09/02/13 — MOC men picked No. 1 in Conference Carolinas XC poll

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MOC men picked No. 1 in Conference Carolinas XC poll

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 2, 2013 1:48 PM


MOUNT OLIVE -- More maturity.

More experience.

It's no wonder Mount Olive College is a near-unanimous choice to repeat as the Conference Carolinas men's cross country champion this fall. The Trojans collected eight first-place votes and 64 points overall in the coaches' preseason poll.

King (Tenn.) University and Belmont Abbey were selected second and third, respectively. The Trojans, along with King and Belmont Abbey, advanced to the NCAA Division II Southeast Regionals last season.

MOC and King qualified for the NCAA Division II Championship meet in Joplin, Mo.

"Last year's team was young, but after a year of training these men are ready to show the nation what happens when hard work pays off," Trojans head coach Matt van Lierop said. "The depth, experience and talent of this team will help them climb the national ranks throughout the season and put Mount Olive on the map."

The Trojans return five all-Conference Carolinas performers, including sophomore Dylan Lafond -- who became the first-ever MOC athlete to advance to the NCAA Championships in three different sports a year ago. Lafond placed third overall in the season-ending Conference Carolinas meet.

Also back are senior captain Erasmo Ordonez, Aki Kitagawa, Mike Munoz and Stephen Greco.

Third-year member North Greenville (S.C.) ended up fourth in the preseason poll. In-state rival Limestone, Barton, Erskine (S.C.), Lees-McRae and Pfeiffer University completed the balloting. Three-time defending champion Queens University of Charlotte joined the South Atlantic Conference this fall.

On the women's side, Mount Olive is picked second in the preseason behind defending champion King (Tenn.) University. The Trojan women received two first-place nods and finished just five points (79-74) behind the Tornado, which garnered seven first-place votes from the league's 10 coaches.

MOC returns third-team all-Conference Carolinas selection Christina Jordan. She's joined by senior Crissy Petro, junior Megan Bucek, Courtney Seifert, Emily Shaw and Logan Shirley.

"We have experienced runners," van Lierop said. "This is looking to be the best season ever. They are training hard and enjoying themselves. We have a competitive schedule ahead of us with a challenging conference, but (I think) the Mount Olive women are ready to surprise (the competition)."

The Trojans open their season Sept. 14 at the Furman Invitational.