Cross country teams get '08 season underway at Sewanee

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- A veteran women's lineup and a revamped men's squad will step to the starting line Saturday morning when the Tennessee Tech cross country teams get the 2008 season underway at the Sewanee Invitational.

"We are looking forward to getting the season started this weekend," said coach Tony Cox. "The team has been training hard all summer and they are ready to go."

Tech will be among the nearly 20 teams expected to compete in the first race of the year, with the women's 5K event beginning at 10 a.m. and the men's 8K race starting at 11. While Mississippi State is expected to be the pace-setting team at the meet, Cox is hoping that Tech will challenge for the top few spots in the final standings.

The Tech women's team has three proven seniors to lead the way with Stephanie Place, Keri (Coulthard) Light and Ashley Evans. Place was the individual winner at Sewanee last year, and Cox expects her to run near the front of the pack this weekend.

"Stephanie is a veteran runner, and she has had a tremendous career," said Cox, "but she's not finished. She has worked very hard and I expect her to have her best year, yet."

The men's team is still young, Cox points out.

"We do not have any seniors this year but the juniors have really taken on a leadership role and are anxious to get better," Cox said. "This is a good young team and it will be exciting to see them race."

Both teams will also feature some newcomers who will contribute.

"The newcomers to watch are Traci Jones on the women's side, and Ethan McGroom on the men's side," Cox said. "Both have been impressive in the early season training and should be in the top five on the team this weekend."