Cross country holds Tech Invitational today

Runners from across the region are converging on Cookeville today to compete in the seventh-annual Tennessee Tech Cross Country Invitational. “We’re looking forward to it,” Tech coach Tony Cox said. “It should be a great day for it.”

At deadline, three other teams have confirmed their participation including Alabama A&M, Murray State and UT Martin. Cox expects a total of seven or eight teams to compete in the invitational.

“The weather’s going to be just about perfect,” Cox said.

Today’s forecast is clear with a high in the mid-70s.

Tech has competed in two meets so far this season. In each of those, the Golden Eagles were led by freshman Matthew Bishop on the men’s team and freshman Peri Winborne on the women’s squad.

“The first meet went really well for us,” Cox said. “The second meet was not such a good one.

“We have a really young team this year, especially on the women’s side,” he said. “They’re still learning how to race at the collegiate level.”

Cox said the teams that Tech has been competing against have experience on their sides, but that hasn’t deterred the Golden Eagles.

“They’ve got a good attitude about it, and I’m pretty happy with them,” he said.

The meet, being held at Southern Hills Golf Course, is comprised of a 5K race for the women’s teams and an 8K course for the men.

“I’m excited to run the course because we’ve ran it, and we practice on it, so I’m used to it,” Winborne said. “I’m excited to race against the competition.”

Even though she is the only runner on the women’s team to finish in the top-30 overall in each of the first two races, Winborne hope running on their home course will give her teammates an advantage over the competition.

“They’ve been running with me in practice, so I think they’ll be able to run with me in a meet,” she said. “I’d like for them to, so I can have somebody to push me from my own team.”

“We train out there a couple days a week,” Cox said. “The runners know that course very well.”

Both Cox and Winborne hope that a large Tech fan turnout will help them in the meet.

“Having fans come out to the course helps [us],” Cox said. “It does give us an advantage.”

“It motivates me when I see people cheering for me,” Winborne said. “It makes me run faster because I’ve got to show them that I’m actually working hard.”

Winborne said her goals for this season are to run a 19:30 in a 5K and to do well at the conference and regional championships.

Southern Hills is also slated as the site of the 2010 Ohio Valley Conference Cross Country Championships on Oct. 30.

“This can be a tough and challenging course,” Cox said. “There are a couple of hills that present a real test to the runners. We’ve run the TTU Invitational here for several years, and we’ve heard really good comments from the visiting teams.”

Cox also said he expects more OVC schools to enter the event in order to practice for the championships.

The meet is scheduled for 3 p.m. today, and admission is free to the public. Southern Hills Golf Course is located at 4770 Ben Jared Road in Cookeville.