ASU Second In PBC Preseason Poll
AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Augusta State women's cross country squad was picked to finish second Wednesday in the Peach Belt Conference preseason coaches poll, according to an announcement from the conference office.
The Lady Jaguars, who finished third at the 2011 PBC Championships and sixth at the NCAA Southeast Regional, have finished in the top three at the PBC in four of the last five years. Sophomore Jessica Carpenter was fourth at the PBC for one of her three top-10 finishes and was a first-team, all-conference selection as a freshman. Junior Alicia Connolly earned NCAA All-Southeast Region honors and sophomore Stephanie Cippolone also returns for ASU.
Montevallo was selected as the league's preseason favorite. 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 ASU.
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 its first conference title in 2011 by putting four runners in the top 10, all of whom return for the 2012 season. Senior Haley Evans won the 2011 PBC race and was the team's top finisher in five of seven events last season. After finishing no higher than fourth in for the previous four seasons, Clayton State opened eyes by taking second at last year's PBC meet. Six of the seven runners in that race are back for 2012 with only one senior, Paige Galvin.
Columbus State had its run of six straight PBC Championships broken in 2011 as the team finished fifth. Six runners return in 2012, including sisters Moneque and Moneka English, the only two seniors on thesquad. Moneque finished eighth at the PBC Championships last year and was named All-Conference.
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. 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.