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Union teams picked first in TranSouth cross country polls

JACKSON, Tenn. - 9/7/2010 - The Union (Tenn.) University men's and women's cross country teams have been selected by the TranSouth Conference coaches as the favorites to repeat as conference champions.

Women

The Union University women’s cross country team is coming off their seventh straight TranSouth Championship. As Union tries to continue that streak in 2010, the Lady Bulldogs will return their top five runners from last year. Union has also added two runners to help strengthen their 2010 team.

Union has two seniors, Kayla Hauss and Carrie Moore. Both Hauss and Moore were all-conference runners on last year’s championship team.

Two juniors star on the 2010 roster including Hannah Clardy and Carissa Wilson. Clardy won the TranSouth individual title last season and represented Union as an individual qualifier in the NAIA National Meet. Wilson was an all-conference performer as well.

Sophomores Cally Howell and Lilli Harmon look to contribute more following successful freshmen seasons. Harmon was an all-conference runner as a freshman.

Two freshmen join the Union cross country program in 2010. Ashlee Stewart and Allison Martin will try to make an immediate impact as they enter college with outstanding high school resumes.

Union head coach Gary Johnson will be once again leading a team with the target on their backs. In addition to the regulars foes of Bethel (Tenn.), Blue Mountain (Miss.), Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) and Lyon (Ark.), Union will have one more team to run against as Trevecca Nazarene (Tenn.) has added cross country to their list of varsity sports.

Coach Johnson says, "We have high expectations for the student-athletes who are members of the cross country programs at Union. We expect our runners to contribute to Union University spiritually, academically, and athletically. This year should be especially rewarding in terms of national recognition with multiple runners being eligible for NAIA scholar awards, potential national qualifiers, and the NAIA scholar team achievement."

Johnson adds, "I am excited to see how our new runners fit in with an established group. We have a strong cast returning for both teams and that encourages me about the prospects of competing for our conference championship and trying to qualify for the national meet. We only graduated one runner from the top 5 of either team, so this group is experienced and understands the expectations we have for them. It should be an exciting and challenging year."

Men

The Union University men’s cross country team is coming off their sixth straight TranSouth Conference Championship. Union lost one runner from last year’s team, but is returning each of their top three runners. Union has also added a runner who was a state qualifier in high school.

Union has one senior, Dan Ramer, returning to complete his running career. Ramer has been a solid runner and leader for Union during his career.

Three juniors lead the way for Union in 2010 including Zach Covington, Joel Wellum and Alex Bett. Bett was the TranSouth individual champion last season, while Covington finished second. Both Bett and Covington represented Union as individual qualifiers at the 2010 NAIA National Meet. Wellum has been a steady runner for Union for two seasons.

The sophomore class has two runners, Drake Ott and Logan Smith. Ott finished fourth in last year’s conference meet, earning him an all-conference award. Smith posted solid times as a freshman and looks to contribute more as a sophomore.

Union’s lone freshman is Caleb Creel who comes in with a solid high school resume. He will look to make an immediate impact on Union squad.

Head coach Gary Johnson knows his team has a target on their backs as his squad has won the past six conference titles. New to the list of teams that will be chasing his squad is Trevecca Nazarene (Tenn.), who has added cross country as a varsity sport. With each of the other four schools including Bethel (Tenn.), Blue Mountain (Miss.), Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) and Lyon (Ark.) improving, Union will have a tough test in 2010.

Union’s men have been to two NAIA National Meets as a team and have boasted six straight conference titles. Johnson is looking to lead his squad to their seventh conference title and a third team appearance at nationals.

Coach Johnson says, "We have high expectations for the student-athletes who are members of the cross country programs at Union. We expect our runners to contribute to Union University spiritually, academically, and athletically. This year should be especially rewarding in terms of national recognition with multiple runners being eligible for NAIA scholar awards, potential national qualifiers, and the NAIA scholar team achievement."

Johnson adds, "I am excited to see how our new runners fit in with an established group. We have a strong cast returning for both teams and that encourages me about the prospects of competing for our conference championship and trying to qualify for the national meet. We only graduated one runner from the top 5 of either team, so this group is experienced and understands the expectations we have for them. It should be an exciting and challenging year."

#UNION#


Steven Aldridge
Phone: (731) 661-5027
Sports Information
Fax: (731) 661-5182

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