Sept. 1, 2008
The combining of men’s and women’s track & field and cross country has created an extraordinary amount of enthusiasm for both programs. In July, Clemson appointed former Virginia Tech assistant Lawrence Johnson as its Director of Track & Field and Cross Country. One of the first items Johnson took care of after assuming his new duties was to retain distance coach Gordon Thomson to oversee his cross country teams. Thomson enters his third season as an assistant coach at Clemson. He will have the luxury of working with an experienced squad on the women’s side, but will have his work cut out for him on the men’s team after the sudden departure of two Canadians with sophomore eligibility.
Men The men’s cross country team returns five lettermen as well as five other significant contributors from the 2007 team that finished fourth at the ACC Championships and sixth at the Southeast Region Championships. Leading the way are two seniors, Sam Bryfczynski and Bryce Iverson. Both have earned three letters with the Clemson program, and both look to go out with a bang in their last year in a Tiger uniform.
Bryfczynski is an outstanding student-athlete who graduated in May after only three years at Clemson. He was Academic All-ACC and CoSIDA Academic All-District last year. He showed great improvement on the cross country scene in 2007, finishing as the team’s #2 scorer at both the ACC Championships and Southeast Region meet.
Iverson hopes to return to the form he displayed as a sophomore, when he was All-ACC as well as All-Region for the Tigers. His best time of the 2007 season in an 8000m race was 24:43 at the Pre-NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, IN. He also finished 48th at regionals. His progression will be interesting to watch in 2008, as he attempts to return from an injury.
Will Noble will be one of the team’s captains this season, along with Bryfczynski. The product of Gray Court, SC also showed improvement in 2007. He was a scorer at the Notre Dame Invitational, Pre-NCAA Championships, and NCAA Southeast Regionals. Noble is coming off an injury-plagued track season that sidelined him in the spring of 2008, but should be 100 percent this fall.
Also returning for the Tiger team as sophomores will be Chad Holt, Tyler Morey, Chris Slate, and Jonathan Sunde. All scored in various meets last season. Holt and Morey took home individual titles early in the season in a pair of meets held at Western Carolina, while Sunde found his way into the lineup at ACCs and responded with a 44th-place effort.
Others expected to see action this season are red-shirt freshmen Shane Reighard, from Clemson, and Jasen Turnbull, a Northville, MI native who is a middle distance runner for the Tiger track team.
Women The women’s squad returns nine student-athletes that have earned varsity letters in the past three seasons, including five from the 2007 team that finished 15th in the NCAA’s Southeast Region. Senior runners Sunday Ford and Candice Johnson hope to lead by example this season, as both have been named team captains for 2008.
Ford has earned three varsity letters with the women’s team. She posted top-10 individual finishes last season at the UNC Wilmington Seahawk meet and Gamecock Invitational. Johnson earned a letter in 2005, but has been a mainstay in Clemson’s cross country lineup in her first three years with the program.
Jenna Baker returns as one of the team’s strongest distance runners after an outstanding 2007 freshman season in cross country. Baker was the school’s top scorer in four of the last five meets, which included the ACC Championships and NCAA Southeast Regionals. She finished 25th at the ACC meet, fourth-best among freshmen. She was 35th overall at regionals after a time of 21:29.45 on the 6000m course in Louisville, KY.
One of the team’s most consistent performers, Laura Laughlin returns for her junior season. Laughlin was Clemson’s #2 finisher for much of last season, including the ACC Championships and Southeast Region meet. Laughlin finished 58th individually at regionals, an improvement of nearly 30 positions from the 2006 meet.
Clemson’s experienced roster also includes three letterwinners from 2006 in Maggie Bernard, Lisa Brown, and Ashley Vaughn. All three will be asked to become consistent scorers for the program this season.
In addition, the exciting sophomore class, led by Baker, includes solid contributors Stephanie Buffo, Joanie Castagno, and Abby Iselborn.
Buffo was the team’s #3 scorer last season at the NCAA Southeast Region Championships in Louisville, KY. Castagno scored in three meets, including an eighth-place finish at UNC Wilmington. Iselborn was a scorer in six meets, which included the ACC Championships where she was Clemson’s third-best finisher.
Lilla Fördös, who enrolled at Clemson mid-year in 2007-08, hopes to recover from an injury and play an important role for the cross country team this fall. She was a middle distance standout for her native country of Hungary before arriving at Clemson.
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