Spartanburg, SC -
Selected by the league's 10 coaches, both the ETSU men's and women's cross country teams were picked to finish among the top four in the Southern Conference with the men selected to finish third while the women were chosen to finish fourth, the conference office announced Tuesday.
Competing as a member of the SoCon for the first time in 10 years, the Bucs' cross country program will look to parlay its successes experienced in the Atlantic Sun Conference to its new league home. SoCon coaches have taken note of the strength of ETSU's program and have picked both teams to finish near the top of the league standings with the men garnering 64 points and a third-place standing while the women were awarded 60 points and a fourth-place ranking.
On both sides, Furman received all nine possible first-place votes to be the top pick to win the league. For the men, spots two and three were separated by only two points (66-64), while for the women, the two-thru-four rankings featured only a three-point gap (63-61-60).
The majority of the SoCon programs will open their respective seasons on the weekend of Aug. 29 with ETSU slated to start the 2014 campaign that day at the Covered Bridge Open in Boone, N.C.
The Blue & Gold will then have a two-week break before getting back into action on Sept. 19 at Virginia Tech. The following week, the Bucs will travel to Kernersville, N.C. to compete in the UNC Greensboro Spartan Invitational.
On Oct. 17, ETSU will participate in the Catamount Classic in Cullowhee, N.C. before heading back to UNCG on Oct. 31 for the 2014 Southern Conference Championships at Ivey Redmond Sports Complex.
The NCAA South Regional Championships will take place on Nov. 14 at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, Fla. Qualifying teams will advance to the NCAA Championships on Nov. 22 in Terre Haute, Ind.
On the men's side, the Bucs return nine runners from a squad that finished third at the A-Sun Championships and 16th at the South Regional last season. Headlining the group is senior Filip Jalovy (Modrice, Czech Republic) who placed eighth at the past year's league meet with a 25:30.16 time to secure second-team all-conference honors.
For the women, ETSU features five returnees from a team that placed runner-up at the league championships and 18th at NCAA Regionals in 2013. Junior Katie Hirko (Oley, Pa.), who finished third overall at the A-Sun Championships with a time of 17:41.13 to earn first-team all-league accolades, will lead a young but experienced group.
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