Joshua Mabry, Campus Carrier Asst. Sports Editor
Berry’s cross country teams will host the Berry Invitational on Oct. 13 at the Clara Bowl.
Several teams from various colleges at different levels have been invited to participate in the invitational.
Head Cross Country Coach Paul Deaton said that the toughest competition will come from any NCAA Division I college that comes to the invitational. He said that the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech are sending some representatives to the event.
Other competitive teams are participating such as Kennesaw State University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Both KSU and UT Chattanooga are bringing full teams.
Berea College, ranked second in the NCAA Division III southern region, will be running as well, according to Deaton. As far as the SAA conference, Oglethorpe, Sewanee and Millsaps will offer competition.
Deaton said he believes that the Berry teams are ready for the invitational.
“I’m pretty excited about seeing it come through,” Deaton said. “We do a lot of endurance work and hill work during the first half of the season, believing that we can add speed as we get closer to the end of the season.”
Although the cross country teams have raced well throughout the season so far, Deaton said he would like to see faster times and to start focusing more on speed work.
The cross country teams view the Berry Invitational as a dress rehearsal for conference championships that are coming up soon, Deaton said.
“We want to put our best race out there, but you can’t really lose because you’re going to go again in two weeks,” Deaton said. “You want to try to get close enough to your best that you know what else you need to do before you get to the conference championships.”
Senior William Knowlton said that the Berry Invitational is a big meet for the men’s team.
“We’ve been training on campus for about two months now, so we’ve accrued a lot of good fitness,” Knowlton said. “We have one of the strongest group of guys and the most depth I’ve seen on the team in my years being on the team.”
Knowlton said he believes that the cross country teams are ready for a good race. He said that the cooler October weather and familiar territory of the team’s home course will help the teams.
Junior Meredith Herman is excited about the Berry Invitational.
“All the hard work we’ve been putting in is finally paying off now,” Herman said. “It’s getting cooler out. Racing conditions are perfect and exactly where we want them to be.”
Herman said that the Berry Invitational is always a great race.
“When it comes to competition, we’re going to have optimal racing,” Herman said.
Herman said she loves racing at Berry and is excited for runners from other colleges to see Berry’s campus.
After the Berry Invitational, the cross country teams will head to the SAA conference championships on Oct. 27 at Rhodes College in Memphis. Berry will then host the NCAA Division III regionals on Nov. 10.