Clarksville, Ark.-U of O men's and women's head coach Brian Hull has high expectations for his cross country teams this season.
Hull expressed his excitement for the veteran status of several runners and plans to use that to the team’s advantage in the upcoming season. He expects his upperclassmen to take on a leadership role and work with the four men and two women that joined the program to help Ozarks improve and continue development within the program. The experience of the older runners combined with the excitement of the younger runners is expected to create promising results.
While the older runners continue to work hard and improve, Hull states “the incoming class can have an opportunity to have a pretty solid impact right away for the men and women.”
On the men’s side, junior David James earned First Team All-Conference and junior Tristan Cooper earned Second Team All-Conference last season. James also picked up a Runner of the Week title last season. Cooper had the team’s top 8K time last season, running a 28:02 at the Rhodes College Invitational.
“We hope to continue to have that conference recognition with a runner of the week title or through a First or Second Team All-Conference runner,” said Hull. Hull reveals that the women’s team has some high impact runners that will help the program get more recognition.
The last few years both teams have went to the NCAA III South/Southeast Regional and received some high recognition. Two years ago the Eagles sent three men and last year they sent the same three men along with one woman to the meet. Junior Tadera Garland, who posted the team’s top 5K time with a 23:57, was the first female runner in program history since U of O joined the ASC to represent the women’s team. James, Cooper, and Jeremy Provence represented Ozarks in the regional meet the previous two years. The men showed immense improvement on the national stage last year from their first experience. James placed in the top 35 runners at the meet, qualifying him for the All-Region Team.
A solid incoming class hopes to move Ozarks up the conference ladder for each team and an incredible amount of excitement coming from the men and women will fuel the efforts of the teams in training and meets.
Ozarks opens the season September 3 in the Arkansas Tech University Twilight Run in Russellville.
By Sarah Otteman, Student Assistant