Sept. 27, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Two weeks after their first true cross country meet of the season, the Tulane Green Wave cross country squad will head west to Lake Charles, La., on Saturday to compete in the McNeese State Cowboy Stampede at the Enos Derbonne Sports Complex.
The women's 5K will begin at 8:45am CT, while the men's race will follow at 9:15am. Results for the meet will be posted on TulaneGreenWave.com.
Tulane will be running in their third meet of the season, and at the McNeese State Cowboy Stampede, the Green Wave will be one of ten Louisiana schools to perform.
"This is an opportunity to challenge ourselves against a lot of the schools in Louisiana and in this region," stated Tulane director of cross country and track and field Eric Peterson. "Right now, that is our priority. We want to elevate our competitive status against schools in this area. It is important for us to grow and get better and beat the teams that we are competing against locally."
The Green Wave will see some teams they have already faced this season in Nicholls State, Southeastern Louisiana and Louisiana-Lafayette. In addition to those teams, Louisiana Tech, LSU, McNeese State, Northwestern State, Southern and Southern-New Orleans will also take to the field this weekend. Central Arkansas is the lone school outside of the state to compete.
Two weeks ago at the South Alabama Azalea City Classic in Mobile, Ala., Tulane's women placed sixth and the men placed third, with sophomore Adam Yohanan leading the way on the men's side with a sixth-place finish. Two freshmen women in Katharine Smiley and Sara Kebede sandwiched sophomore Mikayla Sonneborn in the standings, all finishing in the top-25.
"The thing that we are trying to do is to continue to build on each previous race," added Peterson. "The most important thing is that I know this is a good field and a good competitive environment."
The course that surrounds the Enos Derbonne Sports Complex in Lake Charles, La., is a relatively flat one, which will benefit the Tulane runners who have been practicing on the level grounds of Audubon Park throughout the course of the season in the same humid weather conditions they will see on Saturday.
"This course favors the way that we have been training," added Peterson. "It's been hot and it's been humid. The kids are starting to feel better and stronger. They are more prepared for competition. This is exactly the race we need to be in right now. This course is very similar to the one we just ran in at Mobile."
Two weeks after missing the Azalea City Classic with a minor injury Tulane junior Paige Callahan is back, and big things are expected of her. In 2011 at the McNeese State Cowboy Stampede, the Annapolis, Md., native posted a seventh-place finish with a time of 18:03.00 that stood as a personal best until last season's run at the Conference USA Championships.
"We are excited to have Paige back, and we are expecting some better results as a function of having her back as the lead of our team," mentioned Peterson. "We are also looking for the continued improvement of Sara, Katharine and Mikayla."
In 2011, the men's team placed third out of eight squads for their highest finish as a team on the season, while the women tied their highest team finish on the year by placing fourth out of eight teams. However, there are not many holdovers from that squad.
"We have a lot of new pieces on both teams," stated Peterson. "We are relying on freshmen and a lot of young athletes who don't have a lot of competitive experience in cross country."
However, some of those freshmen have put together very solid meets during this season. Smiley led the team at the Azalea City Classic with a 17th-place finish, running the 6K in 22:31. Kebede wasn't far behind with a 23rd-place finish with a time of 23:10.
In between the two was Sonneborn, who ran the event in 23:02, coming in at 21st.
Yohanan shaved nearly two minutes off his previous personal best with a time of 25:25.75 at the Azalea City Classic, while sophomore Jack White (26:15.39), junior Geoff Zelek (26:22.52) and freshman Jack Curtis (26:26.05) all notched personal bests in Mobile.
Junior Mark Manion will miss his second consecutive meet with an injury.
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