By Layne Weitzel, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Purity Sanga hasn't let her freshman status affect her performance on the cross country course during 2017.
Sanga will close her debut season at Tennessee Tech at the 2017 NCAA Cross Country Championships in Louisville, Kentucky, having earned an at-large bid after the South Regional last Saturday.
She placed eighth overall at the regional in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with a school record-breaking 6k time of 20:16.4 – just shy of an automatic-qualifying spot but good enough to be reconsidered by the NCAA. Sanga is the first-ever Tennessee Tech runner, male or female, to qualify for the national championship.
"We are so proud of Purity," said head coach Wayne Angel. "She has accomplished what no other cross country runner before her or presently has accomplished. We have had outstanding runners like Stephanie Place, Geoffrey Sambu, Micayla Rennick and Gilbert Boit get so close. Making it to the national championships is no easy task. It is very difficult to do.
"What's even more noteworthy is the fact that she is a freshman who runs with the poise, passion and confidence of an upperclassman. She is a phenomenal young lady who is a fearless competitor. Those are things you can't teach – either you possess those qualities or you don't."
Sanga, the reigning Ohio Valley Conference Women's Freshman of the Year, will be the lone female representative from the state of Tennessee to run at NCAAs. According to OVC records, she is just the eighth different OVC female athlete to earn an at-large NCAA berth.
"Purity has set the tone for our program in the future," said Angel. "She is truly an amazing young lady. We are so proud that she is a Golden Eagle and wears the purple and gold."
The NCAA Championships will take place at the University of Louisville's E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park (a course that Tech ran previously this season at Pre-Nationals) on Saturday, Nov. 18. The women's 6k will go off at 8 a.m. CT.