October 27, 2016

OVC Championship Central

Live Results: Men’s         Women’s

MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin cross country aims to upset preseason predictions with a strong showing at the 2016 Ohio Valley Conference Cross Country Championships this weekend. The meet will be held at Vaughn’s Creek Cross Country Course at Percy Warner Park in Nashville on Saturday, Oct. 29. The women’s 5k race will begin at 9 a.m. with the men’s 8k race following at 10 a.m.

It marks the first time the championship has been held in Nashville since 2009 and is the first OVC Championship that Belmont has hosted since joining the league prior to the 2012-13 season. The meet will serve as the 55th OVC men’s championship – dating back to 1962 – while marking the 38th women’s championship. The meet is free and open to the public.

The Skyhawk women enter the OVC Championships surging as of late, not only garnering a South Region ranking for the first time in school history, but bettering that mark after knocking off a pair of regionally ranked foes in their last competition. Ranking No. 13 in the South Region, the Skyhawks are looking to blow past preseason predictions which had the squad picked to finish sixth in the field after a seventh place finish a year ago. The team’s best-ever OVC finish was fourth in 1995.

En route to the program’s first regional ranking, the Skyhawks have notably defeated Tennessee, LSU, South Carolina, Georgia Tech and UAB along with several league foes. The Skyhawks will face regionally ranked squads from Eastern Kentucky (No. 4, Southeast Region) and Southeast Missouri (No. 13, Midwest Region) in the championships.

UT Martin will rely on senior standout Ann Asipan to lead the way and accomplish a feat rarely achieved in league history. After posting a blistering school record which bested the field by 12 seconds in her championship debut, Asipan earned Athlete of the Championship honors. The Iten, Kenya native will look to become the first individual to repeat as OVC champion since Samford’s Lauren Blankenship in 2004 and 2005. Asipan, who has the second-best 6k time (20:47.2) in the OVC this season, has paced the squad in every competitive meet of her Skyhawk career while holding several of the top times in school history.

The squad will look to a handful of contributors to round out the scoring five for the Skyhawks. Look for the freshman duo of Emma Edmonds and Kara Martin to make a splash in their championship debut while junior Amelia Martin and the sophomore trio of Nelly Kandie, Cherie Wilson and Chantal Wilson will look to jump into the scoring decision.

“With just nine months to prepare, last year’s championship arrived just a little too early for the team,” said UT Martin head coach Peter Dalton. “Now that we have had time to complete a recruiting cycle and training plan for our talented ladies, this year’s championship will be a more accurate reflection of the direction the program is taking.”

On the men’s side the Skyhawks will turn to freshman Edwin Kurgat to lead the squad in the men’s 8k. Kurgat recently notched a record-breaking time of 24:50 at the Greater Louisville Classic while pacing the men in every race this season.

UT Martin is looking to surpass the team’s projected ninth place finish behind the freshman trio of Ryan Ford, Austin Rogers and Marcos Macias who have been factors all season in the scoring five for the Skyhawks. Senior Joey DeSantis will look to round out the field in his final OVC Championship of his career.

“The men are ready to prove that they can better their preseason ranking,” said Dalton. “The guys have been working hard and smart. It is going to be exciting to compete against the best in the conference.”