ANDERSON, S.C. – The 25th running of the South Atlantic Conference Cross Country Championships are set for Saturday and the Anderson men's cross country team will join the rest of the league's top runners in Newton, N.C.
Lenoir-Rhyne will serve as the host institution for the meet's 12th overall visit to the Tar Heel State and first since 2014, which was held in Salisbury, N.C., which saw the Mars Hill men emerge victorious.
This year's version will take place at Southside Park, which was also home to the 2009 SAC Championships, when the Mars Hill men took home the hardware.
The men's race will cover eight kilometers (4.97 mile) and begin at 10 a.m.
Mars Hill has traditionally dominated the event, winning 18 championships in a row from 1997-2014 and placing 124 runners on all-conference teams throughout the years. Queens upended the Lions for the title in 2015, but Mars Hill returned to the top spot last year.
At No. 2, Queens was the top-ranked SAC team in the latest USTFCCCA rankings, with the Trojans holding the fifth spot for the fifth straight week. Wingate was No. 6, while Lenoir-Rhyne was seventh and Mars Hill was No. 8.
The Trojan men captured a pair of titles during the regular season, finishing first at the USC Upstate Invitational and at the Piedmont College Invitational, while claiming second at the USC Upstate Eye Opener.
Senior Mason Hazel claimed back-to-back wins at the USC Upstate Invitational and the Piedmont College Invitational, with the team finishing second at the Eye Opener and wrapping up the season by winning both the USC Upstate Invitational and the Piedmont College Invitational. Freshman Weston Hutto (26:45.1) finished fifth among D-II runners to pace AU at the season-opening Eye Opener, while freshman Ben Clark led the Black and Gold with a 22nd-place finish at the Furman Classic.
Paced by Hazel's runner-up performance and four additional runners posting All-Conference times, the men finished third at the 2016 South Atlantic Conference Championship, behind just the Lions and runner-up Queens.
Hazel will be seeking all-conference honors for the third straight year on Saturday, with Luke Horne looking to continue building his resume after earning SAC All-Freshman Team accolades a year ago by crossing the finish line in 35th place. Teammate John Drummond posted a 54th-place finish in a time of 29:06.01
The Trojans have finished third on four occasions since joining the SAC in 2010, while capturing second place in 2011.
Parking and admission to the SAC Cross Country Championships are free.