COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – After a week break, the Tennessee Tech men and women's cross country teams are ready to get back in action. The Golden Eagle teams head to Louisville with dozens of other teams for the Greater Louisville Classic on Saturday morning at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park.
Head Coach Wayne Angel says the layout in Louisville is outstanding.
"It's wide open, it's pretty flat and it's very fast" Angel said. "It's an opportunity for the runners to get good times. The starting line is huge, and it has a great finish."
In addition to the course being runner-friendly, the race itself is fun, Angel says.
"They have a great announcer who makes the race so exciting," Angel remarked. "He announces every K and he gets the crowd involved. It's a very spectator-friendly course. People can watch from all over the course, and it's great for the spectators as well as the athletes."
This year marks the 15th that the Louisville Sports Commission has hosted the event, on a course that has gained a reputation as one of the best cross country venues in the country.
The park has hosted the 2012 and 2015 NCAA Division I National Championships, the 2010 and 2014 NCAA DII National Championships, five NAIA National Championships, two Big East Conference Championships, and five NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships.
E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park will also be the site of the 2016 NCAA Division III and 2017 Division I National Championships.
Sophomore Gilbert Boit heads up the Tech men's squad, while junior Micayla Rennick has been the leader this season for the Golden Eagle women. That pair expect to set the pace once again Saturday.
Angel said the scope of the meet won't distract his runners from their primary objective of the season.
"We are excited to be competing in the Greater Louisville Classic this weekend," Angel said. "Even though it is a top-level competition, it's important for us not to lose sight of the big picture, which is our conference championship.
"We are still training hard; and I am encouraged by what I see in practice". It's necessary for us to elevate our game and race in tougher meets," he said.
"But we still have to put things into perspective. For us, every competition is an opportunity to evaluate our training to ensure that we are on course. They are learning to race as a disciplined unit and depend on each other. If they continue to trust in the process, everything else will take care of itself," Angel continued.
Boit has been the top finisher in all three races this season for the Golden Eagle men's team, including a school-record 8K time of 24:09.34 at Azalea City Classic in Mobile, Ala., on Sept. 9.
The next four spots on the results sheet have been juggled among four different runners, including freshman Bernard Sigei who has finished second for Angel's squad in each of the past two races. The balance of Tech's lineup includes senior Daniel Williamson, senior Paul Patterson, and freshman Brannon Cheplak.
For the women's squad, Rennick has headed up the pack in all three races this season. Senior Sarah Brandt has been next in the order for the Golden Eagles the past two races, after senior Purity Murray was second in the season-opening meet. Sophomore Jenna Storms, junior Anna Cooper and junior Madison Stremler have figured in the rest of Tech's scoring.
"Our goals this week will be to focus on our mental toughness and to close the gap between our second and fifth," Angel said. "We want to have a well-synchronized running group by the OVC championships (Oct. 29)."
The Classic, which includes numerous races throughout the morning, begins early Saturday, with the first starting gun scheduled for 8 a.m. ET. The Tech men will run first in the 8K Gold Division, beginning at 9:30 a.m. The Golden Eagle women run in the 5K Blue Division at 11 a.m.
Complete results of the day's races will be available on TTUsports.com when they become available.
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