ACCC harriers set for 2009

By JOCELYN SHEETS
Register Sports Editor

Register/Jocelyn Sheets
Members of the 2009 Allen County Community College cross country teams are (left to right), back row, Abraham Walker, Jean Frenot, Casey Canada, J.T. Thurs-ton, Kyrese Banks; front row, Brandon Forbes, Hunter Wehner, Crystal Jerome, Amanda Smith, Kelsey Bledsoe, Antonio Burnett, Brandon Steward.

Philosophy has changed a bit concerning cross country at Allen County Community College.
The 2009 teams have a different look than most distance off-road teams. There’s only a couple true distance runners on the teams for the Red Devils.
“I’m more of a track guy in my recruiting and tend to go after runners who are good 800 (meters) and down,” said Clinton Fletcher, ACCC cross country and track coach. “We have one true cross country runner for the women and two on the men’s team.
“The rest of our runners this season are strong 800-meter runners and 400-meter hurdlers.”
Fletcher said it is the direction the program is going right now. Although in cross country competition, women run a five-kilometer race and the men run a eight kilometers, “our shorter distance runners we have out are strong runners and should be successful.”
Allen County has just three women runners this season — all freshmen. Kelsey Bledsoe is a cross country runner from Parker.
Amanda Smith and Crystal Jerome are 400-meter runners. Smith is from Junction City and Jerome is from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“Our biggest goal for the women is personal best times. Obviously with just three runners, we can’t be in the team score running but we’ve set goals for each of the women,” Fletcher said.
The ACCC women’s team qualified for the NJCAA National Cross Country Meet a year ago but none of those runners return. Also, none of the three men runners who qualified for the national meet are back.
Jean Frenot of Wachula, Fla., and Antonio Burnett of Pine Bluff, Ark., return as sophomores. Frenot and Burnett finished 70th and 73rd in the Region VI meet.
The other sophomore on the team is Casey Canada of Hot Springs, Ark.
All three sophomores are “track” guys running cross country.
Burnett runs the 800 meters while Frenot and Canada are 400-meter runners. Canada also is a hurdler.
“Our two natural cross country runners for the men are freshmen Hunter Wehner of Rossville and Eddie Shaffer of Yates Center,” Fletcher said.
“We should be a pretty good cross country team simply because our other guys are so competitive and talented that the longer distance doesn’t faze them.”
The other freshmen on the men’s team are Brandon Steward of Conyers, Ga., Abraham Walker of Orlando, Fla., John Thurston, Oskaloosa, Brandon Forbes of Miami, Fla., and Kyrese Banks of Pine Bluff, Ark.
Allen County was scheduled to open the season today at the Cowley County Invitational in Arkansas City.
But, Fletcher said he decided to wait until Sept. 11 to open the season at the Friends University Invitational.