MACON, Ga. (Oct. 31, 2008) - After a grueling two month season, the ETSU men's and women's cross country teams will put everything on the line Saturday morning when they compete at the 2008 Atlantic Sun Championships, located on the grounds of the Georgia Industrial Children's Home. The day starts with the women's race at 9:00 a.m., while the men run one hour later.
ETSU has finished second to the Belmont Bruins in 2005 and 2007, but the Bucs return a strong trio of Kenneth Rotich (Nairobi, Kenya), Jeff Crane (Taylors, S.C.) and Michael Deren (Blasdell, N.Y.). All three earned All-Conference honors in 2007 and Rotich and Deren own two of the six fastest 8K times in the league. In addition to Rotich and Deren, sophomore newcomer Ben Ronoh (Sotik, Kenya) looks to give ETSU a lift up front. Ronoh holds the fifth fastest time in the league, and has been ETSU's number two runner this season.
The Buccaneers ran the championship course in late September at the RunFit Sports Invitational and won the event led by Rotich's winning time of 24:09. This season Rotich picked up three Runner of the Week awards, boosting his career total to six.
While the Bucs are looking to snap Belmont's six-year run as conference champions and claim their first cross country team crown since 1996; Rotich also has his eyes set on winning the individual title for the first time since 1995 (Derek Murphy). However, the Buccaneers will not only be tested by Belmont, but Kennesaw State as well. The Owls' Scott Burley sits atop the conference with the fastest time of 24:01, which was set at Auburn in early October.
The women will kick off the morning with a 5K run, and the Bucs will be led by sophomore twins Terra and Tesha Haggard (Morristown, Tenn.) and freshman Victoria Jones (Marshall, N.C.). Terra and Tesha have guided ETSU across the finish line in four of its five meets this season; while Jones has been a lift for the Buccaneers as a rookie.
Like the Belmont men, the Bruin women's team has been dominating in the A-Sun over the years. Belmont owns six conference titles, winning four straight from 2001-04 as well as the last two. A seventh title would tie the Bruins with Florida International for the most women's team titles. Both Kennesaw State and Jacksonville also look to contend for the conference title in 2008.
For a full recap of the Atlantic Sun Championship, visit www.ETSUBucs.com and www.AtlanticSun.org.