Elon Cross Country Prepares For SoCon Championships

ELON, N.C. – The Elon University men’s and women’s cross country programs travel to Birmingham, Ala., to compete at the 2013 Southern Conference Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Nov. 2. The meet will be held at Veteran’s Park beginning with the men’s 8K race at 10 a.m. followed by the women’s 5K run at 10:45 a.m.

Both sides face a competitive field at this year’s championships. On the men’s side, defending champion Appalachian State is ranked No. 12 in the latest USTFCCCA Southeast Regional poll, but is four spots behind eighth-ranked and the league’s co-preseason pick Furman. UNCG will also look compete for a championship after being selected as a preseason favorite by the league’s coaches.

The 11-team women’s field also has numerous top teams and individual performers. The Phoenix women were tabbed as the league preseason favorite for the second straight season and is one of three SoCon teams currently ranked in the Southeast Region along with Furman and UNCG. Defending champion Appalachian State will look for its second straight crown after edging the Phoenix by just four points at last season’s SoCon championships.

On the men’s side, junior Luis Vargas looks to better his performance of a year ago where he became the first Elon male to earn first team All-SoCon accolades with a sixth-place finish. The Angier, N.C., native and two-time SoCon Male Runner of the Week was named the league’s Men’s Cross Country Runner of the Month for September on Oct 9.

Senior Ben Perron has had a terrific 2013 campaign and will look to help the Phoenix men earn its top place ever at the SoCon meet. The Southborough, Mass., native ran a new personal-record of 25:15.55 in the men’s 8K race at the Blue Ridge Open in Boone, N.C., on Oct. 18. Also competing on the men’s side will be Nick Schneider, Ari Rotschild, James Stevenson, Ryan Gwaltney and Ian O’Leary.

The Phoenix women have posted solid results throughout the year and will be motivated after such a close margin at last year’s championships. Senior Allyson Oram has had a breakthrough 2013 season, capped with a school-record performance at the NCAA Pre-Nationals. The Marlborough, Mass., native ran a time of 21:34.18 in the 6K race, 33 seconds less than her previous personal-record and breaking the previous program-mark by 17 seconds. Oram was tabbed as the SoCon Women’s Cross Country Runner of the Week on Oct. 9.

Elon will also look for Elyse Bierut, Haylee Dawe, Tereza Novotna and Kaitlin Snapp to make an impact this weekend. Sophomores Bierut and Novotna were the top finishers at last year’s championships and earned a spot on the All-SoCon second team along with Oram. Bierut, Novotna and Snapp were also selected to all-freshman team last season. Rounding out the women’s team this weekend will be Kimberly Johansen, Shelby Cuddeback and Jenny Gallagher.

The top seven individuals in each race will earn first-team All-SoCon accolades. Individual finishers placing eighth through 14th in each race will collect second-team all-conference honors.