The University of Tulsa will be serving as the host institution for the 2010 Conference USA Cross Country Championships. The event will take place today at Indian Springs Country Club.
The women will kick things off with a 9 a.m. start time, and the men will follow at 10 a.m. with the awards presentation set for 11 a.m.
This marks the first time Tulsa has served as the host school for the cross country championships since 2000, when the Golden Hurricane was a member of the Western Athletic Conference.
“Being able to host a conference championship like this is something special because it doesn’t come around very often,” TU Coach Steve Gulley said. “Our kids are very fortunate to be able to run on a home course in front of a home crowd. I think it’s important to them and I hope they take advantage of the opportunity.”
The Golden Hurricane women finished fourth in last year’s race, which was hosted by the University of Houston. SMU comes into the event as the two-time defending champions, and UTEP and Rice rounded out the top three from last season.
TU has not finished worse than fourth since joining the league in 2005.
Tulsa enters the event as the only ranked team in the current USTFCCCA Division I Women’s Cross Country National Polls. They checked in this week at No. 23 after debuting at No. 21 on Oct. 5. The national ranking is the first in school history.
“We didn’t go to Pre-Nationals because we had some kids banged up, but I think everybody is coming around now,” Gulley said. “The goal is to be ready for the conference meet and the final month of the season, and hopefully that’s where we are.”
The women’s field is shaping up as one of the deepest in C-USA history, as UTEP, SMU and Rice have all received national rankings throughout the season. UTEP reached the highest mark at No. 17, SMU’s highest ranking was No. 21 and Rice checked in at No. 28 early in the year.
TU’s John Beattie brought home individual honors for the second-straight year in 2009, but the team lost out on a second-straight championship as UTEP took the crown with a one-point victory over Tulsa. Rice, Marshall and Houston rounded out the top five.
The Golden Hurricane has not finished in lower than third place since joining the conference in 2005, and has not finished lower than second since 2006.
Tulsa features the only men’s team to have received a national ranking this season, and the blue and gold is currently the only C-USA member to be at least receiving votes. UTEP is the only other school to have received votes in the polls, which happened twice earlier this year.
The Golden Hurricane was ranked No. 21 in the country Oct. 5 after a highly successful Notre Dame Invitational where the men took down a plethora of ranked opponents.
“The men are coming off a Pre-Nationals meet where they didn’t run as well as they needed to, but we’ve taken it as a stepping stone,” Gulley said. “We’ve been working hard to straighten out a couple things in an effort to be ready for the Conference Championships.”