The Memphis Cross Country Team Begins 08 Season
Aug. 27, 2008
Memphis, Tenn. - Students filing back into the classrooms signifies the beginning of the 2008-09 school year. With the new academic year also comes a brand new fall athletic season. With hire of distance coach Toby Reep the Memphis distance and cross country program begins a new era with a new outlook of success.
"Our objective is to be better than what we have been in the recent past. I think being top five for both women and men is a very reachable goal," Reep said. "The possibilities are limitless for us as far as the season goes. It is entirely up to our athletes as to how good they want to be."
The men's cross country team returns all of its runners from last season and adds two more runners who should make big contributions for the Tigers. Edwin Kipkorir a sophomore transfer from division II Adams State and Aaron Evans an incoming freshman from Bermuda look to be a solid addition for the group. Track and field head coach Kevin Robinson expects him to step on campus at Memphis and immediately enter an important role for the team.
Robinson is eager to see just how much progress his team has made from the 2007 campaign.
"We look for our guys to have made leaps and bounds of improvement from last season, said Robinson. "We are going to have a really good shot at being competitive at the regional level. As far as pinpointing the level of competitiveness we haven't been able to evaluate that, but we're really looking forward to seeing what our guys are capable of."
The women's side includes a host of newcomers. Six new athletes will run for the Lady Tiger's cross country squad this year including three freshmen, two juniors, and a senior. The sole returner is Emily Malinowski, a senior from Slingerlands, N.Y. The coaching staff believes her to be the leader for the women's squad this season. Reep knows she has the ability to have a big impact in her senior campaign.
"Emily is the lone returning athlete who has had some pretty phenomenal performances in the past," Reep said. "This will be her last great opportunity to do something very special this year. We believe she has a pretty good chance to qualify for nationals. I do not think that is out of the realm of possibilities for her."
Reep is also unsure but optimistic about the strength of his incoming girls.
"I think we have a pretty young group for the most part," Reep said. "As far as the new individuals on the women's team there is really no telling. We have some pretty incredible talent available and they have potential to be very good."
Track and field head coach Robinson shares the same feelings of his young team but is confident in each individual's abilities especially his only returning senior.
"We are very young, but Emily, our only returning athlete, has been the leader since she has been here," Robinson stated. "We have a pretty good supporting cast that I believe stands to do a pretty good job here in the near future. I think with experience, time, and proper training we will be an excellent team."
As the student-athletes dive into the new school year this week, they also head immediately to a cross country meet this weekend. The opening Arkansas Tech meet is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 29 at Russellville, Arkansas. September brings a tough schedule as the teams will run in the Memphis Twilight Classic on Sept. 13, head to Vanderbilt for the Commodore Classic on Sept. 20, and back home to Memphis to compete in the Rhodes Invitational on Sept. 27. Reep believes this series of meets will provide some great evaluations of where the team is going to be by the end of the year.
"The first meet is obviously a measuring stick for us," Reep said. "By the time we get to the Twilight Meet on Sept. 13 we really need to be clicking. Those three meets in a row in September are still at a point in the season where we're training extremely hard. Our runners will still be very fatigued, but that is ultimately where they are going to improve themselves and make the biggest strides during the year."
Memphis travels to one more meet in October before they play host to the Conference USA Championships.
"That will be a point in the year when we should really be on our "A" game," Reep commented. "We'll be recovered. That is a preparation phase for the conference meet. We should know pretty much where we stand going into the conference based on that meet."
The coaching staff is very excited about hosting the conference championships. Reep anticipates that hosting the meet will draw support of the community giving his runners a competitive edge.
"We are going to take full advantage of hosting the Conference USA Championships," Reep said. "I hope we get everybody in the community to come out in a sea of blue along the course to support our athletes."
Overall the coaches are thrilled about the direction the cross country program is heading.
"This should be the best cross country team we have put out in a long while, Robinson stated. "I believe in the kids we have and I know they are going to work hard to succeed and I believe that this is a perfect time for these athletes to be a part of this program."
The Conference USA Championships will be held on the morning of Saturday Nov. 1 at the Mike Rose Soccer Complex in Memphis, Tenn. This will mark the first time Memphis has hosted the cross country conference championships.