One final tune-up

One final tune-up

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Postseason racing may not start for another few weeks, but the Belmont cross country teams will get a preview Friday of the competition they'll face once the conference and regional slate rolls around.

Expected to run in the Crimson Classic in Tuscaloosa, Ala., are 10 of the NCAA South Region's current top 15 ranked men's programs and 12 of the women's top 15. They'll come together at Harry Pritchett Running Park just east of the University of Alabama's campus with the 8K men's race starting at 9 a.m. and the 6K women's competition following at 9:45 a.m.

The meet marks the final tune-up for the Bruins before the Ohio Valley Conference meet in Charleston, Ill., on Oct. 28 and is the continuation of a ramping up of intensity as the season has progressed.

"We're ready to have that conference mindset of just going out there and doing it," said Belmont sophomore Kortney Schardt (Lindenhurst, Ill.). "Leaving everything out on the course and working with each other and pushing each other."

Belmont got a taste of the nation's highest level of competition two weeks ago at the Louisville Classic, a meet run on the same course as the NCAA Championships in Kentucky. This week's race will also be a preview of sorts. Alabama hosts the NCAA South Regional on Nov. 10.

There's a long way to go between now and then though, and Belmont head cross country coach Jeff Langdon wants his runners focusing on the task at hand. Hopefully they can carry some positive momentum forward from the recent performance at Louisville and continue improving.

"I think what we got out of that was some confidence in where we stand at the regional level," Langdon said. "Seeing how we stack up against those teams we see on a regular basis.

"The guys we want to work on the midpack this week; the girls we want to work on having a couple step up to the front."

It'll be another crowded field at the starting line in Tuscaloosa. The men's race is 32 teams deep with 320 racers entered while the women's field features 35 teams and 341 runners.

It'll be important to take care of business on the course, said Belmont senior Luke Evans (Columbus, Ohio), and continue the trend toward a late-season peak.

"We're not trying to get too caught up in thinking about conference and regionals right now," he continued. "We're focused on this race and taking it kind of like a pre-regional because it's on the same course and we're going to see a lot of the same teams."

 


 

LAST TIME OUT

The Belmont men finished 11th out of 30 teams in the elite Gold race at the Louisville Classic on Sept. 30 with sophomore Kaleb McLeod leading the way in a 34th-place 8K finish at 24:17.97. The Bruin ladies were 28th out of 37 programs with senior Jessica King the top 5K performer in 136th at 18:13.42.

TOP-RANKED TEAMS

The Crimson Classic field is chalked full of the best teams the NCAA South Region has to offer. Twelve of the top 15 women's teams and 10 of the top 15 men's programs will be in attendance, based on the most recent USTFCCCA rankings. That includes the South Region's top-ranked men from Middle Tennessee State, who are No. 22 in the national poll, and the nationally 29th-ranked Mississippi State women.

MEN'S FIELD (South Region ranking)

Alabama (3)
Alabama St.
Auburn (7)
Belmont (8)
Chattanooga
Florida St. (9)
Georgia Tech (4)
Jacksonville St.
Kennesaw St.
LeMoyne-Owen
Lipscomb (11)
Louisiana Tech
LSU
Marion Military Institute
Memphis
Mercer
Meridian CC
Middle Tennessee St. (1)
Mississippi St. 
North Florida (10)
Oklahoma
Samford (15)
SE Louisiana
South Alabama
Stephen F. Austin
Tennessee-Martin (14)
Texas A&M
Troy
UT-Arlington
UT-Rio Grande Valley
Vanderbilt
Wallace St.

WOMEN'S FIELD

Alabama (7)
Alabama St.
Auburn (6)
Belmont (15)
Chattanooga
Florida St. (3)
Georgia Southern
Georgia Tech (8)
Jacksonville St.
Kennesaw St.
LeMoyne-Owen
Lipscomb (12)
LSU
Marion Military Institute
Memphis
Mercer
Meridian CC
Middle Tennessee St. (14)
Mississippi St. (9)
North Florida
Oklahoma
Samford (4)
SE Louisiana
South Alabama
South Carolina
Southern Mississippi (10)
Stephen F. Austin
Tennessee-Martin
Texas A&M
Troy
UAB (13)
UT-Arlington
UT-Rio Grande Valley
Vanderbilt (5)
Wallace St.

DIRECTIONS

From Veterans Memorial Parkway & Loop Road: From University of Alabama Campus & Sheraton Four Points to Harry Pritchett Running Park Take Paul Bryant Drive East to Hwy. 82. Go east on Hwy. 82 (to 2nd traffic light) and make a left (east) on 15th street. Go east on 15th street and continue until you see a sign for Arboretum. You must be in the right lane to take this exit. Go straight off the exit. Make a left and follow road as it curves down the hill. When the road splits at the bottom of the hill, go right into the course entrance. Teams, Officials, etc., please show your parking pass.

From East/ West of Tuscaloosa to Harry Pritchett Running Park: Take I-20/ 59 to exit 73 (Hwy. 82). Go west on Hwy. 82 through several traffic lights to 15th street (the light after the University Mall). Make a right (east) on 15th street and continue until you see a sign for Arboretum. You must be in the right lane to take this exit. Go straight off the exit. Make a left and follow road as it curves down the hill. When the road splits at the bottom of the hill, go right into the course entrance. Teams, Officials, etc., please show your parking pass.

MORE 2017 CRIMSON CLASSIC INFORMATION