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Montevallo Selected Women’s Cross Country Preseason Favorite

AUGUSTA, GA – The Montevallo women’s cross country team has been selected as the preseason favorite as the Peach Belt Conference released a coaches poll today from the league office in Augusta, Ga.  The Falcons won the 2011 PBC Championship and received nine of a possible 11 first-place votes in the poll and 118 points, 14 ahead of second-place Augusta State.  Clayton State was third in the poll while Columbus State was fourth and UNC Pembroke fifth.  Flagler, Georgia College, USC Aiken, newcomer Young Harris, North Georgia, Francis Marion and Georgia Southwestern rounded out the voting.  Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own teams.

Montevallo won their first PBC Championship in 2011 putting four runners in the top 10, all of whom return for the 2012 season.  Returning senior Haley Evans won the 2011 PBC race and was the team’s top finisher in five of seven runs last season.  Also back is senior Kaley Glover, who was fifth at the conference championships and led the team in their first NCAA Championships appearance.  In-Mi Matsunaga returns for her junior season after finishing seventh at the PBC while sophomore Lauren Recchia was 10th in her first conference meet.

Augusta State finished third at the 2011 PBC Championships and sixth at the NCAA Southeast Regionals.  The Jaguars, who have finished in the top three at the PBC in four of the last five years, hope to break through for their first championship behind sensational sophomore Jessica Carpenter, who finished fourth at the PBC, one of her three top-10s on the year.  Also back is junior Alicia Connolly and sophomore Stephanie Cipollone.

After finishing no higher than fourth for the previous four years, the Clayton State Lakers rose up to finish second at last year’s PBC Championship.  Six of the seven runners in that race are back for 2012 with only one senior, Paige Galvin.  Galvin led the team at the NCAA regionals and finished 12th at the PBC, behind teammate Jessica Smith.  Smith was the team’s top runner in three events last year as a freshman, one of three newcomers who will are all returning for their sophomore seasons.

Columbus State had their run of six straight PBC Championships broken in 2011 as the team finished fifth.  For 2012 six runners return including sisters Moneque and Moneka English, the only two seniors on the squad.  Moneque finished eighth at the PBC Championships last year and was named All-Conference.  Columbus State will have four freshmen on the 2012 roster.

The 2012 PBC women’s cross country landscape has undergone some drastic changes.  The league added Young Harris College as a member of the summer and Mountain Lions will compete in the PBC Cross Country Championship.   The University of North Georgia also brought back their women’s cross country team after a two-year hiatus, giving the league a record 12 competing teams, the most since 1999.

The Peach Belt also welcomed new head coaches.  Brittney Skiles, a former CSU runner and PBC Runner of the Year, takes over at Georgia Southwestern while North Georgia’s Tom Williams returns along with his team.  Williams was the coach when the team disbanded in 2009.  Barry Brown founded the cross country programs at Young Harris in 2006 and will lead them into their first year in the Peach Belt and NCAA Division II.

The 2012 women’s cross country season begins on Aug. 31 and continues through the PBC Championships which will be run on Saturday, Oct. 20, in Montevallo, Ala.  Montevallo will be hosting the PBC meet for the first time.

The preseason poll is listed below.  Teams were given 11 points for a first-place vote, 10 for a second-place and so on.

Rank

Team

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

6th

7th

8th

9th

10th

11th

Total

1. Montevallo 9 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 118
2. Augusta State 1 5 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 104
3. Clayton State 0 4 3 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 96
4. Columbus State 1 2 3 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 94
5. UNC Pembroke 0 0 2 5 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 85
6. Flagler 1 0 0 1 4 4 1 0 0 0 0 76
7. Georgia College 0 0 0 0 1 6 3 1 0 0 0 62
8. USC Aiken 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 4 2 2 0 41
9. Young Harris 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 4 1 1 2 39
10. Francis Marion 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 4 3 2 28
11. North Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 1 3 4 27
12. Georgia Southwestern 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 3 4 22