ETSU men's cross country selected preseason A-Sun favorite; Women tabbed eighth
Thursday, August 20, 2009

MACON, Ga. (Aug. 20, 2009) - After claiming its first-ever Atlantic Sun title last fall, the ETSU men's cross country team was selected the team to beat this season, as the league office released its 2009 Preseason Coaches Poll on Thursday afternoon. The ETSU women were voted eighth.


The ETSU men's squad received six of the 11 first-place votes and edged out Belmont by two points in the voting -115 to 113. The Bruins, a six-time conference champion (2002-07), brought in four first-place selections. Rounding out the top-3 was Kennesaw State with 99 votes (one first-place tab).


The Bucs, who claimed their 21st overall conference championship in 2008, will be led by Atlantic Sun Runner of the Year, Kenneth Rotich (Nairobi, Kenya). Rotich claimed the A-Sun crown with a time of 24:34 and is also a six-time Runner of the Week recipient. Joining Rotich up front will be his cousin - junior Ben Ronoh (Sotik, Kenya) - who finished second at the A-Sun Championships and is coming off an impressive track and field season.


ETSU has some holes to fill as the Bucs lost all-conference runners Michael Deren (Blasdell, N.Y.) and Jeff Crane (Taylors, S.C.). Both distance runners posted top-10 finishes last year at the championships, but will be replaced by upperclassman in J Penny (Jonesborough, Tenn.) and Manny Gonzalez (Bryan, Ohio). Penny, a 12th place finisher at the 2008 conference meet, is competing in his final season for ETSU; while Gonzalez continues to make huge strides and hopes to give the Bucs a boost in the number-four slot as a junior.


Meanwhile, on the women's side, Belmont continued to solidify the top spot by totaling 118 votes (eight first-place selections). The Bruins, who have won seven of the last eight team championships, beat out Jacksonville. The Dolphins recorded 103 total points and two-first place nods, while Kennesaw State was pegged third with 101 votes (one first-place tally).


The Lady Bucs return only two runners from a year ago, but both student-athletes bring a lot of experience to the table, as junior twin sisters Terra and Tesha Haggard (Morristown, Tenn.) look to guide ETSU in 2009.


ETSU was picked to finish eighth in the pack of 11 teams and received 45 total votes. The Lady Bucs were sandwiched between Campbell (59 votes) and Florida Gulf Coast (38 votes) in the poll.


Stetson will host the 2009 Atlantic Sun Championships on Halloween morning (Oct. 31). The Hatters serve as host for the second time - the last occurred on the same date in 1992. The Hatter Invitational - which the Bucs will compete in on October 16 - will serve as the championship preview meet.


The Buccaneer cross country program kicks off the 2009 season on Friday, Sept. 4, when ETSU competes in the Covered Bridge Open in Boone, N.C.


For more information on Buccaneer cross country, visit