CofC Athletics Communications
As the College of Charleston men's and women's cross country teams prepare for Friday's opening meet at the Gamecock Invitational in Columbia, S.C., both teams will be wary of staying healthy, as they each carry squads of only seven runners for the season.
The men's team will be even more short-handed early in the year with top runner and school record-holder Christian Bailey, a senior from Charlotte, N.C., not running in meets while he recovers from a hip injury. After a record-breaking junior season in 2010, Bailey's 2011 campaign was marred by leg injuries and he ran in only one race. He was given a medical redshirt and is allowed to return this season.
With Bailey back, the team will be looking to improve on the 2011 results. Although lacking the depth of a year ago, Bailey said the team will benefit from fewer options.
"We have a lot smaller team, but I think that can help because we are all on the same page and we know what is going on," Bailey said. "I think that will make everyone step up and realize that everyone on this team is important. Five people score (in a meet), but seven is a squad."
On the women's side, the top returner is Hayley McMahon, a sophomore from Poughkeepsie, N.Y. McMahon says she has gotten over a rough transition from high school to college and is ready to take over as a team leader this season.
"I think I took a lot of the adversity from last year and I'm using it now," she said. "I definitely feel more comfortable than last year."
She also says that adjusting to a new coaching style provided some obstacles but says she has settled in and has successfully adjusted.
"Coach Seago is a great coach and I love her. She is really mom-like, which was different than my coach in high school because I've always had someone yelling at me."
McMahon said she expects the entire team to improve, despite not having many options with only seven runners, and that she is proud of how the team has worked.
"We are very small but I think we are going to do really well," she said. "Workouts have been great. Coach says we have been doing really well. Just because we have a smaller team doesn't mean we can't do big things."
After the opening meet in Columbia, the Cougars will host the College of Charleston Invitational on Sept. 7 and then travel to the Winthrop Invitational on Sept. 15, the Charlotte Invitational on Sept. 28 and the Will Wilson Citadel Invitational on Oct. 13 before the Southern Conference Championship on Oct. 27 in Mt. Pleasant, S.C.