SVC XC picked to win conference

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BENNINGTON — Coming off its best-ever finish at a New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) championship meet, the Southern Vermont College women's cross country team looks to continue its growing success in 2017.

The league announced the results of its preseason poll on Friday with SVC being selected by the conference coaches to win the title with three of the eight possible first-place votes. The Mountaineers narrowly edged Lesley, which also received three top nods.

"I expect the women to drastically improve individually and turn some heads at the conference meet," said first-year SVC head coach Jarrett Blankenship. "The team will need to bond early on and get some quality work in early in order to be competitive at the league championship."

Since the NECC was founded in 2008, SVC had never finished better than fourth as a team at the title race until last year when the Mountaineers took second with four runners finishing in the top 14 to take All-Conference honors.

Blankenship looks to overcome the loss of five team members who graduated this past May while carrying on the traditions they helped establish.

"Senior leadership has been crucial in the past few years," he commented. "I expect our underclassmen to step up early and run at a high level."

Returning for the Mountaineers is Bennington College senior Isabella Poulos and SVC junior Morgan Kaeppel. Poulos took fifth overall at last year's league meet to make it on to the All-NECC first team with a mark of 20:08; that put her at third on the all-time Southern Vermont record list for a 5K race.

Kaeppel had a strong sophomore season in 2016, knocking 1:17 off of her personal best that she set as a freshman.

Southern Vermont is scheduled to begin the regular season on Saturday with its annual Mountaineer Invitational on the College campus; the women's 5K will begin at 10:30 a.m. on the front lawn of the Everett Mansion with the men's 5K following at 11:15 a.m. SVC then stays in Vermont for its next two races at Castleton University (Sept. 9) and Johnson State College (Sept. 16). The Mountaineers will also partake in meets hosted by Williams College (Sept. 23), Keene State College (Sept. 30), and Western New England University (Oct. 14). The NECC Championship is slated for October 28 at Stanley Park in Westfield, Mass.


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