CARMEL, Ind. – The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) rolled out its cross country pre-season polls on Wednesday (Aug. 21) morning.
Five members of the Franklin men's team and five runners from the women's squad were highlighted among the competitors to watch this fall. The Grizzly men were ranked fifth by the 10 league coaches, picking up 46 points in the polls while the women collected 38 points to earn a sixth-place ranking.
Four experienced returners and one newcomer highlight the list of runners to watch for the FC men, with seniors Clayton Brumfield, Blaine Conners and Adam Rector joined by junior Chris Graham and freshman Jaycee Wilburn. Brumfield and Conners are coming off First Team All-HCAC selections a year ago after finishing in the top-12 at the conference championships. Brumfield is gunning for his fourth all-conference selection this year while Conners is in search of his second.
Rector and Graham closed out 2018 with career-best performances at the Great Lakes Regional and will aim to build on those this fall. Wilburn joins the Grizzlies after a prep career at New Castle High School in nearby New Castle, Ind.
On the women's side, a trio of returners were joined by two incoming freshmen on this year's list of runners to watch. Senior Jayla Callens, junior Grace Esterline and sophomore Taylor Wooten are accompanied by freshmen Jill Anspaugh and Angelina Gregory.
Wooten and Esterline turned in season-best performances to close out last fall, matching or besting their previous low time in the 6K race at the Great Lakes Regional. Callens set a personal record for a 5K race last year in the Grizzlies' home meet and was a consistent contributor to the team's score a year ago. Anspaugh and Gregory are two of seven incoming freshmen and will battle to contribute on a weekly basis.
Rose-Hulman was chosen to repeat as league champions on the men's side while Manchester enters the fall as the favorite on the women's side. Both polls can be found below.
Franklin opens the fall campaign on Saturday, Aug. 31 with the 2019 Grizzly Invitational at Blue River Park in Shelbyville, Ind. The opening races is set to begin at 10:00 a.m.
|2019 HCAC Men's Cross Country Pre-Season Rankings|
|Team (First Place Votes)||Points|
|1. Rose-Hulman (8)||80|
|9. Mount St. Joseph||15|
|2019 HCAC Women's Cross Country Pre-Season Rankings|
|School (First Place Votes)||Points|
|1. Manchester (5)||74|
|2. Bluffton (2)||70|
|3. Rose-Hulman (1)||64|
|8. Mount St. Joseph||20|