Carson-Newman to host SAC Cross Country Championships on Saturday at Panther Creek
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The Carson-Newman Eagles will try to make home-course advantage a catalyst for a quality finish in the 2011 South Atlantic Conference Cross Country Championships. C-N will hosts the SAC meet on Saturday morning at Panther Creek State Park in Morristown, Tenn.
The women's race begins at 9 a.m. with the men's race to follow at 10 a.m. The awards ceremony will follow the completion of the men's race.
The Carson-Newman women are aiming for a Top 3 finish in Saturday's race. Lenoir-Rhyne University and defending-champion Anderson University are the frontrunners going into the race.
The Lady Eagles are led by junior Hannah Reese, who won the Maryville College Invitational earlier this month. Reese sat out last weekend's race at USC Upstate, but is ready to run this weekend. Juniors Brooke Earhart and Meredith Nix will help carry the load for C-N. Nix finished eighth and Earhart 13th at USC Upstate last weekend. C-N will likely still be without top runner Katie Hayes, and will lean heavily on Amanda Bowman and Stephanie Savino to make up for Hayes' absence.
"(Meredith) Nix always runs well for us in big races," C-N head coach Whitney Lee said. "We'll need an All-SAC result from two or three to finish in the Top 3."
Lenoir-Rhyne's Kate Griewisch and Anderson's Whitney Bishoff are the favorites for the race. Bishoff won last year's SAC Championship, beating Griewisch by two seconds in Wingate, N.C.
For the Eagles, junior Angel Soriano has been C-N's frontrunner this fall. Soriano slipped last week at USC Upstate finishing 18th, but finished third at the Citadel Invitational in late September with a time that put him in the Top 15 of D-I competitors. Freshman Luke Hall has consistently been the Eagles' No. 2.
"I think the experiences this season has offered have helped our this young group get ready for the SAC race," Lee said. "We will have to absolutely grind and battle (to finish near the top half). We're incredibly young, but eager to race at a venue tougher than any other the rest of our conference has seen.."
Mars Hill College is the big favorite on the men's side. The Lions have won 14-straight South Atlantic Conference titles. Anderson, Wingate, and Lenoir-Rhyne will push Mars Hill for the top spot.
The Lions' Kit Powell and Justin Gragg, along with Wingate's Steve Hammond, Catawba's Christian Crifasi, Anderson's Deniz Hay and Kyle Koby, and Brevard's Josh Mower are the favorites on the men's side.
Carson-Newman head coach Whitney Lee on the course at Panther Creek State Park:
The course at Panther Creek Park is the toughest course all the teams will see this year…Full of climbs and rolling terrain on true trail (not open field grass paths), this course is often viewed as a 'strength' course and considered a bit of an equalizer…The first mile will turn out to be the slowest in both races despite the adrenaline the runners will have. A sharp climb as the pack approaches the first mile mark comes on the heels of a gradual half-mile of incline. The benefit of the climb is the descent leads into what will be the fastest mile of the race as it levels out into mile 2. The third mile again has a tough climb, in the middle, with a quick descent to the finish for the women, and to a level fast 4th mile for the men. The men run through the same climb encountered at mile 3 as they come into their finish…Look for the women's race to be full of high 19's and low 20s in the All-SAC performance list and the men's race will have the front pack in mid-26s for sure if not faster.