MT opens season at Belmont Invitational

10 student-athletes return from 2012

August 28, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee men's and women's cross country teams started fall practice Aug. 16 in preparation for the inaugural season in Conference USA and will open their 2013 slate at the Belmont Invitational Friday, Aug. 30. 

Coach Dean Hayes has helped MT transition conferences twice in his 49-year tenure. The first transition came in 2001 as MT made the leap from the Ohio Valley Conference to the Sun Belt after 35 years.

"Cross country is great competition for fall, as it helps our athletes prepare for track season," said Head Coach Dean Hayes. "With eight new members to Conference USA, anyone has a chance to contend for the conference title."

The Middle Tennessee men's cross country team returns five of seven runners from the 2012 season, highlighted by Robinson Simatei and Silas Taiget. The women's team brings back five of six runners with Autumn Gipson, headlining the group. She finished three of six meets in the top 15.

Simatei finished the Belmont invitational last season a team-best 22nd with a time of 16:07.30. Alden Dixon finished one spot behind Simatei in 2012 with a time of 16:07.50. 

Simatei's best finish at the Belmont Invitational came his freshman year, taking home third place with a time of 15:34.46. Taiget also had his best finish at the Belmont Invitational during his freshman season, completing the 5K course in 16:02.12 for 18th.

Middle Tennessee last won the Belmont Invitational in 2010, placing three runners in the top 10.

For the women's team, Gipson had the best finish in 2012, posting a time of 16:04.10 on the 4K course. Rachel Islam placed only four spots behind her with an eight second difference (16:12.80).

The Raiders welcome back Lucy Kapkiai, who sat out 2012 due to an injury and gain newcomers Jackline Kiprono and Barbara Vilson.

"The new conference is exciting," Hayes said. "It will let us see where we are and prepare us for a great track season."

 The women's team will open the meet at 5:30 p.m. and the men will start at 6 p.m.

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