CHAPIN, S.C. - The 2008 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference men's and women's cross country championship takes place Saturday at Crooked Creek Park in Chapin, S.C.
The men's championship race will start at 9 a.m., with the women's championship race starting at 10:15 a.m. Newberry College is hosting this year's event.
The Mars Hill College men are the defending champions and are the top-ranked team in the Southeast Region. The Lions, who are ranked fourth in the Southeast Region, have won the conference championship for 11 consecutive years.
The Lions return seven All-Conference runners from last season, including sophomore Justin Baker, who was the top Mars Hill finisher at the Blude Ridge Open, and sophomore Trey McCain had a 10th-place finish at the Wingate Invitational. Newcomer Joel Barnett had a third-place finish at the Eye Opener Meet.
Wingate University is ranked fifth in the region and could challenge Mars Hill's championship streak. The Bulldogs return last year's Runner of the Year in Jayce Watson, who has won four races this season and has been named SAC Men's Runner of the Week five times this year. The Bulldogs prepared for this weekend's championship by hosting the Wingate Pre-Conference Invitational last week, and placed six runners in the top 10, including junior David Sanctis, who was third, freshman Tesfom Mehari, who placed fourth, and Doug Coats, who crossed the line in fifth place.
The Lenoir-Rhyne University men are ranked ninth in the latest region poll. Freshman Jake Maidens has been one of the top runners for the Bears this season. He finished second at the Lenoir-Rhyne Invitational and third at The Citadel Invitational.
Other top men's runners include Tusculum's Simon Holzapfel, who has won two individual titles of the season and established a school record time at the Lenoir-Rhyne Invitational; Catawba's Chris Haney, who had a ninth-place finish at the Limestone Invitational; Lincoln Memorial's Mark Paulson, who had a ninth-place finish at The Citadel Invitational and was second team All-Conference in 2007; Carson-Newman's Jonathan Madden, who was sixth at the Belmont Abbey Invitational; and Newberry's Brad House, who had a 19th-place finish at the Augusta State Invitational.
The Wingate University women are the defending champions and are led by Amber Hines, who won the conference race in 2006 and finished third last year. Senior Ashley Hubbard and sophomore Alicia Harbold, both All-Conference runners last season, are back for the Bulldogs, who are ranked fifth in the latest region rankings.
The Lenoir-Rhyne University women are the region's fourth-ranked team and are led by three-time All-Conference performer Gennilee Eisenmann, who was third in last year's conference meet. Freshman Tiffany Payne has been the Bears' number two runner this season. In the only meet Wingate and Lenoir-Rhyne have competed together this season, Lenoir-Rhyne won the Eye Opener meet early in the season, while Wingate was third.
The Carson-Newman women return defending SAC Runner of the Year Aubrey Morris, who has four SAC Runner of the Week honors this season. She has won five races this season.
Mars Hill returns Hannah Moore, an All-Conference runner last season, while freshman Angela Woodward has been one of Mars Hill's top finishers this season.
Other top women's runners include Brevard's Alycia Andrade, who was named SAC Runner of the Week last week after capturing the women's title at the Wingate Pre-Conference Invitational.; Catawaba's Maleah Cole, an All-Conference finisher last season; Catawba freshman Olivia Jacobs, who set a school record time by winning the Limestone Invitational; Tusculum;s Alicja Dembna, an All-Conference performer in 2007; Heather Warren, who has been Newberry's top finisher all season; and Lincoln Memorial University freshman Sofia Mimendi.