BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Birmingham-Southern College women's cross country team is looking to bounce back from a fifth place finish at the Southern Athletic Association Championships last year. The Panthers lost just one senior and add five newcomers to the 2016 roster.
"What I'm excited for is our depth," said Head Coach Kenneth Cox. "Having that depth in a very competitive conference is going to allow us to train a lot harder. The training atmosphere will allow us to push some things. So when it comes to the meets, we'll be battle tested."
Seniors Elise Pittman (Vestavia Hills, Ala./Vestavia Hills HS) and Shannon Walsh (Eugene, Ore./Marist Catholic HS) are two of the team's leaders. The pair were two of the three top BSC finishers at conference championships. Junior Morgan Reynolds (Indian Springs, Ala./Westminster School) was the Panthers top finisher, just nine seconds off her personal best time. Reynolds and sophomore Margot Woolverton (Birmingham, Ala./Vestavia Hills HS) round out the top scoring returners. The group is expected to set the example and push the team forward.
"All four of them really came in from day one with a strong work ethic," said Cox. "They rise to the occasion. You can always depend on one of those four taking the lead and being an inspiration for the team. They are the kind of runners you want to lead the way and bring everyone else on."
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."