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Aug. 30 - BETHANY, W.Va. – With a much larger roster to compete with this season, the Bethany College men’s and women’s cross country teams will begin their 2007 season Saturday, Sept. 1, at the Westminster (Pa.) College Invitational.

Last year, the Bison had nine women and just three men on the roster, meaning the men’s team did not have enough to score at invitationals. This year will be a different story however, as second-year head coach Mark Swiger, a 1982 Bethany graduate and former cross country and track coach at Wheeling Jesuit University, will have 14 women and seven men competing in Green and White this fall.

Overall, the BC women return their top six runners from last season. Leading the way for the Bison, who finished fourth at last year’s PAC Championships, is expected to be sophomore Maggie McCort (Fort Ashby, W.Va./Frankfort). She had an eighth place finish at the University of Rio Grande (Ohio) Invitational and took 15th at the conference meet to finish one spot away from earning All-PAC honors.

Two other returning sophomores rounded out Bethany’s top three a year ago, as Desiree Finley (Nanticoke, Pa./Hanover Area) crossed 41st at PACs last year and Alissa Moss (Washington, Pa./Chartiers-Houston) took 42nd. Other returning runners include senior Chantal Stettinius (Parkton, Md./Hereford), who broke the school-record in the 3,000 Steeplechase numerous times last spring in track, senior Heather Moore (Washington, Pa.), senior Sarah Goho (Puyallup, Wash./Rogers) and junior Laura Strassguetl (Munich, Germany/Rupprecht-Gymnasium).

Completing the Bison roster this year are seven newcomers, including sophomore Sarah Card (Cadillac, Mich./Christian Liberty Academy), who ran track in the spring for BC. The six freshmen with the program include Allessandra Accinelly (Novato, Calif./Marin School of Art & Technology), Lindsay Brewer (Wadsworth, Ohio), Caitlin Gregory (Fairfax, Va./Chantilly), Shadoe Martin (Waynesburg, Pa./Waynesburg Central), Emily Roth (Bexley, Ohio) and Suzanne Stettinius (Parkton, Md./Hereford).

On the men’s side, the roster has doubled in size from last year, as five newcomers join the two returning runners. Junior Matt Schlemmer (Canton, Ohio/Oak Glen), who placed in the top 30 at PACs as a freshman, looks to bounce back after battling injuries all of last year. Sophomore Patrick Miller (Canonsburg, Pa./Canon-McMillan) also returns after racing in three meets last year.

The newcomers include one transfer, one first-year runner and three freshmen. Sophomore Zach Foster (Shadyside, Ohio/Bellaire St. John’s) comes to Bethany after a year at Mount Union (Ohio) College, where he competed in six meets in 2006. His top showing was an 18th place finish at the Penn State Behrend Invitational. The first-year runner is junior Spencer Conner (Bridgeport, Ohio) and the three freshmen on the team include Clifford Arbogast (Cameron, W.Va.), Kevin Fedigan (Pittsburgh, Pa./Plum) and Benjamin Heidt (Heidelberg, Germany).

The Bison will compete in five invitationals this fall, including the Sept. 8 Bob Creamer Invitational in Wheeling. Those are in preparation for the end of the season schedule, which includes PAC Championships (Oct. 27), ECAC Championships (Nov. 3) and NCAA Mid-East Regionals (Nov. 10).