The Appalachian State men’s cross-country team is primed for a strong year, having recently been voted by conference coaches to finish second in the Sun Belt, with UT Arlington leading the poll.
Arlington received four of the 11 first-place votes, while the Mountaineers received three of the 11 votes.
“It says a lot about our Men’s program when the other teams in the conference think that highly of us,” head coach Michael Curcio said. “UT Arlington is certainly the team to beat as they return three of their top four runners.”
App State is also returning three of their top four from last season, including redshirt sophomore Michael Ellis.
Last season, Ellis accumulated three Top 10 finishes in the 8K event, including a first-place finish at the Winthrop Invitational. Ellis also finished seventh in the 8K event at the Sun Belt Conference Championship in 2014.
Ellis said hopes to improve this season in regards to his times and individual finishes. He also said that he wasn’t surprised by the team being slotted behind UT Arlington in the preseason poll.
“I think it’s about right,” Ellis said. “I figured Arlington was going to be the team to beat this year, I figured we would be right there around second or third in the poll. I definitely think we have the team to win the conference, we just all have to be there at the same time, compete well and win it.”
The Mountaineers will open their season on Sept. 4 at the Covered Bridge Open, their only home race of the season, and will compete in meets in Rock Hill and Spartanburg, South Carolina, as well as Kernersville, North Carolina, before heading to the Sun Belt Conference Championships in Georgia in November.
But for now, the team is focused on the next race.
“We’re really excited about that,” Ellis said. “The goal is to win our home race.”
The Covered Bridge Open begins at 5:30 p.m., and will be held at the State Farm Greenway.
Story by: Lee Sanderlin, Intern Sports Reporter