Cross Country: Panthers ready to take the next step at NCAA Division III Regional Championship

Photo Courtesy of USA South Conference
Photo Courtesy of USA South Conference

After shattering 11 personal records at the 2019 USA South Championship on Nov. 2, the LaGrange College cross country team has its sights set on the NCAA Division III South/Southeast Regional Championship on Saturday at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.

"We are excited to compete against the best in the South Region this year, so we can see what we need to work on next season," said Panthers second-year head coach Jasen Jonus. "We want to represent LaGrange College and show the South Region that we are getting better each year. We will soon be at the level we need to be at in order to make a run at the national level."

Garret Callahan set a personal record at the Foothills Invitational.

The Panthers' lineup on the men's side will feature sophomore Bryan Storie, seniors Darius Wonnum and Kyle Hildebrand, and freshmen Jyheem Rollins, Elijah Rachel and Garret Callahan.

Storie was the Panthers' top-performer for the 11th time in his career at the 2019 conference meet, placing 33rd overall out of 106 runners with a personal-best time of 27:49.67 on the 8-kilometer course.

Rollins crossed the finished line in a career-best time of 31:33.61 and finished 74th overall at the conference championship. He finished in LaGrange's second slot for the fifth time in his rookie season.

"I am very excited for the regional championship," said Rollins. "I will continue to do what I need to do in order to put LaGrange College on the map in our region, as well as the nation."

Wonnum clocked a personal record of 33:53.84, while Callahan was the team's third-place finisher for the third-straight meet with a time of 33:08.43. Additionally, Rachel and Hildebrand achieved personal-best performances, with times of 33:15.44 and 40:56.73, respectively.

On the women's side, junior Alexis Westrick and freshman Alex Whiten will represent the Panthers at the prestigious meet on Saturday.

Whiten has hit the ground running in every area this fall, finishing in LaGrange's top-two in all five meets. She was the first Panther to cross the finish line during the Middle Georgia Invitational on Sept. 7. During the USA South meet, Whiten was the squad's second-place finisher with a personal-best time of 28:31.30, placing 58th overall out of 112 runners.

"I am very excited to represent the LaGrange cross country team at the regional championship," said Whiten. "As a rookie, I am thankful to have this opportunity, and I want to continue to help build for the future."

Westrick also set a new personal record (30:10.72) at the conference meet, as she finished 72nd overall.

2018 NCAA REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Sophomore Holly Moreland, who earned All-Conference Honorable Mention recognition at the 2018 USA South Championship, placed 87th overall out of 237 runners on the 6-kilometer course (25:31.00) during the 2018 regional championship. She was the first Panther to cross the finish line on the women's side.
  • Sophomore Karli Whitaker performed admirably in her rookie season at the regional meet, finishing in the Panthers' third spot (32:04.63), while junior Natalie Glass clocked a time of 35:55.85.
  • On the men's side, Storie was the first Panther to cross the finish line with a time of 28:18.47 on the 8-kilometer course during a 93rd-place finish out of 239 runners.
  • Wonnum (36:34.76) finished in the fourth slot for the Panthers, while junior Gavin Battle (38:08.77) rounded out the team's top-five.