LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Tech cross country will kick off the 2018 season Saturday at Abilene Christian's Naimadu Classic. Races are scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. in Abilene. Ahead of their first meet, the team recently spent time training in Ruidoso.
"The weather was amazing," said head coach Jon Murray. "It was a great experience for the team to bond and have a pleasant five days running at altitude."
Turning his attention to the ACU meet, Murray said, "We're going to give a chance for some of our younger runners to get experience. We're going to run a controlled race and finish strong. It's a good chance to see some of the younger guys and those that need to race a little bit more."
The men's team enters the fall looking strong, returning three scorers from last season's Big 12 fifth-place team – Joacim Zuniga, Nathan Gift, and Stephen Alvarez. Gift and Alvarez will be running at ACU, while Zuniga will remain in Lubbock and train.
Racing for the women's side is Lauren Offerman, who placed 62nd at last fall's conference meet with a personal-best 22:19.4 and has been running very well entering the fall. She will be joined by Bret Leigh Nance, who is also looking strong so far, in addition to a host of newcomers on the women's team. This new class includes Texas 5A state 1600m and 800m champion Binta Ka as well as Seselia Dala, who transferred in from South Plains College after turning in the second-fastest 5000m time in the NJCAA last spring.
Despite it being a small group, Murray is pleased with the returning runners on the women's side and curious to see how they mix with the newcomers.
"We've got a couple of returners who are running very well right now," he said. "How the new people compete is going to be a question mark, but we're going to throw them into the mix and see what happens."