BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - How do you replace a school record holder and NAIA National Championship qualifier? That is the question Union College head men's cross country coach Jamie Jimison has to answer. However, early impressions show the Bulldog coach a solid group of runners, who open the 2008 season Friday at the Shawnee State Invitational in Portsmouth, Ohio.
Jimison will have to replace Brandon Kibert who leaves as the fastest cross country runner in Union's modern era and a two-time NAIA Cross Country National Championship qualifier. Kibert left the school record at 26 minutes and nine seconds. He also helped the Bulldogs to a third-place finish at the Appalachian Athletic Conference Championship in 2007 which marked the best finish under Jimison.
The fourth-year head coach will look upon Daniel Kual, a junior from Stone Mountain, Ga., to lead this year's squad. According to Jimison, Kual is a hard worker that strives to get better with every run.
He is coming off a 26th-place finish at the NAIA Region XII/AAC Championship last year. Kual also ran a personal-best time of 27:09 at the Shawnee State (Ohio) Invitational.
The roster features three seniors, Brennan O'Quinn (Meadowview, Va.), Cody Miller (Middlesboro, Ky.) and Johnny Barnes (Stone Mountain, Ga.)
O'Quinn was right behind Kual at the Region XII/AAC Championship. He also has two straight Top-30 finishes at the NAIA Region XII/AAC Championship. Miller brings some cross country experience along with track history from the middle distances. Barnes normally runs sprints for the track team, but will stretch things out for cross country season.
Scotty Barnes (Ewing, Va.) returns to the cross country trails as well after a spring as multi-event athlete. He adds depth for Jimison's team.
The Union men's squad will be without the services of Eric Kinman (Erlanger, Ky.) this season because he is serving the country in the U.S. Military. Kinman fought for the No. 2 spot throughout 2007.
The season features four other meets before the AAC Championship on Nov. 9.