Women's Cross Country Season Preview
CLAREMORE, Okla.- The Rogers State women’s cross country team kicks off the 2012 season in Saturday at the University of Central Oklahoma Land Run in Edmond.
The Hillcats return a strong group of individuals from 2011 and Head Coach Chris McCormick has added some impressive newcomers to the mix as they have their sights set on the program’s first team Sooner Athletic Conference Championship.
“Our expectations are definitely the conference championship and I would like to see us crack into the Top 25,” McCormick said. “I would like to have five all-conference runners. I think that is an attainable goal if we stay healthy and run well at the end of the season. We have a young team and it’s going to be tough but I think they can meet the expectations.”
Brenda Felipe returns for her sophomore campaign after bursting onto the scene as a freshman in 2011. The Poteau, Okla. native blew away the field at the SAC meet, winning the individual title with a time of 18:38. She led the race from start to finish and left no doubt, with a 25 second cushion as she crossed the finish line. With the win, Felipe became the first RSU runner to win the individual title. She garnered First Team All-Sooner Athletic Conference honors and competed at the NAIA National Meet where she finished 53rd.
“I would love to see Brenda repeat and get that individual championship at the conference meet,” McCormick said. “It is going to be much more challenging this season. There are several great runners in the conference so it won’t be as easy this year. For one thing, she has teammates that are going to push her. More important than an individual title, I would like her to lead our team to the national tournament. She is the kind of runner it takes to get a team to nationals. She is running well and feeling healthy.”
Maria Apolinar finished second on the team in every meet last season. She finished just outside the top 15 at the conference meet in 2011 and Coach McCormick thinks she has what it takes to help the team to the next level.
“Maria is a lead by example runner who will never back down in a workout and always gives her best” McCormick said. “She had a great offseason as well, knocking a lot of time off her 5K time.”
Coach McCormick is excited about his recruiting class which includes three talented freshmen. Coweta, Okla. native Christi Dougherty was the 2011 cross country champion as a senior at Coweta High school. Freshmen Coree Lenhart and Haley Taylor come to the Hill from Collinsville High School. Lenhart tallied a fourth place finish at the state cross country meet during her senior season and Taylor finished 6th at the state cross country meet.
“Christi Dougherty is going to make an immediate impact on the team,” McCormick said. Freshmen Coree, Haley and Christi all competed against each other in high school and had great careers. Now that they are on the same team they are pushing each other and I expect each of them to make huge contributions from the start. All three of them have a chance to be all-conference runners. “
The Hillcats will have six meets leading up to the SAC meet where they will look to bring home the program’s first conference championship.
“There will be some big adjustments to be made for our freshmen, as we will run in some big races early on in the season,” McCormick said. “But these girls have run on a big stage and they are very experienced. I think they will do well. We are working to the end goal which is the SAC tournament where we hope to win a bid to the national tournament.”
The SAC Tournament will be held on November 3rd.