SAVANNAH, Ga. - The Armstrong State University athletic department announced today that it will reinstate the varsity sport of women's cross country for the upcoming 2016 season, becoming the 12th sport sponsored by the Pirates.
Women's cross country was dropped following the 2000 season, and from 1991-2000, the Armstrong State women's cross country team never finished below fourth in the Peach Belt Conference standings. The Pirates were conference runners-up in 1994 and 1995 and overall had 22 All-Conference honorees in 10 seasons, including four-time All-PBC runner and Armstrong State Athletic Hall of Famer Nikki Garland.
Current head men's cross country coach Michael Sergi, who has coached the Pirates for the last four seasons, will serve as the head coach for the women's squad as well. He was the head coach for both the men's and women's teams at SCAD for five seasons before joining Armstrong State.
"This is a great day for Pirate athletics and for distance running in our community. I'm thankful that AD Lisa Sweany and Armstrong State university and athletic administration are confident in my abilities to lead our new women's cross country program," Sergi said. "Women's Cross Country was a successful program in the 1990s and I am grateful to be a part of building something that will be a point of pride for our university once again. Recruiting has begun and information regarding try-outs for current students will be communicated the first week of the Spring 2016 semester."
The campus' Gender Equity Committee and Intercollegiate Athletic Committee, along with the President's Cabinet, approved the addition. The University System Georgia Board of Regents signed off on the addition last week.
"Working with the campus Gender Equity Committee, it was determined that there was interest from the female student body to add cross country and an opportunity for Armstrong State University to increase participation for female student-athletes," Sweany said. "I am excited today to announce the reinstatement of women's cross country to our intercollegiate varsity offerings. Coach Sergi has continued to build our men's program and I am confident the women's program will quickly become competitive within the Peach Belt Conference. I appreciate the campus support as well as the approval from the University System of Georgia Board of Regents with the addition of this sport. It will be great to see women's cross country once again competing at Armstrong State."
Armstrong State has had women run for the Pirates since reinstatement of the men's program. Amanda Brown and Melissa Carder ran for the men's cross country team in 2011 - Carder finished 62nd at the PBC Championships that year. Caroline Windham ran for the team in 2012.
Competition begins in September of 2016.