross Country team has high hopes for the coming season. After the men finished eighth and the women finished ninth at the 2000 Southern Conference Championships, assistant coach Matt High is expecting both teams to improve upon last year's performance. In addition to the talented returning runners, the program will get a boost from its new signees.
The men's best finish last season was third in Blacksburg, Va. at the Virginia Tech Invitational.
"I believe that our men's will finish in the top three in the Southern Conference," said Coach High.
The team's two seniors will provide leadership. Greg Sprowl, an All-Conference honoree last year, returns to lead the team. Sprowl earned three top-10 finishes last year. He posted a season-best 20:02 at the Catamount Classic and placed seventh at the conference championships.
Mitchell Thompson will return for his senior year and is expected to contribute a great deal. Last season, Thompson ran a 27:13 at the Blue Ridge Open and 21:18 at the Catamount Classic.
Sophomore David Haefner will continue what he started last season. Haefner placed 12th at the Virginia Tech Invitational with a 27:36 and ran a season-best 20:19 at the Catamount Classic.
Freshman Bradley Yewer will be a factor in this program early on in his career.
"Brad is a great addition to our team," said Coach High, "He is a little bit older than the typical freshman and he will do well."
The women's team lost one All-Conference runner, Emily Campbell, from last season but signed five talented freshmen. Last season the team's best finish was second at the Virginia Tech Invitational.
"The women can finish in the top half of the conference this season," said Coach High.
The lone senior on the team is Lauren Campbell. Campbell ran a 21:09 at the Blue Ridge Open in Boone, N.C. hosted by Appalachian State University last fall.
The 2001 ETSU Female Athlete of the Year, Roseline Addo, will lead the women in the coming season. Addo, a junior from Newbury, England, will be a strong contributor to the Buc squad. Last fall she ran a 19:27 and placed 22nd overall at the Blue Ridge.
"Roseline finished 14th at last year's conference championships," said Coach High, "Her goal is to run better this fall."
Junior Jennifer Howard ran a 23:56 at the Catamount Classic and 23:04 at the Furman Invitational. Howard ran her season-best time with a 22:19 at the Blue Ridge Open.
"Jennifer Howard is capable of finishing in the top five in the conference," said Coach High.
Sophomore Emily Chaney, a transfer from Tennessee Tech, finished second at the Austin Peay Invitational last year with a time of 12:30. She finished among the top-10 three times as a freshman.
Grace Ridge returns for her sophomore season. Ridge earned a season-best 23:10 at the Furman Invitational. At the Blue Ridge Open, Ridge ran a 23:10 and a 14:03 at the Catamount Classic.
Sophomore Charity Roberts ran her best at the Catamount Classic in 20:44. She also ran 22:48 at the Catamount Classic and 22:03 at the Furman Invitational.
The cross country season begins at Western Carolina on September 8, 2001. The schedule consists of trips to meets hosted by Winthrop University, Appalachian State University and Furman University. The Southern Conference Championships will be held on November 19, 2001 held in Charleston, S.C.