Bulldog Cross Country Teams Split For Weekend Action
"This is a big weekend for our athletes," coach Houston Franks said. "We have two good meets, and I am excited to get more experience under our feet as we head into the championship slate of the schedule."
Those traveling north will get the chance to compete against some of the best in the nation. In what will bear close resemblance to the NCAA National Championships, MSU will navigate the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course on Sunday. The men's 8K begins first at 11 a.m., followed by the women's 6K at 11:40 a.m.
"The Pre-Nationals are held on the same course as the Nationals in November," Franks added. "Competing here will give us the chance to see what that course and the competition will be like. Anytime you can compete with the best in the nation, it makes you stronger, and that is what we hope to get out of this weekend."
This will be the first time the Maroon and White has competed at Terre Haute since 2008, when now junior and all-SEC honoree Renee Masterson was just a freshman. Returning to her home state to compete with more experience, Masterson is looking forward to the challenge of competing against the nation's best.
"We are excited for another opportunity to run against ranked teams and show our improvement," Masterson said. "I hope that going to Indiana for the Pre-Nationals will put a spark in our team to grind harder than ever so that we have a chance at qualifying for Nationals."
Saturday, a group of younger Bulldogs will compete in the Choctaw Open, which is hosted by Mississippi College on the Choctaw Trails course.
"The Pre-Nationals limits your entries to seven runners and at the SEC Championships you get 10," Franks stated. "I wanted all of our athletes competing so we are sending a group to the Choctaw Open, so they can continue to get race experience."
According to the Mississippi College athletic website, this is the largest Choctaw Open since its inception five years ago. Competing with the Lady Bulldogs in the women's 5K at 9 a.m. will be 20 teams, including fellow Mississippians Alcorn State, Belhaven, Hinds CC, Jackson State, Millsaps, Mississippi College, Southern Miss, and William Carey. The Bulldogs then compete in a 18-field 8K at 9:45 a.m.
Upon completion of the Pre-National Invitational, MSU will rejoin forces to compete at Knoxville in the SEC Championships on Oct. 31.