NEW ORLEANS, La. – The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) released week one regional rankings for the NCAA Division II 2012 season. King Men's Cross Country held strong for its No. 2 ranking in the Southeast Region while the women's team were tabbed third.
The 1-2 spots in the men's Southeast Region rankings went unchanged from the preseason rankings released on Aug. 31. Conference Carolinas continues to control the top of the region with Mount Olive and King holding the top two spots, respectively.
The rankings come after King put together a pair of strong showings in their first two meets of the 2012 season. Spencer Frantom (Morristown, Tenn.) has paced the team by being the first King harrier to cross the line at both the Berry Invitational (Sept. 1) and most recently at the Virginia Tech Invitational (Sept. 14), both 8k courses to open the year. Frantom shaved more than a full minute off his 8k time at the Virginia Tech Invitational, clocking in a 26:02.96 time in Blacksburg, Va.
He has been supported by teammates Dickson Kurgat (Naidi Hills, Kenya) and Jordan Noe (Morristown, Tenn.). Kurgat ran in his first race with King last week and placed 50th overall with an 8k time of 26:23.19 to set the bar high for the sophomore. Noe finished just 15 seconds behind Kurgat in that race, completing the strong trio that leads the Tornado.
Freshmen Brent Swiney (Bristol, Va./John Battle H.S.) and Garrett Watts (Fort Blackmore, Va.) each ran in their first collegiate races and showed dramatic improvement in the opening weeks of the season. Combined, the duo clipped more than three minutes off their total times from the Berry Invitational and Virginia Tech Invitational.
Women's Cross Country slipped one spot to third in the Southeast Region in the latest rankings after being tabbed second in the preseason. Both Mount Olive and King were skipped by Peach Belt school UNC Pembroke, who went from fifth to first in the region. Mount Olive now ranks second with King coming in a close third. Hannah Witt (Mountain City, Tenn.) led the team in last week's Virginia Tech Invitational with a 13th place overall finish among some of the top NCAA Division I programs in the region.
Tornado Cross Country will make its next appearance at the UNC-Charlotte Invitational on Sept. 28 before getting a preview of this year's Conference Championship site, Belmont Abbey on Oct. 5.