Brandt, Sambu lead cross-country teams into OVC championships

      Two Ohio Valley Conference titles will be on the line Oct.31 when the Tennessee Tech cross-country teams compete in the OVC conference championships held in Murray, Kentucky.

      Both the men and women’s programs will be looking for their first ever conference titles. Head coach Wayne Angel believes the women’s team can finish near the top in the conference race.

     “We think we can be a top five team,” said Angel. “There are a lot of teams that are very close. Five, four, three – we think we are in that group.”

     He went on to say, “I think if they race as well as they train, then I think we are going to see something special next week in Murray, Kentucky.”

     The men’s team has suffered some disappointments during the season but could still find success at the championships.

    “(Geoffrey) Sambu is always going to be competing up there for a top five finish, and I think Daniel Williamson will be shooting for a top 20 finish, and we are really excited about that,” said Angel.

    Junior Geoffrey Sambu completed his personal record for the 8K distance in last year’s OVC championships. Sambu’s performance in the championships was good enough to earn him a spot in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s South Regional. He ran the South Regional 10K in 30:51.60, both a personal and a school record. He is looking to build on his success from last year and make a run for the NCAA National.

   “Last year when I ran in the regionals, I ran my personal best. At the end of the regionals, I missed by only one spot to go to the nationals,” said Sambu. “So, if I do good in the conference this Saturday, that would be a guarantee for me that I will be challenging for a spot in the national this year. I think I will be able to do that because I have been improving throughout the season.”

   An injury from earlier in the year has restricted Sambu from performing at his highest level during the season so far. The injury kept him out for five months which made it difficult for him to perform at his best.

  “That put me behind for a while and picking up to where I was last year has took some time,” said Sambu. “I have been trying a lot to come back, and I have been improving at every meet we go to.”

  “It is demoralizing when you go to a meet, but sometimes you feel good; but when you run you realize you are out of shape from the performance,” said Sambu. “Sometimes it mentally affects you for a while, but because I knew it was not my fault that I ran a poor time, it was because of the injury I had. That does not really affect me mentally a lot because I know that is not the best I can do. I can do more than that so it only makes me work harder to reach where I was before.”

  Sambu has been a top performer for the men’s team this season, while junior college transfer Sarah Brandt has been consistent for the women’s team this season. Brandt has finished in the team’s top two in every meet this year.

  “I have not had the perfect race yet, but I am happy about the results so far,” said Brandt. “I am looking forward to some big PRs (personal records).”

  Brandt’s personal records so far at Tech include a 5K time of 18:25.2. She achieved the personal record at the Grater Louisville Classic. Brandt’s current record for 6K is 22:43 from Tech’s appearance at the Furman Classic.

  “I think that was a 10-second PR for running any distance; that is a big deal,” said Brandt. “I set the bar pretty high last year for myself, so I am pretty happy about that.”

  Brandt expects the best performance possible for herself and her team. She has a goal that she would like to achieve at the OVC championships.

  “Personally, I would like to hit in the 18-flat range, and as a team, I want us all to max out and that covers all of it,” said Brandt. “Basically if we all just do our best, I know that the numbers follow that.”

   The OVC championships will begin at 9 a.m. with the women’s 5K. The men will follow with an 8K run at 10 a.m. Both events will be at the Miller Memorial Golf Course.