MTSU Cross Country journeys to Chattanooga

The Middle Tennessee men’s and women’s cross country teams will return to the course for the Front Runner Invitational on Saturday afternoon at Moccasin Bend Race Course in Chattanooga, Tenn.

After competing in two consecutive long-distance meets, the Blue Raiders will trek shorter distances this weekend before competing on another long course at the Sun Belt Championships on Oct. 29. Saturday will begin with a women’s two-mile run at 2:30 p.m. CDT. The men’s 5k competition will follow at 3 p.m.

“This course allows us to focus on running a much faster race which will help prepare us for the Sun Belt Championships,” said cross country head coach Dean Hayes. “In addition, the field on Saturday will be significantly smaller than our last couple of meets which provides us with the opportunity to build our speed.”

The Blue Raiders will be joined in the field by host Chattanooga, UT-Martin, Tennessee State and Trivecca.

The Middle Tennessee men have been led all season by senior Justus David. The three-time Sun Belt Male Runner of the Week has placed in the top three in each of his three races this season. The Kitui, Kenya, native will look to continue his dominant season on the same course he won the PowerAde Invitational individual title earlier this season.

David has been aided by the success of freshmen Robinson Simatei and Silas Taiget. Simatei has compiled a pair of top-five finishes this season and came away with a 28th-place finish at the team’s last meet – the Greater Louisville Classic on Oct. 1. Meanwhile Taiget currently holds three top-20 finishes including a ninth-place finish earlier this season in Chattanooga.

Freshman Lucy Kapkiai will look to once again lead the way for the Blue Raider women on Saturday. Like David, she took home the individual title at the PowerAde Invitational with a two-mile time of 10 minutes, 57 seconds. She was named the Sun Belt Female Runner of the Week for her performance in Louisville in which she clocked a 5k time of 17:20.20 to place 11th.

Sophomore Autumn Gipson has provided the Blue Raider women with a very consistent season in 2011. The Oak Ridge, Tenn., product has placed second on the team in three of her four races this season and her best finish came her last time out at the Greater Louisville Classic in which she notched a 5k time of 18:36.91.