The 2003 season for both the men and women’s cross country teams will be a year for improving to the next level. Both teams have added talented freshmen to join a solid group of returning players. With this combination, Union has raised expectations for each team.
The women are now starting their fourth season of competition. They have finished as high as TranSouth runner-up, but are now striving to improve on that and challenge the NAIA nationally recognized team Berry College for the conference championship. Union has boasted two individual runners, Michelle Hardee (2001) and Janelle Royer (2002), as individual NAIA National Qualifiers. Royer is one of six juniors on the 2003 squad that has no seniors. Adrienne Briles, Jenny Eastman, Rachel Cazalas, Stacey Chandler, and Kate Graham join Royer as junior class for the Lady Bulldogs. Two freshman runners, Jill Konkel and Courtney Owens will be expected to help carry the load improving to the next step in building a winning program at Union.
Head Coach Gary Johnson states, "We may not overtake the champs, but we certainly do not want the championship to be a foregone conclusion like it has been in years past. Our teams are determined to make a team outwork us if they are going to beat us." Michelle Hardee, a former NAIA National Qualifier for Union, will be returning as graduate assistant coach. Hardee served as graduate assistant in 2002 and handled most of the weekly preparation and practice while Coach Johnson spent time working on his Doctorate Degree. Now that he has finished, Johnson and Hardee look to team up to field a Union team that is well prepared to challenge for a conference championship.