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 two freshman include Edwin Kurgat and Caleb Creel. They come in with solid resumes and 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."