COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — A pair of first-time meets pepper Tennessee Tech’s 2011 cross country schedule, which once again features the Golden Eagles’ annual home event on Friday, Sept. 30.
The TTU Invitational will serve as the third meet of the season for head coach Tony Cox’s team and will be hosted at Southern Hills Golf Course in Cookeville. The event will feature several Ohio Valley Conference squads and give the Golden Eagles a chance to see how they stack up against league competition prior to the end of the season.
Tech begins its slate with a return trip to the Sewanee Invitational, which will be held at Sewanee Golf Course in Sewanee, Tenn., on Saturday, Sept. 3.
The Golden Eagles then make their first trip to the Georgia State Invitational on Sept. 17, where they will run at Nash Farm Battlefield Park in Hampton, Ga., before returning home to host their own meet on Sept. 30.
In October, Tech will take part in two meets to prepare for the OVC Championships, first traveling to conference foe Jacksonville State on Oct. 8 for the JSU Foothills Invitational, which will be held at Oxford Lakes and Recreation Park in Oxford, Ala.
The Golden Eagles conclude their regular season at the University of Evansville Invitational on Oct. 15 at the UE Cross Country Course.
The OVC Championships begin at 9 a.m. on Oct. 29 and will be hosted by Eastern Kentucky at the Arlington Country Club in Richmond, Ky. Tech will be looking to improve on last year’s finishes, in which the women took sixth and the men earned seventh.
The teams will then have the opportunity to compete in the NCAA South Regional.
“I really like our schedule this year,” says eighth-year head coach Tony Cox. “We are going to a couple of new meets this year, and the team is excited about going to some different places.”
Tech’s women have designs on vast improvement from their 2010 finish as they return an intact squad.
Each of the Golden Eagles’ top seven runners a season ago was a newcomer. This year, Tech will be anchored primarily by a crop of sophomores who were often the team’s top finishers as freshmen a season ago.
Peri Winborne, a rising sophomore from Knoxville, Tenn., led the Golden Eagles at the OVC Championships, placing 30th with a time of 20:01.62. Others expected to earn points for Tech include sophomore Rebecca Cline, senior Leah Bradley, sophomore Beth Miller and sophomore Emily Williams.
Also returning to the squad are sophomore Yeshi Dohrmann, junior Kathryn Forbes, senior Traci Jones, sophomore Amelia McCoy, sophomore Meghan O’Donoghue and senior Emily Weinzetl.
Newcomers to the team include freshmen Kara Webb, Elizabeth Mitchell, Carrie Higgins and Katie McCrary.
The prospect of having a young but experienced squad is one that has Cox excited about the upcoming season.
“We have all the women’s team coming back, and they should be significantly better this year,” he said. “Having gone through the program for a year will really be valuable to them this year.”
While the women’s team returns wholly intact, Cox will have some holes to fill on the men’s squad, which graduated four of its members last year. The men will also be without senior leadership.
Cox hopes the 2011 serves as a chance to build a foundation for the program for years to come.
“This team is a very close-knit group, and they have been training hard this summer,” he said. “They know they will be together another couple of years, and they really want to work together to be as good as possible over the next few years.”
Sophomore Matthew Bishop paced the men’s squad at the OVC Championships last year and figures to be among the team’s leaders in 2011.
Also returning are junior Kolbe Andrzejewski, junior John Greene, junior Nathan Livesey, junior Michael Mahan, sophomore Adam McLeod and sophomore Nathan Snow.
Newcomers include freshmen Charlie Jordan and Matt Pennycuff.
In preseason voting among the league’s coaches, the Golden Eagle men and women were both picked to finish seventh out of 10 teams.