Cross country teams named preseason favorites
For the first time since moving to Division II, both the men’s and women’s track teams are ranked in the top 25 nationally to start the season. The Lady Flames ranked 14th, while the men are ranked 16th. Both teams head into the season as conference favorites.
Each year, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) releases a preseason poll among each division. This ranking gauges what the season should look like for each team.
“Being ranked nationally in the preseason poll shows that our team has tradition,” said Caleb Morgan, the head coach of Lee’s Track & Field teams. “We have been very competitive in Division II the last four years. Our teams are well known and always a contender to win conference and regional titles.”
“We have never had a group that understands running and what we are trying to accomplish in a season like they do,” Morgan said of the women’s track team.
While Coach Morgan is quick to praise his high-ranking teams, the student athletes return the admiration just as easily.
“One thing I love about Coach Morgan is that he’s a very intentional coach,” said Caleb Eagleson, a junior youth ministry major. “He always checks up on us and I know he really, truly cares about every single one of his athletes.”
Though the USTFCCCA poll has increased energy levels and camaraderie on the teams, Lee’s student athletes have also started to feel the pressure of the upcoming season.
“We know that everyone’s going to be looking at us. Everybody wants to beat us,” said Eagleson. “…but we can’t let that get to our heads.”
The cross country team will kick off the season on Friday, Sept. 13 at the UTC Twilight meet in East Ridge, Tennessee. This will be just the start of the team’s ambitious season. The end goal of the season is for both teams to place in the top 15 at Nationals. If the USTFCCCA’s preseason poll is any indication, both teams are more than capable of going the distance.