The Alice Lloyd College Eagles Cross Country program received an early Christmas present and is pleased to announce the signing of two of the mountains’ elite female runners to an athletic letter of intent for the upcoming 2013-14 school year.
ALC’s Director of Athletics and Cross Country Coach, Gary D. Stepp, traveled to Harlan on December 13th, and he happily returned with the fresh signatures of Harlan County seniors Kassie Rouse and Jennifer Graham.
Kassie Rouse was one of the top senior female runners in the entire region this season. The soft-spoken senior led her squad to a 1st place finish in the Class 2A Region 7 Championship. This earned her club a place in the KHSAA State Cross Country meet.
Individually this season, Rouse’s 5K time of 22:47 earned her 1st place in the region and gave her the title of Region 7 Champion. Furthermore, for her efforts, she was selected as the Area 9 “Female Runner of the Year.” She finished her career as a 3-time qualifier for the KHSAA State Tournament. In addition, she was chosen to the “All Area 9 Cross Country Team” her previous seasons.
In response as to what influenced her to pick Alice Lloyd, the excited Black Bears star replied, “I had heard about ALC through my high school coach, Ryan Vitatoe, and loved the things I heard. When I went with my family to visit the College, it sealed the deal! When I saw the campus and how the students interacted with each other, I fell in love and knew it was the college for me.”
Rouse added, “It is small, but not too small, and just makes me feel like I am home!”
When asked about her expectations after announcing her college decision, Rouse responded, “My expectations are to be a successful student and runner. I plan on entering physical therapy and hope and pray that I do well. I know it will be a challenge, but with the desire and headstrong determination I have, there is no doubt in my mind that I will succeed!”
Jennifer Graham was also one of the top senior female runners in the mountain region this year. The outgoing young lady helped lead her squad to a 1st place finish in the Class 2A Region 7 Championship. This earned her club a place in the KHSAA State Cross Country meet.
Individually this season, Graham’s 5K time earned her a 6th place finish in the region. She also finished 6th as a junior. Furthermore, for her efforts, she was selected to the “All Area 9 Cross Country Team.” She qualified for the state tournament both seasons in which she competed.
In response as to what influenced her to pick Alice Lloyd, Graham said, “I picked Alice Lloyd, because, not only was it the school I was most interested in, but it was also the school I could best see myself at. I love knowing I can go to an affordable college and still have everything I need.”
Graham concluded, “There is no greater privilege than to continue doing what I love most at the college of my choice, and I am very grateful to have this opportunity at ALC!”
Upon being asked about her ambitions after announcing her college decision, Graham stated, “My expectations are to do my best in the classroom, because my grades are most important. However, running is not far behind, and I plan to maintain the goals I have set for myself, while having an amazing experience at Alice Lloyd.”
After the signing, an elated Coach Stepp commented, “I am thrilled to sign Kassie and Jennifer to a letter of intent for many reasons. First, I know what quality young ladies they are. They’re not only quality young ladies, but they are both talented and dedicated student-athletes in both the classroom and the athletic arena. Second, I love their work ethics. Kassie was a three-time state qualifier and was regional champion this season, details which serve as a testament to her desire and dedication. Jennifer finished 6th in the region each year she ran and qualified for state both seasons. She has a ton of potential. Third, I also see their appreciation for an opportunity to run on the collegiate level.
“Kassie was a major force at Harlan County. She has had an excellent career during high school. She is easily one of the top senior runners in our entire recruiting area. Jennifer is a hard worker in everything she attempts and had an excellent career, as well. The parents, principals, teachers, and coaches have done an excellent job in advising these two ladies to work hard and use their God-given talents to achieve their dreams. I feel fortunate to have signed both to attend our college.”
Stepp continued, “I am striving to build a competitive program at Alice Lloyd. ALC recruits exclusively from the Appalachian region and does not travel the country in search of athletes. Therefore, it is critical for me to get the best student-athletes in the mountains who will embrace the philosophy of our school and become the future leaders in our area. The number-one priority for me is that each of our athletes works hard academically and that they each earn their degree. I know that Kassie and Jennifer have outstanding potential, and they are a perfect fit for us. I am extremely happy to welcome them into the Eagles family.”
To read some extra info on the signings, check out this article in The Harlan Daily Enterprise.
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