TWC LADY BULLDOGS CROSS COUNTRY/TRACK PREVIEW
How do you keep the winning train rolling? At Tennessee Wesleyan Women’s Cross Country/Track program recruits the top area talent. New Head Coach Justin Herbert is excited for the upcoming year of Cross Country and Track and has announced the 2015 recruiting class signees. The coaching staff believes they have brought in quality student-athletes to continue to grow as a national level program. The women’s program finished 25th at Cross Country Nationals and 28th at Outdoor Track Nationals.
Seven new track athletes and three new distance runners are heading to the Athens, Tennessee campus. Leading the recruiting class is Alexandria Johnson, from Westlake High School, located in Atlanta, Georgia. The coaching staff sees Alexandria as a near-certain national qualifier. With personal bests of 12.25 for 100m and 25.02 for 200m, Alexandria brings more depth to the women’s short sprints side and should compete for a spot on the 4x100m national qualifying relay team.
Multi-sport athlete Els Hooijdonk also looks to compete for a spot on the women’s 4x100m relay team. Hooijdonk brings a 12.45 100m best and several 5 years of state an dnational experience. Els will be competing for the Tennessee Wesleyan Lady Bulldogs soccer program in the fall before making the transition during the winter for the track team. "Adding Johnson and Hooijdonk not only adds talent and depth to our sprint crew, but it potentially makes this squad a threat at the NAIA level," says Coach Herbert. "I expect to contend with anyone in the NAIA, and with some work, I think this team could be running the finals of the National Championships this May."
Seeing a need to add more hurdlers and jumpers to the women’s program, the coaching staff has signed five with backgrounds in hurdles and/or jumping events. Brenna Kusch from Hardin Valley High School, in Knoxville, Tennessee, will compete in the triple jump, long jump and hurdles. Her personal best of 35’4.5” in the triple jump is farther than the current school record. Herbert, who guided Charnay Ryland to the AAC conference record and two conference championships in the triple jump as well as four berths at the NAIA National Championships while at Montreat College, believes Kusch has the ability to be a future All-American. "She certainly has the strength and talent to be one of the top jumpers not only in the conference, but in the country," explains Herbert.
Aly McNulty from Stone Memorial High School, in Crossville, Tennessee, will be high jumping in a Bulldog jersey this year. Aly comes in with a personal best of 5’1” in the high jump and finished fifth in the high jump at the Tennessee Track and Field State Meet. Aly will jump and hurdle at TWC.
Gracie Smith from Jefferson County High School, in Dandridge, Tennessee, will also be high jumping for the Lady Bulldogs. Gracie comes in with a personal best of 5 feet in the high jump. Gracie is expected to jump and hurdle.
Kyra McCrary from Elizabethton High School, located in Elizabethon, Tennessee, will hurdle next track season. Kyra comes in with personal bests of 49.40 in the 300m hurdles and 16.43 for the 100m hurdles.
Taylor DeBerry from Coffee County Central High School, located in Manchester, Tennessee, will hurdle next season as well for Tennessee Wesleyan. Taylor has personal bests of 52.94 for the 300m hurdles event and 16.64 for the 100m hurdles event. Taylor finished thirteenth at the Tennessee Track and Field State Meet.
"We've added a ton of depth in the jumps and hurdle events," explains Coach Herbert. "McNulty and Smith should score at the conference championships, and McCrary and DeBerry will be competitive in both the short and long hurdle events. We've not been real deep in these events until now, so with some work and development, we hope to see the podium in these areas this spring."
On the distance side, the coaching staff has signed three new distance runners. Leading the recruiting class for the middle-distance signees is Alexis Reviere from Tyner Academy, located in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Alexis can range from running the 400 all the up to a 5,000 race. Adding more strength to the distance program are Amy Wattenbarger from Cookeville High School helped her team to a 14th place finish at the DI-AAA Cross Country meet in 2014, and Maria Moses who was the top runner from Sweetwater High School, located in Sweetwater, Tennessee. "We've got a pretty strong team on the distance side, but these three add depth to the roster and show promise. Our goal is to develop these ladies to be the future leaders of our program," explains Coach Herbert.
The Lady Bulldogs Cross Country team opens up their competitive season on September 5th at Victor Ashe Park.