By Holly Weber, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech men and women's cross country schedules have officially been slated for the 2016 season. Highlighted by five regular season meets, including one hosted by the Golden Eagles for the first time since the 2012 season, the agenda promises to be filled with some of the most elite teams across the region.
"We are thrilled to host the Golden Eagle Invitational in front of a home town crowd," head coach Wayne Angel remarked. "It's going to be a very special event; our men and women's teams are really pumped up for the occassion."
Tennessee Tech will kick things off at home on Sept. 3 with the Golden Eagle Invitational sponsored by Hometown IGA and the Foothills Running Company. Teams from Purdue University, Florida A&M University, Western Kentucky University, Alabama State University, and Alabama A&M University will join the Golden Eagles at the Ironwood Golf Course.
"Purdue will probably be the top team coming in," Angel continued. "Last year, their women and men's teams placed sixth and seventh respectively at the Big Ten Cross Country championships and Purdue's women were ranked 30th in the nation."
"Overall, the women's race is going to be a very competitive one," Angel stated. "Florida A&M has won four straight MEAC [Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference] championships, and Alabama State has won five consecutive SWAC [Southwestern Athletic Conference] championships. On the men's side, Purdue and Tennessee Tech should battle for the top spot. We think it's really going to be a nice meet that the fans will really enjoy."
Next, the Tennessee Tech teams will travel to Mobile, Ala., for the Azalea City Classic on Sept. 9, before returning back to Tennessee for the Commodore Classic in Nashville on Sept. 17. The Golden Eagles will then head up to Louisville, Ky., for the Greater Louisville Classic on Oct. 1. Finally, Tech will split the squads and the women will head to the Front Runner Invitational in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Oct. 15, and the men will drive up to Terre Haute, Ind., for the Pre-Nationals meet to round out their regular season matchups.
"I'm very pleased with our current schedule," Angel said. "It will assist us in preparing our men and women as we move closer to the championship phase of our our season."
The Golden Eagle squads will round out the 2016 season at the OVC championships in Nashville, Tenn., on Oct. 29, the NCAA Regional Championships in Tallahassee, Fla., on Nov. 11, and the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. on Nov. 19.
Returners from last year's team are fourth-year senior veteran Daniel Williamson and sophomore Joshua Daughtry. They will be accompanied by freshman phenom Gilbert Boit (the No. 3 ranked freshman in the USA in the 10k), Sigei Bernard, Anthony Rono, and Cleveland, Tenn. native and Dalton State transfer Paul Patterson who was the top finisher at the NAIA Cross Country Nationals in 2015.
"They have worked diligently putting in the miles over the summer," Angel continued. "I am confident that their hard work will pay off at the OVC championships this year."
The women will return seniors Purity Murray and Sarah Brandt to lead the way for the Golden Eagles. They will be accompanied by junior Anna Cooper and sophomores Jenna Storms (top freshman in 2015), Madison Stremler, Molly Griffin, Andrea Retano, and D'Airrien Jackson.
"The trio of Murray, Brandt, and Storms spearheaded our efforts last year," Angel remarked. "We are expecting no less this year. I look to Madison and Anna stepping up this year as we strive to improve on last year's finish at the OVC Championships."
You can follow the Tennessee Tech cross country teams online on Facebook on the Tennessee Tech Cross Country / Track & Field and TTU sports pages.
Photos by TTU Sports Information