Spring Hill College Men's & Women's Cross Country enters a new era this year as Craig McVey assumes the reins as head coach of both teams after a successful debut in 2012-2013 as the first Outdoor Track & Field head coach in school history. He enters his first cross country season at SHC with confidence. "Everyone did well with training at our preseason camp this summer and through the start of regular practice sessions," he says. "We are a very young team on the men's side, but our freshmen will add depth to our squad especially as we transition into a NCAA Division II program [in 2014]."
The Badger men's team will be paced by sophomore Jordan Travis of Poplarville, Miss., who won accolades as a member of both the Southern States Athletic Conference All-Conference and All-Freshman teams last season. Sophomore Brennan McLean of Baton Rouge, La., and juniors John Russell from Cullman, Ala., and Conner Kirkikus of Kenner, La., will also be top performers for SHC this season.
Sophomores Conner Bueche of Baton Rouge, Patrick Lameka of Chicago, Ill., and Phillip Travis all ran well in their premier seasons in 2012 and look to make major strides this season. The freshmen class is four runners deep and has been impressive in the early workouts with newcomers Andrew Pettus of New Orleans, La., Seamus Russell of Cullman, Brennan Sigue from Lafayette, La., and Alex Vaporciyan of Houston, Texas, each have promising careers in front of them.
On the other side of the coin, the Badger women's team is deep in experience with seniors runner Emily Dolan of Mobile, Anna DeWine from Cedarville, Ohio, and Claire Stewart of Mt. Juliet, Tenn., each having run in 20 or more events for Spring Hill over the past three seasons. Dolan earned SSAC All-Conference Team honors as a junior in 2012.
"I'm proud of what our upperclassmen ladies are accomplishing as we prepare, but our freshmen are also providing us the depth that we lacked last year on the women's side," says McVey. The three seniors will be joined by two sophomore runners in Katie Dolan and Anna Gable both hailing from McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in Mobile who saw limited action last season, but are ready to contribute in 2013. The freshmen consist of four racers in Jayde Frichter of Mobile, Holly Gibbens from Hendersonville, Tenn., Amie Gilbert of Baton Rouge and Alexis Mogil of Oxford, Ala.
"We have a great opportunity to send two women and two men to the NAIA National Championships at the University of Kansas this year," says McVey. "Quite frankly, we are in a building mode for the next two years, but our effort and mentality are great. While we have some growing to do as teams and as individuals, we'll race hard and we'll race smart."
The Badgers will open the 2013 season this Saturday morning in Metairie at the Loyola University Wolf Pack Invitational in Lafreniere Park with the women starting at 7:50 a.m. and the men's gun sounding at 8:25 a.m.