After a pair of Top 5 finishes earlier this season at the Commodore Classic, the MSU men's and women's teams seek to have another strong finish on the course at Vaughn's Gap in Percy Warner Park.
"It's always a benefit for a team to be comfortable with a cross country course," senior Philip Johnson said. "On any course, there are a number of various tight corners and hills, where the pack as a whole will slow down or speed up. With the knowledge of these areas on the Commodore Classic course, we'll be able to adjust to the ebb and flow of the pack a lot better and move up."
Last year the teams left the SECs with ninth-place finishes, which serves as motivation to execute their goals at this year's championships. Both teams have knocked out numerous SEC foes at competitions this season, proving they are capable of success in Nashville.
"Every year our team competes, we talk about wanting to be better than the year before -that is our motivation," junior Katie Huston said. "As long as we keep focused, we can handle anything. Coach believes that, mentally and physically, every single girl on my team is prepared for the race, but more importantly, we believe in ourselves."
The Lady Bulldogs have crossed the line ahead of Alabama at three meets this season, while also beating Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Tennessee at other races.
On the men's side, MSU has out-raced Alabama twice this season, along with wins against Ole Miss and Tennessee at the Crimson Classic and LSU, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt at the Commodore Classic.
"At any meet with conference opponents, the idea is to continue beating the conference opponents that we've been beating and to go up and beat a few more we haven't raced yet," Johnson said.
Mississippi State is coming off a two-week break from competition, after a confidence-boosting finish earned by a pair of Top 3 places in Tuscaloosa on Oct. 13. Paced by seniors Renee Masterson and Johnson, the MSU squads set out to seize convincing finishes in the 6K and 8K races on Friday.
Action begins at 10 a.m. for the women, followed by the men's race at 11 a.m. After returning from Nashville, the teams will begin preparation for the NCAA South Regional held on Nov. 9 in Tallahassee, Fla.