Cross Country prepares for OVC Championship this weekend

Stephanie Place, a senior Nursing major from Bristol, holds the unofficial title of the greatest distance runner in Tech history. After earning all-region honors in each of her four years at Tennessee High School, she came to Tech in 2005 and finished in the team’s top three at every meet of her freshman year.

In that season, she set her personal-best mark in the 5k at Austin Peay with a time of 18:26.58.

Since then, she has increased her efforts and decreased her times.

“She has a great work ethic. She runs a lot of mileage, and that’s one of the keys to being at her level,” said Head Coach Tony Cox.

The Tech cross country record book is littered with the name Place, as she holds every one of the top 10 finishes in school history.

She also holds track records in both the 5k and 10k races.

Her new career-best in the 5k came at Evansville on October 15, where she posted a time of 17:34.54 and pushed herself into position to win yet another Runner of the Week award.

She has earned the title of OVC Runner of the Week all five times that the Golden Eagles have taken to the course. “I don’t really think of it that way,” said Place. “I just kind of go out there and try my best. If I do good, then that’s good. If not, I just try harder next time.”

Stephanie looks to carry her team to an OVC title on Saturday at Cape Girardeau, Mo.

“It’s pretty exciting because we just have a really good team this year, the best that we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Place said.

She finished third overall in the championship meet last season while Tech finished sixth as a team.

“I just think we have a chance to improve on what we did last year,” she said.

“I’m just pretty excited because all the girls are doing so good and I’m really proud of everybody. I’m just excited to end the season on a good note,” Place added.

Both the men’s and women’s teams will be in action on Saturday, competing for their first-ever conference championship titles.

The men’s team will be anchored by sophomore Sam Taylor, a civil engineering major from Soddy-Daisy.

Taylor has placed in the team’s top three every week this year, including three finishes as the top runner on the squad.