By Sean Montgomery, Sports Information Student Assistant
WINGATE, N.C. – The Georgia College men's cross country team had the best NCAA Southeast Regional finish in school history Saturday at Wingate University, as the Bobcats finished seventh out of 28 teams.
Senior Paul McNeil (Dunwoody, Georgia) led the Bobcat men across the finish line in the 10K race, finishing 21st overall with a time of 34:20. The excellent finish earned McNeil All-Region honors for the second year in a row, making this the first time that a runner has been named to the team twice in program history.
"After today's performance, Paul established himself as one of the greatest competitors to come to this program," said first year head coach Steven Cary after the meet. "He ran with guts and determination the entire second half of the season. It's fitting that he ends his Georgia College career becoming the only runner to ever earn All-Region honors twice."
Seniors Michael Warrick (Marietta, Georgia) and James Ryden (Atlanta, Georgia) finished within the 25th minute, earning the 36th and 40th spots. Warrick finished with a time of 35:02 and Ryden with a time of 35:10. Classmate Trevor Turner (Snellville, Georgia) finished 77th with a time of 36:42.
"Paul, James, Trevor and Michael are the epitome of what Bobcat athletics are all about", Cary said about the four seniors. "Their dedication to their school, their running and their teammates is unrivaled. Their time at Georgia College has been nothing short of spectacular."
"After conference, we approached today's race with a chip on our shoulders", Cary said. "While top three was our main goal, we're going to walk away from the season knowing that we left our mark on this program's history with a solid seventh place finish."
The University of Mount Olive claimed first place at the Regionals, tallying just 52 points. Mars Hill runner Mark Griggs became the individual champion, as he crossed the finished line in first place with a time of 32:33.
The Bobcat men will end an excellent season having risen to a program-high fourth in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Southeast Region rankings and garnering top-10 team finishes in four races (including second at the Furman Invitational and the Division II Collegiate Championships).
The Georgia College Department of Athletics, two-time winners of the PBC Commissioner's Cup, sponsors 11 varsity athletic programs at the NCAA Division II level. As a Division II program, Bobcat Athletics prides itself on balancing the life of the student-athlete, evidenced by the teams' multiple appearances in post-season competition as well as documented academic success and community-service involvement. Sign up at @GCBobcats on social media for up-to-the-minute reports, and visit GCBobcats.PhotoReflect.com to purchase photo prints from home athletic contests.