CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's and women's track teams will open the 2012 Indoor Track season this Saturday at the annual Blue Raider Invitational hosted by Middle Tennessee at the Murphy Center in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Senior Chris Berry (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), a SoCon indoor champion and four-time all-conference performer, returns for his final season along with fellow senior and three-time Southern Conference cross country Runner of the Year Emmanuel Kirwa (Kapsabet, Kenya). Berry reached the NCAA National Cross Country Championships in the fall and was named all-region First Team. Kirwa, who exhausted his cross country eligibility in 2010, won three straight SoCon titles after transferring from Benedict College where he was the conference champion.
The two will compete in the Mile event at this weekend's meet as will sophomore Lucas Cotter (Collierville, Tenn.) who is coming off an outstanding cross country season where he earned all-conference honors along with Berry and was named to the NCAA All-Region Second Team.
Hurdle specialist junior Blake Olson (Pleasant View, Tenn.) will compete in the 55 meter Hurdles and the Mile relay. Also running in their specialty race will be senior Joshue Vasquez (Kingsport, Tenn.) and sophomores Drew Austell (Memphis, Tenn.) and John Gilpin (Nashville, Tenn.) who will all compete in the 800 meter run. Newcomer Dezerick Frazier (Goodletsville, Tenn.) will make his debut in his first-ever indoor track event, the 400 meter.
Sophomore Amanda Sumner (Bristol, Conn.) makes her return to the track after a season away. She is healthy and hopes to return to form this winter in the middle distance events. She will run the Mile along with junior Kathryn Stuart (Brentwood, Tenn.) who battled injury. She will run the 3000 meter, her first event since sustaining a broken leg in the Southern Conference outdoor track championships last year.
This season is also the final go-round for senior Tara Gietema (Knoxville, Tenn.). "She's had a very good career," UTC Head Coach Bill Gautier said. "We're hoping she will end on a good note."
Several newcomers on the women's side will be making their debut including freshman Ambria Reese (Memphis, Tenn.) a 400 and 800 meter specialist and classmate Jessica Philpott (Manchester, Tenn.).
"With this being our first meet this season, we're looking to shake off the rust and see where we stand," Gautier said. "There are several newcomers who will need to make the adjustment to collegiate competition."
Others making the trip will be sophomores Gabby Cader (Cleveland, Tenn.) and Sarah Washington (Tullahoma, Tenn.) in the sprints and freshmen Samantha Pludio and Chelsea Lemley (Chattanooga, Tenn.).
Middle Tennessee will host the event featuring teams from Chattanooga, UL-Lafayette, Miligan, Troy and Western Kentucky. The events begins at Noon Eastern time at the Murphy Center on the Middle Tennessee State campus with the shot put. The Mile Relay will conclude the meet at approximately 5:40 ET. Live results will be available at GoMocs.com on the schedule page.