XC to Tune Up for Conference Championship at Crimson Classic on Friday

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Freshman Sara Kebede has had an outstanding season so far for the Green Wave XC program
Freshman Sara Kebede has had an outstanding season so far for the Green Wave XC program

Oct. 17, 2013

NEW ORLEANS - With two weeks to go until the Conference USA Championship - and coming off a stellar performance by the women's team at the McNeese State Cowboy Stampede on Sept. 28 - the Tulane Green Wave cross country program will head to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the Crimson Classic on Friday, to help them prepare for the postseason.

The women will run a 5K at 5pm CT at the Harry Pritchett Running Park in Tuscaloosa, Ala., before the men run an 8K beginning at 5:30pm CT.

Results will be posted to TulaneGreenWave.com once they are made available.

Tulane will look to build off the success they had in late September in Lake Charles, La., when the women's squad won their first meet in nearly three years behind five girls who placed in the top 14 of the meet.

"We obviously had a little bit of a break since our last meet," said the director of Tulane track and field and cross country Eric Peterson. "But this is an important meet for us to get back into competition to set us up for the postseason. We have competed in this meet during the last couple of years. The course is challenging. It's more like what a cross country course should be."

All five of the aforementioned women Green Wave runners who competed in Lake Charles, La. - senior Callie Turlington, junior Paige Callahan, sophomore Mikayla Sonneborn and freshmen Sara Kebede and Katharine Smiley - will make the trip over to Alabama for Friday evening's meet. Since the women's team is submitting just five runners, each finish counts, as five is the minimum for a team entry.



On top of having the minimum numbers required for a team, the field in store for the meet will be the largest the Green Wave have seen this year. Close to 30 women's and men's teams will take to the course in Alabama. Many SEC schools, such as meet host Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt, will compete, as will Florida State, Houston, South Alabama and a slew of other large schools.

Despite the big-time settings, Peterson is confident in his core group of women runners.

"I was real pleased with the way the women's team competed at the McNeese State meet," stated Peterson. "This will definitely be a step-up in competition. On that level alone, this will be a good test. Paige has done a great job of leading the team, and Sara, Mikayla and Katharine are certainly capable of closing the gap between Paige and the rest of the team. If they do that, we will be as good as we can be. I've been really impressed with the improvement and development from our women's team."

Callahan placed fourth overall in Lake Charles, La., back in late September, running an 18:19.76. Smiley placed sixth (19:04.05), Kebede eighth (19:07.53), Sonneborn 11th (19:25.42) and Turlington 14th (19:36.19) for one of the best finishes in recent memory for the Green Wave cross country program. While Kebede and Smiley posted personal bests in that meet - seeing it was their first true 5K collegiate meet - Peterson won't expect record-breaking times from his team this weekend.

"I'm not looking for personal records on this course," said Peterson. "It's not a course where you expect to run a lifetime best. But I am looking for continued improvement. Right now, the way we measure that is trying to minimize the time gap between Paige and the rest of our team. Callie has been improving and has been running very consistently in the five spot. But a lot can change in the last month, and that's what we are looking to see this weekend."

The men's team will run six over the weekend for the first time since the Azalea City Classic on Sept. 14.

Sophomore Adam Yohanan, who has led the men's team in each of the three meets this year, will be joined by junior Geoff Zelek, sophomore Jack White and freshmen Kade Kistner and Jack Curtis.

Sophomore Nicholas Meloro will make his season debut for the men's team, as well. The Harleysville, Pa., native has not competed since the Conference USA Championship on Oct. 27 of last year.

While the field is large and the competition tough, the Green Wave may have cooler temperatures to work in this weekend, as a cold front should move through in time to lower the temperatures into the lower 70s by Friday's starting time.

"That just helps us," added Peterson. "We've just been waiting for the humidity to break a bit and the temperatures to drop some. Every practice where that has happened for us, our kids have responded well."

"Overall, though, I'm pleased with the way the team has been training, and I see good progress being made by both programs at this point in time," Peterson said.

Fans can follow the Tulane track and field and cross country programs on Twitter (@GreenWaveXCTF) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TulaneXCTF.

Tulane Women's Entries
Paige Callahan
Sara Kebede
Katharine Smiley
Mikayla Sonneborn
Callie Turlington

Tulane Men's Entries
Jack Curtis
Kade Kistner
Nicholas Meloro
Jack White
Adam Yohanan
Geoff Zelek