After capturing the last three Big South Conference Womens Cross Country titles, Coastal Carolina head coach Alan Connie would have every reason to be complacent. The squad returns last years Big South Champion and Runner of the Year Anne Marie Moutsinga. CCU also has several key runners, including senior and 2003 All-Big South runner Kim Nemergut. However, Connie knows that this team has to prove it on the course this year if they want to win a historic 10th Big South title.
"We have had to overcome some adversity this year," Connie commented. We have had one of top finishers in 2003 out this season and another high-ranking runner unable to train on a regular basis. But we showed significant improvement at the Great American Cross Country Festival and put together our most solid race of the year. Hopefully that is a sign that we are finally translating the good work we have done in training to the actual competition."
A two-time Big South Runner of the Week, Moutsinga comes in to the race looking to capture her third consecutive individual crown and Big South Runner of the Year award as well. Most recently, Moutsinga finished 20th against a strong national field at the Pre-Nationals Race in Terre Haute, Ind., showing that she is ready to again help Coastal and defend her individual title. But this team is led by a pair of experienced seniors that Connie believes will be a difference.
"Anne Marie is without question our top runner, but we feel very good about our team, especially our seniors Lindsey Kozlowski and Kim Nemergut," Connie stated. "They each have been All-Big South in cross country and track and are the heart and soul of our team. They want to go out the best they can and hopefully get us a start to repeating with the Big Souths "Triple Crown" during 2004-05."
While the preseason favorite in the Big South Conference, the Coastal runners know they will have the targets on their backs, as teams look to unseat the Lady Chanticleers. But as with any cross country event, Connie knows who the main challengers are and what it is going to take for CCU to bring home a fourth straight title.
"The biggest obstacle is that the other teams in the conference have pride and dont want to see Coastal again with the title," Connie concluded. "The three top challengers are UNC Asheville, Liberty and High Point as those three had the best recruiting years they have had in recent years. I expect it to be considerably tougher than it has been in the past. But as in any race, the team that wins it is going to have to be solid from one through five. But we hope things will come together for us to win another Big South Championship."