Related: Meet Info
LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- Coming off back-to-back impressive showings to end the regular season, the Covenant men's and women's cross country teams have their eyes set on competing for conference titles.
The USA South Cross Country Championships take place on Saturday at TFS Farms in Tallulah Falls, Ga. The men's 8k race begins at 11 a.m., while the women's 6k run is set for a 12 p.m. start.
Both teams have steadily improved during the season and the last two events, Oct. 8 at Piedmont Invitational and Oct. 15 at Berry Invitational, have yielded several personal records.
"The Berry Invitational was a good day for us as a team where we had improvement across the board and their hard work finally showed," said sixth-year head coach Katie Stanford. "Setting personal bests is the best way to finish off the regular season and head into the conference meet with confidence."
At the Berry Invitational, 11 runners set personal bests (six on the men's side and five on the women's). Lilly Smith led the women with her 6k time of 24:15. Smith's time put her in 22nd overall and is also the sixth-fastest time in program history at that distance. Micah Sneller paced the men's team with his 8k time of 27:57.
"We want to continue moving forward and improving," Stanford added. "We have mastered what it really means to run as a team and that is a good place to be going into the conference."
Sneller is the defending USA South individual champion on the men's side as he took home the 2015 title with a time of 28:08.9 in the meet in Greensboro, N.C. A Covenant runner has won the individual title in each of the last two years.
The teams should have some familiarity with the course as it is the same one that was used at the Piedmont Invitational on Oct. 8. In that event, five women's runners and two on the men's side set personal bests.
It will also be the final conference meet for seniors Caleb McKillop, Eliot Gardner, Charles Taylor and Phil Moore as the quartet nears the end of their collegiate cross country careers. "They have been a part of a successful program here at Covenant and they want to contribute to one more year of that success. We will definitely miss having those guys around," Stanford said.
With young runners on both teams, Stanford expects to see her teams continue to have fun and get better as a group heading into a title run.
"The 2016 season has been a lot of fun and one of the best groups of people I have been privileged to coach in my career," Stanford said.
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