Bobcats Finish Second at Conference Meet and Had Four All-Conference Runners Including Freshman of the Year

BELMONT, N.C. - The Lees-McRae College men's cross country team finished in second place for the second year in row Saturday at the Conference Carolinas cross country championships hosted by Belmont Abbey.

The Bobcats, who had 48 points, finished five points out of first place. St. Andrews Presbyterian College finished in first with 43 points.

"We are a young bunch, three freshmen in our top five is a lot," head coach Craig McPhail said. "The guys have worked hard all year and have really come a long ways. I am proud of how hard they competed."

The St. Andrews' lineup placed first, third, fifth, 16th and 18th, as it edged out Lees-McRae, whose lineup finished fourth, sixth, ninth, tenth and 19th. Erskine finished third with 78 points and Anderson was fourth with 99. Coker rounded out the top five with 142 points. Limestone was sixth (168), while Belmont Abbey (194), Pfeiffer (202), Mount Olive (204) and Barton (252) rounded out the standings.

Mitch Cooper of St. Andrews claimed the individual title with a time of 26:51, while Adam Groblewski of Erskine was second with a time of 27:12. St. Andrews's Pedro Tapia claimed third with a time of 27:29, three seconds ahead of Chris Holstein (Middleburg, Fla.) of Lees-McRae. Doug Holt of St. Andrews rounded out the top five with a time of 27:33.

Lees-McRae freshman Craig Simpkins (Boiling Springs, S.C.) finished sixth, and as the highest freshman to place, earned Conference Freshman of the Year and second-team all-conference honors. St. Andrews coach Jim Walters was named Coach of the Year.

Besides Holstein and Simpkins, the Bobcats had Nate Trimble (Houston, Texas) finish ninth place overall and Cody Hodgins (Cornelius, N.C.) 10th to earn them both All-Conference honors.

The rest of the Bobcats runners were Michael Davis (Independence, Va.) at 19th, Jon Bernal (Oakton, Va.) 24th, Jordan Gillespie (Independence, Va.) 28th, Matt Barrett (Thomasville, Ga.) 29th, Connor Gray (Christiansburg, Va.) 32nd, and Luke Anton (Brevard, N.C.) 34th.

"For most of these guys, this was just the fifth 8k race of their life and with the course being soggy in parts, it was difficult for them to get into a rhythm," McPhail said.

Lees-McRae has won four men's titles in 11 years and three runners-up trophies with 72 student-athletes receiving All-Conference honors.

The Bobcats, ranked 7th in the NCAA DII Southeast Region will now advance to Wingate University, site of the Southeast Regionals Saturday, Nov. 8th.

Pictured: Freshman of the Year Craig Simpkins