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Cross Country: Panthers continue to raise the bar

Cross Country: Panthers continue to raise the bar

By Trevor Wenners
Assistant Director of Sports Information

The LaGrange College cross-country team is looking to take the next step in its evolution under third-year head coach Jasen Jonus, as the Panthers have 10 returning runners and five newcomers for the 2020-21 academic year.

The most accomplished Panther returner is Holly Moreland. The Franklin, Georgia, native has been a model of consistency during her first two years, finishing in the team's top-slot in all 10 meets she has competed in. Moreland earned USA South All-Conference Honorable Mention honors at the 2018 conference meet, placing 28th overall out of 114 competitors.

"Due to the 2020 season being pushed back, everyone is looking forward to January more than ever," said Moreland. "We started practice a few weeks ago and the excitement for a meet is overwhelming. I am thankful to have two more cross-country seasons and am excited to see how this season will turn out."

Alex Whiten's rookie season in 2019 was impressive. She was the Panthers' first-place finisher twice and second-place performer four times. Whiten recorded a personal-best time of 28:15.3 on the 6-kilometer course at the NCAA Division III South/Southeast Regional Championship.

Karli Whitaker was the team's third-place finisher three times in 2019, while Alexis Westrick had a personal-best time of 30:10.72 in the 6 kilometer at the USA South Championship.

Natalie Glass was LaGrange's representative on the 2019 USA South All-Sportsmanship Team and ran a career-best time of 31:52.94 in the 6 kilometer at the conference meet. Jessica Breeding set a personal record in 2019, covering the 5-kilometer course in a time of 27:57.30 at the Foothills Invitational.

"I am excited for the future of the cross-country program because of the dedication that the team has to improving individually and together," said Breeding. "The team shares a great bond that goes beyond practice and traveling. Friendships are only going to expand as more student-athletes are added. Coach Jonus is the best coach that we could have asked for. He is supportive to the entire team and every individual."

Jyheem Rollins will look to build off his rookie campaign in 2019. Rollins was the squad's second-place performer in all six meets. He finished 27th overall at the N.C. Wesleyan Invitational and posted a career-best time of 31:33.61 in the 8 kilometer at the USA South Championship.

Elijah Rachel (33:15.44), Malcolm Roberts (34:16.64) and Kyle Hildebrand (40:56.73) set personal records in the 8-kilometer event at the 2019 conference meet.

The Panthers have high expectations for their five newcomers: Lillian DeGennaro, Kendal Clark, Chalyb Lenker, John Moore and Logan Rutledge. Matthew Snyder is in his first year as a graduate-assistant coach for the program.

"I am excited to welcome our new teammates," said Westrick. "I cannot wait for what LaGrange cross country has in store for us in the near future."

Trevor Wenners can be reached at twenners@lagrange.edu.

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