Fourth-year coach Jesse Norman is looking forward to the upcoming seasons for both teams. The Bulldog harriers open the season at the Western Carolina Invitational on Friday, Sept. 3 in Cullowhee.
"It is good to get started," stated Norman. "We had our time trials this weekend which gave us a good indication of the work each team has to do to get better."
The Bulldog men's team could be ready to make some noise this year in the Big South Conference. Asheville returns some experience and talent for this year's club. The Bulldogs finished in fifth place last year but aim higher in 2010."
"The men's team has a chance to make a strong showing in 2010," explained Norman. "We return most of our top runners this year and all have improved from last season. Our team just needs to keep working hard and be ready for each meet."
Asheville returns juniors Eliud Chirchir and Sam Maynard, who just missed earning all-conference honors in 2009 as they finished 13th and 17th respectively. Junior Kent Rankin is back along with senior Jay Barringer and junior Adam Schnapp. Junior Carlos Lopez joins the team after competing in the spring and could make a big impact. Sophomore Chris Murray will be back this season. Newcomers Tyler Michael, Sebastian Paniagua and Nick Summers provide depth on this year's club.
On the women's side, the Bulldogs look to improve on last year's sixth-place finish. Asheville will be helped by the return of junior Emma Bussard. She missed most of last season before coming back late in the year.
"We have some work to do on the women's side but having Emma back will help," commented Norman. "She's healthy and ready to go."
Sophomore Melanie Kulesz earned all-conference honors last season with a 10th-place finish. She had a solid track season last spring and competed in the U.S. Junior Nationals in June. Kulesz will be rested until later in the season.
"We want to hold Melanie off until mid-October," explained Norman. "She competed late in the track season, and we want her to be fresh by the time we get to the Big South Conference Meet."
Sophomores' Jennifer Black, Alyska Kalmeijer, Clair Powell and Kylie Smith should be better with a year of experience under their belt. Juniors' Michelle Busse and Erin Putman return, as well. A talented freshman class of Ginger Buchanan Rachel Carson and Shelby Lott will help the Bulldogs' depth in 2010.
"We're trying to find our number five runner on the women's side," stated Norman. "If we can find a consistent number five runner then we have a chance to be even better than last year."