CHARLOTTE, N.C. - All 14 cross country teams in the Atlantic 10 will convene this weekend to compete in the 2011 Atlantic 10 Cross Country Championship. This year's event, hosted by Charlotte, will take place this Saturday, October 29th, at Frank Liske Park in Concord, NC. The men's 8K race is set to begin at 10 a.m., while the women's 5K will follow at 10:45 a.m.
"With the amount of work we've been putting into the course, this will probably be one of the best A10 courses in the history of the Atlantic 10 Championship," head coach Ed Schlichter said of all the effort and preparation Charlotte has gone through to get ready for this weekend. "It's a real honor to be hosting this year."
The Charlotte 49ers are in fierce pursuit of their first ever conference championship in cross country. The team has been training hard on the course at Frank Liske all fall, and Saturday's meet will mark the culmination of their hard work and dedication. Last year's squad turned in a tie for fifth place on the women's side and a tenth place spot from the men.
"Every time we go out there [to train], we're just a little bit more excited," Schlichter said. "[The runners] just want to really let loose and see what kind of time they can put on there. They're extremely excited."
Charlotte's top women's runner, senior Amanda Goetschius, will be looking to earn her second A10 Championship in cross country as she competes in the event for the final time. The Franklinville, NJ native won the event back in 2008 and was the runner-up in 2009 before red-shirting for the 2010 season. Goetschius, a two-time A10 Performer of the Week this year, has been the Niners' top performer in every race she's competed in this fall.
"Amanda is definitely is going to go after it," Schlichter expects. "She's really been putting every ounce of effort into her training this year, and she's rearing to go. This is going to be her last A10 and she wants it to be her best one."
Also expected to finish well are returners Hana Sutchar and Aurora Trujillo. Sutchar has been a consistent #2 runner for the 49ers this season, and earned a 26th place finish at last year's championship with a season-best time. Trujillo, a top-five competitor, will use her leadership as a senior to help her team do well.
The Niners also have several talented rookies on the women's team, including Jenna Christensen, Kristen Stout and Jen Molke. All three have scored points for Charlotte in previous meets this season, and are expected to shine on Saturday.
On the men's side, junior Daweet Dagnachew will be searching for his first ever conference championship. The Jacksonville, NC native has been Charlotte's top runner all season, and is ready to demonstrate his capabilities this weekend.
Senior Dakota Lowery and junior Ross Roberson are expected to score points for the Niners, as well. Rookie Zach Greth, another consistent competitor, will look to use his long-distance experience to help his team perform.
Charlotte will without a doubt be up against some fierce competition on both the men's and women's sides. The Atlantic 10 features several regionally-ranked teams, including the 49ers women, who are 13th in the Southeast. Dayton (10th, Great Lakes), Xavier (15th, Great Lakes), La Salle (7th, Mid Atlantic), Duquesne (10th, Mid Atlantic), St. Joseph's (11th, Mid Atlantic), and Richmond (15th, Southeast) are all regionally ranked on the women's side. On the men's side, Dayton (15th, Great Lakes), La Salle (6th, Mid Atlantic), Duquesne (8th, Mid Atlantic), and St. Joseph's (10th, Mid Atlantic) are all ranked.
Last year's champion, Richmond, will attempt to defend its men's and women's titles, as well.