January 4, 2012

Women’s Cross Country Looking Towards Bright Future

Contact: David Beall, jdbeall@northgeorgia.edu

DAHLONEGA, GA – Following an announcement in late October that North Georgia would welcome women's cross country back to the Department of Athletics in 2012, anticipation has never been higher as the Lady Saints are eight months away from making their debut once again.

"I am excited that we are able to reinstate the women's cross country team at North Georgia in 2012," said Dr. Bonita Jacobs, president of North Georgia College & State University.

Reinstatement of a team that was previously eliminated due to funding constraints is a positive step forward for the athletics program at North Georgia and was an issue that Jacobs addressed in the first few months of her presidency. 

"A competitive athletics program is an important part of providing a full college experience, and it is important part of my presidency to ensure that we increase the opportunities we provide for female athletes when possible and as appropriate," said Jacobs, who became the university's first female president in July.

Tom Williams will return as the head coach after serving at the helm of the program during the 2009 season, where he led the Lady Saints to a sixth place finish in the Peach Belt Conference Championships.

"The running community and the student body are excited that women's cross country is back at North Georgia," head coach Tom Williams said. 

Before coming to North Georgia to lead the cross country program, Williams was a legendary coach at Walton High School for 20 years and led his teams to 14 State Championship appearances. 

"I am thrilled to lead the program again.  I am looking forward to coaching student athletes who will excel in the classroom as well as athletically. The cross country team will represent North Georgia well within the Peach Belt Conference."

Women's cross country at North Georgia has seen plenty of success at the NCAA Division II level and the Peach Belt Conference since joining the league in 2005. In their first year of competition, Irina Watkins smoked the field and captured the PBC Individual Championship to earn Most Outstanding Runner honors during her senior year.

The Lady Saints then placed individuals on the All-Conference team for three straight years from 2007-2009 during their finals years before eliminating the program. Emmy Lawalin garnered All-PBC honors in 2007, followed by Katie Vance who excelled with back-to-back All-Conference performances in 2008 and in her final season in 2009 under the direction of current head coach Tom Williams.

Current North Georgia students or individuals who are interesting in being apart of the exciting future of Lady Saints cross country should click here to fill out a recruiting questionnaire.

The department of athletics at North Georgia entered the NCAA at the Division II level in the summer of 2005 and currently competes in the Peach Belt Conference (PBC), a league that is home to 30 National Championships.