VIDEO: Tyler Stepp Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The Carson-Newman cross country teams will be racing in the South Atlantic Conference Championships on Saturday morning in Newton, N.C.
"I think that this season has gone as well as I hoped it would," Carson-Newman cross country coach Tyler Stepp said. "Both the men and women's teams have been solid this season."
Last season the women's team had a top-five showing at the conference championships while the men's team placed eighth. Queens University was the top team in the conference on the women's side and Mars Hill finished first on the men's side in last season's meet.
The men's team will race at 10:00 a.m. in their first eight-kilometer event of the season. The Eagles will look to place in the top-five as a team for the first time since the 2009 conference meet.
Luke Greer (Abington, Northhampton, United Kingdom) will look to keep his winning streak alive on Saturday morning against the best in the South Atlantic. The senior leader is the first Eagle runner to win at least three races in a season in over a decade.
"I'm just looking for Luke to compete," Stepp responded. "We're excited to watch him run against the best in the conference this weekend."
Freshman Kelvin Ronoh (Kenya) and sophomore Amos Korir (Eldoret, Kenya) round out the top three runners for the Eagles. Ronoh and Korir both have multiple top-10 finishes this season and will look to aid Greer in the Eagles quest to finish in the top-five at the conference championships.
Anthony Jackson (Manchester, Tenn.) is looking to build off of his first top-15 finish of the season at the Allen and Phyllis Morgan Invitational-Battle at Mossy Creek. The junior runner completed the five-kilometer course in a time of 16:46 his fastest time of the season so far.
"They are exceeding expectations a lot faster this year," Stepp said. "We are going to be happy with how our guys ran individually because they have all gotten a lot better."
Cameron McKinley, Jared Eddy (Harrison, Tenn.) and Jeremiah McCarter (Sevierville, Tenn.) are all battling to be the Eagles fifth runner to come across the finish line at the meet. Eddy was unable to finish the last meet due to an injury, but McKinley and McCarter both posted top-25 finishes for Carson-Newman.
The Carson-Newman women's team will compete first in a five-kilometer run scheduled for 9:00 a.m. The Eagles had a top-five finish a season ago at the conference meet and they will look to take down the top teams in the conference.
Queens won the conference meet last season followed by Wingate, Anderson and Catawba. The Royals had the top four runners in the competition a season ago and will look to defend their crown at this year's meet.
Priscah Jemeli (Eldoret, Kenya) and Bekah White (Rockford, Tenn.) are the Eagles top-two runners this season. Both have two top-10 finishes this season with their fastest time's coming at The Allen and Phyllis Morgan Invitational-Battle at Mossy Creek.
"I think that they are going to do what they have doing all year," Stepp replied. "Fortunately, we get two of our runners back in Kathie O'Neal and Sarah Sharp back to compete in this meet. I think that our top-five will be solid."
Jemeli will look to bounce back from her 46th place finish at last season's SAC Championship's. Then native of Kenya had a top-10 finish during her freshman campaign. Last season, White moved up 21-spots in the Conference meet with a 39th place finish.
A trio of Eagle upperclassmen come in right behind Jemeli and White. Juniors Skye McCarter (Sevierville, Tenn.) and Lindsey Williams have both had multiple top-15 finishes this season. Williams top finish this season was a sixth place finish at the Tusculum Open. Meanwhile, senior Jennifer Warren (Piney Flats, Tenn.) is coming off of a top-25 finish. Ashlyn Page and Esther Njeri are both looking to finish the season on a high note.
A full recap of the conference championship and All-SAC teams can be found on cneagles.com at the conclusion of the meet on Saturday afternoon.