October 23, 2008

Bobcats Ready For Conference Championships

BANNER ELK, NC - The temperatures may have dropped a bit in the mountains as the summer fades away and fall begins, but things are heating up for the men's cross country team at Lees-McRae College as they make their annual charge towards the postseason. The 2008 version of the team is no different as they are young, talented and ready to prove what all of their hard work is for these next three weeks.

This Saturday, the Bobcats will compete in the Conference Carolinas Cross Country Championships hosted by Belmont Abbey College on the Crusader's campus. As they head into the competition, the men are ranked 7th regionally behind the nation's No. 8 Queens University of Charlotte and the region's 6th ranked St. Andrews Presbyterian Knights.

On the men's side the youthful Bobcats will look to some upperclassmen to guide them into this uncharted territory. Senior Matt Barrett has been the inspirational leader/captain for this year's team, and he hopes his guidance will pay off in this stretch run.

"We are talented, and when we race to our potential we can be a scary team, it's just a matter of us putting it together on race day," the senior from Thomasville, Ga. said. "Our practices indicate we are where we need to be training-wise, now it is up to us to perform."

Juniors Nate Trimble, Chris Holstein and Jon Bernal will be looked to contribute significantly for the Bobcats to enjoy postseason success with added depth coming from freshmen Craig Simpkins, Cody Hodgins, Michael Davis, Luke Anton, Connor Gray and Jordan Gillespie who will be racing in their first conference championships.

"The guys have worked very hard, and I look for them to respond to this race in a great way. They have been challenged physically and mentally all year, and now is the time to put it to good use. We are ready," Coach McPhail said.

In the 10 years McPhail has been at the helm, the Bobcat women have won seven conference championships and one runner's up trophy, with the men claiming the top spot four times and two runner's up trophies. He has amassed 10 Coach of the Year honors, had 64 runners gain All-Conference accolades, with 26 of them earning Academic All-Conference honors. Under his reign the Bobcats have garnered five individual titles and five freshmen have won Freshman of the Year.

"This is the time of year where you believe in what you have done and go out with confidence showcasing it," said McPhail.