ANDERSON, S.C. – With the goal of remaining in the upper echelon of the South Atlantic Conference and the Southeast Region, Anderson University head men’s and women’s cross country coach Randy Greer unveiled the Trojans’ 2014 schedule on Wednesday.
“I think it is a very well-balanced schedule,” said Greer. “We have a couple of races where we are going to see some big Division-I competition and we have a couple of meets that are going to be more low key. I feel really good about this schedule. We have one more meet than last year and (the schedule) is spaced out well throughout the season.”
After opening their schedule at USC Upstate’s Eye Opener each season since 2009, the Trojans are scheduled to open their slate on Saturday, Sept. 6 by competing in a familiar city, but at a different venue and at a meet with a distinctive format, as Queens University of Charlotte is hosting the Queens Twilight meet, which will feature running under the lights in the evening.
“It will be at Freedom Park in Charlotte,” added Greer. “It will be on a flat course, under the lights and late at night during a very hot part of the year. It will be a nice event – a 5K and a nice nudge into collegiate running (for our freshmen).”
Anderson has competed in the Queen City at least twice in each of the last five seasons, including three times in both the 2012 and 2013 campaigns.
A week later, AU travels to Greenville for another relatively new event, but another familiar course, as the Trojans will compete in the second Furman Cross Country Classic, slated to be held on the Furman University Golf Course. Last season’s inaugural classic drew 32 men's and 34 women's college teams and 31 high school teams to the event and featured the South Carolina Intercollegiate Championships, the Southeast Independent School Cross Country Championships, and "The Border Battle at Furman," pitting schools from South Carolina versus teams from North Carolina and Georgia.
“Last year’s Classic was extremely fast,” noted Greer. “There were a lot of fast times recorded and good competition, so we are looking forward to it.”
Following a layoff of nearly two weeks, the Trojans will compete in the Charlotte Invitational for the fourth consecutive season on Friday, Sept. 26. Last season, Olivia Gardner captured the 20th spot to pace the AU women’s team to a 10th-place finish at the event, while another newcomer, Ben Boerma, claimed 37th en route to leading the men’s squad to a ninth-place finish.
“Unlike the past, this will be the only time that we will be on the McAlpine Park course this year,” said Greer. “I think our kids are excited about going to some different places. It is a very good course and it is fast.”
After a one-year absence, AU returns to Greenville for the 42nd annual Gene Mullin Furman Cross Country Invitational on Oct. 11. The Trojan men’s squad boasts just one current runner on its roster that competed at the meet in 2012, as then-sophomore Joshua Visi-Clark finished 23rd.
“It’ll be a 5K on both sides, so there some be some good times,” said Greer. “It will be a nice lower-key meet for us.”
The women’s squad has a pair of runners that competed two years ago, with Sydney Hazel posting a season-best to that date and crossed the line in 15th, while then-freshman Devan Fisher improved her then-personal best by nearly 40 seconds to finish 32nd.
With the South Atlantic Conference Championships being pushed back nearly two weeks, AU will travel to Hickory, N.C., on Oct. 25 to compete in the Lenoir-Rhyne Invitational and return to the Tar Heel State on Nov. 8 for the SAC Championships in Salisbury, N.C. Hazel posted an 11th-place finish en route to garnering Second-Team All-SAC honors at last season’s championships, while newcomer Bari Robinson narrowly missed all-conference and all-freshman accolades with her 15th-place finish a year ago, as AU claimed fourth as a team.
“This is the first year for the meet, so we do not know anything about the course,” concluded Greer. “But it will be exciting and we will get a preview of the conference meet.”
On the men’s side, departed senior Parks Edwards paced the Trojans to third place, while Boerma was less than three seconds from earning the fifth and final spot for all-freshman accolades, as he finished 20th overall.
Two weeks later, the Trojans will make an appearance in the NCAA Southeast Regionals, which will be hosted in Montevallo, Ala., marking the first time since 2009 that the regional championships will not be held in Charlotte, N.C. Gardner paced the Trojan women’s team to a 14th-place finish a year ago, with Edwards leading the men’s squad to a 17th-place finish.
The NCAA Championships will be hosted by Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 6.