By Nate Perry, TTU Sports Information
MADISON, Wis. – For the second year in a row, Purity Sanga will compete in the final meet of the cross country season, the one reserved only for the very best collegiate runners the nation has to offer, the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. The 2018 races will be held Saturday, November 17 at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course in Madison, Wis., with the starting gun for the women's race going off at 10:45 a.m. CT.
Sanga's return trip comes on the back of her program-best seventh-place overall finish at the NCAA South Region Championships, where she completed the six-kilometer course at Florida State's Apalachee Regional Park in 20-minutes, 43.0-seconds.
In addition to her second consecutive all-region honor, Sanga claimed the final individual qualifier position for the NCAA Championships by recording the fourth-best result of the women not affiliated with South Region team qualifiers Florida and Florida State.
"This is a super opportunity for learning and growth for Purity," said head coach Wayne Angel. "She can go out ready to be fearless and bold, which is critical to being successful at nationals. The biggest thing for her is to have confidence, and be alert and engaged at all times during the competition."
Having guided Sanga in her trailblazing exploits for nearly two full seasons, Angel has seen his scintillating sophomore reach heights never before seen in the Tennessee Tech cross country program, and views her as a model for the individual greatness that can be achieved in Cookeville.
"Purity continues to raise the bar for our program; she is an amazing talent," Angel said. "We are so proud that she is a Golden Eagle, and will be wearing the Purple and Gold this week in Madison."
Sanga, who is the first runner in Tech history to make two trips to the NCAA Championships, will be the only female to represent the Ohio Valley Conference at this year's meet, and will join Tennessee's Megan Murray as the only two collegians from the state in the women's competition.
The 2018 OVC Female Athlete of the Year and Athlete of the Championships, who owns Tech's program bests in both the 5K and the 6K, has a chance to add the exclamation point to a truly stellar season. The Kapsabet, Kenya native claimed three individual victories on the year – including an OVC individual conference championship – and finished in the top three overall at every meet prior to regionals.
Having already experienced the pageantry of the NCAAs a season ago, Sanga makes the trip to Madison with heightened expectations for her second go-around, and looks to improve on her 6K mark of 21:48.0 from last year's meet.
"The goal now is to be an All-American, which would make her the first one in Tech history," said Angel. "The tangible objectives may have changed, but how we approach each race hasn't. She will continue to race her best and control those things that she can control, and not worry about things the things she cannot. The only limits to Purity's realization of being an All-American this weekend will be the ones that she imposes on herself."
Photo by Eric Mueller, Southeast Missouri Strategic Communications