JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – A solid season has earned the Carson-Newman women's team a region ranking by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association going into week seven of competition as they prepare for the upcoming NCAA Southeast Regional Championships.
"The regional ranking is a wonderful culmination of all of the hard work these young ladies have put in since June." Coach Eric Phillips said. "For us to continue to take these steps forward as a team and as a family has been what we have been striving for and I cannot overstate how proud I am of this group."
The 2018 squad of Eagles came in at number nine in the region rankings at week seven of competition announced this week. The last time the women ranked in the region standings was in 2010 in weeks two and three of the season. Week two had them at number ten in the ranks and in week three they jumped up a spot to number nine.
A third-place finish at the Lenoir-Rhyne Invitational to kick off the season set the tone for the Lady Eagles as they have continued to thrive and improve up until this point in the season. The Queens City Invitational was next on the list where Rachel Strayer (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), Alexis Brown (Chattanooga, Tenn.) and Lindsey Williams (Wilmington, N.C.) all set personal records at the race helping the women come in 15thplace.
Two weeks later the women placed 20thout of 45 teams at the Queens City Royals Challenge putting them at 9thout of the South East Region schools and 5thout of the SAC schools at the race. Strayer clinched a school record and personal record with her 31stplace finish adding to the six personal records and two seasons bests for the team overall.
Thanks to the freshman and senior duo of Strayer and Kathie O'Neill (Sevierville, Tenn.) running her first official race of the season, the Lady Eagles came in 4thplace at the SAC Championships on November 3rd. Strayer finished in 6thplace earning her Freshman of the Year and First Team All-Conference while O'Neill clocked in at 11thfor the team .
"We talked about 'turning some heads' earlier this fall and showing up and surprising people," Phillips said. "I think we've done just that. Well now the secret is out, the Eagles are here and we're here to stay. Our work isn't done, and we will continue to push ourselves and raise that bar, but it's been a wild ride so far this fall and I cannot wait to see how the rest of the year goes. We're just getting started."
Phillips is in his first year as coach of the cross-country teams at Carson-Newman and originally started out as an assistant coach for the program. With the success and development of the athletes over the course of the season, Coach David Needs promoted Phillips to head coach midway through and the athletes credit his stellar training methods and practice schedule to their success.
The Eagles will hit the course again at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championship in Oak Wood, GA on November 17th.