LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- The Covenant cross country teams are set to compete at the USA South Conference Championships on Saturday at Hagan Stone Park in Greensboro, N.C. The women will kick off the day with their 6k event at 11 a.m., while the men will follow with an 8k race at noon.
After finishing second in each of the last two years, the women look to rise to the top of the league on Saturday. The Lady Scots feature top runners in Ruthie Cargill and Spookie Eaves along with a mix of freshmen and upperclassmen rounding out the top five.
"The girls have run strong this season and have worked together as a team more than any team I have coached previously at Covenant," said head coach Katie Stanford, who was named the USA South's Coach of the Year on the women's side. "I'm excited for my seniors as they head into their last conference meet. They have excelled this year and want to win."
Cargill and Eaves have combined to pace the team throughout the year. Cargill, a senior from Lancaster, Pa., set a personal record of 24:12.62 in the 6k at the Berry Invitational two weeks ago. Eaves, a senior from Lakeland, Fla., has been Covenant's top finisher twice this season with her best 6k time of 24:16.9 at the Furman Classic.
Meredith is the two-time defending conference champion and will again be the favorite coming into the Saturday's race. Covenant finished just three points behind the Avenging Angels in last year's event. Covenant and Meredith have not raced in the same meet this year.
Covenant enters the meet as the two-time defending conference champion, but the Scots have a new look this year. The Scots are without their top five runners from a year ago, but several freshmen and returners have stepped up putting Covenant in a position to snatch a third straight title.
"The men faced adversity this year in the beginning of the season but have risen above it," Stanford said. "We are young but our upperclassmen have done a great job leading the freshmen off the course and we had a strong performance two weeks ago. Our recent success has given us confidence as we head into conference."
Leading the way is USA South Rookie of the Year Micah Sneller. The freshman from Lancaster, Pa., has been Covenant's top runner in four of the team's five races this year and set a personal record in the 8k at 28:24.97 in the Berry Invitational on Oct. 17.
Fellow freshmen Reed Vaughn, Nathan Bierema and Josh Humpherys have all put together solid rookie seasons. Junior Phil Moore set a personal best in the 8k two weeks ago at the Berry Invitational as the Scots looked to solidify their top five.
Covenant has defeated most USA South teams in events during the year. Piedmont looks to offer the stiffest challenge to the Scots' three-peat aspirations. The Lions were the only USA South team to defeat Covenant this year.
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