College of the Ozarks men’s and women’s cross country teams are eager to take to the trails for their 2019 season, which is set to open September 7th at the Central Arkansas Challenge in Conway, Arkansas. This will be the first of five regular-season meets, culminating in Lawrence, Kansas for the A.I.I. Conference Championship.
On November 16th, College of the Ozarks will once again have the honor of hosting the NCCAA DI & DII Men’s and Women’s Cross Country National Championships, in which both the C of O men’s and women’s teams will participate.
Despite losing an outstanding trio of seniors in Sam Scaggs, Shane York, and Naomi Murrell, fifth-year Head Coach Clint Woods is excited about the mix of returning runners and freshman recruits.
“Since we are a fairly young team, it has been great to see new leaders rise up and warmly welcome the new recruits,” stated Woods. “I have been very impressed with the work-ethic demonstrated over the summer months by this group of freshman and how quickly our team has begun pushing each other toward improvement.”
The women’s team has five returners, featuring sophomores Alyssa Goth and Mary Zimmerman, juniors Bethany Marteney and Adeline Holder, and their lone senior, Hannah Duncan.
Duncan, a two-time All-Conference runner has embraced the leadership role stating, “I am so excited to encourage my fellow Bobcats and challenge them to meet their goals.”
Duncan is no stranger to setting and meeting goals, as she has competed two times in the NAIA National Championships and last season set a 5K personal record of 19:42.
Two other decorated Lady Bobcat leaders include juniors Bethany Marteney and Adeline Holder. Marteney earned All-Conference honors last season, setting a 5K personal record of 19:38. Holder was named 2018 A.I.I. Women’s Cross Country Runner of the Year and worked hard to earn her way to the NAIA National Championship.
Rounding out the team are incoming freshmen Rachel Myrick (Blue Springs, Mo.), Abigayle Money (Buncombe, Ill.), and high school standout Janelle Staal (Central City, Iowa).
Staal has competed in seven state cross country and track meets and holds personal records of 19:20 and 4:59 in the 5K and 1500M respectively.
Despite competing only recreationally thus far, Abigayle Money has posted some impressive times in the 10K and half-marathon at 43:53 and 1 hour and 45 minutes respectively. After contacting Coach Woods via email to express interest, Money has worked tirelessly this summer to get ready for collegiate competition. Woods looks for her to compete quickly for a top spot as a freshman due to her “incredible internal motivation.”
Rachel Myrick was a gritty hard-working multi-sport athlete in high school, playing both field hockey and running cross country. Working to overcome an injury and subsequent foot surgery, Rachel hopes to gain experience this season while contributing a good attitude and work ethic.
The men’s team returns six runners including juniors David Byrd and Samuel Baumer, alongside sophomores Mason Apperson, Mucyo Bangerezako, Wesley Moore, and Garrett Pierce.
“I am excited to see Sam Baumer and Garrett Pierce step into leadership roles this season,” Coach Woods stated.
Baumer has been an outstanding runner for the Bobcats, qualifying for NAIA Nationals the last two years. Last season, he was received A.I.I. Runner of the Week honors and was named A.I.I. Men’s Cross Country Runner of the Year. Pierce, now entering his sophomore campaign, was named First Team All-Conference as a freshman and set a personal record of 26:53 in the men’s 8K.
The Bobcats welcome five new runners: Luke Morrison (Waynesville, Mo.), Noah Rutledge (Fair Play, Mo.), Aaron Walker (Gentry, Ark.), Cole Jackson (Cassville, Mo.), and Adin Hiebsch (Branson, Mo.).
Morrison served as team captain of his high school cross country team and received All-Conference and All-District honors. Ruteldge was a two-sport athlete earning All-Conference and All-State honors in Cross Country. Walker competed in soccer, track, and cross-country in high school, placing seventh in the state mile competition and setting school records for both the 800-meter individual and relay events. Jackson was team captain of his high school cross country team, where he recorded a personal record of 17:51 in the 5K. Hiebsch rounds out the newcomers and brings home-grown talent from the School of the Ozarks cross-country program.
With such a great mix of strong returners and promising new recruits, the Bobcat and Lady Bobcats have their sights set high this year.
Coach Woods summarized, “As a team, our goal is to win conference and earn an automatic berth to the NAIA National Championship. It will be particularly sweet if we can accomplish that goal this year, since the conference meet is being held at Haskell.”
Best wishes to the Bobcat and Lady Bobcat Cross Country teams for a successful 2019 season!