XC Teams Set to Race in Saturday's A-Sun Championships

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville University men’s and women’s cross country teams are set to race in the 2013 Atlantic Sun Championships on Saturday Nov. 2 in Nashville, Tenn. Lipscomb – the 2012 women’s XC champions – will host the meet, which begins at 10 a.m.

“In the sport of cross country, the conference meet is the most important meet for just about any team in the country. Even those who have national aspirations are focused primarily on the conference championship,” said Head Coach Ron Grigg.

“Every meet leading up to the conference championship is really just like a preseason competition where we’re trying to get physically better as the season moves along and be ready for the best performance at the end of the year. That’s our goal like it is for every other team and I think that we are fully prepared on both the men’s and women’s side to have our best performances of the year.”

The women are ranked fourth with 72 points, behind No. 1 Lipscomb (100), No. 2 North Florida (88) and No. 3 ETSU (73). The men are 10th with 17 points.

“The women are currently ranked fourth in the conference. I think fourth is a pretty good prediction of where we should be. If things go poorly for us we could be fifth; if things go very well for us we could be third. That will require us to have a good competition and see how the other teams do as well.”

The race will be held at Vaughn’s Creek, Lipscomb’s cross-country venue, which was host of the 2007 and 2011 A-Sun Championships. It is located in Percy Warner Park, Tennessee’s largest municipal parkland. It is also the home cross country course for Vanderbilt and Belmont.

“It’s a phenomenal course,” Grigg said. “The conference championship has been hosted there many times, but we really only have … Svenja [Meyer] is the only person who has had a chance to run it before in her college career. She’s familiar with the course, as is Mary Kate [Ponder], because she ran on it when she was at Kentucky last year. But for everybody else it will be new.”

Grigg said the course is similar to what the teams ran at Florida State on Oct. 11, in that it’s very scenic and has hills. But the teams train on hills on campus and will be prepared, he added.

The weather will be nice, Grigg said, and although cooler than they are accustomed to, the cool weather is actually good for running fast as long as the runners can be mentally tough during their warm-up when they step out of the vans.

“It’s a little colder than you’re accustomed to, but once you’re in race mode and once you’ve gotten the warm-up in, the colder weather will actually make for better performances and you’ll actually feel better late in the race than you do when it’s hot out.

“Every indication is we should be able to run fast there.”