ELON, N.C. – The Elon University men’s and women’s cross country programs are set to host the sixth annual Elon Invitational this Saturday, Sept. 13. The race is slated to begin at 9 a.m. with the women’s 5K run followed by the men’s 8K on the Elon Cross Country Course.
The Phoenix heads a group of four teams in the field on both the men and women’s side. Lenoir-Rhyne, North Carolina Central and North Carolina A&T are the other teams that will participate at the meet.
Information on the meet and the other competing teams can be found online at the Elon Invitational page on the cross country home page at elonphoenix.com.
There will be free donuts provided for students at the meet courtesy of Krispy Kreme. Fans will also get a chance to collect one of the team’s 2014 schedule posters as well.
Last Time Out
Elon opened the year under first-year head coach Nick Polk with a sweep versus former conference foe UNCG in its dual meet versus the Spartans on Aug. 30. Both the Phoenix men’s and women’s harriers cruised to 15-40 victories in the 5K race with senior Jenny Gallagher capturing the women’s title with a time of 18:26.87. Elon’s Sam Geha was the first to cross the line on the men’s side with his time of 16:20.85.
On the women’s side, the Phoenix returns all but one of its top seven runners on a squad that finished as the runner-up in its final season in the Southern Conference last season. Elon also had its highest place finish at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships with a ninth-place standing a year ago. This year, this maroon and gold was placed ninth in the preseason Southeast Regional poll by USTFCCCA. Headlining the returning female group are all-conference performers in seniors Haylee Dawe and Tereza Novotna, junior Elyse Bierut and sophomore Kimberly Johansen.
The Phoenix men returns six athletes that competed in at least one race last season. Seniors Luis Vargas and Ari Rothschild both set the top two times in program history in the 10K last season at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships. Vargas broke his previous school record with his time of 29:46.5 at the meet and became the first runner in school history to earn All-Region accolades.
Elon will compete in the Colonial Athletic Association this season. The league’s championship meet will take place on Nov. 1, in Boston, Mass.
Elon’s History at the Invite
Both programs have performed well at its home meet since the event was created in 2009. Counting last season’s results, the men have won the event three times, including two straight seasons, while the women have won it twice.
Last season, the Phoenix men had the top two finishers in the race with Vargas becoming the first male runner in eight years to earn individualist honors. The women finished second in the race last year, but had won two straight in its home meet prior before last season’s results.
The Phoenix travels to Cary, N.C., to take part at the Adidas Cross Country Challenge, hosted by NC State on Sept. 19. That meet is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. with the men’s 5K followed by the women’s 5K at 6 p.m. on the course at the WakeMed Soccer Park.