JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. -- The men's and women's cross-country teams race to beat the storm as they travel to compete in the Lenoir-Rhyne Invitational Thursday evening to kick off the 2018 season.
Originally scheduled for Friday the 14th, the race was pushed up 24 hours due to inclement weather as a result of hurricane Florence. In addition to being rescheduled, teams such as App State have been added to the list of competitors as their weekend meet was cancelled due to weather as well.
The Eagles will face fellow SAC teams in the race such as Tusculum and the host, Lenoir-Rhyne. Stepp says this will give them a chance to scope out the competition moving forward.
"It always helps to know what you're going to be looking at, at the end of the season come championship season," Stepp said. "We need to know where we stack up and where we need to get better."
Luke Greer, the senior from the United Kingdom, heads into his senior season looking to dominate the courses yet again. As a junior, he had had a stellar season winning the Tusculum Open, Asheville Cross Country Invitational and the Eagles' home event, the Allen and Phyllis Morgan Invitational. Finishing second place in the South Atlantic Conference Championships last season, he was just seven seconds short of reaching All-American status.
Anthony Jackson (Manchester, Tenn.) will be returning as well to help lead the Eagles this season. Stepp says both Greer and Jackson will play an integral role in the Eagles overall score at the end of races.
"I think they'll have a huge impact. Not only are they leaders on the team, but they're going to be a very important part of how we score." Stepp said of Greer and Jackson. "Both of them have been giving me really positive feedback of how practices have been going with coach Phillips. We're expecting them to have a smooth race and get the season kicked off."
On the women's side there are a group of five seniors to lead the newcomers. Priscah Jemeli, Skye McCarter, Kathie O'neill, Bekah White and Lindsey Williams are all returning for the Eagles as they look to make an impact this season.
"They work so well together, they're a family, a true team and they make each other better." Stepp said of the women's team.
Stepp and his fellow coaches are excited to get the season underway as the women take the course at 6 p.m. and the men will follow at 6:40 p.m.
"You want your athletes to run smart and compete well." Stepp said of the mindset going into the first race. "That's what these early meets are for, preparation and to get used to racing again."
Scurry on back to cneagles.com for a full recap and the results of the race.
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