The 2018-2019 men’s and women’s cross country teams are excited about the upcoming season and are hard at work preparing to tackle this year’s schedule.
This season both teams will compete in five meets, closing out the regular season with the conference championship in Bettendorf, IA. The teams are also looking forward to running in the NCCAA National Championship in early November, which will be held on the campus of College of the Ozarks.
Head coach Clint Woods enters his fourth year at the helm of both the men’s and women’s teams and returns nine of sixteen total runners. Making this season even sweeter, Coach Woods can claim this year’s squad as more of “his own,” as he had a hand in recruiting each runner on the teams.
The women’s team features five strong returnees in sophomores Bethany Edgar and Bethany Marteney, solo senior Naomi Murrell, and the Lady Cats’ two 2017 national qualifiers, junior Hannah Duncan and sophomore Adeline Holder.
“Our returning core put in a lot of hard work over the summer,” commented Woods, “and they head into the season much improved from last year.”
Woods believes his returners will do a great job leading three new freshmen: Aspyn Britt (Gainesville, MO), Alyssa Goth (Clinton, MO), and Mary Zimmerman (McCune, KS). The newcomers join the team following standout careers at smaller high schools. Coach Woods is excited to see how they will respond to running at the collegiate level. Britt was a four-sport athlete at Gainesville High, receiving numerous honors in all sports. On the trail, she was a three-time conference champ, four-time All District awardee, three-time 1st team All-Region awardee, and the first All-State Cross Country athlete at her high school. Goth spent her high school career on the trail and the track, earning All-Conference, All-District, and All-State awards in track and field. She also holds her school record for the sprint medley. Rounding out the newcomers, Zimmerman was a member of the Regional Cross Country and 4x800 meter champion team, setting a Clinton High School record in the 4x800.
The men’s team returns four runners, featuring seniors’ Sam Scaggs and Shane York alongside sophomores Sam Baumer and David Byrd. Each returner was a steady competitor last season, with Baumer having led the way on the course for the Cats and qualifying to run in the 2017 nationals.
“I am looking forward to strong leadership from my returning squad,” stated Woods. “I also anticipate Shane will provide strong guidance, as he has the most experience on the team and does a good job of keeping them motivated.”
The men’s team has an equal number of new talent to balance out the returners, welcoming four newcomers. Mason Apperson (Wheatland, MO), Mucyo Bangerezako (Columbia, MO), Wesley Moore (Poplar Bluff, MO), and Garrett Pierce (Sandpoint, ID) all bring unique and vital experience to this year’s team. Apperson was a three-sport athlete at Wheatland High School, earning All-Conference, All-District, and All-Region honors in cross country. Bangerezako competed in varsity cross country and track and field at Rock Bridge High School. Moore was a member of both the cross country and track teams, being named All-Conference four times in track and once in cross country. Pierce joins the Bobcats with the most experience under his belt. He was the 2017 Regional runner up in cross country and earned the same status in the 1600 meter sprint in his senior season. Pierce resides on the Sandpoint High School’s All-Time Cross Country results list at #18.
The Bobcat and Lady Bobcat returners are looking to focus on improving their personal records, while the new additions will focus on making the adjustment to competing at the collegiate level—particularly the men, who move from the 5K to 8K distance.
Both teams have some challenges set before them. The Lady Cats lost their top runner, Torri Holder, to graduation, so they are eager to see who will step up to fill her role. The Bobcats lost five runners, including seniors Loyal Carpenter and Dameon Davis, depleting their depth.
Despite these changes in personnel, both teams have their sights set on a conference championship, followed by a Top 4 showing at the NCCAA National Championships. They are also focused on building authentic relationships with one another throughout the season, encouraging one another in their sport, their studies, and their faith.
Best wishes to our men’s and women’s cross country teams for 2018!