GREENVILLE, S.C. -- The Furman men's and women's cross country teams will open the 2018 season Friday at the 35th Annual Eye Opener Invitational at the Milliken Research Center in Spartanburg, S.C. The Paladins, two-time defending champions of the meet, scored 15 points for the men's victory and 19 for the women's win last year.
The meet will begin with a women's 5K run at 6:30 p.m. followed by a men's 8K race at 7:10 p.m.
The Furman women, who are ranked 14th nationally, are five-time defending Southern Conference Champions and return seven of their top eight competitors from last year, including junior Savannah Carnahan, the 2016 SoCon Freshman of the Year, who claimed a spot on the All-SoCon first team after placing third at the league meet last year.
Carnahan is joined by All-SoCon first team selections Gabrielle Jennings and Grace Dwyer, plus juniors Emma Grace Hurley and Riley Burr who earned All-SoCon second team accolades after recording top-10 finishes at the championships last season. Sophomore Krissy Gear, the 2017 SoCon Freshman of the Year, and junior Jennifer Stephenson, complete the Paladin slate of returnees.
The Furman men's team, ranked 30th nationally, is also the five-time defending league champion. Senior Aaron Templeton, the 2017 SoCon Runner of the Year, returns to lead Furman after winning the SoCon individual title last season. Sophomore Daniel Bernal, the 2017 SoCon Freshman of the Year, will also return in 2018, along with 2017 All-SoCon selections Mason Coppi, Ryan Adams, and Jake Ogden. Incoming freshman Cameron Ponder joins the team after posting the nation's top mile time among his graduating class.
"We won't be racing everyone due to some late starts in training for several athletes, but we look forward to seeing where everyone is at after their summer training, as we know the course fairly well from the last several years," said Furman head cross country coach Robert Gary, who has captured the last five SoCon Coach of the Year awards.
Complete results can be found at www.furmanpaladins.com following the completion of the meet.
Julie Paré, Furman Sports Information