MEMPHIS, Tenn.--The University of Memphis men's and women's cross country teams launch their 2011 campaigns this Saturday at the Memphis Twilight Cross Country Classic, hosted by Christian Brothers University. The meet will be at Mike Rose Soccer Complex with the women slated to run at 8:40 p.m. followed by the men at 9:20 p.m.
"It's a little more of a major meet than I would prefer this early in the season with dozens of teams and tough, deep competition," said cross country coach Doug Clark. "Definitely not an exhibition and could be the toughest competition of the whole season."
The men will run a four-mile distance, as opposed to the more typical 8000m (4.97 mile) distance. Meanwhile, the women will be running 5000m, which will give the runners a feel for the Conference-USA and NCAA Regional meet distance.
"The fast, mostly flat course will benefit both teams since we are just getting into shape," Clark said. "But even though the races are at twilight, with temps forecast in the mid-90's the heat will be a challenge."
Results can be found on gotigersgo.com as soon as they are made available following the meet.
2011 Cross Country Notes Schedule Change
The Tigers will forego the Chile Pepper Festival in Fayetteville, Ark., in order to compete in the Crimson Classic hosted by the University of Alabama on Saturday, Oct. 15 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Choosing the Crimson Classic gives Memphis the chance to preview the NCAA South regional course and compete with the men in another 8k before the Conference USA Meet.
With six freshmen, six sophomore and one senior on the men's side, plus one freshman, five sophomores and two upperclassmen on the women's side, the primary short-term goal for the cross country programs will be to gain experience early. Coach Clark expects the team to overcome any growing pains in the early-season invites in order to be competitive in the C-USA championships Oct. 31.
Leading the Way
Sophomore James Maglasang is the top returner for the men's team as he was the top individual finisher in every meet in 2010. Freshman Dan Kuhman has been running right with Maglasang in workouts and was an experienced high-volume trainer who could be competing for the top spot on the team by the end of the season. All the other freshmen were primarily low-volume trained middle-distance runners in high school and will be learning throughout the season.
Junior Louisa Lingley had a great summer of training and is the early leader for the women and is much improved over last year. The others are expected to close the gap as the year progresses and form a tight pack. Lone freshman Erica Owen has competed hard with the returnees in training and should be a challenger for the top spot. With Owen joining Lingley and several returnees, the women should make a tight pack by the time conference rolls around.
In the Long Run
For the first four to five weeks of the season, Coach Clark hopes his runners train hard, stay healthy, and run great races so the coaching staff can get a chance to evaluate the capabilities of these two young groups then have some more concrete goals for conference, regionals and future seasons.