MC harriers setting the pace in classroom

Maryville College harrier Travis Wilson has qualified for the NCAA regional championships later this month at Rhodes College in Memphis.

Maryville College harrier Travis Wilson has qualified for the NCAA regional championships later this month at Rhodes College in Memphis.

Maryville College cross country coach Tyson Murphy has not only improved the Scots on the race course but has helped the men’s and women’s teams become a force in the classroom as well.

Maryville College cross country coach Tyson Murphy has not only improved the Scots on the race course but has helped the men’s and women’s teams become a force in the classroom as well.

Maryville College harriers Sarah McGinnis has qualified for the NCAA regional championships later this month at Rhodes College in Memphis.

Maryville College harriers Sarah McGinnis has qualified for the NCAA regional championships later this month at Rhodes College in Memphis.

Through a tough season, the Maryville College harriers have excelled in the classroom.

Following the Great South Athletic Conference championship meet last weekend at the college, where the women placed sixth and the men third, Maryville got a good boost when nine Scots were named to the Great South All-Academic Team, the most for any league school.

“We’ve got to realize that they’re sharing time between the academic world and the athletic world,” Maryville coach Tyson Murphy said. “It’s a victory for us to say that we’re a hard school and we have the most people on that All-Academic roster.

“It makes me proud of my runners. I know how hard they work at practice, but to know that they are devoting that same amount of time and devotion in the classroom makes me appreciate what they’re doing at practice even more.”

The Maryville student-athletes named to the team were Erin Cawthorne, Rachel Harris, Nicole McNabb, Sarah McGinnis, Colleen Meersman, Jonathan Salkheld, Winston Sullivan, Travis Wilson and Aaron Woods. Murphy said other Scots could have made the list.

“Some of the runners that weren’t on that list, it wasn’t because they weren’t academically eligible, but you have to be a sophomore or higher,” he “I had two freshman guys that are easily going to be on that list next year. It’s safe to say that we had 80 percent of our team on the All-Academic Team, but in reality, if they selected out of everyone, we would have been about 95 percent. In the Division III world, that is exactly what we’re looking for.”

Last year, Murphy said he could see improvement in his runners every week. This season, it’s proven more of a challenge.

“Last year, it seems like we as a team got incrementally better every single race. So, from one race to the next, we got a little faster,” he said. “It was easy to see that marked success.”

With the loss of two scoring runners due to injury, the season didn’t get off on the right start. That, combined with tough, hilly courses really slowed Maryville’s progress in 2010.

“I as the coach and the runners as a team have dealt with a lot of frustration this season. For whatever reason, we just haven’t seen the times fall like in the past,” Murphy said. “It’s been really hard to find success in the season other than a couple runners until this past week when everybody did get to see some major improvement. It was really good to see the ‘just hang in there, it is ok, it is working’.”

Through the tough season, two runners have found success. McGinnis and Wilson have both excelled as frontrunners. Both have found their way to the NCAA Regional Championships on Nov. 13. The competition will take place at Rhodes College in Memphis.

After grabbing a Maryville record last year, Wilson found his season highlight when he grabbed the first place finish in the race at Johnson Bible College. On the season, he’s found four top-ten finishes, leading the way for the Scots. At this past weekend’s GSAC championship, Wilson finished in the seventh position, helping propel his Scots to a third place finish overall. Murphy said he’s finally finding his speed this season.

“Because of the courses we’ve been at, he’s not quiet had the speed throughout the season that we expected from him. He got back on track in a major way this past week,” Murphy said. “He’s back to where he needs to be to run well in regional championships. He waited all season to see a major improvement, but I feel like he’s feeling faster than ever as we progress toward our last race.”

McGinnis also found her season highlight at Johnson Bible College, grabbing the second place finish in helping the Lady Scots to a first place overall spot. She found her third top-ten finish of the season with a tenth place finish in the GSAC race.

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