2007 Cross Country Preview
STATESBORO, Ga. Georgia Southern track & field and cross country Head Coach Natalie Smith enters her second season at the helm with hopes that the recent success in track and field will carry over into cross country.
The 2007 season officially kicks off this Friday at the Gamecock Invitational in Columbia, S.C.
The Eagles are coming off a Southern Conference Championship, where Smith was recognized as the 2007 SoCon Track and Field Coach of the Year. Smith hopes to begin the process of building the cross country and distance programs to achieve the levels of success that the track & field program has experienced in recent years.
“After winning a SoCon Championship in track and field last year that became my next goal as a head coach,” said Smith.
With her first recruiting class under her belt and a trio of returnees, Smith feels confident going into the season.
“These ladies have a strong sense of pride and a will to succeed.” Smith who was hired in August of 2006 will finally have her chance to develop the distance runners into a dynamic group destined for success.
The returnees have a lot of experience and bring valuable leadership to a handful of newcomers. Senior Abby Bloom (Snellville, GA) paves the way as she is the lone senior. Last season, Bloom was the first Eagle runner to cross the finish line in five of six races. She improved her personal best 5K time to 18:48.06, achieved at the Auburn Invitational, which stands as the third best time in GSU history. “Abby is one of those athletes that every coach dreams of,” said Smith. “She works extremely hard in athletics, but all the more in academics.”
Sophomores Laura Fuller (Cartersville, GA) and Kellie Wesson (Douglasville, GA) will be looked up to for guidance and leadership as they’re the only other returnees after Bloom. Fuller was the only freshman to compete in every meet for the Eagles last year. She was also the second Eagle runner to finish in five of six meets and was the first Eagle to cross the finish line at the Crimson Classic. Wesson ran in three meets last season and achieved a season best time at the Auburn Invitational finishing the 5K race in 20:58.93.
Junior Shauntel Jennings (Stone Mountain, GA) comes over from the track and field program and will become an immediate impact. Jennings set a personal best in the 800M with a time of 2:21.23 last spring for the Eagles track and field team.
Sophomores Meredith Lee (Kennesaw, GA) and Katie Abercrombie (Newnan, GA) and freshmen Kassi Lee (Elberton, GA) and Caitlin Coakley (Lawrenceville, GA) will add depth to the Eagles roster that will look to contend in the Southern Conference. “Naturally the newcomers bring depth to this year's team, but it also brings in young ladies that really have a will to succeed, and they strive to help build this program in a positive way,” said Smith. “Having depth puts you in a position to have people really step up and when each individual steps up it can only affect the team in a positive way.”
- Category: Cross Country
- Published on Thursday, 30 August 2007 13:19