MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. – The Georgia College men’s cross country team comes into the 2011 season with high expectations. Coming off solid finishes in 2010 and featuring a pair of former All-Peach Belt Conference (PBC) runners on the roster, head coach Joe Samprone is excited about the unprecedented depth of his squad.
“Like any coach at this point in the season, I’m cautiously optimistic,” said Samprone. “The guys all came back in great shape, are healthy and running hard. We’ve got depth we haven’t had in recent memory.”
Dan Horseman (Cohutta, Ga.) and Tyler Mattix (Snellville, Ga.) both return for their final seasons, both having taken All-PBC Second Team honors in their respective careers. Horseman led the Bobcats in six races in 2010, and broke the school records in both the 8K and 10K distances. Mattix paced the Bobcats in the other two races of the season, including an eighth-place finish at the RunFit Invitational in Macon, Ga. Both guys are at the top of their game, and will battle for the No. 1 spot at every race.
Colin Conroy (Dacula, Ga.) came in ready to go, and has steadily shaved his times in his three seasons as a Bobcat. He was 21st at the PBC Championships in 2010, good for third on the squad. Second on the team at the PBC meet, Rob Manning (Lawrenceville, Ga.) was 18th overall, and has twice narrowly missed All-PBC status. Manning characteristically builds throughout the year, and is annually running his best in the championship season.
Travis Knight (Oxford, Ga.) battled illnesses in 2010, but still managed a season-best 8K of 28:44 despite running only three races. Classmate Nick Widener (Newnan, Ga.) also battled injuries last season, also making just three races. He had a great off-season and is looking in top shape. Also battling for a spot in the top five is Michael Heuett (Snellville, Ga.). Always a solid performer, Heuett ran in four races last season with a pair of top-20 finishes.
Both rookies in 2010, Philip Laskey (Marietta, Ga.) and Tucker Forbes (Lilburn, Ga.) made an immediate impact on GC cross country as freshmen. Laskey was named to the USTFCCCA All-Academic List, and also compiled four top-20 finishes. The rookie took 22nd at the PBC Championship and 50th at the NCAA Regional as a regular top-five guy. Forbes competed in all but one race for the Bobcats, including three top-20 finishes, and a 32nd slot at the PBC Championships.
Beau Bittinger (Conyers, Ga.) joins the squad for his freshman season. He “looks like a runner” according to Samprone, having put in solid time trials in the preseason. Bittinger will look for continued improvement over the course of the 2011 season to battle for the top five, as he continues to lengthen his distance to the 8K standard in college.
The Bobcats get the 2011 season underway Friday, Sept. 2 at 6:30 p.m. playing host to the Bobcat Invitational on GC’s West Campus Cross Country Course.
The Georgia College Department of Athletics, two-time winners of the PBC Commissioner's Cup, sponsors 10 varsity athletic programs at the NCAA Division II level. As a Division II program, Bobcat Athletics prides itself on balancing the life of the student-athlete, evidenced by the teams' multiple appearances in post-season competition as well as documented academic success and community-service involvement. Sign up at www.twitter.com/BobcatSports and www.facebook.com/gcbobcats for up-to-the-minute reports, and visit www.GCBobcats.com for more information, and to nominate your favorite former Bobcats and Colonials to the GC Athletics Hall of Fame.