CROSS COUNTRY: Runners travel south

Josh Buckman

Western’s cross country team will get a good look this weekend at last year’s men’s and women’s Sun Belt Conference champions.

The Hilltoppers will travel to Arkansas-Little Rock for the UALR Open this Saturday.

Last season the Trojans snagged both the men’s and women’s SBC titles in Denton, Texas.

“It’s a good opportunity to set the tone for conference because this is one of our main conference foes,” junior Daniel Roberts said.

Besides UALR, Western will also face North Texas and just Arkansas Tech’s women.

The races will be eight-kilometers for the men and five-kilometers for the women. Scores will be kept.

Western will also get a look at UALR’s new cross country course and get a chance to see how the conference championships might turn out.

“It’s primarily flat,” coach Curtiss Long said. “If we should get rain, the water puddles on it, but we will see the athletes a fair number of times. So from a coaching standpoint, you really get to see how your athletes respond.”

Western’s men will face stiff competition from twins Andrey and Dmitry Shokur and Johan Lindgren.

UALR will also have an advantage coming off a three-week hiatus while the Hilltoppers are coming off last week’s Old Timers Classic.

“I think that we’ll be running a little bit on tired legs, but we’ll just have to make the most of our competitive opportunity,” Long said.

The team also looks to be healthy heading into this weekend for the first time in a while. Rachel Sanford appears to be improving from strep throat, and Kevin Dick continues to practice after missing last weekend’s race because of a virus.

Reach Josh Buckman at [email protected]