Cross Country Set To Open 2010 Season
Sept. 2, 2010
GREENVILLE, N.C. – The East Carolina men’s and women’s cross country teams open the 2010 season Friday afternoon at the Covered Bridge Open in Boone, N.C. Both squads have high expectations as the top runners return and a new crop of talented individuals are set to make their Pirate debuts.
On the men’s side, sophomore Dillon Hawley returns after being named the team’s most valuable runner and top freshman in 2009. He turned in four top-10 finishes and placed in the top 20 at six of ECU’s seven meets. He also recorded the seventh-best 8K (24:44/Great American Cross Country Festival) and fourth-best 10K (31:29.19/NCAA Southeast Regional) times in program history.
Hawley will be pushed near the top by 2008 Conference USA Freshman-of-the-Year and second-team all-league selection Zack Montijo, who turned in a trio of top-15 finishes a season ago. Talented sophomores Grant Burress and Cory Hampshire will also look to challenge for the top spot after strong debuts. Burress placed 25th at the Conference USA Championship with a personal-best 8K time of 26:20.5 and checked in 13th overall with a time of 15:53.98 in the 5K Seahawk Invitational. Hampshire came in second on the team and sixth overall at the Seahawk Invitational (15:35.27) and placed fifth out of 40 at the 8K ECU Pirate Invitational (26:21).
Junior Edrian Murray and sophomore Antonio Palmer round out the returning runners for the men. Murray competed in four meets a season ago, posting career-best times in the 5K (16:41.11/Seahawk Invitational) and 8K (27:06/Great American Cross Country Festival). That 8K mark was more than three minutes better than his 2008 top time. Palmer ran in the first five meets of the season, with a top overall finish of 14th at the ECU Pirate Invitational (27:50).
The men bring four newcomers on board, led by freshman Chase Miller. While at Wilkes Central High School, Miller won the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2A State Championship as a senior with a time of 16:35.93 in the 5K, beating the second-place finisher by more than 11 seconds. During his final two track seasons, he claimed the 2A regional and state championships in the 1,600 and 3,200-meter events, including posting a personal-best time of 4:28.28 in the 1,600 as a senior.
Greenville native and D.H. Conley High School graduate Mark Poczontek joins the team after coming in 73rd at the state cross country meet as a senior and 11th in the regional. Daniel Porter, a transfer from the University of Tennessee, will add experience to a young roster. Porter ran in three 8K meets for the Volunteers during 2009, with his highest placement of 47th at the Colonial Inter-Regional Challenge (27:49.5). Completing the squad is Jakub Trzasalski, who won the 2009 Polish Junior Nationals championship in the 800 meters with a time of 1:51.06. Trzasalski was also the 2009 Indoor Champion of Poland in the 800 meters with a time of 1:53.67.
For the ECU women, expectations are high as the top three runners are back. After redshirting in 2009, senior Nicole Briggs and junior Brittany Copeland join junior Tara Wilson as the leaders of the squad that returns seven other runners and adds eight freshmen.
During her final two meets of 2008, Briggs turned in a career-best 5K time of 18:32 at the Conference USA Championship, good for 29th-place. She then came in 46th at the 6K NCAA Southeast Regional with a time of 22:12.8, the 10th-best mark in program history. Copeland was even more impressive, earning Second-Team All-Conference USA honors after finishing in 14th-place with a career-best, and program fourth-best, 17:45 mark at the C-USA Championship. She followed up that effort by placing 17th at the NCAA Southeast Regional with a 21:31 mark, the second-best 6K in the ECU record books.
Last season, without Briggs or Copeland, Wilson filled the void and earned the team’s most valuable runner award. She paced the Pirates during their final three meets, turning in the 12th (22:17.43/NCAA Southeast Regional) and 18th-best (22:44/Penn State Nationals) 6K times in program history. She also jumped 22 spots from her 2008 finish at the Conference USA Championship to come in 23rd (19:23.3).
Wilson’s classmate Amanda Lapp also stepped up in 2009, running all seven meets and finishing no lower than third on the squad. Her time of 19:02 in the 5K at the ECU Pirate Invitational was good for a career-best second-place overall finish. Later, Lapp made a 25-spot improvement at the Conference USA Championship, placing 35th with a time of 19:50.8.
Adding experience and depth to the team are junior Andrea Barletta and senior Lisa DeLorenzo. Barletta participated in all seven of the squad’s races in 2009, turning in her highest placement of the season, 11th, at the ECU Pirate Invitational (20:51). DeLorenzo had her best year for the Pirates, posting career-best times in the 5K (19:59/Great American Cross Country Festival) and 6K (24:33.72/NCAA Southeast Regional).
A quartet of sophomores also return to the fold for ECU. Kirstin Anderson ran in three meets a year ago while Britney Kott participated in two. Stacey Gonzalez and Brooke Kott each took part in all seven of the team’s races with Brooke Kott earning the Pirates’ top freshman award. Gonzalez helped the women claim the ECU Pirate Invitational title with a fifth-place showing and time of 19:29. In Brooke Kott’s C-USA Championship debut, she ran a 20:37.3 5K to claim 57th place and followed up that performance with a season-best 6K of 23:13.28 (137th place) at the NCAA Southeast Regional.
Michelle Bailey, Kaylee Bythell, Stefanie Fresenius, Chelsea Hollingsworth, Kelley Miko, Bjork Olsen, Olivia Slate and Amanda Tomlin are all looking to make an impact for the Pirates during the first seasons in Greenville.
Bythell participated in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Group 2 cross country, indoor track and outdoor track meets as a senior for Raritan High School. Hollingsworth had an impressive senior year for Northwest Guilford High School, taking 16th in the 5K North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) 4A State Cross Country Championship after coming in second in the regional. She also placed 10th in the 3,200 meters and sixth in the 1,600 meters at the state track meet after claiming fourth in the NCHSAA 4A Midwest Regional in the 3,200 meters and second in the 1,600 meters.
Miko qualified for the state cross country meet as a sophomore and junior and claimed the regional championship during her junior year. She was also a four-time state meet participant in track and the Macomb County champion in the 1,600 meters as a freshman, junior and senior for L’Anse Creuse High School in Harrison Township, Mich. As a senior at Concord High School in Wilmington, Del., Slate received the Delaware Women’s Alliance for Sport and Fitness Athlete of Promise Award and Most Distinguished Female Athlete Award by the United States Marine Corps.
Tomlin might possess the most impressive credentials of all the newcomers, earning Central District Outdoor Track Female Runner-of-the-Meet honors in 2007, 2008 and 2010 and for indoor track in 2009 for Prince George High School in Prince George, Va. She was named to the all-district, all-region and all-academic squads as a senior cross country runner after picking up all-academic and all-district honors as a junior. As a senior at the indoor central district meet, she took first in the 1,600-meter run and as part of the 4X400-meter relay team before winning the 3,200 meters, 1,600 meters and 3,200-meter relay at the outdoor event.
After opening the season Friday with the Covered Bridge Open, the Pirates travel to Wilmington, N.C., for the Seahawk Invitational Friday, Sept. 10.