September 5, 2013

Women's Cross Country Team Looking For Longer Strides In 2013

DAHLONEGA, Georgia - (UNGAthletics.com) - After restarting the program from the ground up in 2012, head coach Tom Williams is looking to continue his program's quick rise to the top in 2013.  The veteran cross country coach adds nine runners to an experienced group of eight returning harriers and looks to make a splash in both the Peach Belt and national scenes in 2013.

In the annual PBC preseason coaches poll UNG was picked to finish ninth out of 12 teams finishing ahead of Georgia Southwestern, USC-Aiken and Francis Marion in the voting.  The Nighthawks will look for a repeat of 2012 when UNG was voted to finish 11th in the preseason poll but responded to finish three spots better at eighth. 

"After not losing a large volume of runners off last year's roster which showed vast improvement from the beginning to the end, I am anticipating that in our second year we can post an improved finish in the always competitive Peach Belt Conference," stated Williams.  "I am hoping that being picked to finish ninth in the preseason poll serves as bulletin board motivation for the team."

Headlining the list of returns for Coach Williams is sophomore standout Emily Buesse.  The Dawsonville, Ga. native scored in all seven meets last season highlighted by a 12th place finish at the PBC Championships which earned her second team All-Conference honors. Buesse recorded team-best times in both 5K (19:41 – JSU Invitational) and 6K (23:22 – PBC Championship) races a year ago.  Megan Anstett, Sallie Davis, Emily Roemer and Lexi Miller also return to the roster after placing in all seven meets in the inaugural season for the Nighthawks.

"I have a clear expectation of increased leadership from the returning letter winners.  Our training depends on having the older, experienced runners teach the younger runners.  So far, I have been very pleased with the early season leadership and, more importantly, their acceptance of the new role.  The returners have done a good job of understanding that although cross country is an individual sport we have a strong emphasis on the team aspect here at North Georgia."

To compliment the returning roster, Coach Williams added true freshman Caitlin Connell, Taylor Long, Mollie Shaw, Ellie Tanner, Jessica Ursprung, and Ashley Varnson. The additions also include three runners that are transfers: Brianna Moring (Erskine), Alyssa Sale (Brenau) and Maggie Tindol (University of Georgia).

"For freshman the first year of collegiate running is a learning experience as they must learn how to be successful transitioning from a high school framework to a college setting and a different coaching perspective.  With the transfers there is an added element of experience and it should blend with the returners.  The increased competitiveness has inhibited better training partnerships which will only improve us collectively as a team." 

UNG opens the 2013 ledger on September 7 when the Nighthawks travel to Americus, Ga. to take part in the 3rd Annual GSW Remembrance Run.  The team return to Americus in late October as Georgia Southwestern serves as the host of the 2013 PBC Championship meet.