COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Ever since they began their daily training in the heat of August, through running the hills and fields around Cookeville the past two months, the Tennessee Tech cross country teams have had their sights set on one thing – the Ohio Valley Conference championships this Saturday.
"We are very excited to compete this week," said head coach Wayne Angel. "The teams are chomping at the bit. Our training, both mental and physical, has been excellent. We are ready."
The event will be held on Miller Memorial Golf Course, hosted by Murray State University, with 12 teams in each race competing for the first OVC titles to be decided in 2015-16. The women's 5K race will get the day underway, with the starting gun sounding at 9 a.m. The men will step to the line for the 8K race ready to run at 10 a.m.
The top seven finishers in each race receive first-team all-OVC honors, while the next seven will be awarded second-team laurels.
"From what I understand, the conditions will not be favorable," Angel said. "The course has had a lot of rain on it, so tactics will come into play more so than times.
"I look for the women to improve on their 10th place finish from last year. They have been looking strong all season. I'm looking for (Geoffrey) Sambu to lead the men's team to a top six finish."
Angel will send six runners into each event. The Tech women's lineup will feature Sonel Bezuidenhout, Sarah Brandt, Angela Jepchirchir, Purity Murray, Madison Stremler and Jenna Storms.
Three different runners have led the Tech women across the finish line in the five races this year. The latest was Purity Murray, when she paced the Golden Eagles at the Crimson Classic on Oct. 16. Before that, Jenna Storms was Tech's top finisher twice and Sarah Brandt led the team twice.
Storms owns the team's fastest 5K time of the year, running the race at the Greater Louisville Classic in 18:24.9, which ranks as the 11th best in school history. Brandt was just an eyelash behind that day, clocking the 12th best time in school history with an 18:25.2 effort. Murray's time of 18:27.95 at Alabama ranks as the 13th best time in school history.
For the Golden Eagle men's team, the lineup will include Collin Gwaltney, Amos Kipchirchir, Timothy Misoy, Noah Rotich, Geoffrey Sambu and Daniel Williamson.
Williamson paced Tech in the first meet of the year, and Sambu has been the Golden Eagle leader in each of the last four events with Williamson a consistent second. Kipchirchir finished third on the team in all four meets in which he has run.
A year ago, Sambu finished sixth at the conference meet to capture first-team all-OVC honors.
According to Angel, all 12 Golden Eagle runners scheduled to run are healthy and ready to go.
"The hay is in the barn," Angel said. "It's show time."