Clayton State women's cross country set to open season Sat.
Morrow, GA -- AUGUST 31, 2012 – With high expectations for 2012, the Clayton State women's cross country team is set to dash into its season Saturday.
Entering its 18th season under the direction of the head coach Mike Mead, the Lakers will open the year at 11 a.m. in the 6K Sewanee/Berry Cross Country Invitational on the campus of Berry College in Rome, GA.
"We have three solid weeks of training as we head into our first meet of the season," said Mead. "Our women's team is probably the best we've had to start a year and has the potential to make a run at the Peach Belt title and vie for one of the three qualifying spots for the NCAA championship meet at our region meet in November. That's provided we stay healthy and each team member realizes her potential."
The Lakers, who were recently picked to finish third in the Southeast Region by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), return four of their top five runners from last season and have a talented group of newcomers.
"Senior Paige Galvin and sophomore Jessica Smith lead our group of returnees," said Mead. "They both made all-conference last season, along with junior Samantha Walling. They are the heart of the team that helped us finish second in the Peach Belt last season."
In addition to the trio of All-PBC performers, sophomore Maia Kuhnen, who was consistently Clayton State's No. 5 runner last season had a solid track season and has been among the leaders in practice so far this preseason.
The Lakers have three newcomers to the 2012 team, and according to Mead, the top newcomer in practices so far has been sophomore transfer Racquel Valadez, who transferred from Oklahoma City University along with sophomore Kendra Wilson. The third newcomer is the team's lone freshman in Taylor Galvin, who is Paige's younger sister.
"Racquel had a very good summer of training and could be our No. 1 runner to start the season." said Mead.
Clayton State's Peach Belt Conference and NCAA Division II Southeast Region will be competitive as always. In the conference, the team to beat is defending champion Montevallo, and Mead also expects Augusta State and Columbus State to be improved over last season while UNC Pembroke could be a sleeper. In the region, Mount Olive, King and Queens have all been strong in the past.