August 13, 2013

UNG Women's Cross Country Picked To Finish 9th In PBC Preseason Poll

AUGUSTA, Georgia - ( – The Columbus State Cougars women's cross country team has been selected the preseason team to beat in a poll of the league's head coaches released on Tuesday.  In one of the closest votes in PBC history, the Cougars received four first-place votes and finished with 100 points, just two points ahead of defending PBC Champions Clayton State.  Montevallo was third in the voting with UNC Pembroke in fourth.  A tie between Flagler and GRU Augusta, Young Harris, Georgia College, North Georgia, Georgia Southwestern, USC Aiken and Francis Marion rounded out the voting.

UNG was picked to finish ninth out of 12 teams finishing ahead of Georgia Southwestern, USC-Aiken and Francis Marion in the voting.  The Nighthawks will look for a repeat of last season when UNG was voted to finish 11th in the preseason poll but responded to finish three spots better at eighth. 

After winning six straight PBC titles between 2005 and 2010, CSU finished just behind Clayton State in last year's PBC Championship, but did beat the Lakers in capturing their first NCAA Southeast Regional Championship.   Winners of three races during the regular season last year, the Cougars return nine runners from that team including sophomores Kristina Delpesche and Rayna Green, who were both named PBC All-Conference.

In addition to winning their first PBC Championship last year, Clayton State finished second at the NCAA Southeast Regional to qualify for the national championships as a team for the first time in school history.  Eight runners from that team return for the 2013 season including junior Raquel Valadez, who was third at the PBC meet and named first-team All-Conference.  Also back is senior Samantha Walling who was sixth at the PBC meet and also named first-team All-Conference.

Montevallo won the 2011 PBC title and were fourth in the race last year.  The Falcons bring back five runners from that team and welcome in six freshmen runners for 2013.  Among the returnees is senior In-Mi Matsunaga, who won the PBC's first Elite 15 Award last year and had three top-15 finishes.

UNC Pembroke finished third in the PBC championship last season and was also third in the NCAA Southeast Regional, qualifying for the national championships as a team for the first time in school history.  The Braves will field a young team in 2013 with one junior, two sophomores and five freshmen on the roster.  Sophomore Savannah Fornshell finished 16th in the PBC meet and was 33rd at the NCAA regional while junior Kendra Dorn was 18th in the regional and 23rd at the PBC.

The 2013 PBC cross country season begins the weekend of Sept. 7 with most teams at the Georgia Southwestern Remembrance Run.  Georgia Southwestern will also host the PBC Championships for the first time in school history on Oct. 26.

Teams were given 11 points for a first-place vote, 10 for a second-place and so on.  Coaches were not permitted to rank their own teams.

2013 Peach Belt Conference Women's Cross Country Preseason Poll