With only a handful of runners in 2007, the Cavaliers of Montreat College made a respectable showing in last year's AAC race. 2008 can only bring greater results with a more complete team and better depth. One of the major objectives of this year's team is the continued pursuit of building community and a team relationship with Jesus Christ.
"Above all, this team is highly inspiring. They continue to inspire our coaching staff with their bonding and their love for Christ," shared second-year head coach Jose Larios.
"Athletically speaking, cross country is a sport of depth," said Larios, "when a team has depth, great things happen… better training groups, more motivation, and there's also competition for the top-five scorers."
With the addition of 12 new runners for the 2008 cross country season, Montreat College has the depth and motivation to continue to climb the AAC ranks.
On the men's team, the Cavaliers have many new faces. This year's team is led by another Warner Southern College transfer, Wilbourn Kosgei (Jr). Kosgei joined the Cavaliers last spring as well and like Arilicia Adkins, immediately qualified for the NAIA Outdoor Track Championships in the 5000 meters. Junior Ben Hall returns after a stellar freshman campaign where he too qualified to compete at the track championships in St. Louis, MO, in the marathon event. Hall completed the rolling 26.2 mile course as the first freshman in 19th place. "I think Ben and Wilbourn will play great roles in this year's cross country team. They had a solid track season last year and they know what it takes to earn a trip to nationals. They want very badly for their teammates to have the same experiences as they did," said Larios of his two leaders.
Larios is also very excited about his two sophomore transfers, Daniel Dunn (Florida Southern College) and Andrew Hege (Catawba College). "Andrew and Daniel arrive to Montreat with great leadership qualities. Both guys know that God led them here and they are ready to honor Him with their talents. They are great leaders and will add solid front-running depth with "Benji" and Wilbourn," said the coach.
And like the women's team, the men have a solid group of eager runners that want to fill out those important top seven spots! This contingent is led by senior Justin Edwards, Jared Nielsen (Fr., Homeschooled), Will Musto (Fr, Chattanooga Christian HS, TN), Luke Copeland (Fr., West Johnston HS, NC), and Josh Woodward (Sr.).
"Both Edwards and Woodward have come into the season in much better shape than last season, so it will be exciting to see what we can do with it," said Larios, "but our freshmen look really solid. By November, it will be a solid toss up to see who wants to be in that top five men."
"It's been said," concluded Coach Larios, "that in athletic, any team can defeat any team on any given day. I don't know if this saying rings truer in any sport more than in cross country? Anything can happen- anything! So, our coaching staff continues to stress that we honor God by our hard work, ask Him to bless us and keep His healthy hand over us. Most importantly, we hope that we continue to grow as a team in Him and for Him, that's all we have control of."
The Cavaliers open up their season at the University of North Carolina- Charlotte's Bojangles Invitational on September 13th. The men's race begins at 8:30am.