Banner Elk, NC--Lees-McRae's women's cross country teams will race for their biggest prize of the year this weekend at the NCAA DII Southeast Regional Cross Country Championships...a shot at the national championships. Saturday's race at Wingate University will feature 25 women's teams from the Southeast as the women race the 6k (3.5mile) course at 9:30 a.m.
The Bobcats women's cross country team comes in highly ranked among region teams as they have been No. 1 for the past 12 weeks and are coming off their 7th conference championship in 10 years after winning the Conference Carolinas title two weeks ago. Leading the way will be sophomore Dana Lindholm (Weaverville, NC). Last year Lindholm finished 4th in the regional race and qualified for the NCAA DII National Championships. This year the squad she leads has depth and talent with goals on a trip to Joplin, MO site of the 2007 national championships.
At conference two weeks ago the Bobcats put seven runners in the top 21 positions, with five women earning all-conference honors. Lindholm, Carla Swart (Buford, GA), April Harris (Jonesville, VA), Ashley May (Chilhowie, VA) and Demarea Colson (Chesapeake, VA) were in the top 15, with Gina Valenti (Washington, NC) in 16th place and Jenny Hurd (Danbury, NC) finishing in 21st place.
"This has been a special group, they are very dedicated and committed to their goals," said Coach Craig McPhail. "We are excited about our chances and looking forward to the races this weekend."
Lees-McRae has had a history of sending athletes to the National Championships as Amanda Cook qualified as an individual in 2000, then the team in 2001, in 2003 the women's team competed in Raleigh, NC and last year Lindholm represented the school at the sports festival.
"Every year we want to be in a place to where we can go, and this is no different. Our mindset is we belong, now we just have to go out and do it," said McPhail. "At the beginning of every season we have set the goals of going to nationals and once again we are close to accomplishing this feat, it would be great for the school, program and community if we can do it again."