NEWBERRY – Coming off their best finish of the season in last week’s Jaguar Challenge, the Newberry men’s and women’s cross country teams are poised to compete with some of the best runners in the conference on Saturday morning.
The men’s team finished runner up in the 8K event to host Augusta University on Oct. 14. The women placed third in the 5K event being edged out by Columbia College, and topped by Augusta who received a perfect score of 15.
Newberry will be the host of the 2016 South Atlantic Conference Cross Country Championships, which will be held in Columbia at the Sandhill Research and Education Center.
The men will begin the day with an eight kilometer (4.97 mile) race at 9:00 a.m. Mars Hill is expected to compete for the SAC Championship, winning 18 championships in a row from 1997-2014 and placing 119 runners on all-conference teams throughout the years.
“The Newberry men’s team, under the senior leadership of Connor Roudabush, has improved remarkably over the course of the season,” said Newberry head coach Phil Peterson. “This is a young squad that intends to set the tone for years to come by improving our SAC Championship finishes each year.”
“We look to score well with junior Charlie Cook and sophomore Caleb Bouwkamp leading the team up front. They are augmented by a solid pack of aggressive freshmen, including Quinn Wilson, Shelton Reynolds, Jorge Hernandez, Dric Hatton, and Carlos Hernandez who will all push to finish very close to our leaders.”
Cook led the pack for Newberry for the first time this season in last Friday’s Jaguar Challenge posting a time of 22:36.91.
The women will follow with a five kilometer (3.11 miles) at 10:15 a.m. Wingate has been SAC Champions for the last three years, as well as earning a bid to the NCAA Championships just last season.
“The Newberry women’s team plans to improve their competitive profile this year as well with an improved SAC Championship finish,” added the third year head coach.
“The women are led by freshmen Emily Shuler and Brittani Barratt and by sophomore Michelle Ling. These young ladies have been running extremely well and have shown to be very competitive runners. They are supported by sophomore’s Katy Crout, Alyssa White, Alex Zimmer, and team captain Hayden Francis.”
“The biggest surprise this season has been the emergence of junior Rebecca Burkhart as a solid No. 4 runner, who has lowered her best times by over a minute this year and helped lower the team’s scoring average through her solid pack running.”
Shuler finished seventh in the Jaguar Challenge being the first runner to finish not from Augusta with a time of 20:51.88. The Summerville native has finished first for Newberry in every meet this season.
Parking and admission to the SAC Cross Country Championships are free. Gates at the Sandhill Research and Education Center open Saturday at 7:00 a.m.