Winthrop’s 2013 cross country season gets underway on Friday when the Eagle men and women travel to Cullowhee, N.C., for the Western Carolina Invitational.
“The meet should be baptism by fire for both teams,” said Winthrop head coach Ben Paxton. “We will be running against some very strong competition, led by the Florida Gators who are nationally ranked in both men and women and are preseason No. 2 in both Southeastern Conference polls. We are looking forward to having our teams run as a pack and put in solid early season efforts.”
Winthrop’s women, who have been picked to finish fourth in the annual poll of Big South Conference head coaches, return a veteran squad led by senior Jeanne Stroud (Charleston, S.C.) who is a Big South Runner of the Year candidate who finished second last year in the conference championship meet and capped her junior year by earning the Most Outstanding Performer Award at the 2013 Big South Outdoor Track and Field Championships. She will get strong support from junior Tristan Langley (Belmont, Nova Scotia, Canada) and senior Shayna Jenkins (Columbia, S.C.).
The Winthrop men, who are predicted to finish seventh in the conference, should be much improved from a year ago as it will have a pair of redshirts in senior AJ Fitzsimmons (Charleston, S.C.) and junior Gabe Holguin (Panama City, Fla.) returning after sitting out the 2012 season. Paxton will also have redshirt juniors Drew Harris (Lexington, S.C.) and Steve Rivard (Charleston, S.C.) and sophomore Colby Coulter (Lexington, S.C.) back to give the Eagles good depth.
The Liberty men’s and women’s cross country squads have been chosen to capture the 2013 Big South championships and earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals.
The Winthrop women received 102 votes to finish behind Liberty (134), High Point (130) and Coastal Carolina (128). The Lady Eagles finished ahead of Campbell and Asheville who tied for fifth place with 85 points.
Liberty, which is looking to win its ninth-straight Big South men’s title, was a unanimous selection as the Flames finished with 144 points from the panel. High Point claimed the No. 2 spot in the poll with 131 points. In third was Campbell with 111 points and VMI was fourth with 99 points. At the No. 5 position was Coastal Carolina with 94 points, ahead of UNC Asheville’s 85 points. Winthrop’s 83 points were good for seventh.