AMERICUS - The Georgia Southwestern women's cross country team has plenty to be excited about heading into the 2011 season. The Lady Hurricanes return four of their top five runners from 2010, including sophomore Kelsey Baker, who posted GSW's fastest time at the conference championships last fall.
"I am excited about the 2011 cross country season," said Head Coach Stephen Cox. "We are coming off our best finish in school history in the Peach Belt Conference (ninth place out of 10 teams), and we certainly want to build on it."
The Lady Hurricanes' accomplishments last season did not go unnoticed. Yesterday, the program received its highest ranking in school history in the Peach Belt Conference Coaches' Preseason Poll.
"We do have great returners and new acquisitions for the 2011 season," said Cox.
Here is a look at the 2011 roster from the coach's perspective:
Senior Katy York has been in the program for four years and has the most knowledge of the conference on the team. Last year she got off to an OK start in the season but finished the season as strong as she has in her career here at GSW. She single-handedly ran down an opponent at the PBC Championships, from 300 yards back, to solidify the spot for GSW's best finish in school history at the conference meet. We look forward to her leadership and experience this season.
Senior Leady Cuellar, a former tennis standout with the Lady Hurricanes, racked up 49 career singles victories in her GSW career. She has been working hard all summer to get herself into good shape for her second season with the cross country team. A very reliable part of this squad who brings energy and happiness to practice every day, she will graduate in December and move on to grad school.
Junior Mollie McGowan, also a GSW tennis player and local product, hails from Americus. Her first season of cross country was last year and she finished the season better than anyone in the conference, in terms of improvement. Her times got better as the season went along. A true quiet competitor that is very driven.
Sophomore Kelsey Baker missed her first meet last year as a freshman, but used that as motivation to become a strong runner. She comes from one of the best high school programs in the state, West Forsyth (Ga.) High School. She is a great leader and we are really looking forward to see what kind of results she can get by her extreme hard work she has put in over the last seven months.
Freshman Lauren Brown is a new acquisition for the Lady 'Canes in the offseason. We look forward to her progress and being a key component to this team.
Freshman Micah Bucher comes to GSW from a stellar high school career at Lumpkin County (Ga.) High School. A nursing major, she looks to be a fierce competitor in her first season of competition in the PBC. We expect great things from her as she begins her cross country career here at GSW.
Freshman Lisa Espino started her career at GSW as a soccer player, but quickly picked up on cross country. She is another new acquisition for the Lady 'Canes in the offseason and we expect good results from her.
GSW opens the 2011 season on Sept. 2 at the Georgia College Invitational in Milledgeville before hosting the Second Annual Georgia Southwestern Remembrance Run on the 10th at Central Baptist Church in Americus. A full copy of the 2011 schedule can be found on gswcanes.com.