BRISTOL, Tenn. – The King College men's cross country team will take their marks in their first national championship meet in program history this weekend. On Saturday, Nov. 17, the Conference Carolinas runners-up will represent the Southeast Region at the NCAA Division II Cross Country National Championships, held in Joplin, Mo. The national meet will be hosted by Missouri Southern State University.
King will be led by a pair of runners out of Morristown, Tenn. in junior Spencer Frantom and sophomore Jordan Noe. The duo finished second and third, respectively, at the 2012 NCAA DII Southeast Regional Championship two weeks ago in Charlotte, N.C. Frantom led all Tornado runners with a finish time of 31:50.6 on the 10k course.
Individual Conference Carolinas champion and Runner of the Year, Jordan Noe, finished just behind his teammate in third place at the regional championship, clocking in a 31:56.3 finish time. Noe also won the Pre-Conference Championship meet on Oct. 5 in a 5k race on the same course as the conference championships. On that day, his finished the course in 16:10.13 prior to pacing the Tornado toward a second place finish at the Conference Carolinas Championships two weeks later.
Joining Frantom and Noe as All-Conference selections is Dickson Kurgat (Naidi Hills, Kenya). Kurgat has anchored the middle of the Tornado lineup all season long and finished strongly in his last three races leading up to Nationals. After placing third at the pre-conference meet (16:21.89), he turned in a top-10 finish at the Conference Carolinas Championships (8th, 26:29.57) and then a 15th place finish at the regional championships in Charlotte, N.C. with a 32:35.7 10k time.
All three runners were named to the All-Region Team after their performances at the regional championship on Nov. 3.
The trio of Jordan Smith (Lebanon, Va.), Brent Swiney (Bristol, Va./John Battle H.S.), and Garrett Watts (Fort Blackmore, Va./Gate City H.S.) have supported King's top three runners all season long and have showed constant improvement, especially over the last month of action.
Smith, a sophomore, has shaved more than 1:30 off of his first 8k race of the season after a sub-29-minute appearance at the Berry Invitational (Sept. 1). At the Conference Carolinas Championship (8k), Smith crossed the finish line in 27:07.42, good for a 16th place finish.
The same improvement can be said of freshman Brent Swiney, who set a personal record (PR) at the Virginia Tech Invitational (8k) with a 26:50.82 finish time, bettering his previous meet time by more than one minute. He finished 18th at the conference championship.
The largest improvement from race one to this weekend has been freshman Garrett Watts who finished just under 30 minutes in his first collegiate race but now possesses an 8k PR of 27:22.87 that was set at the UNC-Charlotte Invitational (Sept. 28). He turned in a fifth place finish at the pre-conference meet before finishing inside the top-20 at the Conference Carolinas Championship and a top-40 finish at the regional meet.
Head Coach Peter Dalton, who was named Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year after the Lady Tornado won their first conference championship, will lead the team to the Robert W. Plaster Sports Complex (Missouri Southern State University), home of the 2012 NCAA Division II National Championships. The men will take to the course at 11:30 a.m. EST. Video of the championship race will be provided on NCAA.com on the day of the race.
King will join regional champion No. 35 Columbus State and fellow Conference Carolinas school Mount Olive at Nationals to represent the Southeast Region. Also representing the region individually is Pardon Ndhlovu (UNC-Pembroke), who won the individual regional championship and was named Regional Runner of the Year.
Last year, Western State emerged as National Champion, defeating three-time defending national champion Adams State in Spokane, Wash.