Message from Assistant Director of Sports Information Trevor Wenners: We will be featuring our outstanding student-athletes with a top-moment series. On every Monday and Wednesday during the next eight weeks, we will highlight one standout moment from the 2019-20 season. Every Panther program will be featured once during the series. You can see these stories on our Panthers' athletic website or through our social-media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
SETTING THE STAGE:
The LaGrange College men's and women's cross-country programs made huge strides under second-year head coach Jasen Jonus and assistant coach Sarah Bearden '18 during the 2019 fall season.
Sophomore Bryan Storie took home first-place laurels out of 45 runners at the Middle Georgia Invitational on Sept. 7, and then earned runner-up honors out of 64 competitors at the N.C. Wesleyan Invitational on Sept. 21.
Sophomore Holly Moreland led the charge on the women's side, earning a ninth-place finish out of 67 runners at the N.C. Wesleyan Invitational. She has been the squad's top-performer in all 10 of her career meets.
Rollins was the second Panther to cross the finish line in all six meets. Whiten was the unit's top-finisher at the Middle Georgia Invitational.
Whiten rose to the challenge at the NCAA Division III South/Southeast Regional on Nov. 16 in Memphis, Tennessee, clocking a career-best time of 28:15.3 on the 6-kilometer course.
In the team rankings, the men finished third out of six at the Middle Georgia Invitational and fourth out of eight at the N.C. Wesleyan Invitational.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
The one moment that characterizes the immense progress that the cross-country programs made this fall is the USA South Championship on Nov. 2, as 11 Panther runners set new personal-best times at N.C. Wesleyan in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
Storie led the way on the men's side, finishing 33rd out of 106 with a personal record of 27:49.67 in the 8-kilometer race. Moreland, who earned All-Conference Honorable Mention recognition at the 2018 conference meet, was the Panthers' first-place finisher on the women's side. The Franklin, Georgia, native recorded a time of 26:37.77 on the 6-kilometer course.
Whiten (28:31.30), sophomore Karli Whitaker (30:08.43), junior Alexis Westrick (30:10.72), senior Liz Minick (30:20.74) and junior Natalie Glass (31:52.94) all set individual records during the women's race.
During the men's event, Rollins (31:33.61), freshman Elijah Rachel (33:15.44), senior Darius Wonnum (33:53.84), freshman Malcolm Roberts (34:16.64) and senior Kyle Hildebrand (40:56.73) all broke their individual records. Freshman Garret Callahan (33:08.43) also performed exceptionally well, finishing in the Panthers' third slot for the third-consecutive meet.
Junior Gavin Battle and freshman Jessica Breeding recorded impressive seasons. Battle set a personal-best time of 36:38.1 in the 8-kilometer race at the N.C. Wesleyan Invitational. During the Foothills Invitational on Oct. 5, Breeding registered a career-best time of 27:57.30 on the 5-kilometer course.
HEAD COACH JASEN JONUS' REACTION:
"I am so proud of our men's and women's cross-country programs this year. The hard work and dedication allowed the teams to accomplish an amazing, 11 personal records on a big stage at the USA South Championship. I am excited for what the future holds for both of our teams in the coming seasons."
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Trevor Wenners can be reached at email@example.com.