June 11, 2013

Signings continue as Roadrunners prepare for first year

Two names familiar to area high school girls soccer fans will help Dalton State College’s women’s cross country program when it hits the trail for the first time later this summer.

The Roadrunners have signed Dalton High School alumnus Julie Parham as well as Nayeli Jacobo, who recently graduated from Murray County High School.

Jacobo ran cross country in the fall but also excelled on the soccer field in the spring. She was the MVP of each team as a senior and also earned the same honor for cross country as a sophomore and junior.

Dalton State coach Margie Bruner took note this spring when Jacobo won two of Dalton’s top road races, the Run for John and the Bill Gregory Healthcare Classic.

“We are really excited to add Nayeli to our growing team,” said Bruner, who will coach alongside Andy Meyer. “She is self-motivated and eager to compete and get better. She has basically trained herself in the offseason and has run very strong times in 5K (3.1-mile) races.”

Bruner said Jacobo won the Run for John with a time of 22 minutes, 7 seconds and the Bill Gregory Healthcare Classic in 21:18, her personal best for a 5K.

“Both courses are very tough,” Bruner said.

Said Meyer, “Nayeli has done so well under (Murray County) coach Sam Young. She has been blazing fast during the spring racing season. We are very fortunate to have her.”

Young said he’ll miss Jacobo, his top girls runner for several years.

“Nayeli has been a very hard worker who strives to become better each year,” he said. “She is always positive and exhibits leadership to her teammates.”

Jacobo finished high school with a 3.5 grade point average and was a member of the Beta Club.

“I chose Dalton State because of how warm and welcoming coach Bruner has made me feel,” Jacobo said. “I look forward to being a part of the new cross country team and doing my part in helping it grow. I want to leave some fast records for future Dalton State runners to reach for.”

Jacobo’s parents are Micaela and Refugio Jacobo. Her siblings are Angelita, Aurelio, Jesus, Jose, Maria, Matilda, Mauricio and Nery.

While Parham will be new to cross country, she is an experienced athlete who earned MVP honors as the goalkeeper for Dalton High’s soccer team during her senior season of 2011. She began her college soccer career at Point University, a small Christian school with its main campus in West Point. The Lady Skyhawks, who play a fall season, finished second at the National Christian College Athletic Association’s Division II national championship tournament in 2011.

Parham returned home to attend Dalton State during the spring semester. She is studying early childhood education.

Although she has never been on a school cross country team, Parham has competed in area road races and she said she is proud to represent Dalton State in athletics.

“I am looking forward to a great season and I am excited to represent a first-year program,” Parham said.

Bruner said Parham is a natural leader.

“What she lacks in experience she will make up in enthusiasm,” Bruner said. “She will provide leadership for our younger runners.”

Bruner is also looking forward to helping her newest runner develop.

“She has run some strong times in local races without any serious training,” Bruner said. “She’s only been running a year.”

Julie is the daughter of Lisa and Mike Parham of Dalton. She has three sisters — Brittney, Michelle and Ashley.

Jacobo and Parham join previous Dalton State women’s cross country signees Maggie Kalafut of Northwest Whitfield, Natalie Espinoza and Jazmin Sanchez of Heritage-Catoosa, and Mikayla Moran of North Cobb. Roadrunners coaches will begin working with the men’s and women’s teams later this month in preparation for a team camp July 25-27 in Blairsville.

Dalton State opens the season Aug. 31 at the Berry Invitational in Rome. The Roadrunners are also scheduled to compete at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Twilight Invitational (Sept. 6), Georgia State College and University’s Georgia Invitational (Sept. 14), the Mercer University Invitational (Sept. 28), the University of the South Invitational (Oct. 10) and the Beaufort (S.C.) Classic (Oct. 18).

• TENNIS, TOO: In addition to Jacobo, Dalton State’s recent signees included another Murray County High School alum, 2012 graduate Noah Cleary.

The No. 1 singles player for the Indians, he earned a spot on The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Spring Team as a senior. Now he’ll play for Roadrunners coaches Michel Bates and Zach Rogers.

“I am going to Dalton State because of the high caliber of the coaching staff,” Cleary said. “This is a great opportunity for a local player to be competitive and improve my skills.”

Rogers and Bates agree that Cleary is a good fit for the program, which will help relaunch athletics at the school.

“Noah is the kind of kid you just love to be around,” Rogers said. “He is going to be a great addition to both our team and the school as a whole.”

Said Bates, “He’s a special young man. He is a great student and a very mature young man. With Noah’s great work ethic, he will contribute as a player in his first couple of years.”

Noah is the son of Gregg Cleary. He has one brother, Drew.

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