BOONE, N.C. - Wet racing conditions would not be enough to deter the University of Tennessee at Martin cross country squads from posting a strong opening performance at the Covered Bridge Open hosted by Appalachian State on Friday evening as the Skyhawk men bested a regionally ranked foe.
Entering the preseason unranked in the region, the Skyhawk men posted a strong showing in the season opener. The squad would finish third overall behind the region's fifth ranked squad Florida State while surpassing the region's 14th ranked program East Tennessee State.
Sophomore standout Edwin Kurgat would pace not only the Skyhawks but the entire men's field to notch his first meet victory of the season. Kurgat led a loaded field which featured a pair of regionally ranked teams to post a time of 25 minutes and 52 to seconds to outmatch all competitors on the State Farm fields/Kennedy trails course.
UT Martin would total 89 points to finish third overall as a team behind Florida State and Southern Indiana while ranking above East Tennessee State and Appalachian State. The sophomore duo of Ryan Ford and Austin Rogers would also post strong outings, finishing seventh and eighth, respectively. Freshman Andrew Dodson would also make his debut, serving as the fourth scorer for the Skyhawks with a 35th place finish.
Entering the season as the No. 14 ranked program in the South region, the Skyhawk women's squad finished fourth in the field with a total of 116 points - trailing No. 5 ranked Florida State, Sun Belt favorite Appalachian State and Southern Indiana.
UT Martin was paced by sophomore Kara Martin while the freshman duo of Lydia Lee and Ashley Bryja posted strong Skyhawk debuts on the cross country circuit.
"I was very pleased with our performance this evening," said UT Martin head coach Peter Dalton. "We posted a much stronger start to the season than last year. When you consider how our men knocked off a ranked program and the fact that there is another group of freshman that is still in the wings, it makes for exciting times. Our squads should only get stronger as we incorporate the rest of the team into the fold."
UT Martin will return to action on Saturday, Sept. 16 at the Stegemoller Classic in Evansville, Ind.