Cross country teams prepare for season
Both cross country teams start with a home opener on Aug. 31 at 6 p.m.
This year, the women’s team is ranked seventh in the preseason coach’s poll, the same position the team finished in the Peach Belt Conference championship last October. The women’s team is returning a high number of runners, losing only one from last year’s team.
Senior runner Victoria Dobson says all of the returning athletes will have a big impact on the team’s season.
“Experience is a very big advantage we have,” Dobson said. “Learning from last season and knowing how hard to train in the off-season was huge for this year.”
Allison Lones looks to repeat last season’s great success, since she became the first woman to be named to the All-Region team in Georgia College’s history last season.
In his 13th season as coach, Joe Samprone believes that this year’s women’s team is even better than last season’s.
“Practices have shown great potential for this upcoming season. The returners have stepped up and the new runners challenge the veterans, improving the quality of everyone,” Samprone said.
The coach has high hopes for the team this year, looking to qualify for nationals for the first time in school history.
The men’s team finds themselves in almost the complete opposite situation as the women, losing four of the top five runners from last season’s team.
The transition for the four incoming freshmen on the team – Paul McNeil, James Ryden, Michael Ziegler and Dylan Price – will be difficult, according to Samprone. There is a large transition from high school cross country, where a race is only 5 kilometers, but in college the distance is 8 kilometers.
Despite the newcomers’ inexperience, the team was still selected sixth in the preseason coach’s poll.
“The freshmen have really pushed the upperclassmen to work harder,” Philip Laskey, one of the three returning runners said. “They came to practice well-conditioned and they raise the level of everyone around them.”
The team is planning to learn their way around the race in the first five meets in order to be in the best mental and physical shape before the PBC Championships.
“I’ve been very pleased with the way the newcomers arrived for practice,” Samprone said. “We have a talented bunch of freshmen and we’re looking for a few competitors for Freshman of the Year.”
All in all, the team looks to improve on last year’s fifth place finish in the PBC.
The Bobcat Invitational is the only home meet the cross country teams run this season. It is also one of the first opportunities fans have to earn points for the new LOYALTIVA Bobcat Fan Rewards system.