CHARLOTTE, N.C. – King College Men's Cross Country will be represented in national competition for the first time in the program's history after qualifying for the NCAA Division II National Championship on Saturday. The Tornado, paced by Spencer Frantom and Jordan Noe, finished third overall as a team at the Southeast Regional Championships, hosted by Queens (N.C.) at McAlpine Creek Park. The Lady Tornado narrowly missed out on qualifying for Nationals, finishing a respectable fourth place on the women's side.
Morristown, Tenn. natives Spencer Frantom and Jordan Noe packed a 1-2 punch at the top of the Tornado lineup, finishing second and third respectively pacing King. The two flipped roles after the Conference Carolinas Championships with Frantom being the first Tornado harrier to cross the finish line. The junior finished second overall with a time of 31:50.6. Noe (31:56.3) came in third place overall just six seconds off his teammate's pace.
Both runners improved from their 10k times at last year's regional competition. Frantom improved from last year's time by 40 seconds and 11 positions after a 13th place finish in 2011. Noe improved upon last season's regional time by 31 seconds. The twosome finished together last year as well, completing the course 13th and 14th.
Anchoring the middle of the Tornado lineup, sophomore Dickson Kurgat (Naidi Hills, Kenya) ran a solid 32:35.7, good for 15th overall in the field of 168 runners. Jordan Smith (Lebanon, Va.) finished in 32nd place, clocking in at 33:13.7. Closing out the King running order was freshman Garrett Watts (Bristol, Va./John Battle H.S.) with a 33:27.2 time and a 39th place finish.
"The men simply wanted it more than anybody out there," said Head Coach Peter Dalton. "They ran like national qualifiers and they deserve to advance. Spencer [Frantom] and Jordan [Noe] ran exceptional today. Dickson [Kurgat] ran a really solid race. Top to bottom, they all did very well."
The men's team finished third overall with a total of 91 points and automatically qualify for the NCAA Division II National Championships, held in Joplin, Mo. on Nov. 17. This marks the first time in the program's history that King will advance to the National Championships.
"We're incredibly excited for the opportunity to go the Nationals," said Dalton. "The men have been working really hard all year long for this and it is well deserved."
With their individual finishes Noe, Frantom, and Kurgat all earn a place on the All-Region Team. The top-25 finishers on both sides are awarded the honor. This marks the second time both Noe and Frantom were named to the All-Region Team and Kurgat's first such award.
They will join Mount Olive College as the second Conference Carolinas school to represent the Southeast Region at the NCAA Division II National Championships. Columbus State finished first as a team, edging out the Trojans (63) by 14 points to finish atop the region. UNC-Pembroke's Pardon Ndhlovu was the top individual finisher with a 31:19.2 run.
The women's team ran hard and finished as the top Conference Carolinas school in the 27-team field. The Lady Tornado finished fourth overall with 156 points and were led by junior Kendra Sokol (Kingsport, Tenn./Dobyns-Bennett H.S.).
Sokol was the first Lady Tornado runner to cross the finish line, placing sixth overall in the field of 182. She completed the 6k course in 23:05.3 and was the second runner from the conference to cross the finish line. Sokol narrowly missed out on qualifying for Nationals as an individual. She was 10 second of the place of third place finisher, Liva Mahaffie (UNC-Pembroke), for the qualifying spot. The top three race finishers automatically qualify for national competition.
Junior Eliza Parker (Oswego, N.Y.) was the next harrier to cross the finish line for King, placing 28th with a time of 23:49.8. Danielle Beauvais (Winchester, Va.), Evan Ferrell (Richlands, Va.), and Tabitha Arwood (Lebanon, Va.) closed out the King starting five, in that order.
In her final meet as a Tornado, senior Danielle Beauvais finished 39th overall with a 24:02.3. Ferrell (24:22.5) and Arwood (24:24.1) finished together in 49th and 50th, respectively.
By placing fourth as a team, King will not advance to national competition and their season comes to a close.
"They gave it everything they had," said Dalton. "It just was not their day. It was a great effort on their part that just came up a bit short. Still, it has been a great season for the ladies."
By finishing sixth overall, Sokol also earned a spot on the All-Region Team, making for a total of four King Tornado runners to be given the honor. This is the second time in her career Sokol was named All-Region.
Columbus State also won the women's side of the regional meet with 87 points while Clayton State and UNC-Pembroke finished second and third, in that order. King finished two spots ahead of fellow Conference Carolinas school, Mount Olive (216). Montevallo's Kaley Glover won the meet as an individual with a 22:40.4 finish time.
Click here for complete information regarding the NCAA Division II National Championships. The championships will be held on Nov. 17 in Joplin, Mo. and hosted by Missouri Southern State University.