PIPPA PASSES - The 2013 edition of the Alice Lloyd Eagles cross country team will be the largest combined squad in school history. Coach Gary Stepp has eight men and seven women who will don the royal blue and white this year.
“The student-athletes have been working extremely hard the past several weeks and are eager to test themselves against strong competition,” Stepp said. “I have been pleased with the effort and dedication that this squad has demonstrated, and I look forward to them realizing the results from their labors.”
The women’s squad returns highly regarded sophomore Allison Holbrook (Leslie County) who had a solid first season, and finished in the upper half at the KIAC Conference tournament. Brianne Osborne (Wise Christian) should help the squad with her continued improvement as she enters her first season for the Lady Eagles after a redshirt year last year.
A talented crop of newcomers has Coach Stepp excited about this squad. Kassie Rouse (Harlan County) was one of the top high school senior female runners in eastern Kentucky last season and was a huge recruiting coup for the Lady Eagles. Rouse was the class AA Region 7 champion last season. Her high school teammate Jennifer Graham (Harlan County) finished sixth in the regional for the past two seasons and is expected to definitely add to the teams improvement this year. Julia Brewer (North Laurel) was one of the top Class AAA runners in Region 7 two seasons ago. After taking off for one year, Brewer looks to pick up where she left off and help the Lady Eagles in their quest to battle the conference’s best. In addition, newcomers Samantha Hurley (Knott County Central) and Katie Hilton (Lawrence County) have already shown a lot of determination, and will added to the team’s depth.
On the men’s side, Stepp has high hopes for the entirely new group he has brought in to join his returning Eagles. Sophomore Greg Randolph (North Laurel) broke the school record last year and hopes to fight toward top 10 placements this season after he bounces back from a back injury. Fellow sophomore Ethan Bowling (Jenkins) showed exciting promise last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He hopes to be back to the squad by mid-season. Jonathan Aldana (Belfry) made huge strides last season and looks to continue his improvement, while Tyler Turner (Harlan County) used last year as a redshirt and looks to add to the club’s depth. David Lee (Harlan County) was the boy’s AA Region 7 champion two seasons ago and has the potential to be among the league’s top runners.
Three first-timers are working hard to help the club inch up in the conference standing as well. Freshman Donovan Johnson (Harlan County) helped lead his club to the state tournament for two seasons and has shown a great work ethic. Clay Montgomery (North Laurel) has quickly impressed with his rapid improvement, while freshman Cody Slone (Betsy Layne) has earned everyone’s respect with his gutsy determination.
The 2013 Alice Lloyd College Cross Country season will open on Friday at the University of Pikeville Dual Meet.