Lee favored to repeat GSC titles

Posted 8/25/19

Both Lee University cross country teams are the favorites to repeat their Gulf South Conference championships in the league's preseason polls released this week.

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Lee favored to repeat GSC titles


Both Lee University cross country teams are the favorites to repeat their Gulf South Conference championships in the league's preseason polls released this week.

The Lady Flames received all 12 first place votes they were able to receive on their way to 144 total points in the GSC Women's Cross Country Preseason Coaches Poll.

Alabama Huntsville accumulated 126 points to land in second. Union University received one first place vote and posted 116 points to finish in third, just four points ahead of Montevallo (112). Rounding out the top five is Mississippi College with 97 points.

Lee won its second straight GSC women's cross country championship last season, placing three runners in the Top 10 and a total of five in the Top 20.

Chloe Flora, last year's GSC Runner of the Year, highlights a strong group of returners for the Lady Flames. Flora's time of 17:38 last year was the sixth fastest time in GSC championship history.

Coach Caleb Morgan will be seeking to replace two of his top runners in Amy Carpenter and Logan Hernandez, both lost to graduation. Carpenter was All-GSC First Team and Hernandez Second Team.

Seniors Charlee Boxall, All-GSC First Team, and Becca Umbarger, All-GSC Second Team, will also be expected to help lead the charge to the top. In all, four seniors will be running, plus one junior, two sophomores and two freshmen.

Celine Ritter is a huge recruit for Coach Morgan. She was a DII All-American at University of Mount Olive, North Carolina, with top times — 17:36 5,000m, 4:30 1,500m, 9:53 3k. 

Freshmen Hannah Spooneybarger (18:33 5k, 5:19 mile, 11:26 2 mile) and Olivia McClain (5:19 mile, 11:22 2 mile), as well as Tori Rives, a transfer from North Georgia (5:11 mile), will contribute.

Morgan says he always wants his team, "To be better than we have ever been. This is the best team we have ever lined up, by far on our women's side. We look toward to a three-peat at conference level and want to win the elusive South Region title that escaped us last year."

The Flames received 10 first place votes on their way to claiming the top spot in the 2019 GSC Men's Cross Country Preseason Coaches Poll.

Lee collected 118 total points to outpace Alabama Huntsville's total of 107. The Chargers received one first place vote.

Mississippi College collected the final first place vote and landed at third in the poll with 99 points. Montevallo (89) and West Alabama (75) rounded out the top five.

This past season the cross-country team placed 22nd in the NCAA Division II Nationals. 

Coach Morgan's squad landed six runners on the USTFCCA NCAA DII All-Academic Team. Christian Noble was the South Region Runner of the Year, making history by becoming the Lee men's first NCAA DII Cross Country All-American.

Morgan's cross-country runners and members of the track and field programs have become known as among the nation's best against NCAA Division II competition. He has directed the Lee men's cross-country team to four consecutive Gulf South Conference Championships in its first four years of postseason eligibility.  

The Flames did not lose a runner from the powerful 2018 GSC championship team.

Junior Casey Guthery was runner-up to Noble in the 5k and 10k at the GSC Track & Field Championship.

Junior Caleb Eagleson ran in the No.2 spot most of the season and senior Thomas Kelton is returning after redshirting last fall.

Lee is adding a solid recruiting class with versatile Will Stone comes in with a 15:17 5k XC, 4:15 mile and 9:15 2 mile.

"He should run in the top five as a freshman," said the Lee coach. 

Elias Sandifer brings a 4:17 mile, 1:55 800m to the squad. Jacob Hatcher has established a 4:19 mile and1:56 800m, while Adan Rodriquez features a 9:26 2 mile and 4:22 mile.

"Our men look to win their fifth straight GSC title in a row and win their third South Region title in four years," Morgan related. 

The Flames will travel to Chattanooga, Charlotte and Chicago as they prepare to get ready for the GSC and South Region championships.


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