Cross Country runs into victory

HALEY HALL
Sports Editor

On Halloween, while most students were trick or treating, the Piedmont men’s cross country team traveled to Greensboro, N.C. to run in the conference race.

For the first time since 2009, the men took the title of conference champions. The Lions finished with four first team all-conference honorees and were led by first-year runner Clayton Thayer.  The Lions finished third, fourth, fifth and sixth overall.

First-year runner Clayton Thayer came in first for the Lions with a time of 28:27.40. This was an eight-second personal best. Third-year runner Cody Parker came in right after Thayer, finishing fourth with a time of 28:29.90. First-year runner Jarrod Howell finished just two seconds behind Parker at 28:31.40, while first-year runner Dewayne Cagle finished three seconds after with 28:34.70.

Piedmont had its top four across the line in just seven seconds. The Lions set the fastest team average in school history with a time of 28:41.04, topping the time of 29:00 that was set one year ago at the USA South Championship Meet on the same course.

“It was our main goal coming into the season,” said Assistant Coach Ian Layne. “The guys put in a lot of hard work this season to reach our goal. We knew that we were going to need a small spread if we were going to take home the team title and that’s exactly what our guys went out and did.”

On Nov. 6, the men are traveling to Shenandoah, Va. to compete in the NCCA South regional race.

Not only did the men’s cross country team win conference and beat its overall record, the head coach was named “Coach of the Year” within the USA South Conference. On Oct. 8, the USA South Conference office announced the award. Jenkins became the first coach at Piedmont to be named USA South Coach of the Year in a men’s sport.

“[Head] Coach [Jeff] Jenkins winning coach of the year is a testament to all of the hard work he puts into our athletes,” said Layne. “I have never seen someone so dedicated to making athletes better. All of his hard work, along with our athletes, showed this past Sat. in Greensboro.”

Jenkins helped the men’s cross-country team surge into victory this season, and as a whole, the team has had nine USA South Athlete of the Week honors this season.

“It was a really good honor to get this award,” said Jenkins. “I want to thank the athletes because it was them who won it, not me as a coach. It was them that got me a coach of the year. They just do a good job by making me look good.”