09/03/04 — Mount Olive runners prepare for season

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Mount Olive runners prepare for season

Published in Sports on September 3, 2004 2:01 PM

When talking about the upcoming men's and women's cross country season recently, a very pregnant Mount Olive College head coach Jennifer Lancaster was both philosophical and anxious.

"We've got uniforms and shoes," mused Lancaster. "All we need is the baby to let the coach get back on the job."

The baby is here and Coach Lancaster and her squads are ready to hit the ground running as Mount Olive opens its 2004 men's and women's cross country campaign Saturday in the Campbell University Invitational. (For the record, Daniel Butler Lancaster III will be 18 days old on race day.) Along with the new addition to the Lancaster family, the Trojans have added runners to the men's and women's rosters in 2004. Last season, Mount Olive did not have enough runners to compete in the team competition in the CVAC Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships.

Lancaster says that should not be a problem this year.

"Last year, injuries and other circumstances hampered us," said Lancaster. "We should be in good shape this season." On the men's side, the Trojans return three runners in junior Tim Insley and seniors Fernando Crisosto and Christof Franzsen. Insley, a graduate of Eastern Wayne High School, was the Trojans' top finisher in every meet last season. His time of 27:02 in the 8k at the Pirate/Overton's Cross Country Invitational was his best time of the season and the sixth-fastest overall by any runner in the CVAC in 2003. Crisosto and Franzsen also compete on the Mount Olive men's tennis team.

The Trojans add a pair of freshmen to this year's roster, including another area runner. Kris Exum is a freshman from LaGrange and is a graduate of Wayne Country Day. Exum earned Most Valuable Player honors in cross country at Wayne Country Day. Also joining the Trojans is Anthony Ward, a freshman from Whiteville and a graduate of South Columbus High School.

On the women's side, the Trojans will be without two-time CVAC Women's Cross Country Runner of the year Beth Martin, who graduated in December.

In each of the last two years, Martin won the CVAC Women's Cross Country Championship, finished second in the NCAA II Southeast Regional and competed in the NCAA II National Championship.

Lancaster says Martin will definitely be missed, but hopes to see improvement in the team as a whole.

"I feel we'll be competitive this season," said Lancaster. "We won't have the same caliber of individual runner like Beth, but I think we'll have a well-rounded team." Also lost to graduation are Jessica Murphy and Meg Ryan. Murphy earned CVAC All-Academic honors in 2003-04. Ryan earned All-CVAC Honorable Mention and was a Runner of the Week winner.

Senior Charlene Spadaccini is the lone returning runner for the Trojans this season. She saw limited action in 2003, posting a season-best time of 24:20 in the 5k at the UNC Pembroke Invitational.

If lack of available runners was a problem last season, that should not be an issue in 2004 as the Trojans have seven runners on this year's roster. Senior Becky Garrod, who is a member of Mount Olive's softball team, begins her first season of cross country for the Trojans. Three cross country newcomers are from the local area. Sophomores - and sisters - Jillian Pruett and Justina Pruett are graduates of Charles B.

Aycock High School. Tamika Goff, who is a sophomore academically, but freshman-eligible, is a graduate of Goldsboro High School. Renita Ross is also a sophomore academically, but freshman-eligible. Ross is from Buffalo, N.Y., the same hometown as Beth Martin. Krystal Lee of Bowie, Md., is the lone true freshman.

Mount Olive competes in six regular season races over the next seven weekends, followed by the Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference Championship in late October and the NCAA Championships in November.