By Rob Schabert, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Even with the most successful runners in school history leading the way, the Tennessee Tech women's cross country team has rarely finished among the top teams in the Ohio Valley Conference at the league's championship race each fall.
In 1995 with all-OVC efforts from Merri Robin Caldwell and Dena Adams, Tech placed third for the school's highest finish since adding the sport in 1985. The Golden Eagle women were in seventh place among the seven schools competing in that first year.
Tech has placed fourth in the OVC meet three times, in 1992 and 1994, and most recently in 2008 when the school's best distance runner, Stephanie Place, was the individual winner and named the OVC Runner of the Year.
So, it comes as no surprise that the Golden Eagle women aren't drawing any special attention as they prepare to run Saturday at the 2014 OVC Cross Country Championships at Oxford Lake Park in Oxford, Ala.
First-year coach Wayne Angel calls it a "transitional" year in which he has begun a building process that might lift the Tech women into contention the coming years. This year, however, the Golden Eagle coach is hoping his squad can run solid times on the fast, flat course and beat a few of the tams in the field. Tech's lineup will include one senior, one junior and three freshmen.
"This has been a rough year, a transitional year," Angel said. "We've had quite a few injuries, so we're hoping to get through the whole race clean, hopefully have some PRs and finish off the season with our heads held high."
The women's 5K race is set for 10 a.m., following the men's 8K championship at 9 a.m.
Senior Yeshi Dohrmann has paced Tech in every race this season, and is expected to repeat that on Saturday. She will be joined on the course by junior Landry Loving, and freshmen Baylee Balgemann, Anna Cooper and Lera McNamara.
Those young Tech runners can draw inspiration from Place, the former Golden Eagle distance standout who finished fifth overall in 2006, improved to third in 2007, and won it all in 2008.
And from Keri Light, who was ninth in 2007 and 12th in 2008 to earn all-OVC honors both years while running on the same team as Place. Prior to that pair, Tech was led by Michelle Kline, who had a 14th place finish in 2000 and captured 11th place in 2001, earning all-OVC both years. Her teammate, England's Lucy Hale, was a first-team all-OVC finisher in 2001 with a seventh place showing.
Tech's most recent all-OVC cross country runner was Tiffany Palmer, with a seventh place effort in 2009 to earn second-team honors.