JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 2, 2019) – For the first time in program history, the ETSU cross country program hosted the Southern Conference Championships, which was held Saturday morning at Pine Oaks Golf Club.
Junior local product Ben Varghese (Kingsport, Tenn.) led the Buccaneer men to a runner-up finish, while the ETSU women’s team placed fourth at the conference meet.
"Overall, I feel like we ran solid races and performed well as the home team," said head coach George Watts. "We only have one senior on each team so I believe we can do even better next year.
"From an administrative point of view we hosted a great event. We had a lot of good help in preparing the course. The coaching staff, Mac Hart, Mark Finucane and some other volunteers put in a full days work on Friday to get the course looking good for today's race. Pine Oaks Golf Club was a great venue and host for the championships. We had a great crowd including our alum, parents and the local community. It was great to see our Athletic Director Scott Carter and Men's Basketball Coach Steve Forbes in attendance and supporting the Cross Country Bucs. I hope we can carry this momentum into the future and and host meets going forward in Johnson City."
The large contingent of Buccaneer supporters on hand during Homecoming weekend saw Varghese place third on the 8K course with a time of 25:09.99 en route to earning first team all-SoCon honors.
A pair of Bucs earned second team honors as Adam Bradtmueller (Sarasota, Fla.) – who was competing in his final SoCon Championship – clocked in at 25:37.35 for an eighth-place nod, marking his third career top-10 finish. For the third straight year Noah Charles (Johnson City, Tenn.) garnered second team honors as he placed 14th with a time of 26:19.29.
Overall, ETSU had its top five runners place in the top-16 with Josh Routh (Johnson City, Tenn.) and Josh Krafsur (Fort Collins, Colo.) finishing back-to-back in 15th and 16th, respectively. Routh registered a mark of 26:24.10, while Krafsur was two seconds behind in 26:26.48. Seth Bowden (Maryville, Tenn.) received all-freshman team honors with a 25th-place finish in 26:57.04.
As a unit, the Blue and Gold totaled 56 points, while Furman – who captured its seventh straight conference title – posted 21 points.
The Paladins were led by senior Ryan Adams as he finished first in 24:40.72.
"The men had a solid outing and although we finished second for the third year in a row," said Watts. "We are, in my opinion getting better each year. I thought we ran well despite having a rough go in our most recent meet. That was a tough one to take and I'm proud of the guys for fighting through it over the last two weeks and performing well today. Ben Varghese continues to shine as he led the team with a third-place finish. He's been our leader on the course the past three years and always performs well in the championships. Adam (Bradtmueller) finished out his cross country eligibility with his best finish ever -- congrats to him. Josh Routh had the best race of his cross country college career. He has ran as our fourth man and just missed making all-conference. I'm proud of him for how he performed today. Like Lindsay Holiday, Seth Bowden earned all-freshmen honors and will only get better."
ETSU women’s team was paced by Heather Feuchtenberger (Elizabethton, Tenn.) as she came in 17th with a time of 19:08.85 and last year’s SoCon Freshman of the Year Shila Kapaya (Knoxville, Tenn.) finished in 21st with a mark of 19:16.14.
Lindsay Holliday (Maryville, Tenn.) collected all-freshman team accolades after finishing 32nd with a time of 19:38.16.
"Our women started off the meet with a strong fourth-place finish," said Watts. "We've been running without our number one runner, Lindsey Stallworth all season, but the women still performed well and really overachieved today without her. The top-five spread was only 30 seconds which is what you hope for in a championship event. We've had three or four different number one runners this season, but Heather has led the way the last two meets and broke into the top 20 for the first time in the SoCon Championship. Congrats to Lindsay Holiday for earning all freshman honors. She has a great future ahead of her."
Wofford’s Hannah Steelman won the individual 5K run in 17:02.08, and Furman captured the team title with 20 points. Samford finished runner-up with 86 points, UNCG placed third (91 points) and ETSU totaled 115 points for a fourth-place finish.
The Bucs now turn their attention to the NCAA South Regional, which will be held Friday, Nov. 15 in Tallahassee.
Follow ETSU cross country on Twitter @ETSU_TF_XC. For more information on Buccaneer men’s and women’s cross country, visit ETSUBucs.com.