By Rob Schabert, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- On the drive home from Indiana two years ago, the last time the Tennessee Tech cross country teams competed in the Evansville Invitational, a quick check of the list of career-best times showed that nearly every member of both the women's and men's team had set a new personal-best time on the fast course.
"We really like that course, the weather was perfect, and everybody ran very well," said coach Tony Cox about the individual success of his troupe.
Since that last visit to the banks of the Ohio, the Golden Eagle runners have nearly all rewritten their personal-best marks at other races. On Saturday, after not running in Evansville a year ago, the teams will return to the meet hosted by the Purple Aces, and several runners will bid to lower their best times.
"The Evansville meet is always one of our fastest races," Cox said. "It has a few hills, but the course "rolls" well and the competition is usually good there, so we always have some our best times at this meet. The weather is usually cool and dry, so that also makes for faster times."
Saturday's meet is the final tuneup for the Golden Eagles before the OVC Championships early next month.
"I use the last couple of meets to determine who will be on the team for the OVC Championship meet," Cox said. "We can only have eight runners in the championship race. Therefore, this is an important meet for a few people on the team who are trying to make those final spots."
The meet will be held at the UE Cross Country Course, located near the I-64 and U.S. 41 interchange. The course consists of rolling hills, is run almost exclusively on grass and has been recognized as one of the top courses in the Midwest. The women's 5K begins at 11 a.m. with the men's 8K to follow at 11:45 a.m.
This event will mark only the third time this season that the Golden Eagle women will run a 5K race, along with contests at Vanderbilt and Jacksonville State. Tech's opening meet at Western Carolina was two miles, while the Charlotte Invitational was a 6K race.
It hasn't mattered what the distance, senior Rebecca Cline has been the team leader for the Golden Eagle women in all four events this season. Cline's season-best 5K time of 18:57.52 was clocked at the Vanderbilt meet, which is also the career-best 5K time for the senior from Spring Hill, Tenn.
Yeshi Dohrmann, a senior from Tullahoma, Tenn., has quietly climbed to second on the team in the past two meets, including a career-best time of 19:32 at the Jacksonville meet two weeks ago.
Three other seniors have battled for the next three positions in the team finishes this season. That trio includes Peri Winborne, Amelia McCoy and Meghan O'Donoghue. Of that group, Winborne's career-best time came in 2010 at the Evansville Invitational.
Tech's men will be covering an 8K course for the fourth time this year, with the lone outing of the season that was a different distance being the season-opening, 5K race at Western Carolina.
John Greene has been Tech's leader in all four meets in 2013, and he looks to set the pace again this weekend. Greene set a new personal-best for the fifth consecutive meet in the 2011 Evansville Invitational when he ran 26:17 to take 17th overall out of 122 runners.
After sitting out the entire 2012 season, the redshirt senior from Friendsville, Tenn., established a new personal-best of 26:13 at the Charlotte Invitational on Sept. 28. Another current Golden Eagle whose career-best came at Evansville is junior Sterling Smith, who ran a time of 28:32, only to beat that two weeks later at the 2012 OVC Championships. Smith has finished second on the squad all four meets this season.
The next three spots for Cox's team have been filled this year by freshmen Brennan Huber and Daniel Williamson and senior Matt Bishop.
Tech Lineups at Evansville: