2018 Conference Carolinas Men's Cross Country Preview and Runners to Watch

 – The 2018 Conference Carolinas Men's Cross Country preseason poll has been released. Perennial power 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 eight first-place votes for their total of 80 points to be crowned the early season favorite in 2018 by Conference coaches.

2017 saw Mount Olive win its sixth straight Conference Carolinas championship and its third straight NCAA Division II Southeast Regional crown. The Trojans would end the season with an 11th-place finish at the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships, which was their highest finish in program history. 

UMO returns eight all-conference honorees and five all-regional runners, including top-five Conference Carolinas Championship finishers Alexandre DurandJereamy Hall and Tai Smith. A seventh straight conference title seems likely if the Trojans show up to compete at the Conference Carolinas Championships in November.

Runners to Watch:

  • *Jereamy Hall (Sr.)
  • Branson Oduor (Fr.)
  • *Tai Smith (Jr.)


2. Lees-McRae College: The Bobcats rank second in the poll with 72 points 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:

  • *Nolan Capps (Sr.)
  • Josh Hall (Jr.)
  • *Austin Thompson (Sr.)


3. North Greenville University: The Crusaders racked up 63 points from Conference coaches to ranked third in the poll.

NGU placed third in last year's championship and return all-conference runner Brooks Hovis to the fold in 2018.

Runners to Watch:

  • *Brooks Hovis (Jr.)
  • Jonathan Keller (Jr.)


4. Emmanuel College: The Lions make their Conference Carolinas debut in fourth after posting 50 points, including one first-place vote from coaches.

Emmanuel pulled a first-place vote in its first year of postseason eligibility and that could be an indicator that this team is the real deal. We will all find out come November at the conference championships in November.

Runners to Watch:

  • Mugisha Bienvenu (Fr.)
  • Alex Sosa (Fr.)


5. King University: The Tornado placed fifth in the preseason poll after earning 49 points from Conference coaches.

King returns no all-conference runners but is always a great program to watch. The Tornado will try to crack the top-three this year, after finishing fourth in last season's championship.

Runners to Watch:

  • Brandon Bejarano (Jr.)
  • Blaine Metcalf (Fr.)
  • Justin Stewart (Fr.)


6.  Barton College: The Bulldogs tallied 46 points and are in sixth-place to open the season. 

Barton turned in a fifth-place finish in last year's championship race.

Runners to Watch:

  • Alex Kelly (So.)


7. Limestone College: The Saints narrowly sit in seventh-place after they collected 45 points from coaches.

Limestone placed seventh in the 2017 Cross Country Championship.

Runners to Watch:

  • Jacob Bostic (So.)
  • Antonio Williams-Maybin (So.)


8.  Belmont Abbey College: The Crusaders received 35 points from coaches and and sit in eighth to open the year.

The Abbey turned in a sixth-place finish in the Cross Country Championship in 2017.

Runners to Watch:

  • Thomas Eichorn (Jr.)
  • Daniel Grosch (So.)
  • Rory Witkowski (Jr.)


9. Southern Wesleyan University: The Warriors received 28 points and close out the poll in ninth.

Southern Wesleyan finished eighth in last year's conference race.

Runners to Watch:

  • Konnor Palacios (So.)
  • Peyton Shelton (Fr.)
  • Mason Sims (Sr.)

*denotes 2017 All-Conference Carolinas selection


2018 Men's Cross Country Preseason Poll

School (first-place votes) Total
1. Mount Olive (8) 80
2. Lees-McRae 72 
3. North Greenville 63 
4. Emmanuel (1) 50 
5. King 49 
6. Barton 46 
7. Limestone 45 
8. Belmont Abbey 35 
9. Southern Wesleyan 28 


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.