2017 Women's Cross Country Preview
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The 2017 Cross Country season is set to begin on Friday, and this year the defending Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) champions, Alabama State will look to win its seventh-straight conference championship.
2016 finish: Tenth at SWAC Championship
Alabama A&M will look to improve on a season where it finished 10th in the 2016 SWAC championship. The Lady Bulldogs will look to Joi Ballard and Taylor Sunkett, who had the two highest finishes for the Lady Bulldogs last season to lead the team. The Lady Bulldogs return a number of runners and will look to be more consistent this season. However, the Lady Bulldogs will not be able to compete in the SWAC championship due to NCAA sanctions.
2016 finish: Won SWAC championship
Alabama State took home its sixth consecutive conference title in 2016, and the Lady Hornets will look to do make it seven straight in 2017. ALST returns a number of key pieces from last year’s team including Arion Span and Janice Lane. Both Span and Lane had top-five finishes in last year’s SWAC cross country championship. The Hornets look poised to once again be the favorites to take home the SWAC women’s cross country title in 2017.
2016 finish: Sixth at SWAC Championships
The Lady Braves have a good core of veteran leadership on its squad in 2017. Alcorn State will look to improve on its sixth place finish in the SWAC championships last season. In order to do that, the Lady Braves will need more consistency as a whole. With a strong core of returning runners, including Dynasty Williams, the Lady Braves could see an improvement, and as a result move up the conference standings.
2016 finish: Eighth at SWAC Championships
The Lady Lions return a lot its lineup from last season’s team, which finished eighth in the SWAC Championship in 2016. Jada Gammage returns to pace the Lady Lions this season. Gammage had the highest finish of any runner for the Lady Lions in the 2016 championship, placing 38th. With a good amount of runners returning the Lady Lions will look to move up a few spots in the final standings in the 2017 season.
2016 finish: Seventh at SWAC Championships
Grambling State will rely heavily on returning Halima Chepkwony this season. Chepkwony placed fifth in the 2016 SWAC cross country championship and was the only Lady Tiger to crack the top-20. Grambling State will need more production around Chepkwony this season if the Lady Tigers are going to improve its SWAC finish in 2017. If the Tigers can do that, they stand a chance to vault up the standings.
2016 finish: Ninth at SWAC Championships
Jackson State is looking to get more contributions around its top runner this season. JKST will look to Stherline Silecieux to lead the team this season. Silecieux was the only Lady Tiger to finish inside the top-20 at the 2016 SWAC championship. Jackson State will need to look to have other runners contribute if it wants to improve on its SWAC championship finish in 2017, and move up the conference standings.
Mississippi Valley State
2016 finish: Second at SWAC Championships
Mississippi Valley State will once again look to field a strong team this season. The Devilettes finished second at the SWAC championship last season and will look to build off that success. MVSU welcomes back a number of its top runners from a season ago. Kemei Scolastician, who finished second in the SWAC Championship last season, returns to lead the Devilettes this season. With the majority of its top runners returning, MVSU looks to challenge Alabama State once again for the SWAC championship in 2017.
Prairie View A&M
2016 finish: Third at SWAC Championship
One of the more consistent teams in the conference last season, Prairie View A&M will look to continue that trend and improve to challenge for the conference championship this season. The Panthers placed six runners inside the top 30 finishers at the 2016 SWAC championship. If the Panthers can improve on its overall finishes, while still maintaining its consistency, PVAM will be able to have an even better 2017 season, and perhaps challenge Alabama State for the conference crown.
2016 finish: Fifth at SWAC Championships
Although Southern is not eligible to compete in the 2017 SWAC championship, the Jaguars will still have one of the more formidable teams in the league this season. The Jaguars placed four runners inside the top-35 in the 2016 SWAC championship. That consistency is a key factor in their success. Head coach Charmaine Darden will look to Danae Colston to pace the Jaguars this season. Colston was the highest finishing Jaguar runner at the SWAC championship last season, finishing 25th.
2016 finish: Fourth at SWAC Championships
Texas Southern will once again look to be a contender for the SWAC cross county title this season. TXSO had two runners, Mariah Stewart and Marlyn Campa finish inside the top-ten at the SWAC championship last season. Stewart will look to be the team’s top finisher once again this season. The Tigers will need to see higher finishes from the bottom of its lineup if it wants to claim the conference title in 2017.