EMU - Eagles Open Title Defense Friday at Spartan Invitational

EMU - Eagles Open Title Defense Friday at Spartan Invitational

Provided by EMU

YPSILANT, Mich. (EMUEagles.com) – The Eastern Michigan University Men's Cross Country team's long awaited start to the 2012 season arrives Friday afternoon, as head coach John Goodridge and the Eagles travel to East Lansing, Michigan to participate in the AutoOwners Insurance Spartan Invitational, hosted by Michigan State University.

"We are looking forward to our first race of the season to evaluate where we are off the team's summer preparation,” said Goodridge. “We face a strong field which includes Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State which are currently ranked third, fifth and sixth in the NCAA Great Lakes Region."

In the 2012 preseason polls, the Eagles were picked to finish first in the MAC, per selection by the coaches, and 10th in the Great Lakes Region.

Goodridge enters his 12th season at the helm of the Eagles distance runners. During his tenure, Goodridge has led the Green, White and Yellow to seven championships, while being named MAC Coach of the Year seven times as well.

The Eagles come into the season returning a strong group of runners from a season ago, including 2011 All-MAC first team performer, and 2012 co-captain, Terefe Ejigu (Mount Cook, Wellington / Wellington College (New Zealand)). Ejigu returns for his senior campaign coming off strong performances in 2011, capped off by a second place finish at the MAC Championships and 27th place finish at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional.

Ejigu is joined by eight other Eastern runners returning in 2012 that ran to the team title at the 2011 MAC Championships. Included in that group are sophomore Daryl Smith (Windsor, Ontario / Vincent Massey S.S.) who finished ninth, juniors Nick Petro (Erie, Mich. / Monroe) and Harry Dixon (Nelson, New Zealand / Nayland College), as they finished 18th and 19th respectively, and the other senior co-captain, James Hughes (Manchester, Mich. / Manchester).

EMU will be in search of their 17th title in program history when the gun sounds, and seventh in the past eight years.

The AutoOwners Insurance Spartan Invitational is set for 12:35 PM on Friday, September 14 at the Forest Akers East Golf Course in East Lansing, Michigan.