By Rhett Butler, Sports Information Assistant
MOUNT BERRY, Ga. — The Berry College Cross Country teams begin their season today at the Georgia NCAA Division III Invitational. The race is to be held at the Clara Bowl with the women racing the 6K at 7:15 p.m. and the men racing the 8K at 8:00 p.m.
This year’s schedule will see the Vikings travel, following their season opener, to Montevallo University for the Falcon Invitational. They will also appear at the Wingfoot Classic on September 23rd and then travel to the Southern Illinois John Flamer Invitational. The Vikings will host the Berry Invitational on the 14th of October, again at the Clara Bowl. On October 28th, Oglethorpe University will host the SAA Conference Championships in Atlanta. Last year, at the SAA Conference Championships, the women won their program-first Conference Title, and the men placed 3rd in a very competitive race, and both teams will be looking to build upon these strong finishes this year as well.
The Men’s Team:
The men graduated Ebenezer Agaro, an experienced veteran with All-Conference and All-Region experience. They return Robert Bevins and Rhett Butler, both seniors this year. The men’s captain this year will be Parker Roberts, a sophomore with great experience. With the majority of the returning runners still quite young, the team has a lot of growing to do. The men brought three freshmen in, including standout Cameron Bensley of Hillgrove High School. With a 3200m PR of 9:38, Bensley should make an immediate impact on the men’s team. The men will enter the season ranked 8th in the South/Southeast region.
The Women’s Team:
The women graduated Danielle Patterson last year, a major front-runner and individual National qualifier in cross country. However, the women still have great depth of talent. Led by senior captain Alainna Chretien, the women enter the 2017 season as reigning conference champions. Although they lost Patterson, sophomore Abby Carroll is poised to be the Vikings’ front-runner this season. The women also return Meredith Hermann and Alyssa Fowler, 11th and 12th at last year’s SAA Championships, respectively. The women brought in four freshmen as well and added two additional newcomers from their Track & Field team, bringing in additional depth for the season. The women come into the season ranked 6th in the South/Southeast region.
The Vikings’ first meet on Friday should be a good indicator for the rest of the season. “I think we are very fortunate to have all the Division III schools from Georgia coming to race Friday,” said Head Coach Paul Deaton. “It gives more meaning to our first meet, allowing a good marker for our team’s fitness and a competitive atmosphere. In cross country, your first meet needs some balance between getting off to a good start, recognizing potential progress over 10 to 12 weeks, and the patience that that requires. As usual, we would like to be at our best at the Conference meet.”
Watch head coach Paul Deaton join Butler and Chretien as they discuss the upcoming season.