Tech cross country to open at home with Golden Eagle Invitational presented by Hometown IGA

Tech cross country to open at home with Golden Eagle Invitational presented by Hometown IGA

By Layne Weitzel, TTU Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – For the second-consecutive year, Tennessee Tech cross country is gearing up for its season-opening Golden Eagle Invitational presented by Hometown IGA at the Ironwood Golf Course on Saturday morning.

Auburn, Mississippi State, Southern Illinois, Tennessee State and Western Kentucky join Tech to round out the meet field. The men's 6k race will go off first at 9 a.m. CT, while the women's 5k will follow at 9:45 a.m. CT.

"We're really excited to be running at home in front of a hometown crowd," said head coach Wayne Angel. "They have prepared all summer and are ready to test their fitness as a team."

On the men's side, Tech returns Gilbert Boit (1st in 2016 Golden Eagle Invitational), Benard Sigei (8th), Brannon Cheplak (13th) and Joshua Daugherty (29th) and adds Blake Brown, Sammy Kipkirui, Ababu Mohamed and Hannes Vonn to its roster. The Golden Eagles placed second to Purdue at the meet last season and beat out Alabama State and Western Kentucky in a dual-meet format. Then-freshman Boit earned the individual title in his Golden Eagle debut and will look to repeat Saturday.

For the women, Micayla Rennick (7th), Anna Cooper (29th), D'Airrien Jackson (32nd) and Madison Stremler (DNR) each return to Cookeville, while newcomer and Cookeville native Courtney McCowan joins the Eagles. The women also finished second to the Boilermakers and defeated Alabama State, Alabama A&M and Western Kentucky in dual action at the 2016 meet.

"We hope to improve on last year's finish," said Angel. "It's going to be a really fun meet with great competition."

Tech stacks up well against the rest of the invitational field. Both Rennick and Stremler competed in the postseason at the NCAA South Regional, placing 42nd and 169th respectively to help Tech to a 21st-place team finish for the women. On the men's side, Boit (11th), Sigei (63rd) and Cheplak (67th) were the top three finishers out of Tech's five runners at the regional and ultimately placed 11th as a team.

A LOOK AT THE GOLDEN EAGLE INVITATIONAL PARTICIPANTS

Auburn Tigers

  • USTFCCCA preseason ranking: NR (men), NR (women)
  • 2016 postseason finish: three individuals at NCAA South Regional
  • Key returnees: SR Wesley Pectol (23rd place at 2016 NCAA South Regional), SR Kevin Wyss (28th)

Mississippi State Bulldogs

  • USTFCCCA preseason ranking: 15th in South Region (men), 2nd in South Region (women)
  • 2016 postseason finish: 15th at NCAA Championships (women)
  • Key returnees: SR Mia Meydrich (132nd at 2016 NCAA Championships), SR Antonia Hehr (155th), SR Shannon Fair (186th), JR Stephanie Peterson (245th)

Southern Illinois Salukis

  • USTFCCCA preseason ranking: NR (men), NR (women)
  • 2016 postseason finish: five individuals at NCAA Midwest Regional
  • Key returnees: JR Josh Maier (48th place at 2016 NCAA Midwest Regional), SR Jonathan Vara (113th), SR Natalia Hajduk (128th), JR Shannon Effron (149th), SR Kelly O'Shea (159th)

Tennessee State Tigers

  • USTFCCCA preseason ranking: NR (men),
  • 2016 postseason finish: --
  • Key returnees: SO Zebedee Lunsford (81st at 2016 OVC Championships), RSR Kayla Pryor (78th), RSR Christian Pryor (79th)

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

  • USTFCCCA preseason ranking: NR (men)
  • 2016 postseason finish: --
  • Key returnees: SR Endalow Takele (20th at Conference USA Championships), SR Julien Cuyeu (33rd), SR Savannah Ames (60th)
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Photo by Thomas Corhern