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Augusta State Chosen as Women’s Cross Country Preseason Favorite

AUGUSTA, GA – For the first time, the Augusta State women’s cross country team has been selected as the preseason favorite to win the PBC Championship in a poll of the league’s head coaches released on Thursday.  The Lady Jaguars received three first-place votes and five second-place votes for a 72 point total, edging out perennial power Columbus State who was second with 63 points.  Clayton State was third in the voting with UNC Pembroke fourth and Georgia College fifth.  Montevallo, Flagler, Georgia Southwestern,  and a tie between USC Aiken and Francis Marion rounded out the voting.

Augusta State’s selection as the preseason favorite marks the first time a team other than Columbus State has been the preseason choice since the poll began in 2007.  The Lady Jaguars have grown the program into contenders with second-place finishes at the PBC Championships in three of the last four years, including 2010.  After reaching the NCAA National Championships in 2009 and finishing fourth at the NCAA Regionals last year, the Lady Jags return Lyndsay Nichols, Alicia Connolly and Angela Woodward, all of whom finished in the top 20 at last year’s PBC Championships.  ASU will have to contend with the loss of Holly Keeper and Claudia Nunez-Lopez, who were All-Conference performers a year ago.

Columbus State won their sixth consecutive PBC Championship at the 2010 event, the second-longest title streak in PBC women’s cross country history.  CSU finished third at last year’s NCAA regionals, but the 2011 team will have a much different look following the graduation of seniors Brittney Skiles, Naomi Tanui and Ashley Arnold.  Returning for the Cougars is sophomore Caroline Rotich, who finished ninth at last year’s PBC Championship, and the sister team of Moneque and Moneka English, both coming back for their junior seasons.

Clayton State finished fourth at the 2010 PBC Championships for the second year in a row, but had a seventh-place finish in the 28-team field at the NCAA regional.  The Lakers will be paced by senior Kourtney Aylor, who was the team’s top finisher at both the PBC and NCAA events.  Junior Paige Galvin had a top-20 finish at the PBC.  Samantha Walling and Gisele Javois also return for the 2011 season.

UNC Pembroke finished third at last year’s PBC Championship, their best result since 2005.  The Lady Braves, who also finished eighth at the NCAA Regionals, will be led by All-Conference senior Livia Mahaffie who was the team’s top finisher at both the PBC and NCAA races.  Junior Annette Sem and sophomore Ashlee Doughty also return from last year’s squad.

The 2011 women’s cross country season begins on Sept. 2 and concludes on Oct. 22 at the PBC Championships which will be run at USC Aiken.

The full coaches’ poll is below.  Teams were given nine points for a first-place vote, eight for a second and so on.  Coaches were not permitted to rank their own teams.

 

Team

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

6th

7th

8th

9th

Total

1. Augusta State
3 5 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 72
2. Columbus State 4 1 2 0 0 0 1 1 0 63
3. Clayton State 0 2 3 3 0 1 0 0 0 59
4. UNC Pembroke 1 1 1 4 1 0 0 0 1 54
5. Georgia College 0 0 2 1 5 0 1 0 0 48
6. Montevallo 0 0 0 2 3 2 1 1 0 40
7. Flagler 1 0 0 0 0 4 2 2 0 35
8. Georgia Southwestern 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 4 2 29
t9. Francis Marion 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 5 25
t9. USC Aiken 0 0 0 0 0 3 3 1 2 25