BRISTOL, Tenn. – A season ago, the King University women's cross country team captured the Conference Carolinas championship, marking their first conference title in school history. The Tornado are primed for a repeat in 2013, returning four of their top five runners from the Conference Carolinas Championships.
In 2013, King placed all five runners in the top-15 of the Conference Carolinas Championships en route to their first conference title in school history. The Tornado return four all-conference runners from last season, leaving expectations high for head coach Peter Dalton's senior laden squad in 2013.
This year's version of the Tornado will have plenty of experience, led by Kendra Sokol. The senior from Kingsport, Tenn., leads the senior group as she finished second at the conference meet and was named All-Southeast Region after placing sixth at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships.
Fellow senior Even Ferrell, who joined Sokol on the all-conference first team, is also in this group. The Richlands, Va., native took home a fifth place finish from the Conference Carolinas Championships in 2012. Eliza Parker, an Oswego, N.Y., native, earned second team all-conference honors after finishing sixth at the conference meet in her junior year. Hannah Witt rounds out the core of seniors as the Mountain City, Tenn., native missed most of last season due to injury.
"The preseason poll says that the women are the odds on favorite to repeat. We feel pretty confident that we have the experience, the fire to repeat, but this year the look is more towards regionals and nationals," Dalton said. "Last year we were fourth in region, things just didn't work out on the day, and when you're in cross country that just happens. The top three go from regionals, and we were fourth, we barely missed it. It was a bitter pill for the women to swallow. I think with the four seniors this year, Hannah Witt, Kendra Sokol, Eliza Parker and Evan Ferrell, I think those ladies have a little unfinished business, for lack of a better term."
Sophomore Tabitha Arwood will look to build off of a successful freshman season where the Lebanon, Va., native finished 15th at the conference championships and was named to the all-conference third team. Carly Griffith, a junior from Charlotte, N.C., will also look to crack King's top-five after the competing in two meets a season ago.
King was selected to repeat as conference champions by the league's coaches I the Conference Carolinas Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Tornado received seven first place votes 79 points, edging out Mount Olive College's 74 points and two first place votes for the top spot. Belmont Abbey College was selected third after receiving the final first place vote.
The Tornado will be tested early in the season as they open on September 6 at the Eye Opener Invitational in Spartanburg, S.C., and follows that with the Virginia Tech Invitational on September 20. King will go for their second straight Conference Carolinas title on October 25 in Concord, N.C. The NCAA Southeast Regional is scheduled for November 9 and the NCAA Division II National Championships will take place on November 23 in Spokane, Wash.