Jaguars look to return to XC national championships

Junior Hunter Kimball (14) had a strong 2018 season and finished 55th in the national championship in Pittsburgh, Pa. (staff photo)

By Leeroy Francis Jr. |
Editor

After finishing the 2018 NCAA Division II National Championship 10K in 28th place in Pittsburgh, Pa., last December, the Augusta University Jaguars are on the fast track to make it back to nationals.

In their third appearance ever at the NCAA National Championship (2013 and 2017), the 2018 Jaguars MXC squad posted their second-best team finish ever.

Once again at the helm for Augusta is Adam Ward, who is returning for his 16th season as the cross country coach. Ward was the 2018 NCAA Southeast Region coach of the year and is an eight-time Peach Belt Conference coach of the year,

The Jaguars were led by sophomore Hunter Kimball, who placed 55th overall in the national at Schenley Park in Pittsburgh, finishing in 33:52.7. Kimball will look to improve on his performance from last year. Kimball’s individual finish is the best by any Jaguar ever at the national championship.

Augusta kicks things off by heading to Misenheimer, N.C. Aug. 30 to compete in the Pfeiffer Duals, hosted by Pfeiffer University. The men’s team will run an 8K and the women’s team a 5K. The Jaguars make their second trip back to North Carolina on Sept. 21 to race in the Bulldog Stampede, hosted by Wingate University, where the teams will get a glimpse at the regional course. The men will run an 8K and the women a 6K.

The Jaguars will make their third trip to the Tar Heel State to compete in the Queen City Invitational on Sept. 27. The event is hosted by Queens University. All of the men will compete in the 8K and the women in the 5K.

The Jaguars will look to jump one more spot from last year’s runner-up finish in this year’s Peach Belt Conference Championship Saturday, Oct. 26, hosted by UNC Pembroke in Pembroke, N.C.

The NCAA Southeast Regional is Saturday, Nov. 9, hosted by Wingate, where the men will run a 10K and the women a 6K. The NCAA championships will be held in Sacramento, Calif., at Haggin Oaks Golf Complex on Nov. 23. Grand Valley State is the defending champion.

Augusta has spent their 2018-19 offseason developing a fairly young roster of a year ago. After one season in the books, the Jaguars will nine returning sophomores and three juniors who will look to make it three-straight trips to Nationals. All-PBC Honor recipients Juniors Jacob Poston, who finished fourth in the 2018 PBC Championships at Redcliffe Plantation in Beech Island, S.C., and Chandler Kennedy, who finished ninth, join Kimball as the Jaguars’ leaders. Chandler’s brother, Chase Kennedy, also has been added to the roster. He is a transfer from Kennesaw State University. The two freshmen on the squad are Carlos Rodriguez from Grovetown High School and Kenneth McDonald from Evans High School. In all, Ward has 16 runners on the team this fall.

Last season, the Jaguars finished third or better in all meets. This included two wins, a runner-up finish at the Peach Belt Conference Championships and a third-place finish at the NCAA Southeast Regionals.

 

Contact Leeroy Francis at lfrancis@augusta.edu.