FLORENCE, S.C. – Both the Francis Marion University men’s and women’s cross country teams will open their 2010 seasons on Friday evening (Sept. 10) when the squads compete in the adidas Seahawk Invitational meet in Wilmington, N.C.
The women’s 4,000-meter race will begin at 6 p.m., followed by the men’s 6,000-meter race at 6:30 p.m. The meet will be held on the UNC Wilmington campus and will feature seven squads: three from Division I and four from Division II.
“We are excited to start the season,” said 10th-year FMU head coach Mark Bluman. “Morale is high and the team members are anxious to run against outside competition. This year’s group of newcomers have been the quickest ever to buy into our philosophy. It is an enthusiastic group, and their positive attitude has been contagious. The teams have done everything I have asked of them this pre-season.”
The Patriot men return four runners from last year’s squad. Sophomore Justin Albertson leads the returnees. The Aiken native was the Patriots’ second finisher in all seven meets in 2009, including a 31st-place showing at the Peach Belt Conference Championship Meet.
Also returning are seniors Ben Miller and Jerry Roth, and sophomore Ian Wallace. “Ian has had a good summer of training, while Ben and Jerry will look to go out with strong senior campaigns,” Bluman said.
The men’s team has two newcomers in junior college transfer Ryan Woloszyn and freshman Michael Bigelow, a product of Wilson High School.
The Francis Marion women return two runners, senior Amanda Booker and junior Samantha Smith, while welcoming four freshmen newcomers: London Barnhill (Hemingway, S.C. / Johnsonville High School), Charity Hawkins (Woodruff, S.C.), LaMeisha Jackson (Warrenville, S.C.), and Whitney Wagner (Cullowhee, N.C.).
“Whitney has exceeded expectations during the pre-season, and I look forward to her performances this fall. Both Amanda and Samantha trained hard this summer and look to lead the 2010 squad,” Bluman added. Smith was the squad’s second-leading finisher in all seven races in 2009.
Miller, Roth, and Smith were all named to the PBC All-Academic squads for their respective sports last year.
Both FMU squads were named to the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s (USTFCCCA) list of All-Academic Teams following the 2009 season.
Francis Marion will compete in seven meets this fall, including the Peach Belt Championships, Nov. 6 in Augusta, Ga. Other regular-season matches include the 22nd-annual Asics-Winthrop Invitational on Sept. 18, the Bridgestone-Pacer Invitational on Sept. 25 in Aiken, the Queens University of Charlotte Invitational on Oct. 15, and the Mount Olive College Invitational on Oct. 22.