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Freshman Batista earns Runner-of-the-Year

Troy State Freshman Chris Batista ran the race of his life at the Atlantic Sun Cross Country Championships finishing 6th overall and earning the title of Atlantic Sun Freshman Runner-of-the-Year.

Batista’s time of 25:33 over the rugged Panthersville Cross Country Complex was a personal best and took more than a minute off of his time over the same course earlier this year.

In addition, he was name to the Atlantic Sun All Conference Cross Country Team, the only freshman from any of the 11 Atlantic Sun Universities named to the squad.

Georgia State took the men’s team title as the Trojans with their young team of freshman and sophomores captured fourth place behind GSU, Belmont and Samford.

Liam Barton finished second for the Trojans and also was named to the A-Sun All Freshman Team.

Barton’s 26:29 (20th place) put him in just ahead of teammate Ben Contratto’s 26:33, which earned him 22nd overall.

Adam Bess ran a personal best by more than 40 seconds as he clocked a 27:20 time for 33rd place.

Jason Crosson rounded out the TSU scoring as he finished 38th with a 27:35. The Trojans were somewhat handicapped by the withdrawal of Liam’s twin brother Rob who sustained an injury earlier in the week and was unable to compete.

"I thought the best we could do was fifth, and with the injury to Rob even that seemed doubtful, but the guys stepped it up a notch really hammered home a great race," said TSU Distance Coach Doc Anderson. "It could get real interesting next year as this group of kids becomes a little more seasoned since we’re scheduled to run the 2002 conference championships on our home course at Trojan Oaks " echoed Anderson.

For the Lady Trojans freshman Belinda Bargmann continued her remarkable improvement that has taken her to the top spot on the team this season.

Bargmann clocked an outstanding 18:45 for a 12th place finish and a spot on the All Freshman Team. Just missing the team was roommate Lindsey Minnihan whose 18:55 placed her 16th overall and the number six freshman to finish. Belmont ran away with the team title placing 5 runners in the top 10.

The Lady Trojans placed 5th behind Belmont, GSU, Central Florida and Samford.

Malene By ran a strong 3rd for TSU (36th overall) as she covered the hilly Panthersville complex in 19:53. Mandi Dyess(38th) ran 20:00 as she preceded team captain Jen Lynch who finished up the team scoring with a 49th place in 20:52.

"I thought Belinda ran a particularly smart race and was extremely proud of both her and Lindsey finishing in the top 16 as freshman.

We still have a long way to go, but as with the guys we gained a lot of experience which can do nothing but make us better as we head into track season," said Anderson.

The teams will have a two-week break from competition before departing for the NCAA South Region Championships to be held in Tuscaloosa on November 10th.