AUBURN, AL - The Auburn men's and women's cross country teams travel to Troy, Ala., for its first competition of the 2010 season Saturday at the Troy Invitational. The men are set to compete in a 5K beginning at 9:30 a.m., and the women are set to run a two mile at 10 a.m. on the Troy Trojan Oaks Golf Course.
"We expect to have a very good start to the season," head coach Mark Carroll said. "The first few races of the season are more for training purposes, and we go into this weekend with that mindset. We are a very young team on the men's side and our women's team should be pretty solid."
The men's team will look to senior All-American Ben Cheruiyot to lead a talented team of newcomers. Cheruiyot won the individual title at last year's Troy Invitational with the Tigers also claiming the team title.
"We should have a decent showing with Barker, Sanders and Peak leading the way this weekend," Carroll said. "I'm going to rest Ben because he had a very long 2009 season, and he's very likely to have a long year again. We have a very strong young team, and should challenge for the meet titles again on Saturday."
Freshman Colin Barker should be Auburn's No. 2 runner this season, while juniors Jeff Sanders and Joby Peak return to the course after a successful 2009 season.
Seniors Stephanie Barnes and Allison Smith return to lead the women's team. At the 2009 Troy Invitational the Tigers won the women's team title, and had the top three individual finishers with Holly Knight, who isn't competing this week, coming in first-place.
"The women's team has been training very well and I expect them to have a very good start to the year this weekend," Carroll said.
"I'm holding out Holly this weekend, and even with her out, Stephanie and Allison should carry us as a team."