LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- Both Covenant cross country teams had impressive performances during the 2016 season. Under sixth-year head coach Katie Stanford, the men placed second at the USA South Championships while the women were fourth. At the NCAA regional meet, the women posted their highest finish in the NCAA era.
Both teams placed second at the Mountaintop Invitational to begin the year. The men would have three more second place finishes during the year. The women had a second place effort at the Maryville Invitational and also placed third at Piedmont and eighth in the large field at Berry.
At the USA South Championships, the men finished second and placed three runners on All-USA South teams. The women placed fourth in the event and had four runners earn All-USA South honors.
The season was capped at the NCAA South/Southeast Region meet in Rome, Ga., and the women were impressive as they finished 17th, a program-best, with Lilly Smith and Hannah Samuels finishing inside the top 100. The men finished 23rd in the region led by Micah Sneller's 110th place finish.
For the fifth straight year, Covenant hosted a season-opening event on Lookout Mountain. The Mountaintop Invitational featured a field of three men's and women's teams with host Covenant being joined by regional power Sewanee along with USA South member Maryville. Sewanee won both the men's and women's events, but Covenant placed two runners in the top five on the women's side with Lilly Smith's second place finish and Margaret Fitch's fourth place finish.
Check out highlights from the 2016 edition of the Mountaintop Invitational below:
- Micah Sneller paced the men's team in each event during the year. The sophomore set personal records in the 8k (27:57.7 at the Berry Invitational) and 5k (17:38.8 at UTC PowerAde Invitational) on the year.
- Newcomers Caleb Keitt and Matthew Tueller had solid first years. Keitt, a first team All-USA South honoree, finished seventh at the USA South Championships and had a season-best 8k time of 28:32.9 at the NCAA regional meet. Tueller came on in the second half of the year and finished 10th at the USA South meet (earning second team All-USA South) and had an 8k time of 28:38 at the regional event. Nathan Bierema, Phil Carrenard, and Caleb McKillop also contributed to the team's score throughout the year. Phil Moore was Covenant's representative on the USA South All-Sportsmanship team.
- Lilly Smith was the breakout runner for the women's team. The sophomore won her first collegiate race at the Maryville Invitational after finishing in a time of 25:20.4. But Smith improved her 6k time twice after that and set a personal best of 24:15.7 at the Berry Invitational, the sixth-fastest time in program history. Smith also set the program record in the two-mile with a time of 12:46.9 at the UTC PowerAde Invitational. She was a two-time USA South Runner of the Week and was Covenant's representative on the All-Sportsmanship team.
- Fellow sophomore Hannah Samuels also had an impressive year. Samuels earned first team All-USA South after placing sixth in the event. She also set a personal record time in the 6k during the year at 25:06.5 at the Berry Invitational.
- Junior Margaret Fitch along with freshmen Anna Danek and Caroline Pepper rounded out the top five runners in most events for Covenant. Fitch was a second team All-USA South honoree after placing 12th with a time of 26:10.9 at the USA South meet. Danek and Pepper finished 21st and 22nd, respectively, at the USA South Championships to earn honorable mention accolades.
All-USA South Sportsmanship (Men)
All-USA South Sportsmanship (Women)
USA South Runners of the Week
Lilly Smith - 2 times (Sept. 5 & Sept. 12)
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