SPARTANBURG, S.C. (August 29, 2017) -- ETSU’s cross country teams are expected to be among this year’s top contenders in the Southern Conference.
Both the women’s and men’s teams earned a 1st-place vote, and are tabbed to finish 3rd, in the SoCon’s annual pre-season coaches’ poll released on Tuesday.
“Both teams have a great attitude going into the semester and trained fairly well during the summer,” said ETSU head coach George Watts. “I'm looking forward to the season.”
The coaches picked Furman – which received the other nine 1st-place votes -- to repeat as conference champions, and Samford as the pre-season runner-up. The Paladins, Bulldogs and Bucs finished 1-2-3 in last year’s SoCon Championship meet. Both women’s and men’s polls can be found here.
The Bucs lose Katie Hirko and Victoria Hutchens, their top two finishers at the SoCon Championship and the NCAA South Region meet. But head coach George Watts has a strong group coming back, including senior Macy Carrier (Bluff City, Tenn.), junior Nicki Smith (Urbandale, Iowa) and sophomore Kaitlyn Lay (Knoxville, Tenn.).
At last year’s SoCon Championship, Carrier finished 22nd, Smith 29th, and Lay 31st.
Watts hopes for a comeback season from junior Kylie Rutherford (Lavalette, W. Va.) after injuries slowed her in 2016. Senior Emily Williams-McElroy (Bristol, Tenn.) is back with the team after a year away.
Gone is Simeon Roberts, the Bucs’ top finisher in all six meets last year and a 1st Team All-SoCon honoree after crossing the line 7th at the conference meet.
Leading the returners are junior James Garst (Jonesborough, Tenn.) and sophomore Adam Bradtmueller (Sarasota, Fla.).
Garst finished 17th at last year’s SoCon Championship meet and was the conference’s Freshman of the Year in 2015. Bradtmueller made the SoCon’s All-Freshmen Team after finishing 17th in the conference championship meet.
Also back for the Bucs are seniors Carl Oberfeitinger (Kingsport, Tenn.) and Daniel Sonnenfeldt (Knoxville, Tenn.) and sophomore Nathan Longfellow (Cookeville, Tenn.). Oberfeitinger was 26th at last year’s SoCon Championship, while Sonnenfeldt finished 26th and posted a career-best 8K time.
The Bucs open their 2017 campaign this coming Friday, September 1st, at the Covered Bridge Open, on the Don Kennedy Trails in Boone, N.C. The women’s 5K race begins at 5:00 pm, with the men’s 8K starting at 5:45.
For more information on Buccaneer Cross Country, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the cross country pages. Follow ETSU cross country on Twitter @ETSU_TF_XC