BANNER ELK, NC - The 2006 version of Lees-McRae College Cross Country could be one of its most exciting years in recent history. An influx of talent and depth brought on by 12 newcomers has everyone associated with the program optimistic for its future.
"We have addressed all of the areas we felt we needed, talent and depth were crucial, but also were good character, responsible young adults and role model student athletes," said Head Coach Craig McPhail, who is heading into his 8th season at the helm of the cross country teams.
The men's team finished second in the Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference last year with the help of junior Lewis Martin (Charlottesville, VA) as he won the individual crown. This year Martin is a red-shirt as he prepares for indoor and outdoor track and will spend a lot of time mentoring the newcomers.
Some of those he will be offering advice to are Jon Bernal (Oakton, VA), Adam Kovaly (Alpharetta, GA), Chris Holstein (Middleburg, FL), Jose Chavira (Smithfield, NC) and Cody Beaman (Humble, TX).
"I think these five guys could leave a mark on our conference for years to come as they develop into really good college distance runners," McPhail said.
Junior Josh Blanc (Hope Mills, NC) returns with Matt Barrett (Douglasville, GA) and Sebron Jessup (Westfield, NC) to help provide leadership and guidance to the newcomers as well.
"Our schedule is going to give these guys the opportunity to compete against some of the best cross country teams in the southeast at any level, so this should be a fun and exciting year for all of us," McPhail says.
The Bobcats men's squad has garnered the CVAC crown in four of his seven years, with a runner-up position last year. There have been 20 All-CVAC runners in this time and 3 individual champions.
Lees-McRae's first race will be Friday, September 1st at 6:15 p.m. for the men