North Texas Cross Country Announces 2016 Schedule
Mean Green Will Host Ken Garland Invitational
DENTON - The North Texas cross country team announced its schedule for the 2016 season; highlighted by meets at Baylor, Arkansas, and Terre Haute, Indiana, where the national championship will be run this fall.
The men's team finished the 2015 campaign with a third place finish at the Conference USA championships, and came in seventh in the NCAA South Central regionals. The women's team placed seventh at C-USA championships, and finished 13th at regionals last season.
"I am confident that this is a great schedule to prepare us for the championship season," cross country coach Stefanie Slekis said. "This is the same schedule we had in 2014, when the men's team won the conference championship and Troy Taylor qualified for the NCAA Championships individually. The University of Arkansas course plays to our strengths and is similar to our home course with the addition of a few bigger hills. We do a lot of strength work over hills during the first eight weeks of our team training, so we are prepared for courses like Arkansas' and our team usually enjoys racing on more challenging courses. I am excited for Arkansas to be hosting the NCAA South Central regional championship again."
The Mean Green will open the 2016 season at the Baylor Twilight Invitational for the fourth-straight year on Sept. 2. North Texas returns to the Gerald Rickey Invitational (Sept. 10) before hosting the Ken Garland Invitational in Denton on Sept. 17.
"We have big goals for both the men's and women's teams this year," Slekis said. "We have the perfect combination of key returners and newcomers, who will come in prepared to contribute to these big goals right away. Both teams every year want to arrive at the C-USA championship ready to compete for the title."
The men's team will return seven runners from a season ago, including senior James Coleman, and Junior Mike Lowe. Four newcomers will help give the team balance hoping to return to championship form.
"After receiving votes in the USTFCCCA national coaches poll for the first time in school history last year, our men's team still has the goal of qualifying as a team to the NCAA championship," Slekis said. "Our men will be led by James Coleman and Mike Lowe, who both had very successful track seasons.
The women's team returns nine runners led by senior Susie Kemper, who redshirted last season, and classmate Shauna Pali.
"On the women's side our top priority is to earn our first top-two team finish in C-USA and our highest finish in the NCAA South Central region championship," Slekis said. "To do this we are looking to have five women earn All-Conference honors and at least two women earn All-Region honors, which would be firsts for the program."
North Texas will be heading to the Pre-National Invitational for the third-straight season to get a feel for the NCAA championship course at Terre Haute in Indiana (hosted by Indiana State). The Mean Green will look to earn their second C-USA championship on the men's side hosted by Charlotte on Oct. 29.
The Mean Green will compete in the NCAA South Central regional on Nov. 11 hosted by Arkansas University. Eight days later, North Texas could qualify to the NCAA national championship returning to the pre-national site at Terre Haute.