2017 Conference Carolinas Men's Cross Country Preview and Runners to Watch

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The 2017 Conference Carolinas Men's Cross Country preseason poll has been released. University of Mount Olive enters the year as the favorite to win the Conference Carolinas Men's Cross Country Championship, according to Conference Carolinas coaches.

1. University of Mount Olive: The Trojans tallied seven first-place votes for their total of 70 points to be crowned the early season favorite in 2017 by Conference coaches.

Mount Olive won its fifth straight Conference Carolinas championship in 2016 and also captured the 2016 NCAA Division II Southeast Region crown. They would finish the season at the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships with a 25th-place finish. 

The Trojans return two high-caliber All-Conference Carolinas runners in Adam Craig and Jon Dahlke. Craig won the 2016 Southeast Region individual crown, while Dahlke took third in the race. Mount Olive is always deep with talent, so a six-peat is very capable in 2017.

Runners to Watch:

  • *Adam Craig (Sr.)
  • *Jon Dahlke (Sr.)
  • Jereamy Hall (Jr.)

2. Lees-McRae College: The Bobcats rank second in the poll with 61 points and one first-place vote from coaches.

Lees-McRae finished second in last year's Men's Cross Country Championship. With All-Conference Carolinas runners Shawn Graves and Austin Thompson returning, they may challenge Mount Olive for the crown.

Runners to Watch:

  • Lane Graves (Jr.)
  • *Shawn Graves (Jr.)
  • *Austin Thompson (Jr.)

3. King University: The Tornado racked up 56 points from Conference coaches to ranked third in the poll.

King placed third in last year's championship. Conference Carolinas Runner of the Week regular James Russell Ballowe returns for his senior campaign in 2017 and should be the Tornado's top runner.

Runners to Watch:

  • James Russell Ballowe (Sr.)
  • Morgan Greene (Sr.)
  • Kyle Hart (Fr.)

4. Limestone College: The Saints posted 53 points and rank fourth in the preseason poll.

Limestone finished fourth in the Conference Carolinas Men's Cross Country Championship in 2016.

Runners to Watch:

  • Nils Reckemeier (Jr.)
  • Corey Ross (Sr.)

5. Barton College: The Bulldogs placed fifth in 2017 after earning 50 points from Conference coaches.

Barton returns All-Conference Carolinas runner Joel Lagat who should help them build on their fifth-place finish in last year's Cross Country Championship.

Runners to Watch:

  • *Joel Lagat (Sr.)

6. North Greenville University: The Crusaders of North Greenville tallied 39 points and are in sixth-place to open 2017. 

North Greenville turned in a seventh-place finish in last year's championship race.

Runners to Watch:

  • Jonathan Keller (So.)

7. Belmont Abbey College: The Crusaders of Belmont Abbey collected 32 points from coaches and are ranked seventh.

Belmont Abbey placed eighth in the 2016 Cross Country Championship.

Runners to Watch:

  • Daniel Grosch (Fr.)
  • Patrick Lester (Sr.)
  • Rory Witkowski (So.)

8. Southern Wesleyan University: The Warriors received 31 points and close the poll out in eighth.

In its first year of full membership in Conference Carolinas, Southern Wesleyan turned in a ninth-place finish in the Cross Country Championship in 2016.

Runners to Watch:

  • Konner Palacios (Fr.)
  • Mason Simms (Jr.)
  • Michael Spearman (Fr.)

*denotes 2016 All-Conference Carolinas selection


2017 Men's Cross Country Preseason Poll

School (first-place votes) Total
1. Mount Olive (7) 70
2. Lees-McRae (1) 61
3. King 56
4. Limestone 53
5. Barton 50
6. North Greenville 39
7. Belmont Abbey 32
8. Southern Wesleyan 31


Conference Carolinas is a NCAA Division II athletics conference made up of 11 teams from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. These institutions consist of: Barton College, Belmont Abbey, Converse College, Emmanuel College, Erskine College, King University, Lees-McRae College, Limestone College, University of Mount Olive, North Greenville University, and Southern Wesleyan University. Emmanuel College is currently completing the NCAA Membership Process and will be fully competing in league championships in the near future.