NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - Belmont University women's cross country released its 2019 schedule Tuesday.
The Bruins, fresh off medal podium finishes in six of its seven seasons in the Ohio Valley Conference, look forward to new challenges and new meet venues this fall.
"Obviously our expectation is to remain in the top three in the conference and peak come regionals," Belmont assistant coach Kate Bucknam said. "Although we are small team in numbers this year, my expectations remain the same as if we were a team that had a little more depth. I have full confidence in these ladies considering we are such a tight-knit group, and I can see their commitment to each other. We get to experience some new meets, which I think will be refreshing as we build up momentum towards postseason."
As is tradition, the Bruins will open the season in the Belmont Opener meet at Percy Warner Park Aug. 30. BU had five of the top nine finishers in its home meet last season in claiming team top billing.
From there, Belmont stays local taking part in the annual Commodore Classic, also at Percy Warner Park. Traditionally a competitive blend of top schools from the SEC, ACC and Big Ten, the Bruins will start to round into form.
"The Commodore Classic seems to be getting stronger each year," Bucknam said. "For some of our runners it will be the last time racing on our home course at Percy Warner, so I'm looking forward to our team leaders stepping up and setting the tone for the rest of the season."
October ushers in two new events for women's cross country: the Joe Piane Invitational Oct. 4 and the UAB Blazer Classic two weeks later. Each meet features deep fields laden with top 50 programs from throughout the country.
"The Notre Dame course is one I am unfamiliar with, but we will treat this meet as our midterm exam," Bucknam added. "With our final exams of conference and regionals on the horizon, we want to be healthy and trending upward. UAB will be interesting in that we will be split from the men's team that weekend, so we can look to make a statement of our own before conference."
SIU Edwardsville will host the 2019 OVC Cross Country Championships Nov. 2. Belmont had three top 17 finishers last season.
The season then shifts to Florida State University for the 2019 NCAA South Regional meet. The 2019 NCAA National Championships will be at Indiana State University the final weekend of November,
Belmont women's cross country returns seven upperclassmen, including All-OVC First Team performer Kortney Schardt (Lindenhurst, Ill.).