JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (August 21, 2003) - The East Tennessee State University men's and women's cross country teams are poised to make their move in the 2003 season after coming off of fourth and sixth place Southern Conference finishes, respectively, in the 2002 season.
David E. Walker returns to the helm of the cross country team for his 40th year, assisted by second-year assistant coach Michelle Byrne. Both anxiously await the start of the cross country season as much is expected from the Buccaneer squads.
The men's roster returns all eight members of the 2002 squad and adds two newcomers. Experience and leadership will come from a trio of talented upperclassmen in senior David Haefner (Hamburg, N.Y.), junior Bradley Yewer (Newbury, England), and sophomore James Grufferty (Glanmire, Ireland).
The men's team saw success at the SoCon Championships with Haefner, Yewer, and Grufferty placing in the top ten and earning all-conference honors. Additionally, Haefner finished 16th at the NCAA South Region Cross Country Meet and earned All Region honors, Yewer earned the Southern Conference athlete of the year title, and Grufferty earned honors as the 2002 Southern Conference freshman of the year.
"I fully expect the Buccaneers to return to winning ways and improve upon last year's fourth-place finish," remarked Walker. "ETSU has a strong tradition and there is a sense of responsibility and pride that this year's team will need to embrace in order to contend for a championship."
Returnees Peter Dalton (Dublin, Ireland) and Paul Dable (Warwick, England) will round out the men's squad and add depth to an already talented team.
"Dalton will look to improve upon his solid accomplishments to further push the Buccaneers toward a championship," commented Walker. "Dable will look to step up and provide the much needed depth."
Greg Kenny (Leixlip, Co. Kildare, Ireland) also will join the men's 2003 squad and provide ETSU with six upperclassmen that will be ready to go next fall. Walker stated, "Much is expected of Kenny, a mid-year admit, who is expected to follow in the footsteps of Bradley Yewer and James Grufferty by contending for freshman of the year honors."
Freshman Joshua Hicks (Riceville, Tenn.) and sophomore redshirt Clark Tucker (Cleveland, Tenn.) look to join the Bucs in 2003. "Both young men are primarily 800 meter runners who will be asked to provide further stability to an already seasoned team," commented Walker.
Sophomores Joshua Gibson (Limestone, Tenn.) and Derrick Payne (Springfield, Tenn.) will round out the squad.
"Coming off of last year's fourth place finish, it is my hope that this fine group of talented young men will embrace the challenge ahead of them and return ETSU to it's long standing tradition of excellence at the conference level."
The women's team returns six runners and add two newcomers to the roster. Emily Chaney (Maryville, Tenn.), will lead the Buccaneers this season along with Katie Marshall (Metuchen, N.J.). Chaney, the lone senior returning is eyeing an all-conference finish after having just missed last year with her 13th place finish at the SoCon Championships.
"My expectations are for both Emily and Katie to improve upon their performances from last season," said Byrne.
Returnees Kim Simmons (Knoxville, Tenn.), Tiffany Collier (Atlanta, Ga.), and Christine Ward (Candler, N.C.) will look to improve upon last season's performances.
Byrne commented, "I feel very confident that Kim will be an impact athlete for us in cross country after her strong performance in the second half of the season."
"Our returning team members know what is expected from them. I hope the learning experience from last year coupled with a good summer of training will prepare them well to improve our finish from a year ago."
Newcomers, Caitlin St. Louis (Kingsport, Tenn.) and Nicole Brunson (Richlands, Va.) will also provide depth to the experienced squad.
"We need a complete team effort to have success this year," stated Byrne. "Our success is not based on any one individual, our success will come from our individuals running collectively as a unit. It is important that we prepare well in order to compete at the highest level."
The season begins for both cross country teams when they compete on August 30th at the Campbell Early Bird Classic in Buies Creek, N.C. The men's team will start their 5k race at 9:00 a.m. and the women will start their 4k race at 10:00 a.m.