Mount Olive, N.C. - The University of Mount Olive women's cross country team enters the 2019 season as the preseason favorites to win this year's conference championship title as voted on in the preseason coaches polls announced by the Conference Carolinas office on Monday, August 12.
The Trojans completed the 2018 season with a fourth-place finish in the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional, while sending two runners in Leah Hanle and Celine Ritter to the NCAA Division II National Championships. Leah Hanle earned her third All-American honor as she finished 7th, seven places higher than her 2017 finish and 18 spots better than her freshman finish of 25th.
Seniors Leah Hanle and Meredith Lorient will lead the team, with Jessica Glenn, Lena Kaster, Elizabeth Lopez, Caitlin Carnegie, Erin Dillon, and Amber Owens all returning this year after the successful 2018 season that saw the programs fourth straight Conference Carolinas Championship and a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional. Hanle is the only all-region honoree returning, while Owens joins Hanle as the only returning all-conference runners from 2018.
Senior Leah Hanle and freshman Madeline Carkeet were listed as the Runners to Watch for Mount Olive this season, who looks to continue the success of the Trojans Cross Country program with a fifth conference title and a second team trip to nationals.
Jackie Kirby, who was promoted to head coach over the summer, looks to continue and expand the success the Trojans collected over the last eight seasons, with new assistant coach, and UMO alum class of '14, Erasmo 'Mo' Ordonez at her side.
The Trojans begin their season on September 7, as they travel to Salisbury, N.C., to compete in the Catawba Fleet Feet XC Invite.
For the full Conference Carolinas release click here.