Tornado Cross Country spends another week at No. 3 in region

NEW ORLEANS, La. - The King College men's cross country team kept the No. 3 spot in the latest edition of the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association NCAA Division II Southeast Region men's ranking, announced by the national organization Tuesday.

The No. 3 ranking is the second straight week for the Tornado and the fifth week in a row among the Top-5. Before the run up to No. 3 last week, King had the No. 5 spot tied up for three weeks. The rankings does not have any effect on the automatic qualifiers to the NCAA Division II National Championship, but the Top-3 team finishers from the NCAA Southeast Region on Nov. 20 earns tickets to the NCAA Division II National Championship on Dec. 4.

The Top-5 teams were in the same order as a week ago. Queens (N.C.) University of Charlotte was at No. 1, Columbus State (Ga.) University held the No. 2 spot. Behind King was Mount Olive (N.C.) College and Mars Hill (N.C.) College fourth and fifth.

The next five started with UNC Pembroke, up two spots. Clayton State (Ga.) University and Lees McRae (N.C.) College were bumped a spot each. Lenoir-Rhyne (N.C.) University was No. 9 again with Georgia College and State University coming in at No. 10, the first time Georgia College and State have been among the Top-10 this season.

Once again the Peach Belt Conference put four teams in the Top-10, Columbus State, UNC Pembroke, Clayton State and Georgia College. Conference Carolinas had Queens, Mount Olive and Lees-McRae in the Top-10. The only two teams from the South Atlantic Conference were Mars Hill and Lenoir-Rhyne. King remained the only independent team in any of the eight regions nationally.

The Tornado squad was able to see the course that the Southeast Region will be contested on at the Royal Cross Country Challenge on Oct. 15. King was ninth in the team standings as the team had five runners break the 27-minute mark. The Tornado's average time for the Top-5 runners was 26 minutes and 12.6 seconds. In addition the school record was lowered for a second straight event.

Nassem Haje (Hagerstown, Md.) ran the event in 25:45.1, 10 seconds faster than his previous school record. Spencer Franton (Morristown, Tenn.) became just the second Tornado runner in program history to break the 26-minute mark with his 25:47.0 run. His time was a personal best by 34 seconds for the freshman. Daniel Hamilton (Franklin, N.C.) lowered his season best by 14 seconds and his personal best by 10 seconds as he finished at the 26:13.5 mark. Justin Humphreys (Bristol, Tenn.) ran the event 26:30.1 while Taylor Dix (Memphis, Tenn.) crossed the finish line in 26:48.2.

The next event for the Tornado squad will be the Cavalier Invitational in Charlottesville, Va. on Nov. 5.

The next regional ranking will be released on Tuesday, Oct. 26.