COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Five regular season meets that will put Tennessee Tech’s cross country runners on the course against some of the elite teams throughout the region, followed by a huge challenge at the Ohio Valley Conference championships and – hopefully – beyond.
In a sentence, that’s what’s in store for the Golden Eagle men’s and women’s cross country teams when they convene this fall for the 2015 cross country season. Head coach Wayne Angel is expecting two strong teams to compete at the highest level in school history. Several of the teams that will take the starting line next to Angel’s runners are regulars in the NCAA Championships and among leaders each year in the NCAA Regionals.
"The 2015 cross country schedule is an aggressive schedule that will help to prepare our student-athletes for the OVC championships and beyond," Angel said. "It will test our athletes’ abilities and resolve. It is a schedule that will help us to determine just how good Tennessee Tech really is."
Tech opens at the Indiana Invitational in Bloomington, Ind., on Sept. 5, a return to the course where the Hoosiers hosted Angel’s teams a year ago. Last season, the Indiana men’s team placed 15th at the NCAA Championships while the IU women were seventh in the NCAA Regional.
The Golden Eagles head to Greenville, S.C. in the second week of the season for the Furman Invitational on Sept. 12 at the Furman University Golf Course. It’s another meet featuring a host team that ran last year at the NCAA Championships. The Furman men placed 30th at the national event after claiming second at the NCAA regional. The Furman women’s team took sixth at the regional. Overall, the field will include more than 20 teams in both the men’s and women’s events.
Tech runs closer to home in the third week, competing at the Vanderbilt Commodore Classic on Sept. 19. The Vandy men took 19th at the NCAA Regional last year while the Commodore women won the regional and placed 28th at the national championships. Last year’s meet, held at Percy Warner Park, included 17 Division I men’s teams and 15 women’s squads.
Two weeks later, Tech heads to the Greater Louisville Classic, a massive meet that features more than one hundred college teams on the same course that will hold this year’s NCAA Championships. The Classic meet is slated for Oct. 3 at the E.P. 'Tom' Sawyer State Park, and will bring most of the region’s NCAA hopefuls for a “warm-up” race at the site.
Tech’s final race before the conference championships is the Crimson Classic at the University of Alabama’s Harry Pritchett Running Park. The meet, which will feature several Southeastern Conference squads, takes place on Friday, Oct. 16. The Alabama women placed third at last year’s NCAA Regional, while the Tide men were 15th.
The OVC Championships are scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 31, at Murray State’s Miller Memorial Golf Course. While the Eastern Kentucky men have won the OVC crown nine years in a row and the EKU women have claimed eight of the past nine, the Golden Eagles are looking to post the highest finishes in school history and challenge for the titles.
From there it’s on to the NCAA Regional meet at Tuscaloosa on Nov. 14, hosted by the University of Alabama. Teams that finish among the top two, plus a handful of individuals, advance to the NCAA Championships, Nov. 21, at Louisville.