By Holly Weber, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn.—The time has come! The Tennessee Tech men and women's cross country teams are ready to kickoff their 2016 season with the Golden Eagle Invitational presented by Hometown IGA on Saturday.
"We are excited to see some of our freshmen and underclassmen run that are competing in college for the first time or trying to pick up some valuable meet experience," head coach Wayne Angel said. "We have some runners who could really make an impact this year, and this meet will be an opportunity for them to get off to a good start against very good teams."
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 for their first meet of the year. The men will kick things off with a 6K beginning at 9 a.m., and the women will follow with a 5K at 9:45 a.m.
"Purdue will probably be the top team coming in," head coach Wayne Angel remarked. "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 continued. "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."
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 Tony Marable