Photo courtesy of MT Athletics
With the Conference-USA Championship on the horizon, Middle Tennessee will look to continue its utter dominance in the sports of men’s and woman’s cross country. The men’s team has won all but one race in the South Region and have looked impressive and consistent through all of them.
The men are fresh off a dominant performance in the University Of Chattanooga Front Runner Invitational. The top six runners belonged to Middle Tennessee, giving them a perfect score of 15. This dominance has earned the Blue Raiders national recognition as they are ranked for the first time in school history. Currently, the Blue Raiders are ranked 29th in a tie with Michigan State University.
A newcomer, Senior Sampson Laari, has been a force in his shot time at Middle Tennessee. Laari has totaled three top ten finishes, including a first place finish (14:52.3) at the Powerade Invitational. He has come just outside the top ten in both of his other races, finishing at 11th. Laari is confident in this team and knows they can go far, but it won’t come without a challenge.
“It’s going to be tough. Any team wanting to win a championship should expect it to be tough race,” Laari joked, “Seven times out of ten, it’s going to be us that wins the title.”
The women’s cross country team has also been impressive. They have accumulate three top five finishes this season, including a perfect score in the University Of Chattanooga Powerade Invitational. The women’s team was also just three points away from a perfect score in the Front Runner Invitational.
Senior Hannah Maina has been a leader for this team all season. Maina has two top five finishes this year, including a first place finish (18:12.7) last racel. Maina was dealing with a few ailments herself last year. But this season, she feels as though this team is ready to compete.
“Last year I was injured. There is not much of a difference from the team last year. This year, everyone is healthy and in shape. We are ready to go,” said Hannah Maina.
According to Coach Keith Vroman, health is the key for Middle Tennessee as they head for postseason play.
“The biggest thing, especially since we have a small team, is staying healthy…We have been consistent throughout the year. A big part of that consistency is staying healthy,” Coach Vroman continued, “Last year we were riddled with injuries. This year, all seven guys are healthy and they are pushing one another to be better.”
Both Middle Tennessee squads will be the favorites when they travel to Charlotte, North Carolina for the Conference-USA Championship. The meet is scheduled for October 29th at 10 a.m.
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