Charlotte, N.C.- The Charlotte men’s and women’s cross country teams head to the Conference USA Championships this weekend in Denton, Texas.
Winning the Conference USA Championships will be a tough course to trek in some aspects as reigning C-USA champion Tulsa looks for their fourth straight men’s championship. The women’s squad will have a new champion this year after SMU left the conference for the newly formed American Athletic Conference. “It’s one day, one opportunity. It’s going to be a tough battle on both sides,” said Coach Ed Schlichter.
The Conference USA championships will be different coming from the Atlantic 10. During the 49ers tenure in the Atlantic 10 the championship meet featured 12+ runners from each of the member institutions which packed the field. Moving into the C-USA the championship format allows nine runners to compete for each squad. “Most of the races that we have participated in have been 200, 300 or even 400 runners. We are prepped for these big races. With it being a smaller race, I think we will be able to see each other very well and work together.”
The men’s squads feature six regionally ranked teams: UTEP, Rice, North Texas, Louisiana Tech, Tulsa, and Middle Tennessee. Tulsa is nationally ranked sitting at number 11. UTEP brings back the reigning individual champion in Anthony Rotich. “Tulsa looks to be the favorite heading into the C-USA Championships, but we match up well against the top five teams on the men’s side.”
The women’s squads feature six regionally ranked programs as well: UTSA, North Texas, Rice, Tulsa, Southern Mississippi, and UAB. The top finisher returning to the Conference USA championships is Elinor Kirk of UAB. Kirk has won multiple weekly honors this season. “I think we match up well against the top five teams on the women’s side.”
Charlotte has run against or has seen most of the C-USA squads this season. The 49ers women’s squad ran against Rice, East Carolina, and UTEP at Pre-Nationals two weeks ago. UTSA, Tulsa and UAB ran in the “A” race. They saw Marshall at the Charlotte Invitational at the beginning of the season. The men’s squad has not seen as many of the conference foes as the women’s seeing Marshall and East Carolina throughout the season.
The Niners look to graduate student Kim Spano, R-shirt senior Maraya Slatter, juniors Kristen Stout, Taylor Carcella, Rachel Miller, Jen Molke; as well as, sophomores Morgan Richards, Carolina Casin-Silva and Tiffany Lang on the women’s side.
Seniors Ross Roberson, Daweet Dagnachew, Jospeh Cotto, and Eleazar Garcia, juniors Zach Greth and Ben Sterett and sophomores Eli Clevenger, Getisso Denatmo and Michael Tamayo look to run for the 49ers.
The women’s race starts at 9 am Central time followed by the men’s race at 10 am Central time.