Lady Bobcats Set to Defend Conference Carolinas Title

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 women's cross country team at Lees-McRae as they make their annual charge towards the postseason. The 2008 version of this 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 Lady 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 women's team is ranked 3rd in the NCAA DII Southeast Region behind Columbus State (Peach Belt Conference) and Augusta State (Peach Belt Conference).

"Our women are tough and will need to be in order to defend the title they won a year ago," head coach Craig McPhail said. "We have faced a lot of challenges and are ready for just about anything now, so I am excited to watch them showcase their hard work."

The Lady Bobcats are a pack-running team as evidenced by last Friday's performance at the Appalachian State University Blue Ridge Mountain Open as they had a 1-5 split of only 36 seconds. They are full of juniors as April Harris, Ashley May, Karyn Bragman, Gina Valenti, Carla Swart and Dana Lindholm race in their third conference championships. Seniors Demarea Colson and Jenny Hurd compete in their final Conference Carolinas Championship. Sophomore Kira Shoemaker has progressed nicely in her first year of running cross country, and she will compete in her first conference championships.

In the 10 years McPhail has been at the helm, the Bobcat women have won seven conference championships and one runner's up trophy. Between the men's and women's programs 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," McPhail said.