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Coach Heather Duley has pushed the Blue Mountain College cross country teams hard all season, and she’s not letting up now.
Heading into Saturday’s TranSouth Athletic Conference cross country championship meets in Jackson, Tenn., Duley is still preaching the gospel of hard work and focus.
“We’ve made some significant strides in our program this year,” Duley said, “and I want our runners to stay focused for the rest of the season. After the TSAC meet, the Toppers head to Nashville on Nov. 4 for the NAIA championship regional qualifying meets.
“Our runners have really worked hard this year, but it’s paid off,” said Duley. “Everybody on the team has beat his or her personal records, and all the returning runners from last year have improved their times – some dramatically – on courses where they ran last year.”
Tuesdae Rowland, a junior from Ripley, and Austin Epting, a sophomore from Baldwyn, have paced the BMC runners all year and Duley said she expects their leadership to continue for the rest of the season.
“I want to see Tuesdae and Austin to keep on improving and to keep pushing their teammates. They’re both extremely hard workers and their attitudes are contagious.”
Rowland and Epting were named TSAC Runners of the Week two weeks ago after strong finishes at the Mississippi College Invitational. Both runners finished fifth among more than 70 non-Division I runners at MC.
Earlier this year, Rowland and Epting finished third among more than 30 runners at the Union University Invitational – held over the same course as this weekend’s TSAC championship.
Magan Wilburn, a sophomore from Mooreville, has also had a strong fall campaign with a fifth place finish at Union and a 13th at MC. Mary Chunn, a freshman from Blue Springs, also had a top 10 race, finishing eighth at Union. Ashlee Grisham, a freshman from Pontotoc; Beth Goolsby, a sophomore from Hickory Flat; Stephanie Dillard, a sophomore from New Albany; and Emma Baxter, a freshman from Kossuth, finished in places 10-13 at Union.
Epting has been pushed by a strong men’s contingent of Nathan Young, a junior from Pontotoc; Richard Feist, a junior from Saltillo; Derek Scott, a sophomore from Saltillo; Hunter Flanagan, a junior from Saltillo; and Casey Bales, a freshman, from Quebeck, Tenn.