BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Coming off of a top three finish at the 2015 Southern Athletic Association Championships, the Birmingham-Southern men's cross country team is primed to win its first SAA title in 2016. The Panthers lost no one from the 2015 squad and welcome two more potential scorers.
"I'm excited," said Head Coach Kenneth Cox about the upcoming season. "When you have four-year runners, that's really something you can be proud of. They've put in the work. They've sacrificed and committed themselves to this program. It's their time."
The 2016 roster, which includes seven upperclassmen, is highlighted by seniors Chris Roberts (Huntsville, Ala./Huntsville HS) and Jarrett Mason (Montgomery, Ala./Millsaps College). Roberts finished fourth overall at the SAA Championships and earned first-team all-conference honors. Mason crossed 12th to earn an All-SAA Honorable Mention nod.
Fellow senior Timothy McOmber (Montgomery, Ala./Montgomery Catholic Prep School) is also expected to lead by example this upcoming season. He finished the conference championships in 22nd place overall. Newcomers Aaron Beane (Madison, Ala./James Clemons HS) and Raleigh Schmidt (Madison, Ala./James Clemons HS) will be adding to the team's depth. Former high school teammates, the pair are expected to be strong contenders for the Panthers this season.
"To have not lost anybody last year, and have [Beane and Schmidt] join," started Cox, "they have the opportunity to take us to the next level."
The Panthers start the 2016 season Friday, Sept. 2 at the Struts Season Opener hosted by Jacksonville State before taking some time to train for the Rhodes Cross Country Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 17. They get their first crack at the conference championship course at the Watson Cross Country Meet (Friday, Oct. 7) held on Choctaw Trails. Millsaps will be hosting the conference championships on the same course. Since Berry College is hosting the 2016 NCAA South/Southeast Region Championships, the Panthers will get a run in on the course at the Berry Invitational Saturday, Oct. 15.
They also get a sneak peek at the regionals course on Saturday, Oct. 7 during the Berry Invitational.
"We have some real opportunities to compete during the regular season," said Cox. "This is the closest we'll be to conference, regional, and national championships. We have a great chance of having representation at the regional level, and everything goes well, and God willing, we'll be at nationals again. Believe has been our theme."