SFA Cross Country Heads to Auburn
Sept. 29, 2006
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - While traffic is typically something to be avoided, the Stephen F. Austin cross country teams will travel nearly 700 miles this weekend in search of it. The Lumberjacks and Ladyjacks are headed to Auburn, Ala., for Saturday's Auburn Invitational, and a race course they hope will be packed, in terms of both talent and runners.
Traditionally one of the top mid-season races in the country, the Auburn Invitational will field more than 20 teams this year, highlighted by a strong contingent from the Southeastern Conference. SFA cross country coach Lou Snelling is expecting the race to provide both a raised level of competition and an increased volume of competitors for his athletes to contend with.
"The whole idea of going to Auburn is to put us in a situation where we have to get out more aggressively from the start," Snelling said. "Also, I wanted us to have to deal with a little more congestion on the course."
The Auburn Invite is the first major competition this season for either SFA team and is the pre-courser to two of the biggest races on this year's schedule. The Ladyjacks are scheduled to run at the Chile Pepper Festival in Fayetteville, Ark., on Oct. 14. That same day, the Lumberjacks will be in Terre Haute, Ind., for the Pre-Nationals meet on the NCAA Championship course.
"It's going to give us some good race experience before we get into some of our bigger meets," Snelling said of the Auburn race. "We've really got our eyes on that day two weeks from now, when we get into the Chile Pepper and the Pre-Nats."
Snelling isn't completely looking beyond this weekend's race, though. With the program's long layoff -- the women haven't run competitively in three weeks, the men in two weeks -- Saturday's meet will be his first look at his teams in a while. The Lumberjacks are coming off a strong showing at the Indiana Intercollegiate. Senior Marc Farris won the race, and all eight SFA runners finished in the Top 11. The Ladyjacks' last outing was the Rice Invitational on Sept. 9, where they ran a partial squad without senior and two-time defending Southland Conference champion Ashley Monteau.
"It's exciting because this is the first bigger team competition for either squad," Snelling said. "I'm especially anxious to see the women, because it will be the first time this season we've gotten everyone on the starting line at the same time. I'm excited to see how we stack up against some good competition."
-- SFA --