VALDOSTA -- Togetherness paid off for Valdosta State's women's cross country team Saturday.

VSU had its five top runners finish from eighth to 14th place, and its next two pushed back Kennesaw State to claim its first-ever team title at the Clayton State meet in the Atlanta area.

VSU (24-6) edged Kennesaw State, 54-56, with Clayton State third with 66 points. VSU's men were fifth in their competition.

Kennesaw State had three of the meet's top five runners. But before its fourth runner cross the finish line, seven VSU runners placed.

Amanda Bennett was eighth overall (20:32), with Cindy Barkley ninth (20:40) and Meredith Middleton 10th (20:46). Teresa Isom was 13th (21:35) and Danielle Potter 14th (21:39) to complete VSU's scoring.

But when Jen McCall (17th, 21:43) and Heather Franks (18th, 21:44) crossed the line before Kennesaw State, it added enough points to KSU's score to give Valdosta State the victory.

VSU's men (14-13) finished behind a pack of Peach Belt Conference schools, led by Kennesaw State's 17 points. USC-Spartanburg (62), Clayton State (84) and Columbus State (86) were ahead of VSU (153).

Daniel Scott (20th, 28:11) was VSU's top runner. Other scorers were James Wright (25th, 28:27), Brian Foskey (35th, 29:41), Jonathan Craig (36th, 29:46) and Manny Hauck (37th, 29:47).

VSU runs at the Georgia Collegiate Championships Oct. 6, also in the Atlanta area.

n The women's tennis team's fall regional individual tournament will be held Friday through Sunday at The Complex's tennis courts.

Winners in singles and doubles competition advance to the Rolex national tournament next month.

Fans will notice changes at the tennis courts. Awnings were built over the main seating areas last spring, and new lights were installed last month.

n The long road for the volleyball team comes to an end this weekend. VSU (6-11, 1-4) plays its 17th road match in 18 Wednesday at Georgia Southwestern State, then comes home to play Gulf South East matches with Montevallo (3 p.m. Saturday) and West Georgia (2 p.m. Sunday). Both matches are at The Complex.

VSU lost six-of-seven games in two matches last weekend on a Gulf South East trip to West Alabama (14-6, 2-2) and MUW.

Rachel Hoodzow had eight kills in West Alabama's 30-25, 30-15, 30-23 victory Saturday.

On Sunday, MUW (10-8, 3-3) overcame VSU's first-game win for a 25-30, 37-35, 30-22, 30-26 victory. Amy Housemeyer had 15 kills for VSU, while Madalyn Loehr added 14 kills and 24 digs, Suzy Watson 13 kills and Hoodzow 12 kills.

n Valdosta State's golf team began a five-tournament fall schedule yesterday at Nova Southeastern's event in Florida.

Miles Hannan's team returns four of five golfers who qualified the Blazers for the national tournament last season.







VALDOSTA -- A running back in the Valdosta State football offense?

If you believed the hype outsiders have about the Blazer program, you'd think that position was as useless as placement holder on an old XFL team (those guys didn't kick extra points).

Central Arkansas supporters were disappointed Saturday night when the Blazers didn't throw on every down, or ran more than just when the quarterback was being chased.

They also went home disappointed after the Blazers outscored the Bears 35-3 in the second half enroute to a 42-34 win.

Sophomore Aaron Jenkins helped contribute to that disappointment. The 5-foot-7 back ran for a career-high 179 yards and three second-half touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 38 yards and ran back a kickoff 30 yards.

For his efforts, he was named the Gulf South Conference offensive player of the week.

"The offensive line opened up the holes and I did what I know I can do, run," said Jenkins after Monday's practice. Jenkins runs behind a mostly senior line of tackles Jason King and Chance Hutto (a junior), guards Keith Gosse and Bill Epps and center Tully Payne.

Gosse, nursing his second injured ankle this season, was replaced by redshirt freshman Torrey Howard Saturday. Gosse was back with the first team Monday.

"Torrey stepped up big," said Jenkins, who was part of the 2000 recruiting class with Howard. "I talked about him all week. I told him I was going to be behind him. He took pride in that."

It also gave future Blazer opponent something to think about. There's more to VSU's offense than Dusty Bonner's right arm.

"Our whole philosophy is take what the defense gives you," said running backs coach Chris Boden. "If they're going to totally drop everybody like they did Saturday, we're going to run it.

"We stuck with the game plan. They gave us a three-man front and we took it."

Jenkins played at Calhoun County High. He had attracted attention as a sprinter for the school's track team, and Auburn had taken some note of his talents.

"What turned some schools off on him was his height," said Boden. "But he was the fastest kid we've ever seen on film. He was special. He made things happen.

"This offense uses small backs really well. They excel."

When Jenkins reported to camp, the coaches discussed whether to use him at running back or H-receiver (the fourth receiver).

Boden won out.

"I was kind of pulling for it because I could see how fast he was," Boden said. "That was a big decision and we've never looked back on that one."

Jenkins began his Blazer career with a bang. On the first time he touched the football he turned a short pass into a 51-yard touchdown play vs. Albany State. Against West Georgia, he had a 100-yard kickoff return just before halftime to give the Blazers a needed shot in the arm.

He finished with a team-high 499 rushing yards, another 287 receiving yards (on 33 catches) and 13 touchdowns overall -- matching the team high.

A year later, he's more confident in running the offense.

"This year I know the whole offense," Jenkins said. "Last year I was more tentative and was second-guessing my first thoughts."

He has 418 rushing yards and 126 receiving yards on 16 catches. His six touchdowns is second on the team to Reggie Mosley's seven.

Unlike last year, when the Blazers split the rushes between four backs, Jenkins is now the man. Especially since Tony Wesley, who had a career-high 85 yards Saturday, is out at least this week with a knee injury.

"It's a challenge but I'll take it," Jenkins said.



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