Back on Course: Cross Country Returns to SUSCC

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Markita James Smith

CONTRIBUTED BY SUSCC

OPELIKA —

After a hiatus of over a decade, the cross-country program at Southern Union State Community College (SUSCC) is once again up and running.

Both men’s and women’s cross country teams returned to competition on Friday, Sept. 16, at the Falcon Classic in Montevallo.

This summer SUSCC announced that cross country would be added back to the college’s athletic programs, which includes volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, softball, baseball, men’s and women’s golf and cheer.

The teams will be under the direction of Markita James-Smith. Smith came to SUSCC after a career at Smiths Station High School. A member of the 2006 National Championship Track and Field Team at Auburn University, she went on to compete professionally for three years.

Smith said she is excited to be at the helm of the SUSCC program. She explained that the main trait she looks for in a team member is the ability to work hard and try new things.

“My best friend talked me into trying out for the track team in high school, which led to a full scholarship to Auburn University,” Smith said. “I always tell my team members to just try something. You never know where it might take you; you don’t have to at the top of the class to start out. Working hard will get you where you need to go.”

Track and field is gaining popularity as a competitive sport, and Smith sees the program at SUSCC gaining momentum as well.

“I am passionate about what I do,” she said. “If the students will meet me halfway and train hard, we will be successful.”

Team members are Brian Patton, Gage Pinson, Jared Floyd, Claude Warren, Kyrian Moss, Anslee Sawyer and Managers Christopher Jackson and Malari Glass.

The team has three additional races scheduled, including the Huntingdon Invitational on Oct. 1 in Montgomery; the Berry Invitational in Rome, Georgia, on Oct. 15; and the Alabama Community College Conference Regional Championships on Oct. 28 in Oxford, Alabama. If they qualify, the National Junior College Athletic Association Championships is on Nov. 12 in Tallahassee, Florida. For more information on SUSCC Athletics, visit www.suscc.edu.

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