SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Oct. 29, 2010) - The first Atlantic Sun Conference Champions of the 2010-11 academic year will be decided on Saturday as the conference's top runners head to Spartanburg, S.C., for the Cross Country Championships.
The Bucs, who have seen Kenneth Rotich (Nairobi, Kenya) claim the last two individual conference championships on the men's side, will be familiar with the course as ETSU competed on the same terrain two weeks ago at the USC Upstate Invite. Unfortunately, Rotich is no longer with the men's squad after graduating last May, and his cousin Ben Ronoh (Sotik, Kenya) will be the Bucs' threat to claim a third straight individual crown. Ronoh finished second behind USC Upstate's Gilbert Kembio at the preview meet back on Oct. 16.
As a team, ETSU won the 2008 A-Sun title after defeating in-state rival Belmont by six points; however, Kennesaw State dethroned the Bucs last year down in DeLand, Fla. The Owls captured their first-ever cross country title by recording 40 points, while ETSU placed second with 82.
Once again Kennesaw State enters as the favorite since the Owls led wire-to-wire in the coaches' poll throughout the entire season. Kennesaw State picked up 10 of the 11 first-place votes, while Belmont jumped ahead of USC Upstate for second.
Meanwhile, on the women's side, senior leader Caitlyn Epps (Cookeville, Tenn.) will guide the Lady Bucs on Saturday morning. Epps paced ETSU all season and the Cookeville, Tenn. native is coming off 17th-place effort in Spartanburg, S.C. two weeks ago. In addition, freshman local product Kayla Kuziola (Johnson City) placed 22nd overall at the USC Upstate Invite.
Jacksonville, the reigning conference champion, enters the meet as the top team. The Dolphins won the 2009 championship as they put a stop to Belmontâ€™s three-year run at the top.
The women's 5K race begins at 9 a.m., while the men begin their 8K run at 10 a.m.
For a full recap and results of the A-Sun Championship, visit ETSUBucs.com on Saturday.