Tornado runs towards NCAA DII Southeast Region

BRISTOL, Tenn. - King College is gearing up for the 2010 NCAA Division II Men's Cross Country Southeast Region Championship to be contested Saturday in Charlotte, N.C.

For the Tornado squad and head coach Peter Dalton, this will be King's first trip to a NCAA postseason event in the athletic program's first season as a NCAA Division II member.

The Tornado runners were able to see the course for Saturday's race will be ran when they ran in the Royal Cross Country Challenge on Oct. 15. The Tornado finished ninth in the team standings with five runners breaking the 27-minute mark on that day. The Tornado's average time for the Top-5 runners was 26 minutes and 12.6 seconds.

King enters the region event ranked No. 4 in the previous United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association NCAA Division II Southeast Region rankings, announced by the national organization last Tuesday. The Tornado had the No. 3 ranking the previous three weeks, but Mount Olive (N.C.) College jumped the Tornado from the No. 4 spot.

The region rankings does not have any effect on the automatic qualifiers to the NCAA Division II National Championship, but the Top-3 team finishers from Saturday's race earns tickets to the NCAA Division II National Championship on Dec. 4.

The top two teams in the region were Queens (N.C.) University of Charlotte at No. 1 followed by Columbus State (Ga.) University. The two teams have maintained the top two spots in all nine region rankings this season. Mars Hill (N.C.) College held the No. 5 spot for a fourth straight week.

UNC Pembroke started the next five. Both Lees-McRae (N.C.) College and Lenoir-Rhyne (N.C.) College both climbed a spot to No. 7 and No. 8, respectively. Anderson (S.C.) University went from outside the Top-10 to No. 9 while Clayton State (Ga.) University fell from No. 7 to No. 10.

At the Royal Cross Country Challenge, King was the fourth highest finishing NCAA Division II squad. Queens won the event with Columbus State fifth overall. Northern Kentucky University placed just ahead of King in eighth. Southeast region squads Mount Olive, Clayton State, UNC Pembroke, Augusta State and Anderson also ran at the event.

Conference Carolinas, the Peach Belt and South Atlantic Conferences all put three teams apiece in the final regular season region ranking. Queens, Mount Olive and Lees-McRae were from Conference Carolinas. Columbus State, UNC Pembroke and Clayton State represented the Peach Belt. The South Atlantic placed Anderson, Lenoir-Rhyne and Mars Hill among the Top-10. King was the only independent team in any of the eight regions once again.

King competed at the Cavalier Open at the University of Virginia on Nov. 5. Team results were not calculated, but King had two runners in the Top-12 at the event. The only college with runners ahead of the Tornado's Spencer Frantom (Morristown, Tenn.) in 10th came from Virginia. Naseem Haje (Hagerstown, Md.) was 12th. The Tornado lined up against teams not only from host school Virginia, but four more NCAA Division I foes, Liberty, Virginia Commonwealth and George Mason.