Running all the way home

By on September 29, 2008

By Brandon Davis

The University of Louisville men’s and women’s cross country teams will compete in their first and only home meet of the 2008 season on Saturday in the Greater Louisville Classic at Tom Sawyer Park.
 Coming off a pair of team and individual sweeps to start the season, the Cards will be looking to defend their house in the event hosted by the Greater Louisville Sports Commission.
“Racing at home gives us a great baseline for comparison because we’ve ran so many times at Tom Sawyer Park,” Brice Allen, cross country coach, said. “We’ll have a better understanding of where we’re at and what we need to improve upon after Oct. 4.”
The men’s team will be looking to Scott McClain, junior cross country runner, to continue to build on his two impressive performances of the young season. McClain, a product of Louisville’s St. Xavier High School, is coming off back-to-back first place finishes in the Winthrop Invitational and the Mid-America opener to start the season. He has been named Big East Men’s Athlete of the Week in each of the past two weeks. 
On the women’s side Tarah McKay, junior cross country runner, is expected to lead the team to victory. She won her second straight individual competition in the Winthrop Invitational, which helped the women win another race title.  McKay completed the 5k run with a time of 17 minutes and five seconds; which bested 159 other competitors and brought her the Big East Women’s Athlete of the Week honor. She also finished in first place at the Mid-America opener.
McKay said having fan support, a luxury U of L’s cross country teams are rarely given, may play a significant role in the Classic.
“Having the support of the crowd is very helpful,” McKay said. “When the crowd is excited when you run past, it helps you to run faster especially at the end of a race.”
Other teams set to compete on Oct. 4 include the Tennessee men’s team, Western Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Texas’ women’s team and many others.
The men’s team enters the race having won the last two Greater Louisville Classic’s and three of the last four. The women finished runner-up last year, the team’s best ever finish in the event.
Allen said he hopes that trend continues this season.
“For Saturday, we’re hoping to defend our men’s title from 2007 and improve upon our second-place finish in the last year’s women’s race,” Allen said.
Races are set to begin with the men’s 8,000-meter race at 9:30 a.m. The women’s 5, 000-meter race will follow starting at 10:15 a.m. 
Both teams aim to defend the home course and hope to continue the early success of the season.
“We’re definitely excited about the opportunity to run at home,” Luke Lovelace, freshman cross country runner, said. “There’s a little bit of pressure to perform, but we’re not going to back down.”

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