ANDERSON, S.C. – The Anderson University cross country teams are set to get the season underway Friday evening at the Converse Kickoff Classic in Spartanburg, S.C., at the Milliken Research Center.
Both the men's and women's races will be on a 5k course, with the women's race set for a 6:30 p.m. start. The men are slated to start at 7:10 p.m.
The Trojan women will begin their quest for a third straight NCAA Championship appearance on familiar ground, as the Black and Gold hosted the 2018 South Atlantic Conference Championships on the same course and nearly every prep runner in the Palmetto State has traversed the course during their career.
The women's squad opens the season ranked third in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) DII Preseason Regional Rankings and were tabbed second in last month's SAC Preseason Coaches' Poll.
Alongside eight returning letterwinners on the roster, third-year Head Coach Eagle has added seven true freshmen and Kelsey Horner, a transfer from East Central (Oklahoma) University. The Trojans will look for their depth to provide an advantage, as they return their top-five scorers from last season, including juniors Olivia Evans and Olivia Rish, who earned all-conference honors a season ago.
The Trojan men's squad was also picked second in last month's SAC Preseason Coaches' Poll, earning nearly unprecedented respect from the league's coaches after claiming second place at last year's conference championships. AU was also tabbed second in the 2011 preseason coaches' ballot.
The runner-up finish last year on the Milliken Research Center course marked AU's highest finish since claiming second place in 2011 and the Trojans return every runner except one from last year's squad. The roster features a dozen returning letterwinners, including three sophomores, nine juniors and two seniors, in addition to a pair of transfers and five true freshmen.
The junior duo of Ben Clark and Weston Hutto earned all-conference accolades for the second consecutive season last year following stellar outings.