The East Central University men’s cross country team won the first two Great American Conference championships (2011 and 2012) and have been picked by the league’s head coaches to repeat as champions in 2013.
The Tigers earned eight points and two first-place votes, beating out Harding by just one point for the top spot. Harding received seven points (one first-place vote), while Southern Arkansas was third with six points (one first-place vote) and Arkansas-Monticello was fourth with three points.
ECU returns seven from the last championship squad and added nine newcomers to the 2013 roster. The Tigers have key returners in senior Cale Eidson, an All-NCAA Central Regional and All-GAC honoree, and Arturo Nava, the GAC Freshman of the Year.
The nine newcomers are a mix of both junior college transfers and true freshman that will make the competition for a spot to run each weekend strong.
“Our expectations are always the same. We’re going into it the same way we always have. We’re going to set our goals win conference, go to regionals and hopefully steal a qualifying spot for nationals from there,” Sawyer said. “I think we have a good shot at doing both.”
Women finish second in GAC poll
ADA – The East Central University women’s cross country team may have won the 2012 Great American Conference championship, but after losing all but three runners from last year’s team the Lady Tigers have been picked to finish second in the 2013 GAC Preseason Poll. The poll is voted on by the league’s head coaches.
ECU earned 60 points and four first-place votes and was just nudged out of the top position by Harding, with 61 points and five first-place votes. Southern Arkansas (48), Southwestern (41), Arkansas Tech (31), Ouachita Baptist (31), Henderson State (25), Southeastern (19), and Arkansas-Monticello (8) round out the poll.
The Lady Tigers return just three runners from a season ago and just one of those was in the top seven runners on the team. Junior ReGina Germaine, an All-GAC First Team selection, will be expected to be the leader for the team in 2013.
“Our girls lost six of our top seven runners. Regina is going to do what Regina always does. We look for her to set some school records this year as a junior because that’s how good she is,” said head coach Steve Sawyer.
While the other two runners did not finish at the top of the standings last season for ECU, they have both worked hard in the off season to come into 2013 in better shape.
Sophomores Kortney CeBallos and Allison Faircloth are both from Sanger, Texas and have been running together since high school.
The Lady Tigers also added eight freshmen to the 2013 squad, with most expected to make an impact on the team and fight for a spot in the top runners.
Both ECU cross country teams had banner years as far as signing recruits and Sawyer was quick to credit assistant coach John Sutrick with a large portion of that success.
“This is our biggest class on both sides (women and men). It’s a great group coming in,” he said. “They’re already talking to each other and seem to be bonding well. A lot of credit goes to coach Sutrick, my volunteer assistant. He did a lot of recruiting. Without him here, we couldn’t have signed half the kids we signed.”
The ECU cross country teams open their 2013 seasons at the Strohan Dental Stampede in Wichata Falls, Texas.