Following an impressive year in both Men’s and Women’s Cross Country, both groups will look to improve and compete at the highest level not only against the competition but amongst themselves.
Both the Men’s and Women’s team added much needed depth following the departure of several key names. The men’s team lost a total of seven lettermen while the women’s team lost four. Both teams will return five members from last year’s team including high ranked finishing names such as Emma Knight, who made the ASUN Second Team All-Conference for the women, and Peyton Ewoldt, who finished as high as second right behind former UNA runner Justin Watson in the UAH Invitational last year.
The men added five new faces to the roster and the women added four. The added depth gave the teams something to help fuel the fire moving forward according to second-year head coach Jeremy Provence.
“We’ve got a lot of new faces coming in and their very talented ,but the thing that I've been most impressed with the freshman coming in is their competitiveness,'' said Provence. “Their ready to get after it and excited to be here as well as join the culture we’ve created and their a competitive group.” Provence raved about his class coming in because he believes that they will challenge the upperclassmen on both sides which in turn will lead to even more positive results against the competition.
Cross Country is set to participate in five events before the ASUN championships on Saturday, November 2. More importantly, for the first time in several years, UNA will host an invitational in Florence on Saturday, Sep. 7.
“Hopefully everyone can come out,'' said Provence. “That September meet is really important to us. Not only us as a program, but because we have a really good running community in the Shoals area and it also is another opportunity to show our athletic department and our University.” Some of the expected teams during the meet, will include some big names such as Mississippi State and Memphis for the women and several key teams in the conference for the men.
Provence hoped that a good showing at the UNA Invitational will lead to an even better showing during what he called “the most important meet” during their rotation. Both teams will travel to Indiana State to participate in the John McNichols Invitational on September 21. This meet will be the site of the National Championship meet and will include several Power Five schools and many of the other top schools in the nation.
As a team, one of Provence’s main goals is to consistently finish as a unit on both sides in the top four. Last year, the women’s team finished as a unit in the top four or higher in three
separate invitationals finishing third twice. The men finished in the top four three times, finishing fourth twice and finishing second once. Finishing top four will help the team “push themselves over that second tier of teams in the conference” and still allow the teams to stack well against the other top units.
UNA will kick off their rotations on August 30 at the JSU Strut’s Season Opener in Oxford, Alabama at 6:00 P.M. for a 5K men’s run and a 4K women’s run.