Pioneers set to compete at SAC Championships this Saturday

Pioneers set to compete at SAC Championships this Saturday

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum men's and women's cross country teams will compete Saturday morning at the South Atlantic Conference Championships, which will be held at Southside Park in Newton, North Carolina.

The Pioneers enjoyed a solid regular season, with the men's team earning the championship at the Koala Classic on Oct. 7 and the women's team recording a second place finish and two fourth-place finishes during the year for fifth-year head coach Cory Pratt.

The women's championship race will start at 9 a.m. Saturday, followed by the men's race at 10 a.m. Tusculum's men finished 11th and the women placed ninth in last year's SAC Championship meets, which were held in Columbia, South Carolina.

MEN'S PREVIEW
The Pioneers have been led this season by a trio of freshmen: Zac Branham, Jackson Beason and Will Cronin.

Branham finished in the top 10 in each of his three meets during the season, including third at the Koala Classic and seventh at both the Tusculum Open and the Lenoir-Rhyne Invitational. Branham ran 26:56.60 at the Lenoir-Rhyne event, and was the team's top finisher in each meet he competed.

Beason turned in two top-10 performances during the season, placing fifth at the Koala Classic and 10th at the L-R Invitational in 27:08.82. Beason was also the Pioneers' top finisher at the Royals XC Challenge in Charlotte on Sept. 29, placing 47th with a time of 26:10.

Cronin was the Pioneers' number-two runner in three of their four meets, including a seventh-place finish at the Koala Classic and eighth at the Lenoir-Rhyne Invitational.

Sophomore Mason Snelson competed in all four meets for the Pioneers, led by a 10th-place finish at the Koala Classic. Snelson ran 28:42.04 at the Lenoir-Rhyne Invitational and placed 27th, while his fastest time of the season came at the Royals XC Challenge with a time of 27:51.

Junior J'Quen Johnson is one of two Tusculum men's competitors with previous SAC Championship experience. Last year, Johnson was the Pioneers' second finisher as he crossed the line in 47th place with a time of 29:00.2, following a freshman season in which he finished in 58th place. This season, Johnson ran in three meets and had a fast time of 28:32 at the Royals XC Challenge.

Freshman Alex Haffcke, junior Will Noel and freshman Isaac Hybarger will round out the Tusculum lineup. Haffcke ran in all four meets this season, with a fast time of 29:40.76 at the L-R Invitational. Noel, who was Tusculum's fifth finisher at last year's SAC Championship with a time of 32:02.4, had a season-low time of 30:36.74 at Lenoir-Rhyne. Hybarger posted his best time of the year at the Royals XC Challenge in 32:11.

WOMEN'S PREVIEW
A total of 13 different runners competed in at least one race for the Pioneers this season, and 10 will be competing for Tusculum at the SAC Championship.

Sophomore Alissa Furches was the top finisher in each race for the Pioneers, including three top-10 finishes. Furches placed fourth at the Tusculum Open, sixth at Lenoir-Rhyne in a time of 19:53.00, and seventh at the Koala Classic. Furches' best time of the year came at the Royals XC Challenge where she was clocked at 19:47 and finished in 80th place.

Sophomore Emily Stoklosa was the Pioneers' top finisher at last year's SAC Championship, placing 36th overall with a time of 20:43.8. Stoklosa ran in two meets in the fall, turning in an eighth-place finish at the Lenoir-Rhyne Invitational in 19:55.18.

Freshman Addison Aguilar has been the Pioneers' second finisher in each of her two races this season, clocking at 19:55 at the Royals XC Challenge and finishing in 16th place at the Koala Classic.

Junior Mackenzie Newsome was the Pioneers' second finisher at the Tusculum Open, where she finished in 12th place overall, and turned in a 20th-place time of 20:48.87 at the Lenoir-Rhyne Invitational. Last year, Newsome was 59th at the SAC Championship in a time of 21:55.0 after finishing in 60th place as a freshman.

Junior Makenzi Alley ran in three meets this fall for the Pioneers, earning a fastest time of 21:00 at the Royals XC Challenge. Alley took 54th place at the SAC Championship last season with a time of 21:41.7.

Sophomore Brooklyn Smith will also be running at the SAC Championship again this season. Last year, she finished in 74th place with a time of 22:47.0, which she improved on this year at the Royals XC Challenge with a time of 21:48. Smith also had a 19th-place finish at the Tusculum Open and was 23rd at the Koala Classic.

Junior Deondra Thomas is the fifth Pioneer with previous conference meet experience, claiming 72nd place each of the past two seasons. THomas ran in all four meets this fall, turning in a best time of 22:57 at the Royals XC Challenge.

Freshmen Carrigan Bishop, Paige Roberts and Angel Quay each competed for the Pioneers this fall. Bishop ran 21:42 and Quay had a best time of 24:09 at the Royals XC Challenge, while Roberts was clocked in 21:34.1 and finished 13th at the Tusculum Open.