The UTM cross country teams will open their 2003 season under the lights in the Memphis Twilight Classic tomorrow at the Mike Rose Soccer Complex.
The Skyhawk men will run a two-mile race beginning at 8:30 p.m., while the women’s two-mile race gets under way at 9:15 p.m.
“This is the first night meet we have competed in, so this should be interesting,” said head cross country coach Jason McKinney.
The Memphis Twilight Classic offers runners the unique experience of running at night in the City of the “Delta Blues.”
Among the other schools competing in the college races will be Alcorn State, Arkansas State, Arkansas Tech, Christian Brothers, Freed-Hardeman, Hendrix College, Jackson State, Mississippi College, Mississippi State, Mississippi Valley State, Murray State, Southern Mississippi, Southeast Missouri State and Arkansas-Little Rock.
McKinney said his 2003 lineup includes mostly juniors. “We want to make a breakthrough with two years of strength and maturity,” McKinney said.
On the women’s side, McKinney added Becky McEwen, along with Hannah Clawson who was a redshirt last season.
“What the women lack in depth, they make up in strength. They should be able to break into the top five this year in our conference,” McKinney said.
Shalaine Phaup looks to be a prime candidate for All-OVC honors after finishing one place out last season.
On the men’s side, McKinney and the Skyhawks will rely on the tradition they started two years ago.
“If the summer is any indication of the future, then it will be a great year,” McKinney said. “Three athletes have already set new personal records and everyone is putting together a strong base.”
McKinney said this is the first year the Skyhawks will focus on team places as well as individual finishes.