8/28/2015 3:32:00 PM
– The Middle Tennessee women's and men's cross country teams are looking forward to the start of the 2015 season, with both team's having different storylines.
The MT women's squad looks to repeat after winning their first conference championship in program history in 2014, while the men's squad looks to develop a team that consisted of three freshmen and a sophomore last season.
The Middle Tennessee women's team returns six from last season's team, including Hannah Maina, who was runner-up at the C-USA Championship. Maina also was only the second female cross country runner in program history to make the NCAA Championships.
Rhema Cheruiyot and Gladys David each scored for the Blue Raiders at the Championships, while MT also returns Julia Kitevski, Josphine Kiptebeny and Shaina Johnson.
"The attitude on the women's team has been fantastic," said associate head coach Keith Vroman
. "They all push each other to work hard every day and know that everyone on the team has to be prepared to win a championship."
The MT men's squad returns five from last season's team, all of whom finished in the top-30 at the C-USA Championships in Denton, Texas.
Shadrack Matelong led the Blue Raiders at the C-USA meet, placing fourth on the 8K course, while Amos Cheruiyot and Hillary Rono finished eighth and 19th, respectively. Geoffry Cheruiyot and Alden Dixon also return from last year's team, while Eliud Rutto is slated to return after missing a year on the course.
"It has been great watching them grow," Vroman said. "They know that they need each other to win a championship and CUSA will be a challenge with the defending champions North Texas and UTEP, who qualified for the 2014 NCAA Championships."
The Blue Raiders are slated to compete in five regular season meets and start their year at the Belmont Opener in Nashville, Tennessee Sept. 5. In last year's opener, the MT men placed second and earned their third-highest finish of the season.
Following the quick trip to Nashville, the Blue Raiders head south to Chattanooga for the PowerAde Invitational Sept. 11, before returning to Nashville for the Commodore Classic Sept. 19.
At the 2014 Commodore Classic, the MT men notched their first win of the season behind a first-place finish of G. Cheruiyot, who was competing in only his second collegiate race.
To close out the regular season, MT travels to Louisville, Ky., for the Greater Louisville Classic Oct. 3 and follows it with one more trip to Chattanooga for the UTC Front Runner Invitational Oct. 17.
Both the men and women conquered the Moccasin Bend course in Chattanooga last season, capturing first with the men's team taking the top-six spots. The MT women's squad nearly completed the same feat, placing five in the top seven.
To start postseason competition, MT takes on the rest of C-USA in Bowling Green, Ky., Oct. 31 and will make a trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the NCAA Regional Nov. 13. The 2015 NCAA Championships will be held at Louisville, Ky., Nov. 21.