Cross Country Ready for A-Sun Championships
Oct. 29, 2009
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - With a track-record of 13 combined conference titles in the past eight years, Belmont cross country will look to continue their rich tradition at the 2009 Atlantic Sun Cross Country Championships this Saturday in DeLand, Fla.
The women's 5K race will begin at 8:45 a.m. ET, with the men's 8K competition slated to begin at 9:45 a.m. ET at Sperling Sports Complex.
The women's team will look to win their fourth straight title behind the pace of senior harrier Brittany Thune, the reigning Atlantic Sun individual champion. Thune enters the race in prime form after capturing the Evansville Invitational title in the Bruins' last race, which garnered A-Sun Runner of the Week honors.
"There are athletes that come in and want more, they don't settle, and become as good as they can be," women's head coach Seth Sheridan said. "That is what (Thune) has done. She lifts the whole program and makes everybody better."
Since joining the Atlantic Sun in the fall of 2001, Belmont's women have dominated the Atlantic Sun Championships, winning seven times in their first eight years in the league. The Bruins debuted with four straight titles (2001-04). Following a second-place showing in 2005, the Bruins have taken each of the last three titles. Prior to Belmont joining the league, only one women's program, FIU, won at least three straight A-Sun Championships. The Golden Panthers won five straight, 1990 to 1994.
After coming just short of their eighth-straight title a year ago, the men's team will be hungry to recapture the top-spot in the conference yet again.
"Anything less than a victory means a less-than successful season, so obviously we are going into the meet with a winning mentality," men's head coach Jeff Langdon said. "Last year we were second for the first time in seven years and it was a huge disappointment for everybody. The goal is to win conference."
The Bruins return all-conference performers Hillary Cheruiyot and Kip Hill from last year's second-place squad. Added to the mix are junior transfer Jordan Anderson, who has paced the Bruins in two-of-four races, and freshman Kyle Sullinger. Sullinger will be the lone Belmont newcomer running in the race on Saturday and has proved to be a top-two runner in three-of-four races, leading the Bruins at the Greater Louisville Classic on Oct. 3.
Challenging Belmont will be 2008 A-Sun men's champion, East Tennessee State. In two head-to-head meetings, the Bruins have bested the Buccaneers at the Crimson Classic and at the Greater Louisville Classic. The Bruins hold the lead in the final A-Sun Coaches poll, up eight points on the Buccaneers. Belmont is also coming off their highest USTFCCCA South Region rank of the season, ranked No. 10, with Kennesaw State No. 12, and ETSU No. 13
With the top-three schools vying for championship distinction, the conference as a whole is anticipated to be competitive.
"The middle part of our conference has gotten a lot stronger over the last couple of years and I think we are really going to see it this year," Langdon said. "Historically, 30-points or under has won the conference meet. I think the winning team will score over 40 this year, and that is a tribute to the conference and the depth from other teams. I am expecting a lot more competition in this race than we have ever had before."
Check belmontbruins.com Saturday morning for results as they become available.