High Point, NC-The Lees-McRae College women’s cross country team looks to repeat as Conference Carolinas Champions, Southeast Region Champions and earn a bid to the NCAA National Meet in 2009. The Lady Bobcats have great expectations as favorites in the women’s cross-country preseason coaches’ poll.

For the Lady Bobcats to continue their success, it will ride on the shoulders of their seniors.  The Lady Bobcat seniors Ashley May, April Harris, Dana Lindholm, Gina Valenti, Kira Shomaker and Carla Swart have finished in the top two of the conference in their three previous years and won the NCAA Southeast Region in the past two years.  Newcomers are transfer Hannah Henderson, freshmen Lindsey Bush and Cinthi Lehner who will look to add the program’s ninth conference title in 12 years.

“Coach Cason and I hope to give these seniors a year to remember and introduce our newcomers to the tradition we have created here in Banner Elk,” Assistant Coach and Athletic Director Craig McPhail said.

Anderson University head cross country coach Randy Greer will be looking for a mix of veterans and gifted newcomers to help lead the way in 2009 as the Lady Trojans claim the second spot in the league preseason poll. “Our team is going to have talent but we are going to be young,” Greer said. “We have to get everyone in and see what they are capable of doing. We certainly have the talent to compete and there is a possibility that we could finish higher than we did last year, depending on the newcomers.”

Whitney Bishoff returns to Anderson as the defending conference individual champion. With the title, Bishoff claimed both the Runner of the Year and Freshman of the Year awards in 2008. Her victory marked the fifth straight year that Anderson won the women's individual conference title.  Bishoff went on to finish third in the NCAA Southeast Regional and recorded AU’s best-ever finish (68th) at the NCAA Division II national meet.

Greer also will be looking for sophomore Kathryn Laird, juniors Chelsea Rogers and Lynne Flint and his freshmen to contribute immediately, “We have several freshmen coming in that are solid runners,” he noted.

Converse College comes back this year aiming for a championship after a second place finish at the conference meet in 2008. Despite the loss of seniors Carrie Powell and Betsy Ruppert who finished 9th and 12th respectively in 2008, the Valkyries will spear into the season led by returning sophomores Brittany Hogue, Samantha Nicholson, and senior Carrie Jackson. Additionally, Converse has added two freshmen talents in Amy Bassett and Elizabeth High who bring new speed and power to the Valkyries’ arsenal.

“I’ve never seen a team of talented young ladies work so closely together through every mile and every turn. The camaraderie and encouragement paired with the team’s mature hard work ethic should carry us far this year,” said head cross country coach Mike Coggins. “We’ve put together a good schedule and I’m excited to see if we can use our early meets to fine tune our racing and find a way to stay sharp throughout the season,” said Coggins.

Queens finished fourth in the poll with St. Andrews fifth followed by Limestone, Pfeiffer, Coker, Erskine Mount Olive, Barton, and Belmont Abbey respectively rounding-out the poll standings.

Conference Carolinas Women's Cross Country Pre-Season Poll   

(# of First Place Votes in Parenthesis)                

     1.  Lees-McRae                  (7)                           116                         

     2.  Anderson                      (2)                           102                         

     3.  Converse                       (1)                           100         

     4.  Queens                          (2)                           90           

     5.  St. Andrews                                                  78           

     6.  Limestone                                                      77           

     7.  Pfeiffer                                                          57           

     8.  Coker                                                            49           

     9.  Erskine                                                          46           

   10.  Mount Olive                                                  31                                     

   11.  Barton                                                           25           

   12.  Belmont Abbey                                             21

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